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Is your business fit for the best people?

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with Maria Findikakis

Why finding the best people for your business starts with preparing your business to keep the best people satisfied and motivated.

Recruitment continues to rank as one of the greatest concerns expressed by real estate Principals today. But much of this concern stems more from a lack of understanding about what recruitment actually means than anything else. Contrary to what many think, recruitment means far more than just filling a seat. It is only when you realise that recruitment is in fact a two-way street that you can begin to understand that it is possible to have real control over the process and achieve a lasting win/win result.
Co-founder, Director and Human Resources Manager of Eview Real Estate Partners in Melbourne, MARIA FINDIKAKIS explains the strategies and systems she and the Eview management team have established to attract, recruit and retain the best people to share and expand on their phenomenal success.

About Eview

In just five short years, Eview Real Estate Partners has transformed the way a traditional real estate office operates. Rather than employing real estate salespeople, Eview is made up of a group of ethical, like-minded individuals who work for themselves but not by themselves – a partnership in every sense. Founded by Manos and Maria Findikakis, the group’s aim is to form mutually beneficial relationships between like-minded agents to deliver uncompromised value and benefits to their clients. By offering representatives a host of behind the scenes services, Eview provides the opportunity for team members to be their own boss while getting on with the business of selling real estate under the banner of a respected brand.

About Maria Findikakis

A real estate sales professional since 2001 following a successful career running hospitality related businesses with her husband and Eview Co-Director Manos Findikakis, Maria brings a wealth of experience and exceptional leadership skills to the business. As committed to the current team as she is to the ongoing search for new professionals to join the Eview family, Maria believes strongly in adopting a systemised approach to the recruitment process, which she now manages. She also fully understands the powerful benefits of maintaining a positive workplace culture and facilitating the way for people to realise their full potential in order to keep them engaged, motivated and part of the team.

If you want success in recruitment you have to be willing to own it

“Looking for the right people to work with you is a lot like looking for the right vendors or the right buyers.”

According to Maria, if you want to achieve real success in recruitment you need to be willing to either own the process yourself or delegate management of the process to another manager in your office who may be more suited to the role.
A self-confessed natural salesperson, Maria admits she initially struggled with the realisation that she would need to give up her sales role in order to dedicate herself to managing Eview’s recruitment and retention strategy. However, her disappointment was short lived as she quickly realised that there are in fact many similarities between recruitment and sales.

“Looking for the right people to work with you is a lot like looking for the right vendors or the right buyers,” says Maria.

Start with the end in mind

You wouldn’t dream of starting to prospect if you didn’t have a system in place for attracting buyers would you? So why is it then that so many fail to look at their own business before prospecting for talent?

Are you ready to take on a new team member? Do you have the systems and strategies in place to induct them properly and offer ongoing support and guidance to ensure you don’t lose them as quickly as you found them?
Eview’s strategic and systemised approach to the recruitment of all team members, from salespeople and property managers to reception and administrative staff, incorporates a reverse-engineered approach - it looks at retention first and recruitment second.

Let’s take the analogy of prospecting for potential sellers. You wouldn’t dream of starting to prospect if you didn’t have a system in place for attracting buyers would you? So why is it then that so many fail to look at their own business before prospecting for talent? Start with the end in mind. What makes you an employer of choice? How is your agency a great place to work? Does your brand have a positive profile within your community? Would your current staff recommend your office as a great place to work?
At the end of the day, you just can’t afford to be like everyone else if you want to attract great people with the right attitude. Your point of difference should be an existing group of like-minded individuals who show passion, energy and enthusiasm about your brand and their work coupled with a systemised and welcoming approach to inducting new starters.

Systemise everything so that when people join your ‘family’, the systems are already in place for them.

Maria says, “Start by getting your systems right and getting your ‘house’ in order. Don’t even think about adding to a team that is running in chaos, as that would only add to the existing chaos. Systemise everything so that when people join your ‘family’, the systems are already in place for them.”

Consider asking the last five people who joined or left you how they felt about your induction process.
“It’s what happens after you put someone on that is the most important. If you adopt these principles, recruitment becomes the easiest part of the process.”
Getting the house in order means having systems in place. In the case of Eview, this incorporates a comprehensive talent prospecting and recruitment process, a detailed Operations Manual that is followed by all team members (new and existing), a 2-week induction program followed by ongoing video training and continuing professional development and accountability strategies.

