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A whole lotta love: Scott Harman on leadership in a challenging market

After 31 years as a coach, agent and auctioneer in one of the toughest real estate markets in the country, Scott Harman isn’t afraid to tell it as it is. The Gold Coast high-rise specialist firmly believes there’s a world of difference between a stellar sales agent and a great leader, culture always comes back to those at the top, and people are best managed though a whole lot of love. Now he’ll share his insight into leadership at the Business of Real Estate conference in September. Here’s a sneak peek of what he has in store.

Scott Harman isn’t afraid to knock on doors. His path to real estate began as a door-to-door encyclopedia salesman. He’s not fazed by picking up the phone either. Most of his 31-year career has been spent dealing with high-rise owners in the tough market that is the Gold Coast where many of his sales were achieved without ever meeting an owner face-to-face.

But as a coach for agencies large and small, he is personally affronted by the toxic culture he occasionally stumbles across and he pulls no punches about the attributes he believes every leader should have, and the KPIs they need to put in place.

“My passion is for making sure everyone who starts in this business has a fair go, that they’re nurtured, they are trained, and they’re led in the right way to give great service and to have a great experience in their real estate career,” he said.

“This is a fantastic business where income is in direct proportion to input, so we need to give those who are prepared to have a crack the right help to get up.”

It starts at the top
Scott makes no bones about the fact the success or failure of an agency in any market starts with the leader. They’re the ones who drive the culture, set the tone, and who can foster or break a fledgling agent. 

“A team is only as good as its leader, and if there’s a poor culture and the team’s falling apart, you have to have a look at the boss,” Scott says.

“If the leader is sitting in their ivory tower directing the troops to go out and take the punches on their behalf, that’s when things fall apart.

“In every office I see, the ones that are more successful are where they have leaders in place who actually lead by example.”

That leader needs to be focussed, clear, self-aware, and prepared to walk a mile in their own team’s shoes.

Most importantly, they lead with understanding, by getting to know each individual member of their team and the issues that they face.

A genuine interest
Scott notes every agent has their own reason for getting into real estate, with their own goals for what they’d like to achieve financially and personally. 

“Leaders need to take a genuine interest in every team member they have. Love is the big thing that’s missing from a lot of offices. It’s all cut-throat. It’s all KPIs, getting the listing and getting the sale.” 

“Instead, show them some love. Consider what gets this person out of bed each morning.”

And once you know what drives them, chances are you’ll understand their motivation and the KPIs they need to have in place, he states.

“Then you have to take a genuine interest in helping that person learn, grow and develop. Then your sales will come from them as well.”

Motivation and management
Scott notes in a tough market motivating a team can be a challenge, but again it’s about knowing the individual and what they want.

“You need to know what makes this person tick. Sometimes it’s not recognition, sometimes it’s not financial success, sometimes it’s not market share,” he says.

“Sometimes it might just be a focus on that holiday they want, or saving for that deposit or buying that boat, but motivation needs to come from within.”

As for managing the different personalities of real estate, Scott says it can never be just about the dollar. It must be about team culture, education, and offering those with drive the assistance they need. 

“A lot of principals are happy to sacrifice culture in the almighty chase for the almighty dollar. But if someone doesn’t fit the culture, they’ll riddle it like a cancer, and you need to move them on.

“On the other hand, if they’re not quite fitting performance-wise, they’re the ones where you need to apply a few KPIs.”   

Kicking off with KPI’s
Although Scott believes you can’t put the same KPIs in place for every agent, he feels performance indicators are critical, particularly for those new to the industry or looking to grow.

“There’s a whole heap of KPIs you can put on them. It may be the number of open homes, the number of dialled numbers, the number of data entries or doors knocked.

“A really simple one is to just focus on the dialled numbers, not the number of connections or appraisals, but the amount of dialled numbers per day.

“Don’t attach yourself to the outcome of that phone call just dial the number and whatever comes out of that is a bonus.”

It’s all part of the prospecting that he believes underpins success.

“I don’t mind what sort of prospecting someone is doing, be it cold calling, warm calling, or doorknocking, as long as they’re doing prospecting.

“And just like a good marketing plan which has to have internet, signs and open homes, a good prospecting plan has to have a lot of strings to its bow as well.”

Scott Harman of The Auction Machine will be speaking on “Leading Agents in Challenging Markets” at the Business of Real Estate Conference on the Gold Coast on September 9 and 10.

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