The Covid Pandemic hit the Australian economy without warning and brought with it an immediate need for adaptation to a virtual and remote working environment. It caught everyone off guard and business owners suddenly found themselves racing to manage the new legal requirements for the health & and safety of their staff and customers, whilst still maintaining a high level of customer service and facilitating the needs of their staff and clientele so that nobody was unnecessarily disadvantaged.
The best outcome in this unprecedented time was to minimise, wherever possible, the financial impact on staff as well as vendors, landlords, buyers and tenants.
As an industry, real estate adapted incredibly well and almost overnight agents, property managers, principals and their support staff stepped up and found a new way to do business. Even though it wasn’t easy and there was still a lot of disruption, especially for those smaller and less tech savvy agencies.
But out of all adversity comes opportunity. And we now know that we can adapt to a remote working situation and that its okay for people to not be in the office all day every day, as long as they’re still getting their work done.
In light of this, many agencies are now implementing new systems which will
minimise any future disruption, should something like this happen again. Systems which will allow the Principal to continue to monitor an agent’s performance without having to physically be around them at all times, as well as processes for the support staff who could continue to have more flexibility with regards to their location while working. Property management staff can also work remotely with the right systems, software and IT providers in place.
To be able to do this, it is essential that there is a streamlining of all back-office
systems with a minimisation and integration of the programs being used, particularly in property management. If you have a main system which provides easy remote access with maximum results, it enables agents and property managers to be more efficient and time productive than having to always access the office to obtain forms and information that they require to do business.
Some examples of online portals are the REI Live, DocuSign and FLK IT which allow for lease signing, Management Agency Agreement signing, changes to lease terms and signing of Agency Agreements online.
For many agencies, it is hard to keep up with the back of house systems as the daily focus is on sales and property management activities which generate income. Those dollar productive activities can sometimes bulldoze the inner workings of an agency with the seemingly menial tasks being pushed to the side.
However, it is the back of house which can determine the productivity of the agents and property managers in most cases. If you have effective, streamlined and interactive systems in place with integration of all of your programs, you can save so much time and manpower from having to do a step by step procedure for every task.
The output from staff in this disjointed operation won’t be as high and further, there is a risk that the office Compliance will be adversely impacted.
With the assistance of established systems set up correctly, which provide direction for staff, the Principal is more in control and can monitor any deviations and rectify them more readily. It is no longer acceptable to allow support staff to set up systems and checklists as Compliance and Legislation changes so rapidly. It is imperative that the Principal takes responsibility for ensuring that all systems are in place with clear instructions and guidelines to protect themselves and their business.
With the rise of Social Media marketing, it has become more important than ever to include it in the marketing campaign of a property listing and the subsequent sale.
To do this, it has to become a part of the listing system and it also should be included in the office guidelines to ensure the nature of the marketing is professional and that it has the intended representation of the business and agent. It is important that the marketing be monitored and the guidelines adhered to as any misrepresentation, poor wording, bad imagery etc can have a detrimental effect on the business and in fact could end up resulting in litigation in extreme examples.
If you are finding that your team want to still work from home on occasion, it is still possible to allow this with the right systems in place. As long as productivity doesn’t drop and they have some accountability in place to monitor progress and KPI’s etc, it can sometimes give them the space and allow better focus without the general
distractions which arise working within a busy team environment. Virtual meetings can be a good way to keep up with face to face contact. Giving your staff the trust to work remotely can be a powerful thing for the right people and sometimes they can be a lot more productive in their own space.
The top 3 things that business owners should be aware of as a result of Covid
1. We can adapt to change and still operate our businesses effectively and
look after our clients without having to spend hours in the office.
2. The technology that we have available to us allows staff to still do business remotely, as long as they remain focused and accountable to the
3. Business owners have discovered ways to reduce overheads and to
streamline processes and many have been forced to utilise technology not
previously being used.
Whilst we have ascertained that it is possible for people to work from home
effectively as a result of the changes brought about by Covid, and the realisation that this is potentially going to continue now for some agencies, legislation has not changed in respect to the Licensee In Charge having to be on site. It will beninteresting to see whether this changes in the future.
There is no requirement for an agent or property manager to be in an office for any set period of time, it is up to the business owner and management.
Having a business “maintenance check” is a perfect way to plan for any other
disruptions which may arise in the future and to protect yourself and your staff from any fines or litigation.
If you would like to discuss ways in which you can streamline your business functionality by systemising your back of house, which includes a compliance check in all areas including employment contracts, job descriptions, property management and sales documentation, ensuring that procedures and policies are implemented correctly and your guidelines are being followed, contact Jo-Anne Black of Little Black Book Solutions on 0413625717 or email@example.com.
Jo-Anne Black is Director of Little Black Book Soloutions.
Your one stop shop for back of house support.
Co-written by Marnie Beauchamp