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Maintaining a leadership mindset in the midst of COVID-19

In this rapidly changing world of uncertainty and shut downs, it’s more important than ever to show good leadership. Business coach and performance expert Michael Sheargold and Cunninghams Real Estate Managing Director John Cunningham share their thoughts on how to pull your business and your team through the pandemic and come out better for it on the other side.

Going old-school – No one knows how long the pandemic and social distancing is going to last, so you should be making significant changes to your business processes. It’s a lot like real estate in the old days where we didn’t have open homes or auctions, only private viewings – and it worked.

Stay calm – The right strategy and right mindset will outperform panic. Moderate how much news you’re taking in – do 15 mins in morning and in the evening, maybe the press conference during day. Don’t get sucked into the repetitive news cycle and don’t start the day with two hours of news.

Stay positive – Understand the focus of each individual in your team, don’t just look at the collective.

Be professional – You need to be skilled with professional advice. Arm yourself with the facts.

Prequalified buyers and tenants – In the past, we marketed a property to get people to turn up to an open then they qualified afterward. The COVID-19 crisis means the quality of qualification needs to be sensational now and we are bringing people through the property who are ready, willing and able to buy or rent.

Master a routine – With many people working from home, we need to hone the ability to switch from personal to business mode without changing location. Switching channels is critically important.

Discipline – We need to reset and recreate an ideal week which will look different but will still achieve outcomes. Identify your five most important priorities for the day, reward yourself for completing tasks.

Upskilling – Spend some time each day focusing on something that will build your skillset, for example, work on your negotiation skills.

Accountability – The commitment we’re most likely to break is the one we make to ourselves. Get an accountability buddy – so you externalise commitment to someone else.

Language is key – Ensure your messaging is sensitive – don’t talk about your success when others are doing it tough. Practice care and positivity in your messaging, offer advice, encourage clients to get in touch if they need help. Compassion is a critical component. If you become opportunistic, you will turn people off rather than having them lean in.

Care calls – This is a valid reason to call – to check in to see how your clients are, find out if there is anything you can help with. It might turn into a real estate conversation, but this isn’t the point of the call.

Address the issues – Ask your PMs and your sales team what their clients are asking and create videos of those top three concerns to send to landlords, tenants and buyers.

Make it personal – If you haven’t kept notes on your clients, now is the time to do that. Spend an hour or so a day improving the quality of information in your database.

Communicate – You don’t have to know everything to share what you do know. This is changing so rapidly, it’s ok to update people in the meantime with what is current right now rather than waiting for decisions which may or may not come.

Trades – Policy and procedure has changed around how they will go about work. Listen to your tenants’ needs. Some tenants are not allowing access – you can’t control that. Be understanding.

Virtual inspections – Now is not the time to use beautiful photos that make a property look much bigger in virtual inspections. There is a bigger risk of that coming back to bite you if people are not able to view a property in person.

Common sense – There is no point putting a tenant not wanting to allow people through their house for inspections through NCAT/VCAT or equivalent. It will take months and will not likely find in the landlord’s favour. Run with the right thing to do at the moment rather than seeing things to the letter of the law – it will do a disservice to your client and to your brand if you’re not understanding of your clients.

One-on-one meetings with your team should:

  1. Focus on what they can do, not what they can’t do. Have them write down here’s what I can do, here’s what I can’t do
  2. Talk about the beliefs they have around this – help them see beyond what’s occurring right now and to how will things look on the other side of this. Ensure a positive mindset.
  3. Discuss strategies – encourage care calls to clients, ensure they have an understanding of the Job Keeper program, talk about how they can show empathy for clients. That may not lead to a sale or a listing, but it will help create momentum and hone buyer qualification skills.

Key takeaways

  • The property market has been through hits, it always recovers and there is no doubt we will recover from this.
  • If you take a long-term view, this will create a new way of doing business which could benefit the way we do business.
  • Don’t give yourself a hard time if you’re having a hard time. Reach out to people who can help.
  • The industry will come out of this very changed, but real estate professionals will have much more value in the eyes of the consumer if we handle it well.
  • Tune in with your clients rather than broadcasting a message.

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