Individual agents are on the front line and can capture the marketplace by doing good things, repetitively.
There is a definite stigma attached to some industries and unfortunately, real estate is one of them. Is it valid? Probably.
We have all heard the complaints: “agents are terrible” – “my expectations were not met” – “fake listings” – “no feedback.” The list goes on.
I cringe when I hear agents, or the industry, being talked about in this manner because it simply should not be this way.
We are in a customer service based industry and that is what we should be providing. There are all kinds of new tools and technologies which can help provide a smoother, quicker service, but ultimately it is the human touch which creates the difference between broker A and broker B.
Like many, I have personally been on the end of exceptionally poor customer service in Dubai when looking for property myself.
How does a viewing with an agent and her crying baby sound? Or meeting an agent who had no car and no money for a taxi – yes, it’s true and yes, I ended up feeling sorry and paying for his taxi! “Only in Dubai,” as they say.
So, who are the drivers, movers, and shakers in this industry?
Who has the responsibility to prod, poke and test the market? The industry’s governing body, the Real Estate Regulatory Agency (RERA), does an excellent job at helping hordes of people who want to try their hand at the vocation — however, it does not go unnoticed that countries such as Australia, the US and Germany have significantly lengthier and more complex tiers to affiliation.
Perhaps more stringent entry to the industry with an emphasis on customer service would provide a tighter marketplace with a satisfaction driven ethos? Increased trust in the industry — especially for those new to Dubai or without a favoured broker of certitude — would result in increased transactions. I believe this would be a positive for the buoyancy of the long-term market.
Or, maybe the responsibility lies with the directors or real estate company heads to change any negative perceptions — or is it down to the brokers themselves?
The typical remuneration structure of ‘commission only’ brings both pros and cons to the market.
The pros are that for the elite of the Dubai real estate sector there is a real opportunity to create a very rewarding and lucrative career.
The flipside is an increased urgency to go for the kill (at all costs) in a competitive market or to ‘massage the truth’ to get deals done. Both result in short-term gain and few friends. I tell new brokers to take the monetary aspect out of the deal and pretend the client is their little old grandma who is new to Dubai and hold her hand through the process. This garners the best results and should, if done in the right way, still result in numbers. With one difference – onward recommendations and scalability.
I believe that you can be the ‘elite’ but still strive to provide exemplary customer service. Typically, this starts with the management and is fed down. That said, employing the right people with the correct sentiment is instrumental to keeping an organisation’s core values at heart. Growing organically reigns supreme, not simply employing to fill seats — something that seems in vogue now. Customer experience is key and should form the basis for any successful model.
Individual agents are on the front line and can really capture the marketplace by doing good things, repetitively.
Going back to the remuneration structure, I believe you need to educate and instil in your team that their individual reputation is fundamental to their own personal growth and network.
Essentially, the smart brokers should (and do) take responsibility for their personal ‘brand’ — and take the standpoint of being self-employed under the umbrella of a brokerage firm. I truly believe that a good broker has just as much potential to generate future business as the company behind him or her.
Conversely, the damage done by a bad broker can wreak havoc to both personal success and brand reputation. How many clients would give a brokerage a second chance after having a particularly bad experience with one of their team? Answer: zero.
What to expect from the industry?
The market here is constantly evolving and maturing. The client base that is typical in Dubai now demands quality service and everybody in the industry should acknowledge that fact and work towards raising standards.
I believe that a holistic view should be taken from all key players involved to really see a shift in direction and put Dubai on a global pedestal when it comes to the property market.
As Walt Disney once put it: “Do what you do so well that they will want to see it again and bring their friends.”
By James Perry
Managing Director, haus & haus
This article was originally published in Prestige Magazine, Issue 36.
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