What 45 Years In Estate Agency Has Taught Me

Stephen Shipperley

I’m a strong believer in controlling your own destiny and don’t tend to agree with the term ‘being lucky’, however, in my life there is one exception to this.

I feel incredibly lucky to have walked into Connells Aylesbury at the age of 18 to be captivated by two of the most charismatic and passionate interviewers imaginable. If it hadn’t been for those two (Eddie Moss and David White), I might not have pursued a career in estate agency at all, and they most certainly set the tone for what I consider to be one of the most important takeaways from my career.

Since that first introduction, many things have changed in this industry. From the often long-winded process of creating newspapers adverts, to simple and instant advertising on property portals; from bulky files of titles deeds, to the digitisation of land registry – there have been some huge improvements in technology over the years and I’ve had a front row seat to many of these developments, as well as being one of the people ‘in the driving seat’ for some.

While we have benefited from much change and innovation over the years and despite the many highs and lows, the big successes and the odd mistake, my biggest learning from this time is that it’s all about the people…

Estate agency is a people business after all, and that’s why I remain an avid supporter of full service, high street agency. It all starts with understanding what our customers want – a full team offering a range of services to take them through the entire buying or renting journey. Most importantly, they want face-to-face interaction, an agent with whom to build rapport and to guide them through the process with knowledge, experience and empathy.

To succeed at that, businesses need to direct their focus internally. Whether a larger corporate or a smaller independent, agencies that can identify people with flare and promise, offer consistent training and development opportunities and the right rewards to retain them, are the ones who will have the most resilience when times get tough.

I firmly believe that Connells Group’s success and, by extension, my own, has been a result of the fantastic people I have worked with over the years and that make up the business today. From my fellow leaders and industry peers that I have worked closely with in the last 45 years, to the trainee negotiators, mortgage consultants etc now at the beginning of their careers, coming to work every day with the drive to learn and succeed.

As mentioned, I don’t particularly believe in ‘luck’ – I think people make their own luck and, while I was blessed to walk into that Connells branch back in 1977 to be met by two people who totally drew me into the industry, from there I seized every opportunity to learn, grow and expand my horizons.

I was that trainee negotiator that showed promise, and I was fortunate to have that recognised by my managers at the time and to have those opportunities to develop. Now, managers need to continue to seek and develop the next generation, and people climbing the career ladder need to make sure they grab every opportunity they can.

If there is one thing I’ve learnt about estate agency in 45 years, it’s that people are what makes the difference. Anyone who really focuses on that and gets the right people, from the junior and supporting roles right up to leadership, will inevitably do well.

Stephen Shipperley, Connells Group chairman (until the end of the year of course!).

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