Sapiens qui prospicit*

Rightmove will interview me via webinar at 3pm today (Monday 16th March 2020) to get my thoughts on how agents can work effectively from home in the event this becomes necessary in the coming weeks.

Here’s a few of the questions I’ll be discussing:

1. What tech and processes do you need in place to keep business going?

The most important piece of tech in estate agency is the phone. Perhaps the most immediate solution is to divert calls to the office to a designated team member but that means their phone is out of action for any outbound calls.

Two options come to mind – have a dedicated phone just to divert to or (my preference and what we do at Property Academy), have your calls answered by Moneypenny who can cope with potentially increased volumes that you might experience 24/7. I suggest it’s worth having a chat with Moneypenny now if you’re not already a client.

Next is a laptop and right now I’d be considering whether to make it mandatory for these to be taken home every evening – if there’s a sudden need to self isolate then returning to the office to pick one up might not be an option. Not every team member will have a business laptop (or even a personal one) so now’s the time to assess who is set up and who needs assistance and consider whether to purchase or hire laptops as needed. They also need to be properly set up with email signatures, etc. You also need to make sure that team members have wifi accessibility and provide them with assistance if not.

The third piece of kit to master is video conferencing – we use Google Hangouts and Zoom and there are many other platforms. Again, now’s the time to get set up and implement training.

A key challenge to address is the flow of information and it’s essential the team keep accurate and timely records of all client contact.

I’d devise a plan now for how you will communicate with the team – my sense is that having three group chats a day is the starting point with individual catch ups as required.

2. What challenges might you need to plan to address?

I’ll be discussing several during the webinar but one key one will be attending to property management issues. If you haven’t already then I suggest you create a process and advise all your landlords and tenants how you will be operating in the event of having to close the office.

It would also make sense to advise them what does/doesn’t constitute an “emergency” during this period. One possibility is that a key contractor might have to self isolate in which case what’s your back up?

3. How can you make best use of time away from the office?

If the number of enquiries does drop off then it could be that some people might have time to work on projects. I’d identify them now and allocate to appropriate team members using a method Stephen Covey taught me that I call “DR GRAC”.

DR = Desired result. What’s the outcome? You cannot be too specific (but all too often projects fail because the brief was too vague).
G = Guidelines. What are the parameters? If communication is harder than usual then it’s important that people are given enough freedom but within a defined framework.
R = Resources. What will the team need to effectively deliver the desired result? What’s their budget? Who can they go to for assistance?
A = Accountability. How often do they need to report progress and how will they?
C = Consequences. How does this project fit in with the overall company objectives? Why is it important? What will happen if they fail to deliver the Desired Result?

I’ve allocated an hour from 3pm to 4pm today (16th March 2020) for the webinar and you can find all the details here:

*Sapiens qui prospicit was my old school motto and about the only Latin I can recall being taught – it translates as, “Wise is the person who looks ahead.”

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