Business LeadershipElite Agent

Breaking the Recruitment Cycle: Julie Davis & Neil Williams

If you are looking to hire new staff you need to offer a career path and not just a seat in the transit lounge. Careful recruitment and a good training program will ensure you attract and keep the best people, as Julie Davis and Neil Williams explain.

One of the questions we hear most often from the folk we work with is, ‘I’m looking for more salespeople or another property manager. Do you know anyone?’

It is the eternal issue faced by a lot of business owners, with real estate right up there with hospitality when it comes to team turnover. So why is it so difficult to get good people who see real estate as a career and not just a transit lounge?

Let’s start by having a quick look in the mirror. A lot of us came into the industry as a bit of an experiment to see if it suited and to see if we could make a quid.

Nothing wrong with that; some of the most successful agents around started as a result of circumstance. Just because a lot of us started that way, though, doesn’t mean that we should recruit using the same method.

It wasn’t so bad prior to 2010 when salespeople worked commission only; the door could keep revolving and, with the passage of time, the system would self-filter until you ended up with a good team. With the Real Estate Industry Award in place, we can no longer afford to keep hiring till we get a ‘good one’.

Property management tended to operate the same way. Many a PM team has been built from our own family members, friends or, in some cases, our tenants. Once again, nothing wrong with that, as long as they are the right people with the right set of skills.

We know of no other industry where the opportunity for reward is so high that recruits via the ‘Do you know anyone?’ method.

We recently worked with an agency in Sydney who are rebuilding their sales team. Focusing on finding a career candidate, we advertised a structured sales traineeship on a minimum wage. The position comprises 12 months on the front desk, providing sales and admin support, followed by 12 months seconded as a PA to the principal.

The trainee has a task book that details all the functions required and expected of a salesperson and is signed off by the principal on the successful demonstration of each competency. The expectation is that on completion of the two-year traineeship the trainee will fly solo and become a valued member of the team. We had 76 applications and at the end of the interview and profiling process got a cracking candidate.

Although there is never a guarantee of success, by providing a more structured career path we are telling our team that we believe that they are worth investing in.

Everybody needs to feel like they belong and are valued.

There are some really progressive agencies and franchises who are breaking the cycle and becoming more career-focused, providing a pathway for team members to progress to business owners. Our experience is that they are the ones who are attracting the best candidates.

We often have a bit of a chuckle when we hear a principal say, ‘Why waste your time training them when they’re only going to leave you one day and open up down the road?’. This level of thinking is short-sighted and self-destructing.

There won’t be a lot of kids sitting in classrooms today saying, ‘I’m going pursue a real estate sales career when I finish school’ or ‘I want to embark on a career in property management when I get my HSC’. We need to ask ourselves why that is.

As an industry it is essential that we continue to adopt a more professional, career-based approach to recruiting, lest we continue to reap what we sow.

The two most important elements to success are commitment and skill. Look for the first element when interviewing and then instil the second element via training and accountability.

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