The definition of training is; a process by which someone is taught the skills that are needed for an art, profession, or job.
In this blog post I will delve into what I believe is an unrivalled platform for real estate training and in so doing comment about the lack of importance that training and coaching is being given in real estate. Industries in Malta are evolving at a fast pace thus change management and effective measurable standards are required to ensure further growth and sustainability.
I like to use the analogy of “Building a Clock” rather than “Telling the Time”. According to Jim Collins, Author of several best-selling business books, in order to prosper far beyond your tenure one must build a system that will stand the test of time. If you are just doing something because the others are doing it without any purpose you are simply “Telling the Time”.
When we founded RE/MAX, training was none other than a motivational speech, a lesson on how to read someone’s posture (strictly sales orientated) or a lecture based course delivered to one hundred and one realtors by an inexperienced trainer that was put “On the Spot” and told to train. None of these training sessions were conducted in the today’s context, which is specific to the “practice of buying and selling of real estate”. It was theoretical or simply related to providing information about the real estate market.
It would be wrong to be too critical of the intentions during that era (late 90’s, early 2000’s) as it was an age of constant growth – a great seller’s market – where both developers and real estate agents alike were prospering. Agents merely had to show one or two properties and there you have it – a sale was done thus training didn’t seem to be an important factor.
Empowerment as a Core Value
As an everlasting learner and an advocate of self-help, the RE/MAX training system was one of the first tools of empowerment that grasped my attention and has since become a major strength which we hold dear to our hearts as one of our Core Values.
Coming from the purely service oriented business of letting we were already accustomed to building rapport, qualifying the customer, showing several properties below and above the said price range and closing the letting agreement. Training our agents was second nature to us and landlords and customers loved our professionalism, work ethic and the value base that we kept sacred. When we launched RE/MAX in Malta on April 4th 2004 we had plenty of fan-fare.
Old Dogs Can Learn New Tricks
Our initial plunge into training was in 2005, when we invited American trainer, Jim Van Horn. His first visit to Malta was probably the most valuable of all. He told Kevin and myself that though he appreciated that there were several experienced and well established agents that we can recruit, real estate training should be non-negotiable. Contrary to normal belief, he reiterated that “Old dogs can learn new tricks” and if they don’t – they will realise that RE/MAX isn’t the place for their future. In following the ethos of our counterparts we decided that this policy would be forever adapted across the spectrum. Today, this Value is inked within the DNA of every RE/MAX agent.
Real Estate Training for the Experienced and Non-Experienced
During the past twelve years our real estate academy has evolved from providing training as an “Off the shelf” product from RE/MAX to literally customising it to the Maltese market and delivering a holistic approach – offering a new recruit and an experienced agent a platform where they can succeed. In fact, in the last three years we have witnessed the formation of careers for over one hundred estate agents where most earn at least a level above the average income of our industry. A top performing agent that joined us from a rival company recently made it a point to thank me for giving him the resources and the opportunity to accelerate his career through our education platform – this being a great testament to our success.
Whilst we firmly believe in inviting to our shores International trainers, our success lies with our local training, which has been delivered under the guidance of Paul Vincenti, our Exclusive Regional Trainer, who has been with us for the past eight years. Paul and myself have worked endless hours together to ensure that the training we deliver is up-to-date, relevant, and impactful – generating desired measurable results. This we believe is key to benchmarking a standard of service across our network of over three hundred RE/MAX agents. We are blessed with resources from abroad and thanks to several train-the-trainer seminars that we have attended throughout the years – we have been able to apply new techniques and deliver several new courses that are offered by RE/MAX Internationally.
Holistic Real Estate Specific Training
The fully comprehensive curriculum we offer, takes each agent through a natural process of learning. The learning style is assignment based thus agents must complete a number of tasks between sessions whilst they must also score high to achieve certification. The set-up of our training is as follows:
- Internal Induction
- My RE/MAX Career (kick-start training),
- Succeed (Basic to intermediate Foundation Course),
- Tom Ferry’s Sales Power
- Luxury Real Estate Training Certification (Optional)
- Masters Edge (Optional)
Further education that is offered to our agents includes short half day courses such as time management, organising leads, qualifying leads and self-promotion just to name a few. We also offer an international 24/7 e-Learning Suite which is available for all RE/MAX associates.
Future of the Industry
It is important to note that training and coaching has gained ground over the last three to five years. Competition is becoming fiercer in several industries and today companies are being pushed to invest in hiring consultancy firms to review their processes and develop a structure that comes with training and coaching in an effort to remain competitive.
Even though we have a robust structure, our company continues to invest in consultancy firms to understand where we stand in the eyes of the consumer as well as our internal staff, agents, franchise owners and managers. Recently we commissioned a mystery shopping exercise on over eighty estate agents with the view of understanding our level of service, knowledge, grooming as well as rapport with customers. Such data helps us to take informed decisions about our recruitment policy, training standard and service delivery with the end-consumer in mind.
It is a concern in this day and age to see organisations operating in differing sectors that are not giving training and mentoring due importance. Such companies risk losing their competitive edge and customer centric approach.
As a leader in the real estate market we feel that it is of great importance for Industry in general to invest more in their people. This will not only improve performance and the bottom line but also provide the necessary proprietary information where business owners will be in a position to plan for the future, provide locals the ability to improve in their performance, increase their competitiveness and also open doors to doing business away from our Islands.
We need to shed off our insular mentality and learn how to exploit the opportunities of a global economy. We need to continually invest and keep abreast with new trends and ways to improve our existence. Hopefully this blog post will spur others to take the bull by its horns and move with the times. This will be the ultimate goal.