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CEO Update February 2016



The new brand is looking sensational in the market place, it has been great to watch it all unfold over the last few weeks on social media. 
At our awards night on the 18th of February I reflected on what we had achieved as a corporate team and as a group in 2015. 

Over 400 office visits – business planning, training, celebrating
We have taken countless support calls from sales agents, business owners, property managers, your clients and numerous external stakeholders
Each office has a business plan in place, with regular reviews and as at December we had 70% of the network either on target or exceeding their expected GCI business plan targets, 
We have delivered over 180 training session either in our training rooms, in your office or in zones. 
Our Property Management Kick Start 2015 was a huge success with the most number of attendees in the last 3 years
We have had over 300 media mentions to Dec, from Dexter’s high heels, to Troy’s Dracula, Tony’s serious market wraps, Archie’s auctions and all the other local stories we are the most quoted group in Vic. Thank you to all of you who scramble to get stories to us on time    
Over 2 million Melbournians now hear our radio campaigns, we have marketed the promise, our client listing competition, Christmas messages, our service, have had Mike Green on and  taken advantage of key events such as the tennis. These campaigns have been instrumental in our brand recognition across the state.
Walk a mile 2015 became a national walk, it was incredible to see the whole country get together, put on high heels and make the statement that domestic violence is not ok. All of you should be extremely proud of what you have started, this walk is now very much part of Harcourts. The money we have raised has funded award winning break the silence program in schools across the country. There is now over 280 White Ribbon Schools across Australia with over 220,000 students participating in the program. 
We are now very well placed to leverage on the momentum we have created over the last few years. 

We had three new introductions to make and I would like to welcome to the network 
Chris and Rebecca Bevan who are opening up Harcourts Brighton 
Jack Slater who is opening up Harcourts North Melbourne
Ashley and Rebecca Bassett who have partnered with Emily and Darren to buy Harcourts Seaford. 

We say goodbye to Vince who has been part of this network for over 15 years and wish him all the very best. 
So what are our key focus areas for 2016?
2016 is all about people, culture and growth. As a team we see ourselves as ambitious, disruptive and connected. We have ambitious goals, we will continue to disrupt the real estate industry and build strong connections with our clients. 

We have four key focus areas are 
Firstly on growth - together with Adam and the team we have a strategic plan in place to grow the network by another 10 Harcourts offices, 4 Landmark locations and 2 NAI offices.  
Secondly on the brand – we will continue to work with MKT and yourselves to be the leading commentator across local and national papers
Thirdly on communication – our radio ads across two stations in Melbourne have raised our brand profile and will continue to do so in 2016, added to which we will have a focus on on-line portals such as rate my agent, with a direct feed being released in the next few months. 
And lastly on listings – we are working in a stable market, however we need a focus on increasing listings. Our goal is to help you increase listing numbers by 20% across the network over the next 12 months which will have a direct impact on your market share. 


Before I sign off for February remember to register for conference, it is a great program, not to mention the networking with 500 plus other Harcourts people and the awards night to celebrate our achievements. 

Congratulations again to all our winners for the December quarter, have an awesome March. 

Sadhana Smiles Blog

December 9th, 2013

Mandela – Prisoner 46664, rebel, warrior, leader, unifier

On Thursday 5th of December the world lost a leader who not only changed a country but influenced leaders and people across the world.

He had a unique life and one that had many challenges. However he seemed to overcome these with grace and dignity. 

Mandela trained as a lawyer and became the leader of the African National Congress that was fighting against the Afrikaner regime.

In 1962 he was given life imprisonment for sabotage and conspiracy to overthrow the government and was imprisoned for 27 long years. He was held on Robben Island in harsh conditions, completely hidden from public view. However Mandela did have a constant view to his beloved country across the waters.

At the end of his trial, Mandela gave a now iconic 4 hour speech in which he said: "I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination," he said. "I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die."

Even in prison he fought for rights of prisoners, which led to them to improved access to newspapers, radio, quality food and the right to study.

He was released in 1990 and South Africa began to move away from racial segregation. FW de Clerk, the last white President, ordered his release, called him a "unifier" and said he had "a remarkable lack of bitterness".   

Both de Clerk and Mandela jointly won the Nobel Peace prize in 1993. 

Four years after he was released he became the first black president of South Africa. There is a wonderful image that many may remember of Mandela holding de Clerk’s hand up with his arms around him. The image resounded unity not just in South Africa but around the world. 

In 1995 he used the rugby World Cup to unite the nation. Walking onto the field, wearing Afrikaner Francois Pienaar’s number 6. The almost entirely white crowd chanted his name and this simple act made a statement and bought Afrikaner’s and South Africans into the new South Africa.

Mandela message was always one of forgiveness and reconciliation. He peacefully negotiated an end to segregation, he had every reason to be bitter however rose above it. In fact he became the nation’s conscience as South Africa went on a journey of healing from the scars of apartheid. 

"As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn't leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I'd still be in prison," Mandela said after he was freed in 1990 .

As you read about the life of Mandela you realise that he played many complex roles in his life, he was a freedom fighter, an activist, a prisoner, a unifier and lastly an elder statesman. 

He had a steely gaze and a big wide smile. He was tall and many said he had an aura around him of dignity rarely seen. Twenty seven long years did not break this man, instead it made him iconic. 

When you measure world leaders against Mandela most fall short, for those of us who have watched this man we have truly been blessed to be around in his time. 

At the age of 86 Mandela stepped away from public life – “don’t call me, I will call you,” he said. 

It is hard for us living in Australia to imagine Apartheid and segregation, what it can do to a person and how it can change attitudes and make you bitter about the system. In fact many left South Africa and immigrated to Australia. 

Mandela was clearly special. He was a gracious man and transformational leader. A man his country locked away for 27 long years and yet still returned forgiving and leading his beloved nation on a journey that healed and changed it forever. 

He called for an end to the bloodshed and forged a democratic political path for South Africa. By enabling blacks to not just vote but also participate in government, he made South Africa a global player. He proudly coined it the “Rainbow nation” in his inaugural speech.

He said: “We enter into a covenant that we shall build a society in which all South Africans, both black and white, will be able to walk tall, without any fear in their hearts, assured of their inalienable right to human dignity - a rainbow nation at peace with itself and the world.”

He was a generous man, doing a lot of work on the issue of Aids/HIV, a disease he lost a son to. 

“Death is something inevitable. When a man has done what he considers to be his duty to his people and his country, he can rest in peace,” 

"I would like to be remembered not as anyone unique or special, but as part of a great team in this country that has struggled for many years, for decades and even centuries," he said. "The greatest glory of living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time you fall."

Rest in peace Nelson Mandela, you have taught us many lessons and as generations learn about you, you will continue to teach them.



