People Skills Are Worth Paying For!

22 May 2019 Virginia Brookes

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Virginia Brookes, knows what kind of skills contribute to industrious offices. Based in Sydney, the Director of the boutique real estate recruitment agency shares her top tips when looking to recruit staff into a real estate team.

1. Hire people who aren't afraid of people
The most important piece of real estate is being a people person. Virginia says, “I think face-to-face communication is always going to be what real estate is all about. You can't live behind a database. You can't live behind a phone. People want to deal with a real person. I get young people coming into my office who actually can't look at me face-to-face. They stare down at their hands, almost like they're looking for a device to be able to communicate." Hire people who can talk to people!

2. Value foundational skills
Virginia values the skills big franchises teach young people because without realising it, a simple question such as ‘Would you like fries with that?’ teaches them to upsell and ask the key sales questions. She says, “What gives people a really good grounding is to have a job at McDonald's or Hungry Jacks or somewhere where you've got to turn up for a shift, you've got to deal with people face-to-face, you have to wear a uniform and you have to be groomed correctly."

3. Think outside the box and pay for experience
You've got to pay what people are worth to get the job done properly. Value skills that candidates bring from other industries. Virginia says, “Sometimes people coming from out of the industry are the best. They've got no perception of what goes on, and you can train them your own way, and you can make them and mould them into what you want them to be. And then grow them and their career and that's how you keep them as well."Be open minded. Virginia says, “A hotel concierge, can I tell you, makes the best manager or database manager.

Concierges, or people who've worked behind bars in hospitality, are used to people yelling at them at 10:00 at night over a drink or whatever's wrong, or a bounced credit card or an angry customer that's come into a hotel. They have had to learn to pacify them on the spot. They can't just run and get somebody else. They have had to learn to take some form of control over that situation. So, I always say to people, look at someone coming from a concierge service in a hotel, look at someone coming from hospitality. You know waitresses put up with a lot. Okay you might need to fine tune their PC skills a little bit, but with this generation coming through, they pretty much can do everything on a computer anyway, or a tablet or a device. So, technology is not a problem for them."

Now more than ever, real estate operates as a team - it's not an "I" anymore. To succeed in real estate, you have to have a team around you. You can't be a salesperson, a marketer and a database manager all at once. You can't do everything. Virginia says, “If you want to do well you've got to spend the time and
you've got to spend the money investing in the people that are going to help you become a better sales agent. So, if they've got a lot of experience - a lot of the time they're worth the money."

4. Make sure you have a thorough and rigorous onboarding process
When a new staff member starts – be prepared! Virginia says, “If a rookie is coming in and they're really excited and they can't wait to get going, make sure you've got an induction process for them. Have a few tasks that you need them to do each day from the time they get in there. Most of them aren't dummies - they're able to follow a script or they're able to go through a database and start learning. But have a set structure in place for them to allow them to succeed. Buddy them up with another agent that's coming in so they can go out and just see exactly what you're doing and what the life of an agent looks like."
Be thoughtful about who you put in charge of doing the onboarding. Virginia says, “Do not have anyone jaded from the industry. You've got someone coming in with rose coloured glasses thinking it's going to be amazing. If they go into an office and they are not inducted properly, there's no training, there's no support around what they're doing – the recruit will leave the industry. And you don't often get a second chance to bring someone back in. They're gone. Sixty per cent of placements fail because people aren't prepared."

5. Get the right person to be a Sales Manager
Being a Sales Manager in 2019 is very different to what was expected in the past. Sales Managers need to really understand people. Virginia says, “It's a nurturing role. It's not a yelling role. I think a lot of people used to think that a Sales Manager just sits and tells you what has to be done. It is in fact, a collaborative role, where you need to sit and get feedback from your team about what you're doing and what you're trying to achieve. A Sales Manager is a leader, someone that staff can look to; someone that does have the answers. They have to know how to list and sell real estate, but that can be taught too." Virginia also believes that in addition to being nurturing and caring, Sales Managers need to have the hard conversations too. She says, “And that's where a lot of sales agents don't necessarily make good sales managers, because they're mates with everyone in the office, and as a manager you can't be everyone's mate, all the time.”