If you build anything in life, then you need strong foundations. In my last article we looked at how to build a roadmap for your lettings agency business. But one of the most important factors in building a successful business is laying down your foundations.
In fact, I’ll go so far as saying that I don’t know a single person who has built a successful business without a good business foundation. The foundations are that important… but what are they?
Is it getting the right staff? Or making sure the right systems are in place? No, it comes before both of those...
Is it finding the perfect location for an office? It’s even before that.
The foundations of any successful business are the company strategy framework documents that will be the ‘rules’ of how it will operate for years to come. They may be there for thirty years. In fact, they may outlast the business founder.
What company strategy documents do you need to have in place to set the foundations for success? There are only three, and they are:
- Company values – the rules by which you and your company abide, and how decisions are made.
- Customer service charter – the customer service promise which you and your staff make to your clients and are held accountable to.
- Mission statement – the overall goal stating where you want to take the company and how you will get there.
Get these three documents right and everything else will flow from them, assisting you in making business decisions.
Imagine you have a strict set of rules – let’s call it a code – that you follow without exception. If a situation arises, it’s simply a case of having the staff adhere to the code. If they do, then you succeed; if they don’t, you don’t. It’s that simple.
You may be saying something like, ‘Yes, but I’m OK. I follow my rules all the time, I just know them. There’s no need to write them down or have them displayed on a poster in my office.’
I have two things to say to that:
- There will be times when situations test your inner metal and integrity, and it won’t be as easy as you may think to make a simple decision. A reminder will do you no harm.
- Your staff. It’s easy when you are the big boss in charge to make decisions, but this isn’t all about you. It’s about your staff. They don’t always have the same way of thinking as you do, and they will need reminding of the rules of the game.
Why we do what we do, but more importantly, how we do it.
As business owners, we generally have, dare I say it, a higher level of emotional intelligence than others. This means we are (or should be) better at self-awareness, self-regulation etc, and in the main we wouldn’t do what we do unless we enjoyed it. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of things that can be frustrating about running an agency, such as awkward staff, tenants, landlord and contractors. Who said this was going to be easy, eh?
We want to get up and do work which gives us satisfaction and makes us and our staff happy. A happy workforce makes for an easier life, so we want to have a connection with those we work with, regardless of whether we are the boss or not. We want to contribute and make a difference. We want a job/business that means more than what it looks like on the outside.
Customer service charter
What is this? A customer service charter is best described as a set of promises which a company follows in order to reach and deliver the best customer service possible. It’s a promise that all the staff sign up to and must adhere to at all times. A bit like the values of the company, it means that when a staff member doesn’t perform, you are able to measure them against it by asking a simple question: ‘Do you believe that your actions aligned with the customer service charter?’
A customer service charter is important as we are in a people business, and people are huge on customer service. It does get bandied around a lot, customer service this and customer service that, and it will vary from person to person, so you need to have your own definition of customer service and, more importantly, what you need to do to achieve it.
A mission statement states the company’s purpose. It announces to the world why your company exists. It needs to be written in a concise way that encapsulates your values and why you do what you do.
A good mission statement defines the company goals in three important ways:
- What the company does for its customers
- The company’s characteristics
- What makes the company stand out
It’s the perfect opportunity to bring in your ethics, culture and the norms which will drive every decision-making process.
In the next article ill go over in more detail how to come up with the documents so you can implement them in your business.
John Paul runs the Agency Growth Strategies group on Facebook. A great resource dedicated to helping estate agents and letting agents build their business. Head over and request to join today.
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