June 5th, 2013

Mindset of the Virtuoso

If you were asked to list people who you saw as super achievers or virtuosos, these names would potentially appear:

• Usain Bolt
• Richard Branson
• James Tostevin
• Steve Jobs
• Bill Gates
• Oprah Winfrey

All of these people have had the mindset to be the best in the world. However, have you ever wondered what their back story is? What did they do to get where they are today? Because they didn’t just wake up one morning and become the best at what they do!

If you did have an opportunity to sit down and have a chat to any of the them, they will tell you that they had the following:

1. Commitment to be the best at what they do – how serious are you? You are the key person who has the most impact on your performance.
2. Practiced religiously – do not practice on your clients.
3. Trained to be the best – no athlete goes out on the day of competition and becomes the best, it takes years of training.
4. Had a written plan in place – written goals means you have a written commitment to achieving them.
5. Developed a respect for time – we all have the same amount of hours in the day; how are you using yours?

Being great at what you do is the result of disciplined intense practice on a regular basis. The opposite is wasting time, looking for excuses and blaming others for your lack of success.

So how much time are you committing to scripts, listing, negotiation and prospecting practice?

We are getting close to the end of the year and for many of you the 30th of June will bring group certificates with the reality of what you have actually earned…and it might not be what you had hoped.

So get serious, commit to a plan, practice, train and surround yourself with people who will coach and mentor you and hold you accountable to be the best – the Picasso of real estate.

Remember, to get the results that the top 10 per cent of agents have you must be willing to do what only 10 per cent of agents do.

As you start to achieve success what occurs is you become more confident, energetic, productive and focused which leads to becoming word class or the virtuoso.

 

May 27th, 2013

Are You Taking Care of Your Key Assets?

For an investor the formula is quiet simple – buy an investment property, give it to a property manager to manage and continue to earn income long-term. The property then becomes a key asset in your investment portfolio.

Have you stopped to considered what your key asset is and how to ensure you’re getting the best return?

Consider the following:

Your Brand
Your band is not the logo or the business you work in or the marketing you blast out. Your brand is you, how you make people feel and the relationships you build. Do your clients know you, like you, trust you? Are you over-delivering or just doing the same as everyone else? Are you actually relevant to your market place? Do they trust your brand and will they miss you if you go?

Your Market
If you disappeared from your key business area today would you really be missed? If you are delivering memorable service and building strong relationships then people would miss you if you were gone. Therefore you should be the agent of choice, called into the majority of listings in your area and have market share.

Database
How up to date and accurate is your database? This is your goldmine of opportunities? Are you nurturing it, adding to it, keeping in touch with people and being relevant?

Let me ask you this, would you treat your super investments in a way that guaranteed you a minimum return only…NO.

So why do we treat or manage our database in a shoddy way that guarantees a low return?
Imagine you have a brand that is trusted, people know you and want you to sell their home. You are the Picasso of real estate. You deliver on what you promise, in fact over-deliver. Your database constantly feeds you nuggets of gold – repeat and referral business because you nurture it.

If you get these three simple things right then you own the market, you are the Picasso.

If, on the other hand, you look and sound the same as every other agent, your market has no trust in you and your database is shoddy, then your results will reflect this. Because in the end, your return reflects the effort or investment you put in.

 

May 21st, 2013

It’s All About Feelings

If the concept of a brand is an experience or the story, then how do people decide which brand they will be loyal to?

Why do people prefer Coke over Pepsi?

To gain loyalty you need more than just a logo, you need to create a story and you need to be relevant. The story needs to be one that connects with people; a story that is interesting, unique and different.

The story they connect to needs to make them say, “we love dealing with Sadhana”. They do because I make them feel important and I understand what their needs are right now – I am relevant to them.

The connection they feel with you is perhaps not easy to explain or put your finger on and may not really be linked to any rational thought or decision.

It may simply be that they feel a certain way when you interact with them and because of this feeling, not only will they continue to deal with you but refer others to you also.

Marketing seems to be always about blasting out how great and successful you are. People are now wary of brands that boast.

Marketing needs to be more consumers focused, about the experience you create, how relevant you are and how you make people feel.

 

May 16th, 2013

How to Recognise the “Troll” in Your Office

So now I have your full attention given the headline of this blog! We all have at least one troll in our midst and sadly the fairy tale is quiet true; hiding under the bridge until the unsuspecting walks over and out they pop.

Let me explain the “troll” concept further:

1. When attending a meeting the troll will always have a list of reasons why you shouldn’t do something.

2. They will never include themselves in any dialogue. They will never speak of the “team” or of “we” it will always be about them and you.

3. They ensure that just in case you fail they were the only voice of reason and no one listened to them.

4. They live to share their misery and fear. The glass is always half empty.

5. They will never be proactive when things are going well however the minute things start to go south they will happily organise the post mortem.

6. They may chose not to participate at the meeting but will be happy to have a side discussion post the meeting.

7. They will never remember what has worked in the past.

8. The troll is afraid of change so trolling is the only way they have of keeping control.

 

May 13th, 2013

I Just Want to do the Good Stuff

“I want roles in movies but I don’t want to attend any auditions.”

“I want to be an AFL footballer but I don’t really want to train everyday.”

“I want to be a successful agent but I really don’t have the discipline to prospect everyday.”

Unfortunately, in any job you don’t just get to do the fun stuff all the time. To be earn the big bucks, you need to list and sell more than anyone else in your market, you also have be great at building relationships and have single minded focus and discipline.

The fun stuff is the results you get, the awards you may win or simply the personal feeling of achievement.
It’s when things are tough, when you have to work harder and learn how to deal with rejection and failure that’s when the opportunities to shine appear enabling you to do your best work. Don’t miss out on these times.

 

May 7th, 2013

Interest Rates Reach Historic Low

Australia’s official cash rate is now the lowest it has been since official records began in 1959, sitting at just 2.75 per cent.

Earlier this week, the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) decided to shave another 25 basis points off interest rates, after sitting tight for the first few months of the year.

This latest reduction means the cash rate is 175 basis points lower since the RBA began its current course of cuts in November 2011.

There could also be scope to lower rates further in the future and most analysts still tip reductions of between another 25 to 50 basis points.

This is fantastic news for Australian home owners and news which I’m sure was met with a sign of relief earlier this week. The cost of living is on the increase so any savings are sure to be welcomed by Australian households.

It’s also great news for the Australian property market as the rate cut should encourage increased activity from home buyers.

However how much of this week’s cut the big banks will pass on to mortgage holders remains to be seen.

 

May 6th, 2013

How to Become World Class

1. Have total clarity on what you want to achieve. Share this with a trusted coach who will hold you accountable. If you are vague, your results will be vague.

