Award season comes to the property industry

News: Sheila Manchester 1

November 08, 2013

Posted in:

Many industries dole out gongs to the ‘leading lights’ at this time of year, it is like a build up to the festive season, an attempt to build the feel-good factor, everyone loves a celebration.

Having just presented a large property awards event, (The Negotiator Awards) the myriad of comments, suggestions and attitudes are fresh in my mind. The most astonishing revelation was that some estate agencies who consider themselves to be at the top of their game do not enter awards. Why? I assumed it is arrogance, that they don’t believe they need to enter – surely everyone knows they are the best? They certainly do. Hurrumph. But no, this is not the case. It is because if they do enter – but they don’t win… well, heads will roll.

This is no glib assertion, I have it from several well-respected people that some of the most famous agencies do not enter because the person in charge of marketing (for that is what having awards is all about) is too scared that if they lose it will be curtains for their career. Which is appalling, but it’s great news for the more modest and aspirational companies!

What could be worse than being so high up the tree that you are petrified of falling off? The tightrope of success? It’s clearly a rope with which you may hang yourself. Much better to be the brave climber, intent on doing better and gaining recognition from peers.

Awards events offer many benefits other than a metal column with your name engraved upon it. The obvious benefits are the marketing opportunities, showing off your achievements in gold, silver or bronze fabulousness on your website and printed marketing materials, casually dropping the success into the conversation when pitching for an instruction, gaining press coverage locally or even nationally, it’s all marvelous. However, several entrants to our Awards have said that taking the decision to enter an awards scheme brings something much more powerful.

Reading the entry criteria triggers a series of actions that will, when completed, not only give the judges a clear overview of what you are all about, it will also show yourselves how well you have done in the last three years – or not.

Our criteria (for some categories) include financial statistics, just turnover, profit, branches and staff numbers, but those four items clearly indicate whether the business is growing. And that’s just the start. The various categories cause entrants to gather their wits on what they have done in their community, how they look after their staff, whether they have moved on with their website or whether they can truly present themselves as an agent who gets wonderful feedback from all their clients.

One entrant told me that they spent several weeks on their entries, with many light bulb moments along the way, not all of them easy to accept. He was thinking they had done ‘stacks’ for their community, but boiled down to a couple of hundred words, suddenly it didn’t seem so fabulous. His growth plans had come unstuck too, due to a failed bid to acquire another company, something which had taken up way too much of his time. Another said that he couldn’t understand why he didn’t win the previous year’s Small Agent of The Year’ – until he came to the event and heard what the winner had achieved in the year.

So the process provides a broad company audit, reviewing your activities, successes and failures as an independent judge would, opening Pandora’s box, and trying to arrange what you find into an award winning presentation. It’s like a crash course in management, a SWOT analysis, and an opportunity to implement change and do better, because however well we are doing, we can always do better.

One of the most fun things about Awards events is that a good one is a big celebration, in an exciting venue, with lots of food and wine, entertainment and excitement.  The second fun thing is that very often, the winner is a bit of a surprise, or, sometimes a big shock to those confident competitors down the road who were convinced that they are the best. If that’s not a good reason to enter an awards event I don’t know what is, but looking beyond the smug smile, entering an awards scheme is a great way of assessing where you have come from, where you are and where you will be going. And that’s priceless.

This is Sheila’s last article before we take a break in December; we are delighted that she will continue to provide insightful articles for Moneypenny in the New Year.