It’s widely acknowledged that the estate agency sector has a challenge with staff turnover, especially when it comes to negotiators.I met with a well known agency recently who stated that they typically experience attrition rates in the region of 30% - 40% each year, against a national average across all sectors of 18%! Asreported by Acas, the average cost of replacing an employee is £30,000 when you consider the loss of productivity caused by the time it takes for a new recruit to get up to speed, not to mention the logistics and costs associated with actually finding a replacement. Motivating and retaining staff often go hand in hand, and for agents that do this successfully, the financial benefits are clear. At a time when high street agents face stiff competition from online competitors for landlords and talented staff, retaining and motivating negotiators has never been more important.
This really is a win-win for your agency and staff! By fostering a solid culture of feedback and coaching, you give your Millennial negotiators what they crave whilst also developing them to be more effective in their roles. Consider blocking out time each week for group coaching and feedback. Ask your negotiators to come prepared to talk through tricky negotiations that week, which the team can roleplay together or ideally, use a phone system that records calls and listen to a few. Nominate one negotiator to provide positive feedback on the call and another to offer constructive.
Millennials crave more responsibility and want to develop their leadership skills, so find ways of providing this to them. Consider getting them involved in the interview process for new hires as this develops new skills and can be a great way of including them in the hiring decision-making. It also sends a positive message about how you value the wider team’s input to any potential new hires. Also, consider rotating responsibilities for chairing daily or weekly team meetings. Not only does this take the pressure off management having to do it all the time, it also gives your negotiators an opportunity to develop new skills and feel involved.
As Dan Pink highlights in his book ‘Drive’, people crave mastery; they want to excel, feel like they are succeeding and spend their time doing things that directly contribute to that success. For negotiators, this means spending more time prospecting, engaging with landlords and doing more viewings with good tenants. Provide your negotiators with tools and technologies that remove time-consuming and menial admin such as having to hand-write application forms, re-key data into systems or manually send multiple emails that could be automated. Intuitive tools like Goodlord can make negotiators more productive and their roles more fulfilling.
Don't over-exaggerate earning potential and give new hires an accurate picture of the company and the role, 'warts and all'. Involving your negotiators in the interview process has the added benefit of providing an opportunity for candidates to ask them open questions about what it’s like to work at the company.
These aren’t just a way for managers to track staff’s performance, they’re an opportunity to encourage employees to express their feelings, concerns and aspirations. An honest and open discussion can sometimes reveal that a team member is dissatisfied, and enable you to quickly sort out issues that could have eventually led to their leaving.
Make sure time is taken by someone other than the departing employee’s line manager to conduct a thorough and honest exit interview. Exit interviews enable you to find out exactly why someone is leaving and can provide valuable insights into what you can do to retain staff in future. The estate agency market is clearly going through a period of change; competition is increasing from well-funded online agents and the impending tenant fee ban will erode, on average, 22% of a letting agency’s annual revenues. The high street agents that survive and thrive during this challenging period will be those that provide a differentiated level of service to customers. Retaining and motivating frontline staff such as negotiators is a crucial way of ensuring customer service levels remain high.
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