2. Have the single minded focus on your journey and the sense to bend, yield and be flexible when required.

3. Never let go of your family and friends – they are the ones who will be there in your time of need and we all have those.

4. Let people see the passion for what you do – it will engage them and bind them to you.

5. Be the Picasso of your office or your trade.

6. Keep your mind, body and soul fit.

7. Keep the hunger for knowledge alive, it never stops.

8. Be unique, be original – they broke the mould once you arrived.

9. To get the results no one else has have the strength to do what no one else will.

10. Laugh, enjoy life and make a difference to as many people as you can.

 

April 29th, 2013

Do You Have the Guts to Leave the Herd?

Before you read this blog take a few minutes to rate yourself on the following:

o Are you dominating your market place?
o Are you seen as the best – the Mohammed Ali of real estate in your office?
o Your market place simply cannot ignore you because you are that good?

If you have answered no to these, ask yourself – would you like to be? Of course you would, who wouldn’t. The question then becomes how do you get there?

The answer is surprisingly quite simple. Cut out your excuses and increase your actions!
You can make excuses or you can take action, what you can’t do is both.

Excuses are really easy to find and are even easier to convince ourselves that it is reality. Excuses are actually lies we tell ourselves, often from a base of fear, which ultimately impacts our performance.

To lose weight you need to go to the gym, eat healthy and maybe drink less. However how often do you find yourself making excuses? “It’s too cold, I’m too tired, I have too much work, I’ll start next week, I have too many dinners out this week!” I know I have a bag full of them myself (I can’t wait for that magic diet pill to be invented).

Here’s the thing, to be world class or the best at anything, you have to stop making excuses and working below the line.

Real estate is a numbers game. To be successful is really quite simple and it has absolutely nothing to do with the market.

o Make more calls than anyone else
o Work twice as hard as your competitors
o Become the agent of choice
o Be the best at what you do – the Picasso of real estate

There is a reason why only a small percentage of agents in our industry are at the top of their game. They are more disciplined and focused and do the above really well.

The majority of agents hang out with the herd that believes being mediocre is OK. In fact this herd has a cult following with many members.

The best thing you can do right now is to make a conscious decision to exit this herd, find those agents who are at the top of their game, go hang out with them and do what they do.

Successful people in any industry have the mindset and grit not to give up, regardless of the hurdles they hit. Your journey to be the best and to be excellent will have many hurdles; find the grit not to give up. When you get knocked down, get back up and go harder.

Iconic businessmen such as Steve Jobs, Richard Branson, Bill Gates all have grit.

Have you ever seen a race horse with blinkers on running down the straight at Flemington? The reason why they have blinkers is so they don’t get distracted by what’s going on around them.

Too many agents run the distraction model, end up being part of the mediocre herd and then make excuses which they start to believe as to why they are there.

Set yourself a vision of where you want to be, how you are going to get there, love every minute of the journey and make sure you have the single minded focus and grit to get there.

People don’t get lucky with success; you create luck by not giving up and sticking to your plan no matter what.

 

April 22nd, 2013

Walk A Mile in Thier Shoes

Late last week, we finalised the Harcourts Victoria Walk A Mile In Their Shoes promotional video. As you can imagine, the video has already attracted a lot of attention and sparked some interesting discussions.

 

April 17th, 2013

Let’s Walk a Mile in Their Shoes

Something really exciting and important is happening at Harcourts Victoria. In May we’ll be walking down a different path and joining forces with White Ribbon Australia to make a stand against violence, launching the inaugural Walk a Mile in Their Shoes event.

Walk A Mile

 

We’re urging both men and women to don a pair of high heels and join the parade as we walk a mile along Southbank Spillway to demonstrate our commitment against violence as well as displaying our commitment to embracing women in the quintessentially male dominated real estate industry.

I developed the concept in association with my team and our franchise council, and it is based on a similar walk done in Canada.

Unfortunately violence exists in our work places, families, communities and schools, and it is not just physical but verbal and emotional violence. In Australia close to half of all women (40%) have experienced violence since the age of 15.

It’s not just an issue for women but one for our communities and it is within our power to make a public stand against violence of all types. It is simply not ok!
Harcourts Victoria is endeavoring to showcase how progressive, bold and decisive we are by making a public stand as a network, which is against violence of any type.

The encouragement and support the fundraiser has received so far has been incredible. The Harcourts City Residential team took time out of their busy schedules earlier this week, donning their high heels and helping us with the promo video for the walk. We had a lot of fun and handed out a number of flyers to many curious bystanders.

So many members of our team, both male and female, have embraced high heels and have committed to helping put a stop to violence against women.

Our clients, local communities, family and friends are encouraged to join or simply support the inaugural march against violence on the 10th of May, 2013.

For further information, visit http://victoria.harcourts.com.au/.

 

 

April 17th, 2013

The Iron Lady

Tomorrow marks the final steps for Margaret Thatcher, an amazing woman of her time. Like or dislike her, Thatcher was an extraordinary woman who was driven, passionate and focused with single minded determination.

She polarized a nation, in life and death, but history will treat her as a great leader.The influence she had for her time was far reaching, creating major domestic reforms that altered Britain.

The Iron Lady ruled the UK for 11 years and remains the longest serving Prime Minister for Britain. She took over a rundown nation and produced a leaner government and a prosperous nation by the time she left.

She was tough, of that there is no doubt. The only female PM to date in Britain but interestingly she apparently found feminists annoying. I recently read that her view on women wanting to make their mark on public life was simple: “The odds are stacked against women so they have to show they are better than the men.” Many women would say that this is still the case today. Interestingly, she only ever appointed one female cabinet member during her time in power.

She was passionate about what she believed to be best for Britain; she built great relationships with her allies who underestimated her at first but quickly gave respect. Her speech attacking the Soviet Union earned her the Iron Lady title. It was coined by Captain Yuri Gavrilov in 1976 in the Soviet newspaper Red Star, for her staunch opposition to the Soviet Union and socialism. It is now a popular term to describe female heads of Government of which there are very few. The term simply means a “strong willed”woman. Perhaps many of us in business should also be nicknamed iron ladies.

It simply amazes me that in her death there are people who will celebrate her passing through burning effigies and singing childish songs. It shows a total lack of respect for the person and what she achieved. Like or dislike her, one cannot ignore the successes she had over her 11 years; the Falklands, privatisation that saw the emergence of brands such as Virgin, control of unions to name a few. Yes she perhaps could have been “softer”, but would being simply more appealing have gotten her the same results?

We talk about glass ceilings in 2013. I suspect Thatcher had layers of concrete ceilings to deal with which she tore down with her bare hands. She fought for respect from her own party, the opposition and international leaders like Regan, Gorbacov and Kohl.

