When people ask you, “What do you do?”, what do you say?
Do you say, “I’m an estate agent”? and if so, how do you say it? With an embarrassed laugh, or with confidence and pride? Do you make a joke? Or do you then go on to tell that person with passion and pride about what you love about your job?
When people ask me what I do, I am very proud to tell them I’m a coach to some of the best estate agents in the country. I tell them what I love the most about my job is that I get to work with individuals who genuinely want to change the perception of the industry, who DO care, who DO do a great job, whose clients love them, and who have built up a real community in their area – because that’s how I truly feel.
I feel immensely privileged to do what I do: to help agents like you reach their goals and their dreams, through sometimes quite modest activities. Any little improvements done on a daily basis have the benefit of a compound effect and before you know it, they’re the market leader in their town.
I recently met up with Rush Said from Propertyflock, a good friend and a tech-maverick, certainly in our industry. We chatted over dinner about the perception of an estate agent, often described as sleazy, smarmy sharks who would sell their own mother for an instruction, or words to that effect.
But who are these agents? Who are these sleazy, smarmy sharks? Very, very rarely, have I come across an agent who resembles the slightest bit of that description.
So why do agents have this reputation? Who is propagating derogatory words and phrases like these? Some of you might remember the Mary Portas documentary, when she went into an estate agency in London to try and work her magic. We didn’t exactly come out of that episode smelling of roses. More recently was the Under Offer series, which actually was a much more sympathetic and I thought, faithful representation of estate agency as an industry. Some of the individuals there were genuinely likeable, agents I would love to have representing my sale, working on my behalf, on my side and in my corner.
Obviously, the media is a major source of this perception. After all, a good, kind, customer-focused estate agent doesn’t make a good headline, do they? Much better that they are ridiculed and held up for derisory comments; that’s what people want to read, apparently.
Go to Google and type in “estate agents are…….” and see what comes up. These are some of the results I found.
Estate agents are evil
Estate agents are liars
Estate agents are crooks
Estate agents are useless
Estate agents are idiots
So if it’s not true, where is it coming from?
Is it possible it’s coming from US?
Could this perception actually originate out of our own industry?
Some of us are guilty of feeling that we’re the only honest agent in our area; the only one who does care, who puts clients first, and perhaps works harder, and longer hours than anyone else. After all, it’s all too easy and pretty convenient to see your competitors as the enemy, and tag them with the sleazy, smarmy, shark estate agent stereotype.
How many of you when asked about a competitor say, “Yeah, they are a great agent, in fact either of us would be a good choice”?
You may be surprised to learn that I only have the highest regard for the guys who others consider my competitors: consultants and trainers, like Chris Watkin and Stephen Brown. We talk on the phone frequently and even meet up in person. We share strategies, ideas, innovations; all with one aim in mind – to do a better job for our clients: past, present and future.
So when an agent asks my opinion of Chris Watkin, I say he’s terrific! He’ll work really hard to help you get to where you need to get to and has a tremendous reputation for success.
We may not always agree, my fellow industry professionals and I, but we are all exceptional in our own way, and we all speak of one another highly. If for example, Stephen and I told agents that the other one was terrible, with no ethics, a low professional standard, and generally ripped people off, it wouldn’t just harm us personally and professionally, I believe it would harm what we stand for in the industry, that whole industry sector of coaches, trainers, and consultants.
As the law of Karma says: what you give out, you receive back.
If I was to insult Chris or Stephen’s integrity, and use derogatory words to describe their services in the hope of winning the business, my would-be client would inevitably associate the negative words that I used with me instead. I’d be unwittingly damaging my own reputation, not that of my competitors. On a larger scale, I would be propagating the perception that it is not worth using an industry consultant or coach, and if you did, you’re at high risk of wasting money.