What does this have to do with your company?
I don’t care if your CEO has degrees from Harvard, Yale and Oxford; or if your executives have every certification given in the multi-family universe; if your regional managers are the most intelligent and articulate groups of regionals the industry has ever seen . . . to the average customer, they are not your ‘brand.’
The people sitting behind the desks are your brand. The people answering the phones at your offices, stores, car lots, front desks etc. responding to emails, monitoring your social media spaces and taking clients on tour are your company to the average customer.
Remember your first day?
I remember my first day working for a well-respected real estate company. I was a leasing consultant responsible for renting apartments that rented for $1,860 per month, all the way up to over $4,000 per month! Now how much time and effort do you think was spent preparing me to be the face of this mega-multi-million dollar community and of the company’s brand before I met with my first client?
On my first day I was given the tour, handed the keys to the model and golf cart, showed where my desk was and given the book of many, many floorplans and a site map. I shadowed a manager on one tour and then was then let loose to help customers and become the face of this iconic community.
How good do you think I was in my first 30 days? Not very. In looking back, the people I worked with just had very full plates, so they really wanted (needed) me to figure things out on my own. While I can understand that, it doesn't change the fact that life was still difficult for me in those early days and I wasn't doing the company any favors either.
When I got the chance to manage my own community I didn’t want my people to go through what I went through. I didn’t want someone to become the face of my community and company (and me!) without preparing them for the role.
Here is what I did:
- I developed a new hire on-boarding program. I walked my people through all aspects of their jobs; giving them all of the tools, techniques and secrets that I learned during my career. (Eventually my company adopted some of these ideas and created an on-boarding program for all associates.)
- I didn’t allow my new hires to help clients until they went through the program and felt they were ready. This period lasted anywhere from one week to two weeks, depending on the person.
- I personally worked with and trained my new team members because I wanted to be the dominant influence in the early stages of their careers.
I’m not going to lie, doing these meant more work for me! There were times I thought I was nuts to do this. But when the results showed me that the effort was worth it, I was thrilled! When the office could essentially run itself and I didn’t need to be involved in the minutiae, I knew it was worth it!
Of course, the specifics of your situation may be different~but the important question to ask yourself is this...
How have you prepared your people to be the face of your brand?