To some she was the“Iron Lady” and to others she was simply “that bloody woman”. The response to Thatcher proves she had no qualms with being provocative through her cutting edge policies. She also used her femininity to her advantage. This fight for respect and lack of shame about her gender are admirable leadership qualities – other world leaders have done far worse.

I personally admire Thatcher’s qualities. They are qualities that enable you to shoot for the stars and actually get there. She will always be on my list of people to have around a dinner table.Greatness is an uncomfortable quality. No matter what people say about her, Thatcher was great. She will be remembered not just for being a woman, but for the woman that she was.

Apparently what mattered to Margaret Thatcher was how history was going to judge her. I believe that history will be kind to her. We shouldn’t dare do otherwise.

 

April 8th, 2013

Housing Affordability Improves in Victoria

Housing affordability has improved by 20 per cent since prices peaked in late 2010 and this is one of the reasons why more buyers are currently active in the residential market.

According to REIV research an average Victorian household would have had to dedicate 26.1 per cent of its income to meet loan repayments when prices last peaked in the December quarter of 2010. This calculation is based on the average income of all households with an average mortgage according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

By the December quarter of last year the average household would have had to dedicate 21.4 per cent of its income to meet average repayments.

According to the Census the average household income of mortgagees in Victoria was estimated at $1,950 per week in 2011.

This is 60 per cent higher than the average total household income of $1,216 per week as those paying back a mortgage have a higher income than those who are renting or who own outright. First home buyers face a different scenario as they both lack the equity that second and third home buyers bring to the purchase and often have lower incomes.

There are three primary reasons for the improved affordability – interest rates are very low, and incomes have risen at the same time as overall prices have fallen.

Over the past five years the only time affordability was better was in the June quarter of 2009 when the market was substantially affected by the global financial crisis.

As the market is the midst of a mild recovery it would be expected that the income required to pay back a loan will slowly increase making this autumn a good time to upgrade to a new home.

 

April 2nd, 2013

House Prices Rise in March

The REIV’s April Research Bulletin reveals an increase in the Melbourne House Price Index (HPI) of 0.9 per cent and a 1.1 per cent rise in the Unit Price Index (UPI) in the month of March.

This represented the sixth month in a row in which the HPI has increased providing another clear indication of an improving residential market. Over the past six months the HPI has risen 3.2 points from 135.8 to 139.

This recovers some of the value lost in prices over the past two years but they still remain below their peak of 144.8 in April 2011.

It is important to note that this recovery is mild when compared to the last cycle when the first six months of consecutive improvement saw an 8.8 point rise from 111.2 to 120 between July and December 2009.

There are a few reasons why the improvement is mild this time. The rise in consumer confidence is more subdued than in 2009 and there are much higher levels of supply which translates into less unmet demand and there is less stimulus from governments.

As a result it is likely to be more sustainable, which is better for those seeking to buy over the remainder of autumn and into winter.

 

March 28th, 2013

Is Emptying the Nest on Your Mind?

As much as we love them, we know when it’s time for the kids to move out – both for the sake of their independence, our space and sometimes everyone’s sanity. While most of us wouldn’t trade parenting and its rich rewards for anything, we also know when their lifestyle is cramping ours and vice versa. We are, after all, a generation apart.

Whether they’re already saving for a home or busy living the life, a gentle nudge in the direction of their first home might be just the thing for peace and harmony all round.

Here are a few incentives you might like to share with your children:

  • The First Home Buyer Grant of $7,000 applies to eligible purchasers;
  • Discounted stamp duty fees also apply to eligible first home buyers, with the current 30 per cent reduction bringing maximum stamp duty savings to approximately $9,000;
  • Combined with the grant, there’s almost $16,000 available to eligible first timers buying in 2013;
  • The stamp duty discount will rise to 40 per cent on January 1, 2014, and to 50 per cent on September 1, 2014.

For further information, see www.sro.vic.gov.au and the free First Home Buyer Guide just released by the REIV at www.reiv.com.au.

If your strategy works, you might then consider downsizing – and, of course, use the profits to ‘live the life’.

If, however, dropping subtle hints – or maybe even throwing full blown tantrums – doesn’t work, it might be time to look for a bigger home, with plenty of spare rooms.

 

March 25th, 2013

Melbourne Market Heats Up

It’s great to see the property markets continued strength as the year enters its second quarter. While summer holidays become a distant memory, replaced by perfect autumn days and left-over Easter chocolates, continued vibrancy in the marketplace is indeed suggestive of an ongoing upswing rather than a post-Christmas surge.

Both listings and auction clearance rates have markedly increased in today’s more confident market. Vendors have been securing good results, with some properties attracting multiple buyers, competitive bidding and achieving above-reserve sale prices. While the year’s average clearance rate nears 70 per cent, the 74 per cent clearance rate achieved in February was the highest since May 2010.

Melbourne’s median house price continues to trend upwards, with a 7.8 per cent increase in the December quarter followed by rising house values in both January and February. In fact, Melbourne’s 1.5 per cent rise in February led the nation’s charge.

After any significant event in the year – whether it’s Christmas, Easter or the Grand Final weekend – market activity usually spikes, simply because the dust has settled and buyers’ and sellers’ focus returns to the job at hand.

That said prospective vendors may wish to take full advantage of the current momentum. Buyers are keen to seal the deal while interest rates remain low. Furthermore higher activity levels are expected to continue in coming weeks and the beautiful autumn weather can only inspire buyers – and enhance the appeal of vendors’ homes and gardens.

 

March 19th, 2013

Increase in Melbourne's Market Turn Over

Melbourne’s property market has turned over more than $6 billion since the 1st of January 2013.

Figures released by the Real Estate Institute of Victoria show total sales from January 1 to March 13 have been valued at $6.1 billion – $900 million higher than the $5.2 billion sold in the same period of 2012.

This equates to an extra $12.5 million worth of properties being sold daily – or more than 22 median Melbourne properties.

This year has seen the biggest start first quarter since 2010 with the key driver being improved consumer confidence, and an increase in more active buyers and sellers.

While some properties – particularly in the $400,000 to $600,000 range – were selling above reserve, most of the increase came from a higher number of properties being sold.

Most of the people who are out there buying are investors who are taking advantage of market conditions to increase their investment portfolios.

 

March 14th, 2013

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Should I stay or should I go – this is the age old question we often ask ourselves in a number of instances and perhaps not all related to our working lives.

The answer isn’t always obvious and I always advise to proceed with caution when considering any major change.

The environments we work in are competitive and the consumers we now deal with are far more real estate savvy with much higher expectations than ever before.

As agents, we are all looking for that edge that will enable us to deliver memorable experiences to our clients that our counterparts can’t compete with.

What is your current brand giving you that will enable you to stand apart from the rest?

