mio speaks to Sarah Edmundson: What do branch managers need to do to get the best out of their teams?
Sarah Edmundson, co-director of AllStars, the nationwide provider of estate agency training courses, consultancy and e-learning platforms, shares her advice with mio on how to help branch managers cope with the difficulties of their role and get the best out of their teams.
The challenges facing branch managers
Sarah shared that, in her experience, the problem often begins with how branch managers are appointed in the first place. A branch manager is usually selected on the basis that they have been with a business for a long time, they are very loyal, a really effective valuer and have performed incredibly well overall. Without a doubt, these are all great qualities for a branch manager to have but there’s something crucial missing. They have not been given the right training and skills to be a branch manager.
The title of ‘branch manager’ seems to be a badge rather than an actual understanding of what the role entails. This means that branch managers are often faced with an extremely difficult job as they are expected to be an excellent sales person and manage an entire team without being given the proper tools to do that effectively.
While this may not be the case for all estate agents, Sarah has certainly seen a significant lack of leadership and management training taking place across the whole of the UK, a problem that she feels must be addressed in order for agents to continue to win more listings and be the best in their area.
Importance of structure
Taking on the role of branch manager is no easy feat and it can be particularly challenging when juggling the responsibility of making sales while efficiently supervising your team so that they can do the same. Sarah’s advice to anyone tackling this challenge is implementing structure.
The key to running any business begins with setting, but more importantly sharing goals and outlining expectations; this can be both on a short and long term basis. Perhaps, you’re working towards gaining a certain number of listings by the end of the month or number of sales by the end of the year. And, even if these objectives aren’t met, without them, there is no way to know what you’re aiming for, or any way to measure success.
Expectations can also be referred to as KPIs (Key Performance Indicators), which aid in measuring the performance of your teams. Sarah discussed that many businesses do not understand the importance of measuring performance and that she sees a lot of businesses where the KPIs are running the business rather than the other way round. When you start setting goals, you can benchmark your performance, identify what is working well and pinpoint what may need more work. Then, she suggests, as a branch manager, you can act as an enabler for your team to fix these issues and achieve business goals, which is when communication becomes essential.
Appraisals with your team
Ensuring there is strong communication between you and your team is key to being a great branch manager. Allstars have trained over 3000 estate agents across the UK and one of the things Sarah said she doesn’t see enough of, is one-on-ones or appraisals. The problem is, in the most part, the word “appraisal” strikes fear in to most managers and colleagues alike! Invariably due to the fact they are seen as a tiresome necessity rather than a progress and development meeting, to discuss motivations, achievements and ways to develop.
Sarah suggested that the importance of these discussions cannot be underestimated and should be a structured process taking place in your branch, on a monthly basis at least! It does not need to be a formal meeting but you’ve got a responsibility to take the time to have these conversations with your team regularly and find out what’s going on so you can help guide them accordingly. In these sessions, Sarah recommended that you should use your goals to benchmark performance and identify what is working well for each team member, or if there is something that they need help with to improve. It is also a great environment to give praise for good work to boost team morale.
It is worth noting that if solid relationships can be built within the team and everyone is well-informed, then this will project outwards and resonate with your customers; they will feel comfortable knowing they are in the hands of a progressive, congruent agency. A collaborative team of agents will provide an excellent customer experience and this makes people more likely to be an advocate of your brand.
How technology can help
Sarah said that at AllStars, they tell all their clients to embrace technology because it is playing an increasingly important role in customer success within the residential property industry. There are already some great property tools available, like mio for example, which can help branch managers deal with some of the difficulties of their role and better manage their team, taking independent advice to wade through the sea of proptech is always a great approach. Also, looking outside of the industry norm at tools like Trello and Monday for example, help with organisation within a team.
With mio, you no longer need to spend your time chasing up clients with calls or sending out emails as everyone is kept in the loop through the mio app. The instant messaging feature and automated milestone updates are a great way to communicate efficiently, saving you time for other important managerial duties. mio gives everyone in the chain a single shared view of the transactions taking place, so you can direct resources and attention where it needs to be and delegate real-time sales progression tasks, helping your agents increase efficiency, decrease sales time and meet objectives!