It’s far from business as usual but Manos and Maria Findikakis note it is business nonetheless at their offices all over Australia.
This weekend their agents managed to secure a number of contracts despite the challenge of no open homes and a government rent relief package that remains up in the air.
In the interim, they’ve been drawing on technology, harnessing previous experience and proactively communicating with clients and staff to cope with the business impacts of COVID-19.
As long as private inspections remain an option, Eview will be utilising them but Manos and Maria note they too may be ruled out by the government in the weeks to come.
In the meantime, they’ve trained their sales team in best-practice when it comes to health and hygiene and are communicating this with their clients as well.
Eview is also utilising technology such as handheld or virtual walkthroughs and are harnessing the pure power of verbal description while working their database of prospective buyers and mixing up their marketing.
Their new marketing strategies involve tailored solutions to fit all client’s budgets and they’re tapping the power of portal listings, while also enabling clients to test the market via their qualified database.
“To be honest, we’ve actually had a rush of properties come on the market and we’re just trying to provide the best service possible,” Manos and Maria explain.
“At this point we’ve done 80 per cent of what we’d normally do in March and have also sold two properties today with the month not over yet. We might still get close to our normal figures.”
Property management and routine inspections
“Resourcefulness” is a key word for the group at present and this is certainly playing out in property management where both tenants and landlords are clamouring for clarity on rent relief.
To calm the market nerves Manos and Maria have urged their team to be very proactive about communication.
“We’ve been telling our team to get on the phone and talk with landlords and tenants. The second option Is voicemail and SMS, and after that email.
“People have been very happy to hear from us and pretty much everyone has picked up. We’re assuring them we are on top of it and will let them know more when the information comes to hand.”
At present the group has trialled routine inspections via Zoom, but are now looking to shift to Google Hangouts and note there are instances where it’s tricky for tenants because they are unfamiliar with technology.
In some instances, they’ve reached out to landlords looking to simply postpone routine inspections for a couple of months.
“If it’s one to two months, that’s not such a big deal. If it’s longer we will deal with it a little further down the track,” Manos and Maria say.
When it comes to repairs and maintenance, the urgent jobs are the priority.
“With anything that’s not urgent we are asking tenants to be patient.”
In the business
Communication is key and the group is drawing on their collective knowledge. Eview has created a hub for agents with a wealth of COVID-19 resources. The group is also meeting regularly via Zoom, with their meetings focused on creating collective goals and solutions, Manos and Maria say.
“Our last meeting had 80 people on it and there was a real energy that came out of it. We are learning from each other, talking through experiences and strategies,” the couple explain.
“We are trying to be agile and we are also communicating internally via our system which allows us to gain and share feedback from the marketplace.”
The pair notes agents in the group have an advantage because their expenses are based on profits. Many are already set up to work from home, and much of their work is also done virtually.
At head office, however, the couple says they have declared a ‘code red’.
“Although this particular situation is unprecedented, we have the benefit of the tough times in the market a couple of years ago, so a lot of fat has already been trimmed from the business.”
As optimistic as they are now, Manos and Maria are also prepared for the months ahead.
“It’s a matter of ensuring all the great sales we had in February and March, that these are set aside to pay staff in June, July and August.
“At best we may achieve 50 per cent of our usual results, but in reality it could be worse.
“Our focus at the present isn’t growth, but rather spring cleaning our processes and procedures to ensure our survival.”
Manos notes the aim of the game at the moment is to be omnipresent, communicating frequently with the market and clients via blogs, phone calls, emails and resources.
“We’re communicating to ensure people know that we are here and available. The message is: It’s not business as usual but we are still open for business.”
Staff welfare and support
In anticipation of a shutdown, earlier this month Eview sent all their support teams in administration, bookkeeping and IT home for at least a day a week.
The aim of the game was to test exactly how they would fare working from home, and to audit what equipment and resources they might need, then secure them.
When the axe fell and people were urged to work from home, that insight proved invaluable.
Now the group has a laser-like focus on staff welfare and support, launching a new initiative called the GAME DAY challenge.
The initiative is designed to encourage the entire Eview team to practise gratitude, exercise, meditation, and heathy eating, while attaining knowledge, and setting goals.
“We’re urging our people to keep focussing on goals, despite all the noise in the background. We will get through this, and it’s good to be there for each other.”
Like many other agents and brands, Manos and Maria believe there will be important lessons learned in the weeks to come and these will change the real estate sector, perhaps for the better.
“Over the next three to six months, things might get tough. We might emerge battered and bruised, but resilience will be the most important thing and in the interim, we will use this time to set up for the come back.”