And as you do your research on this, to answer the question of “should I stay or should I go”, understand that it will not be just one tool that will help you stand apart.

Remember every company offers technology, training, systems, and websites. You need to take a much more holistic view of your brand.

Consider the complete package – technology, training, systems, support, culture, leadership, market share, brand recognition, marketing and brand strength – and how this impacts your performance and the level of service it enables you to deliver to your clients.

At Harcourts we are lucky to have many points of differences that other companies simply don’t have access to which creates a very “fertile” formula for success.

What we do for our people is a well-kept secret, one perhaps you may like to uncover for yourself.

 

February 25th, 2013

Melbourne's Million Dollar Boom

More than 10 per cent of Melbourne homes are now valued at $1 million or more, according to latest real estate industry data.

Almost 3,700 houses sold for a seven-figure sum last year, and that number is set to grow throughout 2013.

The list of suburbs with million-dollar median price tags has expanded beyond Melbourne’s inner-eastern suburbs. The Real Estate Institute of Victoria data shows a handful of the 40 suburbs where average values are topping the million-dollar mark are located more than 20 kilometers from the CBD.

Warrandyte South, Kangaroo Ground, and Red Hill South on the Mornington Peninsular are all now in the million-dollar club, according to the REIV, while Portsea and Merricks North, also on the Peninsular, remain on the list.

This rise in million dollar suburbs is just one factor that is indicating property market recovery in Victoria’s capital. Earlier this month, Melbourne’s auction clearance rate topped 70 per cent – the best result since 2010.

This year has started better than 2012 ended, meaning that since spring last year the market has been gradually rising. There are many positive indicators in the market and it will be interesting to see what property prices do throughout 2013.

 

February 21st, 2013

Property Market Poised for Growth

Several key factors suggest that 2012 ended with the market in a better position than it was a year ago and improved levels of affordability would ensure buyers continue to be well placed in 2013.

There are three reasons to be confident about prospects for the market in 2013: consumer confidence levels are above this time last year; the clearance rate is higher than this time last year; and overall prices have been stable.

Affordability is at reasonable levels with prices remaining below their peak and interest rates at historical lows.

The inner city is where buyers will find the best bargains in 2013 as the median is 10.4 per cent below its peak compared to 9.3 per cent in the middle suburbs and 7.9 per cent in the outer suburbs.

Regional Victorian prices have been much more stable. In Geelong, the median is 1.8 per cent below peak; in Ballarat, it is 2.1 per cent below; and in Bendigo, prices are only slightly (0.1 per cent) below peak.

If consumer confidence continues to improve it should encourage more buyers into the market and that will drive capital growth. As supply and demand is in much greater balance, any capital growth in 2013 will only be moderate.

First home buyers have clearly responded to lower prices and interest rates with around 18 per cent more than in 2011. With stamp duty cuts increasing to 30 per cent on 1 January, conditions will continue to improve for them.

*Figures sourced from the REIV

 

February 20th, 2013

Market Improvement in Victoria

The REIV December quarter medians confirm strengthening demand and an increase in housing prices in Victoria.

The median house price in Melbourne increased by 7.8 per cent to $555,000 over the December 2012 quarter, up from $515,000 in the September 2012 quarter. The median price for units and apartments increased by 4.2 per cent to $456,000 from $437,500.

Strengthening demand has resulted from a combination of improved consumer confidence, four interest rate cuts and the seasonal increase in activity in the December quarter.

Underpinning this increase has been an estimated 16 per cent increase in sales transactions in Melbourne compared to the December 2011 quarter.

Overall transaction numbers remain low in historical terms and that may cause some ongoing fluctuations, but if improvements in confidence continue 2013 will see improved activity and an increase in sale values.

Some of the higher increases in demand were recorded in the more expensive suburbs where buyers have found significant value including Kew, Brighton East, Essendon, Hawthorn, Glen Iris and Fitzroy North. These suburbs recorded very strong clearance rates as buyers competed for well-priced properties.

Healthy growth was also recorded in the more affordable market segments with the median increasing by 4.5 per cent in middle suburbs and 3.6 per cent in the outer suburbs.

Overall house prices in regional Victoria remained stable with a median of $305,000. However key centres continued their steady performance with the median in Geelong increasing by 8.1 per cent to $395,000, 4.7 per cent to $310,000 in Bendigo and 1.8 per cent in Ballarat to $290,000.

February 14th, 2013

Benefits of Downsizing

Recent data released by the Real Estate Institute of Victoria reveals the amount of equity that could be unlocked through downsizing by retiree-aged home owners.

The data suggests that through downsizing, retirees could increase their incomes and remain in the same area they have been living.

Retirees can take advantage of the 25 or 30 years spent paying off their home loan by downsizing. Doing this will not only unlock the wealth generated over 25 or 30 years but retirees will also access a simpler lifestyle.

The 2011 Census showed a high number of homes with owners living alone in house with unused bedrooms. For example two thirds of Victorians who live alone aged over 65 do so in a house with three or more bedrooms.

The REIV’s data shows examples of the equity that could be unlocked by downsizing from a four to a three bedroom house, a three bedroom house to a two bedroom unit, and from a three to a two bedroom unit.

The suburbs with the greatest downsize potential were usually located in the inner to middle Melbourne suburbs such as Kew and Ivanhoe as well along the bay such as in Sandringham and Beaumaris. These are invariably suburbs with a high share of retirement aged, lone person households as well as relatively higher house prices.

Downsizing won’t be for everyone, but those that do can access funds to help boost their retirement income. It’s worth noting that the State Government provides for discounts to stamp duty for pensioners and holders of Commonwealth Seniors cards for properties to a certain value.

Examples :

  • Downsizing from a 4 to 3 bedroom house in Bentleigh could unlock $145,000
  • Downsizing from a 3 bedroom house to a 2 bedroom unit in Brunswick could unlock $250,500
  • Downsizing from a 3 to 2 bedroom unit in Blackburn could unlock $184,000
 
  

 

January 11th, 2013

Stamp Duty Savings

Greater financial incentives are being offered to first-home buyers in Victoria following the raising of the stamp duty discount for homes priced under $600,000 from 20 per cent to 30 per cent.

The higher discount kicked in on January 1, 2013 and applies to existing and new homes, delivering first-home buyers additional savings starting from $600 to a maximum of just over $3,000 on a house price at $600,000.

First-home buyers can work out their stamp duty savings using this table provided the Victorian government’s State Revenue Office.

Maximum stamp duty savings are now over $9,000. Combined with the existing first-home owners’ grant of $7,000 there is nearly $16,000 in savings for those first-home buyers who are willing to venture into the property market in 2013.

The stamp duty discount will rise to 40 per cent on January 1, 2014 and to 50 per cent on September 1, 2014.

