Learning organisations lead the way

I am often asked: “What if we invest in our staff and they leave?”

I always answer: “What if you don’t and they stay?”

Everyone in the property industry will appreciate that having the highest quality staff, well-motivated and managed, knowledgeable, skilful, customer focused and performance driven is the biggest single contributor to success. Where these attributes are missing, a business often fails to maximise its results.

Ensuring that you and your team are operating at peak performance and focusing on the things that count, comes from maximising a combination of attitude, behaviour, knowledge and skill.

Training and coaching helps ensure peak performance and service delivery as well as regulatory compliance and good business practice.

2017 saw revised requirements in respect of Money Laundering Regulation and the impact of Consumer Protection Regulation continues to cost the industry millions of pounds in compensation payments, payments that could largely be avoided with well trained staff and straightforward systems and processes being adopted and used.

2018 will see the introduction of a ban on charging fees to tenants and this is likely to impact letting businesses by a reduction of 10-20% of fee income. In addition the introduction of GDPR (General Data Protection Regulations) in May will impact on a business’ ability to “farm” its database of potential clients unless they have specifically “opted in” to be contacted.

Both of these huge changes will require detailed planning and well-executed delivery by businesses which will be made much easier through quality coaching and training.

The lettings and property management arena alone has over 150 pieces of legislation to contend with. Failure to comply is costly in terms of fines, compensation and adverse publicity.

Yet in such challenging times, investment in training and coaching is often one of the first areas to be cut when businesses are under pressure financially. 

Of course, businesses should constantly keep all aspects of their operation under review but challenging and changing market conditions often require innovation and changes in modus operandi to stay competitive. Without training and coaching to help support change, the likelihood of success is greatly reduced.

What was an acceptable and even successful approach a few months ago may not be now and certainly won’t be in the future.

Far too many businesses are largely reactive not proactive, waiting for things to happen rather than making them happen. A lack of investment in developing and helping staff to succeed will often lead to a spiral of decline with staff moving away to where opportunities and support seems greater. This compounds the issue and, of course, it is not usually the weakest staff that leave but the best. There have been many studies on the cost of staff turnover and it is certainly way in excess of a sensible approach to making your people the best they can be.

As well as top quality customer facing and sales skills, there is a need for a wide range of knowledge and for a business to be compliant. With a myriad of legislation to comply with in both sales and lettings and huge penalties for falling short, relatively small investments will repay a business many-fold through improved productivity and reduced exposure to risk. Remember a complaint is only one letter away from compliant!

There are plenty of experienced trainers in the property industry and off the shelf and bespoke programmes that can be attended.

Personally I believe that coaching and mentoring is the best way forward as it can focus in on specific needs and is tailored to an individual or individual business.

Crucially I urge businesses not to simply take an axe to the training budget when things get tough. Of course, expenditure needs to be controlled and managed but it is likely that there are other areas where costs can be reined in without the potential damage of not having the most effective team in place in your business. 

Use every situation that arises as a learning opportunity and watch your business thrive.

Michael Day MBA FRICS FNAEA is the Managing Director of Integra Property Services. He has over 40 years of experience in the property industry and provides a range of business mentoring and training services. More information at www.integra-ps.com