When it comes to running a successful real estate agency, don’t just focus on sales

While real estate is a sales related industry, running a successful real estate agency takes more than just good salespeople. It also takes good support staff and property management personnel.
When you talk to many real estate agents and Principals about recruitment they automatically think sales, sales agents and salespeople. But while real estate is a sales related industry, running a successful real estate agency takes more than just good salespeople. It also takes good support staff and property management personnel.
Start by identifying the type and number of talent that will be of most benefit to the business as a whole and concentrate your recruitment campaign on this need. Just like a targeted property marketing campaign where your aim is to attract the right buyers, ensure that your recruitment campaign is designed to attract the right people for the right roles.

Outsourcing is another option to consider. Maria says, “Outsourcing specific tasks such as administration, marketing and trust accounting jobs to an external professional is often a more cost-effective solution than having to have the infrastructure in place to employ personnel for those tasks in-house. After all, people don’t think twice about outsourcing accountancy, training and legal matters. Why not engage an external administration partner if it works for you?”

In the case of Eview, the management team made the decision to outsource administrative tasks for all partnership agencies to one external provider. This ensures each partner can concentrate on managing their team and the listing and selling of properties knowing that the back-end tasks are being handled centrally and in accordance with Eview’s systems and requirements. This 'Support Style Management’ system is one of the many reasons that Eview has successfully attracted a number of ex real estate agency owners who today relish a level of flexibility and freedom they could never enjoy before.

“Three existing business owners have moved their businesses over to ours so far and all have said that they can’t thank us enough and only wish they had done it sooner,” says Maria. “In exchange for a leadership fee, all the back-end work is looked after meaning they can enjoy the journey and have time to actually enjoy the money they’re making with their families instead of going home to do the trust accounting at 8, 9 or 10 o’clock at night.”

Talent prospecting and recruitment

Talent prospecting the Eview way occurs in a couple of different ways. In addition to traditional advertising, Eview runs recruitment sessions where they invite prospects, including experienced real estate agents, people with no prior real estate experience and even existing and past vendors, to listen to management speak about the Eview system and existing partners share their stories. Existing team members also regularly refer potential talent to them – a sure sign they are happy where they are.

One thing Maria says they never do is attempt to poach talent from other agencies.

“I know quite a few people do it to my guys but I just don’t like that approach. I think if someone is unhappy where they are, there must be a reason for it and there are always two sides to every story. If they want to work with us, they are free to come and see us,” says Maria.

When it comes to making a final selection, Maria makes it a point to leave no stone unturned. Eview’s 2-week induction and selection process is intentionally thorough and intensive. The process starts with telephone screening with a series of questions centred on previous experience, the prospect’s understanding of what real estate is, what’s important to them in terms of workplace culture and, most importantly, how they feel about working as part of a team. Prospects that pass the telephone screening undertake a two-week face-to-face induction process, during which time further suitability assessment on both sides takes place.
“It’s like a marriage in that you don’t know someone properly until you live with them,” says Maria.

Once selected the successful candidates embark on Eview’s ‘13 Weeks to Success’ program, which was developed and refined by Manos and Maria over time. The program, which focuses on monitoring, accountability and tracking, is not just for new starters. It can be used on an ongoing basis and continues to be undertaken by many of Eview’s experienced agents to help keep them accountable and on track. During the first year in particular, the most important aspect of the program is highlighting the areas in which new team members need support and assistance.

It’s not just about the money

While salary is and always will be important to most people, it is by no means the only thing that will get them across the line.

Research on recruitment in the real estate industry has shown that there is a misconception about what people are looking for in an employer. While salary is and always will be important to most people, it is by no means the only thing that will get them across the line. What people want today in addition to a comfortable salary are:

  • Quality of management
  • Job security
  • Career development opportunities
  • Training
  • Benefits and conditions
  • Variety of work, environment, people and hours
  • Brand
  • Low stress
  • Company direction and goals

Maria says, “Our system is unique in that we love the people that work with us and want to give them the best possible chance at success. People pay us a monthly fee for our support so we’re here to give them all the support they need. If we don’t believe they suit the industry and our business model and culture then we tell them that it isn’t for them. The way we see it, you can teach a great person how to list and sell but you can’t teach a great salesperson how to be a good person and fit into our culture.”

Maria Findikakis will be presenting a session on Recruitment and Retention at this year’s The Complete Leader Conference in October at the Hunter Valley in NSW. For details and early bird ticket prices contact Real Estate Academy on 1300 367 412.

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