To qualify for the stamp duty discount, first-home buyers must also qualify for the $7,000 first-home owners’ grant.

All added up it means Victorian first-home buyers purchasing an existing home receive the highest amount of financial support from the state government which is incredibly position. This should help more people realise their dream of owning property.

 

September 20th, 2012

Would You Consider Co-Buying?

There is a growing trend among Gen Y to co-buy property in order to get a foot on the property ladder. While this can be an extremely savvy strategy, co-ownership can also have pitfalls.

It is no secret that property in Australia is expensive. Affordability may have improved in recent months but houses are still incredibly pricey, particularly within the capital cities.

Young buyers are getting more creative and are moving away from traditional purchasing situations when it comes to housing. Many are buying their first property as an investment, or co-buying with family and friends, according to the Housing Affordability and Sentiment Index.

The index showed that 72 per cent of people aged between 25 and 30 were willing to consider sharing a purchase with a family member of friend in order to enter the property market.

Purchasing an investment property can be a more affordable way for some first time buyers to jump into the market. Having a tenant pay rent can cover the majority of mortgage repayments and being able to claim tax deductions are obvious benefits.

Co-buying is also a popular choice for younger buyers but there are some things that you need to be aware of and take into consideration before going down that path.

1. Co-buying with a friend or family member is different to co-buying with a spouse or defacto as you are seen by banks as two individuals with separate living expenses. This will affect how much you can borrow.

2. Before buying a property with a friend or family member, ensure you have a formal written agreement covering anything and everything. Both parties should also seek legal advice.

3. Make sure you understand what your objectives are in buying the property and what your co-buyers’ are. Are they short-term or long-term? Will you live in it together or is it an investment? What proportion of the property will you own?

4. Ensure you are both clear about how the property will be funded and what will happen if one co-buyer experiences financial difficulties. Be aware that if your friend or family member fails to make payments, you could be responsible for the entire debt.

5. Make sure you know before you buy how you will resolve the issue if one party wants to sell, but the other does not. Can one party buy the other out? How will you decide the value? What happens if one partner cannot afford the others portion?


September 19th, 2012

You Get What You Focus On

Focus on nothing, and you won’t get much. Or focus on the wrong things and success will always be just out of reach.

There aren’t a lot of positive news stories about real estate at the moment. No one really has a crystal ball to predict what the market is going to do next. Everyone makes educated guesses based on a number of variables.

However the market is not something we as agents can control and this certainly should not be where our focus is. What we can do it pay attention to the market. We can be up to speed for conversations with buyers and vendors however that should be the extent of your focus.

So what should you focus on? Perhaps consider these six things:

Existing customers

The stock you manage

The stock other agents manage

Database

Relationships

Communication

You can choose to put your focus into attracting new customers or perhaps place a priority on delighting existing customers that will provide you with repeat and referral business.

Every agent will choose their own audience to communicate with, as well as what mediums are used. Understand though that the contacts that exist on your database also exist on everybody else’s. So how, when and what you communicate becomes important.

And perhaps in an environment where relationships and referrals are key, this is a critical area of focus.

And done well with flair, being memorable and getting on the mind-shelf of people will change everything you do.


September 7th, 2012

Are You Racing to the Bottom?

If faster, better or cheaper was the question, what do you think your clients would choose?

Many of us believe that the consumer wants faster and cheaper. If this is the case then the decision will always be based on price.

Tiger is by far the cheapest airline in Australia. Are they however the better option or the choice of the consumer or the leading airline in the country? No – the consumer choice will always be for better and if they can see the value provided in the product they will pay the price.

If that is the case then ensure in your business you are not winning the race to the bottom in your market place. The bottom is the cheapest price on our services to win the business which puts no value on the services we provide.

In the short term you may win business but at what cost? Does the income earned from this “discount” price actually allow you to make good profits?

Without good profits you don’t have a sustainable long term business.

The risk you take in being the cheapest is that at some point someone else will find a way to be cheaper than you.

The race to the top is always the better choice. This is based on having better relationships, putting a value on your services, ensuring that your clients know you, like you and trust you.

To win this race you need to:

  • have a plan;
  • employ people who understand the value you bring to the consumer;
  • have great leadership that is willing to take risks;
  • have patience and insight.


The race to the top is where I would want to be. It is there that we become market leaders, set the agenda that others follow, and stay on the mind-shelf of the consumer.

This is where the stakes are higher by so is your return and impact.


August 17th, 2012

Higher Values Don’t Equal High Rates

With home owners receiving their annual rates bills right about now, there is a lot of attention being paid to council valuations and how much the bill itself has changed.

The most common misconception is that the rates bill should not go up by more than the increase in the value of the property. The fact is that the two issues are not really related – your council valuation could fall yet your rates may still increase.

This is because the council valuation is used only to apportion your share of the council’s desired rates income for the year.

The council first decides how much money it wants to raise from rates then divides that bill based on property values. The higher your share of the total value of all ratable properties, the more you will be charged in rates.

The important issue is how your council valuation compares to others in the municipality.

If one suburb’s values go up while another’s are reduced then the former will pay an even greater share of the council’s rates income. This makes it possible for the council to decide to increase its rates by five per cent while at the same time some property owners receive an increase of 10 per cent or even more.

Some owners will and can choose to contest the valuation of their property but, even if successful, it may not change the value of your home relative to others to any great degree.


August 14th, 2012

Why Is It So Frustrating Dealing With Your Own Kind?

I am on the market for a property and it just continues to flabbergast me as to how poor the service is from so many agents.

Let me provide you with a list of my frustrations:

  1. Phone calls not being returns
  2. Emails not being responded to
  3. Information not being provided on properties
  4. Poor photography and blurred pictures
  5. Not enough photos
  6. Photos that do not really showcase the home
  7. No floor plans
  8. No follow up from agents – I have to chase them

I am not going to name agents or agencies however rest assured that this experience is being provided by a number of different companies and agents, most who the market would consider being high profile.

Yet the most common issue I hear from agents today is that the market is tough. Is the market tough or are you making it tough for yourself?

You don’t have to be Einstein or Trump to be successful in real estate. Going to conferences and taking pages of notes is a complete waste of time and money if you are not prepared to do some simple things.

  1. Return phone calls and emails in a timely manner
  2. Provide information the client require to make a decision
  3. Esure the property, regardless of whether it is for rent or sale, is showcased properly
  4. Find out what the client wants and give it to them
  5. Keep in touch and try and be genuine when building a relationship – show that you care otherwise you will not get the business

Move from being transactionally focused to relationship and service focused. I was listening to a Red Balloon ad this morning and their aim is to ensure that every client they interact with has a memorable experience.

It isn’t that hard, real estate people – why are we not ensuring that every client we interact with, whether online, face to face or on the phone, is memorable?

