Do your admin staff secretly hate their jobs? (and how to fix it!)

If you have ever been to a sports match or a theatre production, you are no doubt aware the actors or the athletes you have come to watch are not solely responsible for a knock out performance.

In fact, without a tremendous and hard working support team behind them, it is very likely they wouldn’t have an opportunity to shine at all — they may not even make it to the field or the stage!

Real estate, at both its best and worse, is a little like a stage performance or a big game.

Often, the sales people are out in front, reaping the biggest rewards and getting the most recognition. Yet, without the work of a highly-skilled and committed support team, enquiries would go unanswered, listings un-entered and managing time relating to running multiple sales would be highly challenging.  

In our Management Series this month, we look at what your admin team brings to the table, and how you can better reward and recognise them for the vital role they play in growing the success of your business.

The first time a person enters a real estate agency, they are welcomed by your reception team, office manager, director of first impressions. In other words, they are greeted by your admin team.

Among many other tasks, it is that admin person’s responsibility to represent your brand in such a way that the potential client feels comfortable — they know you provide a warm, genuine, competent and comprehensive service.

Once the client is converted and enters into an arrangement with your agency, your admin team’s job doesn’t stop there. Many of these team players will enter listings, set appointments, manage dairies, deliver marketing, oversee workflow through the office and, as front of house, they are first to be targeted with complaints.

In short, they undertake a range of tasks to support property management teams, or to help a sale progress.

A solid, experienced and committed admin team is central to a successful real estate agency, especially as that business grows.

Retaining the best of these people and not losing them to competing agencies should be viewed, in many cases, as just as crucial as retaining key sales or property management people.

But how do you retain key players who are often overworked and compared to their sales counterparts, underpaid? For a start, you recognise their contribution and reward their efforts accordingly!

Recognising your support team

There are a number of ways to recognise the contribution of your support or admin team, these two simple tips capture methods at either end of the scale — from expressing thanks, to building gratitude into your culture.

  1. A simple ‘thanks’ goes a long way

One of the most important ways to recognise the value of your admin team is also one of the most obvious — it’s simply to say thanks.

Thanking someone in such a way that it really drives home your appreciation for them should be done in two ways — publicly and privately.

When acknowledging the efforts of admin, take a quiet minute, one-on-one to stop and personally let them know you’ve seen what they’ve done and you are grateful. Drive the message home by then identifying their efforts in a staff meeting so you can celebrate all wins — even the non-sales ones — as a group.

  1. Encourage a culture of gratitude

Every person in your team has an important role to play, and building acknowledgement and gratitude into your culture can help create a more cohesive team that works better together to achieve bigger results.

In big corporate organisations, one role of HR and Internal Communications, is to ensure every employee understands not just what they have to do each day, but the important contribution every employee’s work makes to achieving the overall goals of the organisation.

You can do the same in your agency on a smaller scale, so every team member knows their work is important, and also, the work of all of their team mates is important.

There are endless ways to do this, for example; map out your sales process visually so you can convey to your team that a sale is a multi-player game, it not achieved by one person, but a group of people.

Taking this to another level, a great team building exercise is to actually have your team do this in a group session, working together to call out all the many and intricate steps in a sale and who is responsible, and then identifying what would happen if one person didn’t play their part. This acknowledgement exercise is a good reminder to everyone that no man (or woman) is an island.

How can you reward your support team?

Recognition of the efforts of all team players, in this case, admin and support staff is important. But going a step further and rewarding ‘above and beyond’ efforts is a useful step in helping to retain the best people.

Determining the right rewards can mean simple incentives or more complex initiatives, here are a few suggestions you can implement in your agency:

  1. Team player of the month award: this is an old initiative but a great incentive. In offices of at least five, identifying and celebrating the particular efforts of a different person in turn each month, perhaps through a special morning tea, can really help a person feel valued and acknowledged.
  2. Financial rewards: these can be more challenging to implement but can really drive home the importance of all contributions. If you have a bigger property management and admin/support team who aren’t incentivised by commission like sales people, introducing an initiative like a small monthly or quarterly bonus for a strong team player, selected by the manager or even voted by the office, can help incentivise service excellence, and is a tangible gesture of acknowledgement and gratitude.
  3. Offer specialisation: people feel more secure in their jobs and careers if they know they are valuable, their skill set is up-to-date and they can bring something extra to a workplace that no one else can. Unfortunately, few admin and support people are often given opportunities to gain or build qualifications, to explore specialist skills or to plot career progression. Giving them this opportunity through upskilling, courses and agreed professional development plans can convey you value them and want them to stick around.
  4. Consider your payment structure: a very radical idea is to re-look at that map of the various contributions to a sale and reward accordingly — some agencies already do this!

In so many agencies, particularly in regional areas, the base wage of a sales person (not to mention commission) can be higher than the salary of an admin person, yet that same admin person might enter property listings, organise the marketing /advertising of the property, answer enquiries and set up viewing appointments.

In some agencies, recognising the contribution of admin or support staff to successful sales means putting a value on it, that is, paying those support people a portion of the commission when a sale is completed. For many agencies, this would be a big change and would need to be part of ingraining the idea that a sale is a team achievement, not the achievement of one person alone.

Keep an eye out for our June CEO discussion piece, within which, EAC CEO, Sylvia Cortez dives further into company culture and its role in business success by exploring the relationship between property management and sales teams.

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