How Much Staff Training is Enough?

‘There’s a phone, there’s a desk. You do the rest!’ If you’re a veteran of the real estate industry, you may remember hearing these words ring in your ears as a new agent. So today, is training your team just a waste of resources or a business necessity?

The answer is thankfully those bad old days of real estate are gone. As clients demand ever-higher levels of service in order to win and maintain their custom, real estate agencies can’t risk having untrained staff represent their brands. But just how much training do your staff need? My opinion: lots. Here’s why.

The market – particularly the landlord market – won’t tolerate incompetence for long. Sure, they might weather the odd slip-up on communications here or a condition report blip there, but if problems due to a lack of staff knowledge are ongoing, your rent roll will soon be leakier than a sieve.

One way to shore up your asset is by having your staff understand their role thoroughly. This requires an investment of time – an induction process which involves going over their key functions and responsibilities, in addition to appropriate training in your business culture. And it’s not just new inductees who require training. Your whole team should be engaged in training at regular times throughout the year. As the use of new technology for both sales and property management teams grows, so does your team’s need for training, keeping them up to date on new features and capabilities and how to use your costly software properly.

A word to the wise: don’t dump the responsibility for technology training on one particularly canny administrator from your business. Their time will ultimately be drained by constantly having to answer their colleagues’ questions about adding clients and fixing trust account balances, making them frustrated and less productive. It’s usually much better to engage a professional trainer who is a specialist.

Often, software and databases are updated during the year. A bi-annual training session will mean that your team are using every inch of your technology’s capabilities to best service your clients. This kind of training results in clean databases and better communication between your sales and property management departments, eliminating confusion and resulting in a more valuable business overall.

Champing at the bit for your staff Christmas Party that involves a winery tour followed by hardcore paintballing? Wondering whether to buy clients bottle-stoppers or branded caps? Reduce a portion of your expenditure on these amusing (for some) team activities and client gifting, and instead re-invest these monies in training.

Consider having a quarterly lunch or breakfast featuring an enthralling guest speaker as part of your training and team-building mix. Whether it’s a real estate champion of note or a leading individual from a category outside of the property industry, bringing fresh vision and new ideas into your business is a great idea. It might not initially sound as much fun as paintballing … but the benefits of training for culture with inspiration last longer than the adrenaline rush brought on by a laser skirmish!

Some principals are loathe to spend ‘too much’ time on staff training, claiming that ‘real estate is a numbers game’ and that high staff turnover is simply part of being in business. This is dinosaur thinking that will soon become extinct: the market won’t tolerate incompetence or a ‘guess and check’ performance from any aspect of their real estate service.

A little like planning a healthier diet, real estate training is something that doesn’t have an ‘endpoint’. Rather, it’s a non-negotiable aspect of being involved in a property industry that is quickly becoming more professional – for the better.

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Natalie Hastings

Natalie Hastings is the Managing Director of Hastings + Co. For more information, visit hastingsandco.com.au.