Just imagine an industry where we did provide memorable and exceptional service!

Back onto my search today and I really hope that I meet an agent who simply returns my call!


August 9th, 2012

If You Don’t Like Change, You Will Like Extinction Even Less

I’m not sure about you but as a kid growing up, my life was full of changes. Moving homes, living in different countries, new teachers, change to the decimal system (yes, that happened while I was at school), new friends, people dying – and I never ever remember my parents or teachers saying to me that change is a bad thing.

We never questioned it. In fact, we just accepted what changes were occurring, adjusted, learned new skills or ways to manage the situation and life went on.

Somewhere along the way to adulthood however we go from being people who accept change to challenging and fighting against it. When does this happen and why?

I have worked with many adults who will plot, create drama and leave organisations simply because management is making changes which will benefit the whole organisation however the individual does not see it this way.

I agree that there is a change management process that needs to be followed and people need to be engaged in the process and have ownership in the changes but my question is – at what stage do we stop accepting the fact that change is contestant in our lives?

There are a number of sales agents in our industry who have never sold real estate in a market that is soft or challenging or changing.

But should that really matter?

Isn’t it all about skill sets you have that you can apply regardless of the market you work in? Shouldn’t agents be investing in more training and up skilling themselves to suit the market?

Change is constant. To survive we need to get better at reading what the changes are and adjust our behaviour, performance, expectations and training – just like we did when we were kids.


August 7th, 2012

Interest Rates Remain Stable…For Now

The Reserve Bank has left its key interest rate on hold at 3.5 per cent as it awaits clearer signals about the strength of the global economy.

The RBA cut interest rates four times between November and June as the Australian economy slowed and concerns about the world economy grew.

After the monthly meeting, RBA governor Glenn Stevens said the “more subdued international outlook” combined with inflation running at close to trend meant the current monetary policy setting was appropriate.

He also pointed to some glimmers of hope with domestic house prices firming over recent months and business credit registering its strongest growth for several years.

We’ve seen a reduction in total stock levels, clearance rates have improved, homes are taking a shorter number of days to sell and vendors are discounting their initial asking prices less. These factors indicated that the housing market is stabilising, meaning that there is less of a requirement for lower interest rates.

That being said, many economists are still predicting that we’ll have another cut to official interest rates before Christmas this year.

Regardless, interest rates are likely to remain stable for the foreseeable future which is great news for home owners and the general property market.

The RBA has lowered the official cash rate by 125 basis points from a peak of 4.75 per cent since November.


July 20th, 2012

Whose Glass Ceiling Is It?

As a woman who has never believed in the “glass ceiling” concept, I find it fascinating that many women, some of whom would call themselves feminists, actually embrace this theory.

Are the differences between what men and women can achieve in the workplace based on gender, performance, skills or the choices we make? The mere fact that mother nature has made us responsible for ensuring that the human race continues can in some businesses play a factor however we may from time to time need to consider whether we do use the ‘glass ceiling’ concept as justification for some of the hurdles we may face.

I work in the real estate industry which is not only a male dominated industry but very much driven by ego’s. Never at any stage of my career have I felt the need to break through a glass ceiling. I learnt that being assertive about my achievements and successes provided me with the credibility to “match it with the boys”. However there are a number of women who would disagree with me and link their lack of career development to the fact that they are not men.

When we start to examine our behaviours, language and what we generally accept in a workplace it could be fair to say that the glass ceiling may be our own creation and that we are creating artificial barriers to prevent our own progress or the progress of others.

How often are women perceived to be too hard simply because we behave like men and then on the other end of the scale too soft because we are good at relationship skills. I am often referred to as someone who is firm but fair and I would suggest that this has occurred because I have found a balance between being too hard or too soft.

How many of us are guilty of putting on the power suit to give us confidence and a form of equality with men at a meeting; why do we believe that we cannot be powerful in a feminine way?

Overall women tend not be high risk takers and will thoroughly investigate issues and projects before they make a decision. On the other hand our male counterparts will make quick, snap decisions and are therefore seen to be risk takers. Perhaps if we take the focus back to results the outcome may be different? Or on occasion take the risk – I assure it can be thrilling.

We are also very much focused on being team players and many of us have mastered the art of using the word “we”. Women tend to be better communicators and listeners, far less dominating and competitive. Our language also often sounds like we are asking for approval or agreement which often makes us sound less sure of ourselves.

Men will tend to be much more direct not just with their language but the tone of voice used.

Women need to become more assertive around taking credit for what they have accomplished, we more often than not will brush off the success, the men however will go to the pub and an enormous amount of “back slapping” takes place and everyone is regaled with stories of what they achieved and every detail of how it was done. I believe that we need to start to have a lot more chutzpah about our achievements!

Dealing with the guilt

There are not many women who can categorically say that they have got rid of the guilt. The guilt about sending their kids to crèche, not being able to drop or pick up from school every day, having to go to work when they are sick, not having dinner ready for the family every night, not being able to have every weekend with your husband… all sound familiar.

Professional women with no kids can also have guilt, why was I promoted ahead of someone else, I don’t have a partner because I spend too much time at work, I find it interesting women in general tend to carry more guilt around various life choices then men do.

At a recent conference I witnessed a number of women on the Monday making phone calls in the breaks back home to family while the men sat around enjoying lunch and networking. When I asked these women if they would make the same calls if they were in their offices the answer was NO!

So how do you deal with guilt? To be successful in your chosen career and to be true to yourself and your family you have to be comfortable with the concept of it is okay to put yourself first from time to time. That the family will understand and fit in and even be proud of your achievements and ability to balance work, life and play.

Career households is an important concept, the focus is on joint careers and your partner, regardless of whether you have children or not, is fully engaged and involved in domestic and child activities.

Remember our daughters do see us as their role models what messages do we want to give them, what stories do we want them to hear and what learning’s do we want to pass onto them. If we set the bar high enough they will enter the business world and relationships with an expectation that perhaps we weren’t provided with.

What are some of the solutions

How do we overcome the glass ceiling, whether it is our own or others, following are some successful solutions that I have used in my life to date

  • Become an expert in your chosen field, you should be the lead authority whom people in your business come to for advice. Set a goal of 3-4 years to get to this point, become an active member of your industry body and volunteer to write, speak at conference or participate in activities.
  • Develop a track record of success, seek out the more difficult or strategic tasks, deliver or exceed results on time which helps build your expertise and credibility. Then ensure that you share you successes not just with your colleagues within your business but those outside it as well.
  • Invest in a coach or mentor, set your goals and get them to hold you accountable; develop a support network of other like minded women and meet on a regular basis and share knowledge
  • Work on your leadership and people management skills, women make for great leaders and CEO’s however invest in yourself to ensure that you are not overlooked because of qualifications.
  • Set clear boundaries in the work place on what your expectations are, future goals and how the company can help you get there.
  • Understand that the concept of work/life balance in corporate Australia is just that a concept, create a work/life balance that works for you and your family and not others, once established don’t feel any guilt on what your choices are
  • Remove negative people from your life – believe in yourself and your ability to achieve your goals
  • Develop and invest in your brand, the concept of You Inc is imperative for success, as an industry leader or an expert in your field people want to be associated with you and your investment in your brand – you – becomes your greatest strength.


