“I feel the need, the need for speed.”
When Tom Cruise’s Maverick says that line in Top Gun, it really resonates with me. Not because I’m keen to learn how to fly a fighter jet, but because one of the key elements I considered when I started The Agency was speed.
In fact, the hurdle of speed was one of the critical pain points I wanted to solve in starting my own agency.
The speed to market of a property and the speed of signing an agent to a brand.
Both had previously taken too long, and I wanted to cut out the roadblocks holding each of those areas back.
So I sat down with a lot of suppliers to analyse how long it would take them to do their part in the marketing process.
If I secured a listing on a Friday, could I have the photos and advertising copy on the internet on Tuesday and the signboard up on Wednesday?
Now, you might be wondering why I’d even worry about this. Why wouldn’t I just do things the way they’d always been done?
The answer lies in the first of five things you need to consider when starting your own agency.
Find a competitive advantage
There are 55,000 real estate agents in Australia, so if you’re going to start your own agency, you need to have a point of difference.
Something to make vendors and agents choose you.
In addition to cutting the time it takes to bring a property to market, I wanted to make it quicker and easier for agents to join The Agency.
Normally when you join an agency, you have your lawyer wade through a contract that’s half an inch thick, but with our model, engaging the agents as contractors, I was able to remove a lot of clauses, including things like non-compete. Our contract is just four pages.
Have a plan
I know this sounds simple, but some forget to plan beyond the immediate term. You need a one-year, a two-year, three-year, four-year and five-year plan.
Analyse your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.
Don’t only think short-term, especially when it comes to analysing your threats.
You need to think now about what or who might be a threat once your agency is established.
Put people first
Agents are in the people business; you just happen to sell property.
I’ve sold more than 3000 homes in my career, and I can tell you my clients’ life stories, but if you ask me what kind of tiles they had on the floor, I couldn’t tell you.
One of the best ways to make your clients feel connected and fully involved in the sales process is to offer flexibility.
If someone wants a signboard in a different shape or put on the opposite side of the home to what’s standard, I’ll make it happen.
Offering greater flexibility to agents can also reap big rewards, especially when it comes to retention rates, job satisfaction and productivity.
An agent might be a single parent and need to take their child to swimming lessons on Monday afternoon, or they might not make this week’s sales meeting because they need to attend a school assembly.
When I set up The Agency, I wanted it to be like a smorgasbord at a restaurant.
You can eat a bit of everything, or you can just enjoy the seafood. Whatever you choose is ok.
In today’s environment, you need massive scale, you need big buying power, and you need an even bigger database.
Remember years ago when you needed a new ladder and bought the only one the local hardware store stocked?
Well, now there’s Bunnings, and you can choose from 20 different ladders.
No one even thinks about the little local hardware shop anymore.
Have an exit strategy
It might seem strange planning how your business will work without you when you’re building it, but everyone needs an exit strategy from the get-go.
If you build your business around yourself, what happens if you fall ill or want to take a holiday?
Steve Jobs might have been the co-founder of Apple and the man with the vision, but he surrounded himself with quality people who had their own strengths.
You need to do the same.