The Guild of Property Professionals CEO, Iain McKenzie, recently sat down with Simon Whale, CEO of Kerfuffle on The Home Stretch podcast to discuss the motivation behind his recently published white paper around KPIs and management, as well as his views on introducing gamification back into the industry.
According to Whale, one thing that Kerfuffle is voracious for, is knowing what agents think and understanding their pain points. “We have been sending out a lot of surveys because we want to understand what issues agents are experiencing within the day to day of their business, such as their frustrations with CRM software or how the whole tech stack fits together. One aspect that has been close to my heart is management and information reporting, which on the face of it sounds really dull and grey, but businesses need access to actionable information that will help them make informed decisions and drive their business forward. It is the old maxim – if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it. While there are several suppliers looking to specialise in information management, most agents still heavily rely on excel for business management, which is why wanted reach out to agents to get their opinions,” he adds.
McKenzie says that in his career, which includes 15 years as a corporate and 20 years as an independent agent, his experience has been that it is important to make decisions on the appropriate data rather than too much data. “It can be surprising how little knowledge some agents have about their own business, their own performance and what their needs are to run the business successfully. Agents need to know their appropriate data and understand what they need to be doing to ensure the longevity of their business,” he comments.
Whale agrees, saying: “I have often asked the question – why is it that so few owners know the stats they need to off the top of their heads? Classically, at the moment you would be hoping to turn over your pipeline three or four times, but some agents are struggling to turn it over twice at the moment. Businesses might be selling everything they list, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are in a good position in terms of cash flow. It is important to know that and understand what the data is telling you. While information is vital, again it is crucial to focus on the right information and not be overloaded with data. I believe that there shouldn’t be any more than three KPIs that are being focused on, otherwise, can they truly be called key indicators. Too many KPIs means that the focus is lost and could result in the gaming of stats, which isn’t good for the business.”
McKenzie notes that when he was the MD of a large corporate brand, he asked the top-performing agents how they like to be managed. “One of the things they hated was when management ignored underperformance, as it was demotivating to them as agents who put in the extra work. They also loved reward and recognition, they wanted to be top of the league tables. Give an estate agent a league table and they win try and win it.”
Whale says it makes perfect sense. “What is the point of doing reporting and having the information at hand, if you don’t eke out those who are hiding. Also, gamification is a big part of the industry in terms of motivating teams. All of us have a competitive nature, so having a league table is a great way to measure performance while motivating people. It definitely increases performances,” he comments. “Looking at the stats from the survey, we asked how important is measuring KPIs against target to your agency? 76% said it was very important, which raises the question, what was the other 24% doing. We asked, would it be useful to benchmark your KPIs against similar sized agents nationally? Around 82% agreed. Would finding anonymised local competitor’s performance data to benchmark against others be useful? 100% of agents said that was the case there. Again, going through to gamification, we asked, would you like your teams to see their relative KPIs and performance on their own dashboard? 91% of business owners said they would do that. There is a clear set of indicators there that actually show that management information is vitally important and is wanted by people in the business.”
Expanding on that, McKenzie says: “If individuals want to know the comparisons throughout their areas, then as a business owner I would certainly want to know what my competitors are doing. Our sister company BriefYourMarket has a product called KnowYourMarket, which provides a mystery shopping service both in-house and externally to competitors. This provides a wealth of information and helps agents to be better. Talking about evolution and gamification of the sector, I wonder if we have done enough of it over the past ten years.”
We definitely haven’t, Whale retorts. “It can be awkward because it takes you out of your comfort zone, but I would say that things such as mystery shopping and the ability to take that and use it in role play to train agents is a massive advantage. Looking at the key commonalities of the best businesses around the world, what sets them apart are aspects such as role play, train, and train again, all of which are taken up by the best agents in the sector.”
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