It is important never to underestimate the importance of the skills & qualities one may have picked up in a previous job role.
The Private Rented Sector – Lettings & Property Management is an interesting environment to work within. Many people think that the sector is about property and to a certain extent it is. There is a great deal of emphasis on the property in terms of ensuring the property is fit for purpose and therefore the agent needs to be up to date and aware of the legislation which impacts such a diverse range of situations which are property related. The other area which requires focus is documentation. This aspect of the job is becoming more and more contentious. Why? Because there is not enough focus on ensuring that the paperwork being used has been sourced by a reputable company (preferably solicitors) and also making sure that the paperwork is kept up to date.
So what about the skill set required?
I meet a lot of agents who have come out of other industries and made a success of their new professional life because of their skill set. One of the key sills sets is the use of people skills – what NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) practitioners call “Rapport”. This is the ability to relate to others in a way that creates trust and understanding. It is the ability to see the other’s point of view and get them to understand yours. You don’t have to agree with their point of view or even like it. It makes any form of communication easier.
Successful interactions depend largely on our ability to establish and maintain rapport. Surprisingly, we make most business decisions based on rapport rather than technical merit. You are more likely to buy from, agree with, or support someone you can relate to than someone you can’t. It’s great watching agents who have been trained in this way, their selling and negotiation skills are very effective and they very rarely use the “hard-sell” approach. They understand that it’s about buying into the person.+
Communication. organisational, delegation, motivation and time-management skills are all crucial to the efficient running of an agency. My experience of working with ex-military personnel working as agents is that they run their business with a very strict approach – never late, very professional, always strong systems in place and not tolerant of shoddy attitudes to work.+
Needless to say, those with strong sales skills and customer service skills fair extremely well in the sector. These skills are invaluable when liaising with landlords and tenants, yet they are not skills that are focused on by line-managers. It is always evident when I come across people who have been very well-trained in “service” industries – they are used to what I call “crisis management” – dealing with difficult situations and challenging customers, staying calm and collected, and capable of finding solutions.+
Finally, good administrative skills are underestimated. Attention to detail in agency work is paramount. Through my work on the advice line I sometimes come across situations where someone has been less than attentive as far as paperwork is concerned. It is often a very “simple” error on a notice, or within the lettings process which snowballs and creates unnecessary problems. Good administrators are hard to come by but once you find them, they become the unsung heroes of the agency.+
I have worked in four different industries in my adult life – customer service whilst I was waiting taking a year out before training as a teacher; teaching where I started as a newly qualified teacher and worked my way through the ranks to become a head of sixth for; client relationship management for a global American corporate which after working in the public sector was a baptism of fire, yet allowed me to use my skill set in a very different environment and also provided me with the opportunity to develop other skills; my current role has allowed me to use the skill set I have picked up in my working career and I still continue to add to them.