The UK division of US-based estate agency Keller Williams says agents need access to internal training if service levels across the industry are to improve - and if agents are to foster lifetime client relationships that are vital to success.
Keller Williams UK cites The Property Ombudsman’s latest annual report showing that consumers made 1,165 complaints against sales agents in 2017, leading to a four per cent rise in compensation to £360,178 in total, equivalent to an average of £532 per successful case - a 34 per cent hike on 2016.
"There are a significant number of complaints made against agents each year and the amount of money being paid back as compensation to consumers is rising," says Ben Taylor, managing director of Keller Williams UK.
"In our industry, it’s always been the bad agents that get all the attention, with many of the best businesses going unnoticed. However, it's clear that there is work to be done to improve service levels across the board and staff training should be a huge part of that process."
Earlier this year the government announced that it intends to require sales agents to hold a professional qualification in order to be able to practice. This is in addition to proposals to regulate letting agents with a similar qualification and industry code of practice.
"Plans to professionalise the industry with a national qualification are welcome. Although, I don't believe this will be enough to improve the average level of service on offer" says Taylor.
"As yet, there is no indication of when a government-led qualification will be introduced and we have no idea the level of expertise and knowledge it will require to obtain. As an industry, we therefore can't wait around for the government's plans for professionalisation. We must look at our own businesses and improve our workforce through staff training" he insists.
Taylor says that agents need to be taught how to go out and create opportunities for themselves and adds that as consumer habits continue to change, agents also need to adapt their approach to be effective - something achieveable through good training, and the utilisation of technology and social media.
"On top of this, there should be a focus on creating a culture of 'clients for life' where the agent provides long-term guidance and is the go-to property person for that individual," he explains.
He says Keller Williams UK provides its agents with daily training and mentoring opportunities while last year the Keller Williams organisation - which has 185,000 associates working across 34 countries - was recognised by Training magazine as the world's number one training organisation across all industries.
"We truly believe that in the modern market the only way agents can thrive is by empowering their staff through extensive training and investing in the very best technology solutions the industry has to offer” says Taylor, who leads the firm’s four market centres in the UK.