Agents need to be self-developers, not shelf-developers - Blog

Agents need to be self-developers, not shelf-developers

Agents need to be self-developers, not shelf-developers

CEO Comments Default Author 24th April 2024

In a recent episode of The Home Stretch podcast, CEO of The Guild of Property Professionals, Iain McKenzie, was joined by Stephen Brown. Having begun his career in estate agency over 30 years ago, Brown has become a respected name in the industry, providing training and consultancy to property professionals. Not only is he a knowledgeable agent, but he is also a huge advocate for supporting charitable causes, including his Computers for Schools project and more recently, Markers for Mindfulness



Brown opens the episode by looking back on his time in agency, commenting, “I was going through some paperwork recently and I found my first job letter - 1993 Greene & Co. £6,000 basic and commission. I was with Greene & Co for 20 years; I started off as a negotiator and I didn't sell a property for the first nine months!  Fourteen months later, I was branch manager, a couple of years later, I was made one of the directors and then I ended up looking after all the systems, processes and training of 100 colleagues.” Following the passing of Brown’s wife, Sam, he went on to go part time before setting up his own consultancy firm with three simple aims, “Whoever I work with, I just want to generate more revenue, more profit, and I want them to be better than they were before. That's it really.”

McKenzie responds by commending Brown on his commitment to not only the property industry, but also his achievements with his charity, Computers for Schools. Brown looks back on how the organisation took shape during the pandemic, remarking, “There was a lot of digital poverty in schools at the time, and kids literally weren't learning, so I decided to set up a campaign called Computers for Schools. It's been going three years now and as of today has raised £143,500. While I facilitate it, the whole property industry has absolutely been amazing in their contributions. I want to get to £200,000 and we're getting there.”

Brown also introduced his latest collaboration with another charity, Markers for Mindfulness, founded by an inspirational 17-year-old, Daniel Lloyd. Brown tells McKenzie, “Sadly, Daniel’s best friend died by suicide when he was 14, because there wasn't any wellbeing provisions in his school. Daniel came up with this genius idea, where he collects any unwanted stationery, and he then takes it to schools. The money that the school saves on the budget, they then use to provide wellbeing provisions. It’s scary that things like paper is being rationed in schools and teachers are having to spend money out of their own pocket. It is nice to help, but more importantly, it's nice to get the support from the industry.”

McKenzie steers the conversation from philanthropy to property as he says to Brown, “So let's talk about how you help other agents. You mentioned you hadn’t sold a property for nine months, then it suddenly clicked. I'd like to know what it was that clicked, how have you turned that into the brilliant training that you deliver?” 

In response, Brown says, “Joining the Vistage Key Executive Programme changed my life. It got me out my comfort zone, got me learning to ask questions, to network with people. l used to be quite happy to sit in a corner, not talk to anybody, let the world go by, whereas now I know every single person has got a story and now I'm really interested in learning more about people.”

Brown goes on to comment on the quality of estate agents in the industry, remarking, “I think 95% of agents in this country are awful and I think there are 5% that are exceptional. That 5% actually want to learn and improve. But I firmly believe that the consumer does not understand what estate agents do. It is quite scary to think that as an industry we don't educate homeowners, landlords, purchasers or tenants about the whole process and what we do.” McKenzie retorts, “I'd say it's 94%, because The Guild has got 6% UK market share! But how do agents improve Stephen?” 

Brown comments that he believes there are two types of learners, “You have the self-developers and then you have the shelf-developers. The self-developers always want to go on training, whereas the shelf-developers will think, ‘great, I've been sent on the training course’. They put all the notes on the shelf and it culminates dust, and they never touch it. There is so much free content out there, the best agents are out-learning and out-knowledging all their competitors. You've got the different indices, webinars, free podcasts like this one, Audiobooks, YouTube. There is no excuse.”

To hear this conversation in full and to learn some of Stephen Brown’s tips for negotiation, listen to the latest episode on The Home Stretch podcast.

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