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The Paul Smith column: Why is staff turnover so high at the hybrids?

Land Insight to 17 April NS

Holding on to good staff is important in any profession.

For a start, you want to hang on to the expertise they’ve built up, especially if you’ve invested a substantial sum in training.

Plus you don’t want to have to spend yet more money on recruiting a replacement if they only stay a few months.

It is interesting to note, then, that according to LinkedIn (Premium), the average tenure of people classed as ‘employees’ at Purplebricks is 1.3 years, based on 1,116 people listed on LinkedIn.

LinkedIn doesn’t differentiate between whether these people are fully paid up employees or self-employed Local Property Agents.

At Yopa it’s even shorter, at one year, based on 198 ‘employees’, while Tepilo fares slightly better at 1.5 years, based on 58 ‘employees’.

Compare this with Countrywide, at 7.3 years – a company where you would expect people to be jumping ship because of fears over their future. Which gives me even more admiration for Countrywide’s ‘foot soldiers’ who have remained loyal to the firm, despite its ups and downs.

It therefore appears that Local Property Agents providing services to the hybrids are not staying long in the job – and one possibility is because they are struggling to bring in the income they thought would materialise.

Just do the maths.

Let’s say you receive around £250 from your hybrid master for every property you list and assume you list ten a month, giving you an income of £2,500.

As a self-employed person, you have to pay all your costs from this – car, petrol, accountant and so on.

Then you have to pay the taxman.

Plus you don’t get sickness or holiday pay. And the hours can be extremely long. You soon realise you need to list an awful lot of properties in one area every month in order to make ends meet.

We’re not seeing that when we look at market share; we can see the numbers just don’t add up. So if you are looking to become a Local Property Agent, if LinkedIn is anything to go by, I wouldn’t expect a long career with the company you join.

How do we rebuild trust in estate agents?

According to leading marketing research company Ipsos MORI, estate agents remain the lowest of the low when it comes to trustworthiness.

Well, OK, not quite bottom slot – that falls to politicians and government ministers.

But we’re right there with journalists, bankers and professional footballers when it comes to the Net Trust in Professions barometer – which is disappointing but perhaps not altogether surprising.

So why is it like this? Why don’t the public trust us? What more can estate agents do to improve the public’s perception and what should our trade bodies do to support the process?

Part of me wonders whether the trust issue is an urban myth that keeps perpetuating itself.

If you keep telling people enough times that you can’t trust an estate agent, you start to believe it.

Or, given the lack of control over who becomes an agent and the absence of licensing, something I have called for incessantly, are there too many unqualified, un-vetted and incapable agents peppering the profession, supported by redress schemes which do very little to police the industry?

Indeed, why aren’t the trade bodies doing more to push estate agents to up their game to become trusted professionals, like lawyers and judges?

Perhaps things have changed over the years.

Estate agents are hungry for leads and have no excuse not to phone a prospect or a customer back, once one of the main sources of a client’s frustration.

Or are we hindered by people’s views of hybrid estate agents, where technology has replaced human interaction in many processes, making it more difficult to resolve issues?

There’s research now that says 48% of people choose estate agencies based on trust, which means they are far more likely to take ratings and reviews into an account when choosing an agent.

Five star reviews on Google and Facebook are worth their weight in gold.

Estate agents, therefore, have even more reason to give a brilliant service to every single client they come into contact with. They are no longer transactional agents. They need to become relationship agents.

A large part of their role is customer service, ensuring the customer experience is the absolute best it can be.

Incentivising staff to deliver fantastic service that generates genuine five-star reviews is now becoming the norm in agencies.

As with any survey of almost 1,000 people, you would want to know more about the people who answered the questions.

Did they put nurses and doctors, teachers and professors at the top of the list because they themselves work in the public sector? Or are they people who have had a genuinely bad experience of their own with estate agents?

Perhaps there’s only one solution to the age-old question of trustworthiness. Is it now time we gave ourselves a makeover – and called ourselves nurses instead?

Fast forward with Facebook video

The tech giants Facebook and Google are increasingly under scrutiny over the power and influence they wield – and the data they have access to.

I have even heard some people say that Facebook is on its way out – despite all evidence to the contrary.

But one of the reasons for their success is they are simply delivering what the customer wants – including easy access to information and the ability to reach wider markets than ever known previously.

From an estate agency perspective, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to imagine life before Facebook – even though vast numbers of estate agents are failing to put their properties in front of the very audiences most likely to be interested.

We are having amazing success with our unique FLINK software, which creates multiple property ads on social media.

But like all tech opportunities, we need to keep moving forward with the times. I’m told that Facebook will eventually only accept video, not images, when promoting a business, as it aims to become the next Netflix.

It’s time to get that selfie stick back out of the cupboard and train your staff in how to shoot video on their mobile phones.

Otherwise the only stick you’ll need is the one to beat yourself as you realise the world has moved on – and you’ve been left behind.

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Source:: The Paul Smith column: Why is staff turnover so high at the hybrids?