Most importantly understand that if you are an expert in your field, successful and have been open with your company about what your goals are and they are not interested in you, regardless of the reason, build up your skill, your brand and knowledge and take it elsewhere.

I look forward to speaking at the women in franchising conference on this topic and how I have achieved success over the last 20 years in a male dominated industry.


July 17th, 2012

Create Raving Fans

I was recently watching an interview with Richard Branson on his successes as a business man. In this interview he discussed how he keeps in touch with what is happening in his business “inside out”.

Instead of relying on marketing, his management team, survey feedback, or client complaints to provide him with feedback, Branson, on a regular basis, travels in economy. Here he is able to sit next to passengers who were not expecting him to be their travel companion, and he is able to experience the comfort levels of the seat, entertainment, food and service, but most importantly, talk to his customers directly.

Do you do this in your business or do you rely on your management team, surveys, marketing and clients to provide you with feedback? When was the last time you were a client of your businesses?

There are a number of new ideas and concepts that we can apply to real estate; we simply need to look around us and ROD (rip off and duplicate) from other industries. There are also a number of fantastic technology options like Facebook and Twitter available for customer interaction and viral marketing.

However the best business idea or concept I have ever come across is really quite simple – provide a memorable experience at every interaction and create raving fans that will wear your brand on their sleeve and bring business to you!

So no matter how many conferences you go to or new ideas you implement, if your business culture is not about service, if your people do not know how to deliver service that is at a higher standard to your competitors’, new ideas will not increase your business.

What is a raving fan?

A raving fan is someone who has a relationship with your business. They are devoted to your people, products and services and will bring business to you for this very reason.

To achieve growth in your business your aim should be to convert satisfied customers to raving fans as these satisfied clients will move if a better option is provided by your competitor.


July 11th, 2012

Memorable Experiences – Customer Service at Its Best


As many of my friends will confirm, I have been known to give free customer service training to restaurant personnel all over the world. Customer service is all about the experiences we create for our clients and how they feel after every interaction within our businesses.

I thought I would share with you a recent experience with an airline that certainly exceeded my expectations.

Prior to this experience, I had never flown with Emirates however I had heard about their level of service and they themselves advertise the fact that they service is second to none. I was speaking a conference in Auckland and the clients very kindly flew me business class on Emirates.

I was picked up in a limousine from my home and my driver, Dennis, made sure that the temperature in the car was perfect, the music was right and didn’t feel the need to talk to me the whole time.

At the airport, the check-in staff called me to the counter using my name, which amazed me however I was to find out later that I was the last passenger to check in to the flight. Even so, that does not take away from the fact that the person behind the customer service desk chose to use my name instead of “next please”.

I had misplaced my e-ticket so they printed me a replacement and during this process discovered that I hadn’t booked a car to take me home on Friday – “No problem, Mrs Smile. Enjoy the lounge we will take of this for you”.

The lounge team were fantastic. It was 6am and I’m not sure about you but I am not a great conversationalist at this time of the morning; the team in the lounge were quite aware of this and were happy to get me coffee and tea to ensure that my caffeine levels were catered for.

However the piece de la resistance was when Sinca came and asked very quietly and politely if I was a “Bollywood” actress on the way back to India. I replied that my minders were in the toilet and he should keep this our secret – well a girl has to have some fun and I made his day. The man should get a pay rise and become the next CEO, I think!

The in-flight service was seamless and the built-in massage seats ensured that I floated off at Auckland airport. As we were leaving the plane, a fellow passenger commented to the airline steward that they loved them – how often have you heard this?

So what is the secret and why have Emirates suddenly become the number one airline in my mind shelf?

The brand promises on their service delivery and what was delivered exceeded my expectations. They had audited every touch point their clients had with their business and ensured that each was a memorable experience. The team who delivered the service believed in what they were doing, the brand, the culture, values and ensured that there was 1% in many interactions. I also noticed that their people genuinely enjoyed providing the level of service they did.

A lot of what they delivered were the simple touches – using my name, discovering issues and providing solutions quickly, being proactive and offering service with a smile.

  • So how do we map this to your businesses? Let’s start by asking some key questions:
  • What is your brand promise to your customers?
  • Do your people know what they are?
  • Do they believe in it?
  • How are they delivering it?

Emirates’ key to success is that the service standards were designed with the customers’ needs in mind. Have you done the same within your business?  Too often we develop and create processes that suit us, not the clients.

When was the last time you were a client of your business and the delivery of service seamless with 1% in place? Do you mystery shop your teams on a regular basis?

Does your team understand the concept of 1% and what that could look like in your business? A great example that came up during training I was running with a team of receptionists was to know local services like restaurants, bars and schools so that when people were waiting in the reception area the receptionist teams could have meaningful conversations with clients.

I recommend that you walk through every touch point within your business and audit what experience the client is receiving – I guarantee that you will find many areas to improve on.

How often are you running customer service training for your team? It seems that we often assume that people know how to deliver exceptional service however this isn’t always the case.

People often ask – “how do we offer exceptional customer service because our clients today are so demanding?”. Well firstly we have to set the expectations around the delivery of service. For example, if you are at a listing and you work in a team ensure that the client understands that there are others on your team who will be able to assist any queries they have. In property management when you sign up your tenants clearly explain the process and systems in place so there is no question about what happens when there is a maintenance problem.

Once the standards are set, the client has an expectation that the delivery of service will be to that standard. It is easy then to create memorable experiences by delivering service over and above the standard. Everyone in your business needs to understand the standards and deliver to these in a seamless way on a consistent basis.

Some offices are now starting to provide customer service guarantees where if the clients feel they have been let down in any way they are awarded with a free period of management or reduced fees. I am not a big fan of reducing commission and fees however the guarantee indicates to the clients that you hold yourself accountable however you need to ensure that your teams are trained within an inch of their life to ensure that delivery on the promises occur otherwise your guarantee is worthless.

Good luck and may your delivery of customer service be exceptional, memorable experiences that will keep your clients coming back for more.

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German instructors want to teach an edited version of Hitler's 'Mein Kampf' in schools https://t.co/VB8Bo5Ie7r ...

21 December 2015 

What Annoys Employees Most About Meetings? [New Data] https://t.co/YBaz7pO531

21 December 2015