EPMEPM: Productivity

Survivor, Real Estate

Milton Rendell is no ordinary agency Principal. Developing a high –performing team by challenging his staff to get “outside their comfort zone” is all part of a unique experience he calls ‘Real Estate Survivor’. If you would like your sales to improve by 42 percent in one quarter, you might like to try this.

Most agents don’t have a lot of quality time to absorb new information, nor do they give themselves personal time to relax because they are either on the phone or running from appointment to appointment.

Within six months we were clearly the strongest agency and we never looked back.

I have been in real estate now for twenty–four years and like others I have seen plenty, made lots of mistakes and learnt many lessons. That is why I am still in real estate. It always presents opportunities for you to grow.

However, managing staff is an interesting challenge in itself, in addition to the constant challenges of keeping up with the market and meeting the needs of clients whether they are landlords, vendors or tenants. When I started Real Estate Plus in 1999 with three staff I had plenty of ideas and concepts but not a lot in the bank, just energy to share. I had managed a number of agencies successfully and I was always great at finding sales people. Recruitment of sales people has never been an issue throughout my whole management career.

Although we were doing reasonably well, I had turned a few staff turnover which I was not accustomed to and although I had good people there seemed to be gaps in communication and energy. Pressure of now managing people and also creating the other functions of running an agency were getting higher and certainly draining on me. The staff number had climbed to twelve, sales were happening regularly and property managements had grown from nil to one hundred. But I felt there was so much I could do.

Although we had meetings, there was for me a sense of disconnection within the business. To me, I felt we were a good group of people but not truly a team. I had a number of ideas and changes I wanted to implement and felt it was important to introduce the changes in one hit and make the team a part of process with the hope they would take ownership of the new concepts that were to be introduced. I knew it would take longer than a day to do and we needed to do it uninterrupted. Most agents don’t have a lot of quality time to absorb new information nor do they give themselves personal time to relax because they are either on the phone or running from appointment to appointment.

Finally I decided to take them on a two day retreat in two different groups so the office could still be open for business. I was away for four days attending what we call a “getaway”. I made arrangements for the groups to be away from our immediate area staying together in a waterfront chalet at Mandurah approximately an hour south of our office. Having never undertaken an event like this before I had to ensure I had my act together. I had a program with notes and an agenda of what we were doing so they could follow along.

We mixed the dry information with fun and a few jokes and the team were encouraged to discuss things openly. We worked on scripts and dialogues as well fine tuning the products and ideas we created for the business. We were fortunate to have a couple of muso’s in the group so in the evenings we sang a few songs and played silly games, cooked and just laughed a lot very much like a school camp but for big kids.

The following quarter our sales went up forty two percent. I wish it was me that created all the sales but the team worked together sharing experiences more freely. Within six months we were clearly the strongest agency and we never looked back. We still run our getaways twice a year, mid–year to focus on business planning, and end of year focused on personal development and goal setting which all staff attend. The end of year is the adrenaline getaway on which we invite outside people to attend. We have also had other agents and business people outside of Western Australia attend. This is called our ‘Survivor Getaway’.

Teams compete for food all day and complete up to fourteen challenges in a day. It is a lot of fun and tests your mental strength. One year I had Fiona Blayney (then working for McGrath’s in Sydney) attend who is a wonderful person and on the getaway set herself ten goals. A year later Fiona rang me late one evening to tell me how she realised all those goals. Her excitement was incredible, a cool moment to share with a friend. As a coach and trainer I could not have asked for a more magical call. We have now been conducting getaways for over ten years.

In May, we completed our business planning and I have been told by the staff it has been our best yet. This is great considering it was business planning. We have done some amazing stuff including jumping out of planes at 10,000 feet in a tandem parachute jump. By the way, the participating staff didn’t know they were doing the jump until they arrived at the airfield – I love surprising people. The idea of a getaway has helped create for me some of the most amazing experiences of my life with my staff and friends in the industry and has helped Real Estate Plus take enormous leaps in good and bad times. I am now working on our survivor getaway for December. New ideas and challenges keeps it fun and keeps the anticipation alive. The staff love the unknown challenges that are thrown at them it keeps them keen.

Our Philosophy for our company is Fun and Family, which I believe we have. To be honest we are a family working together and I am really proud of our people. Our team accepts you need to get outside your comfort zone to grow and I think our little adventures helped them with this every year. But it is also the planning and goals they set where all the magic happens. We have loaded some of our adventures on You–tube for those who are interested including our last survivor getaway and tandem jumps. Enjoy them as we did.

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