Business LeadershipElite Agent

Matt Lahood – The Agency: There’s no COVID-19 manual but there is common sense

As the real estate sector joins a host of other industries grappling with the impacts of COVID-19, Elite Agent is reaching out to some of the best practitioners to find out what they’re doing differently, and how they’re “pivoting” to adapt. We’ll continue to glean an insight and share the wealth of wisdom available…

“It’s not like you can reach for a Coronavirus manual that’s sitting on the office shelf. The reality is we have to step up as leaders and an industry, and it’s a lot about common sense.”

Over the past few weeks, Matt Lahood has been implementing a raft of changes in The Agency that are designed to protect the welfare of his people and clients.

He also jokes he’s been busy getting up to speed on Zoom with a little assistance from the younger generation. 

Like many real estate brands, The Agency’s strategies extend from hygiene to staggered house inspections and a greater use of technology.

Sales inspections
The Agency is now staggering their house inspections in a bid to maximise social distancing. That means inspections are by appointment with one party through at say 11am, another at 11.10am, the next at 11.20am and so forth. Where two parties are on-site at the same time, social distancing is a priority.

In the meantime, hand sanitiser is readily available, and after a series of inspections, The Agency is also offering the opportunity for the owner’s house to be cleaned. In addition, keys are being disinfected on return to the office.

Rental inspections
Rather than face-to-face rental inspections, technology is now being employed. That’s seeing tenants connect with The Agency via Facetime or the like to walk through the property.

Repairs and maintenance requests are being undertaken in a similar vein. Tenants are being asked to showcase the problem using technology, tradespeople are also connecting to give tips via Facetime, and where a physical visit is required, social distancing is the aim.

“Technology is playing a major role. So, we might connect a tenant with a plumber via Facetime, for example, to walk them through how to turn off the water until the plumber can attend at a suitable time,” Matt says.

In the business
Matt notes The Agency was lucky that their model already encouraged people to work from home, so they were quick to shut the physical doors of their offices with minimal impact.

Sales meetings are now via Zoom, as are all leadership meetings, but Matt notes business decision-making has been accelerated.

“You know we used to sit around at sales meetings and say we’d come back to it tomorrow. At the moment I’m not getting off a call without a decision being made there and then.”

Staff welfare
Along with their customers, staff welfare is the top priority for The Agency, Matt reflects.

“Now is not the time to be interested in sales figures. What I’m interested in is ensuring people are still around in three months’ time, that they are not suffering mentally in the process.

“The important message is: this too shall pass – just like the bushfires, just like 9/11, just like the GFC. As an industry we have to listen to the government and adapt what we are doing as individuals.

“In three months’ time, many of these initiatives will be the new normal. We will learn to work remotely, we will make faster decisions and we may even be a much more productive country.

“Going forward we may find this working arrangement is exactly as it should be as long as the customer is looked after.”

What are you doing differently? Join the conversation to share your approach, your strategies, and your innovation so together as an industry we work through the challenges ahead.

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