A third of brokers believe that a lack of resources and staff is the biggest obstacle to growth, according to a new survey. Nick Young from Trail Homes outlines how this could be overcome.
According to the recent trail book opinion survey conducted by Momentum Intelligence, 33 per cent of brokers considered lack of resources/staff as the biggest hurdle to business growth.
The hurdle — if not managed well — is a legitimate and widespread cause of concern that can invariably impact a business’ sustainability.
Taking it to the next level, it’s perhaps worthwhile quantifying “well” and identifying which type and ratio of resources/staff are best for optimising profitability and growth.
As this concept relates to the mortgage industry, we’d expect that it would be general consensus that brokers are sales-focused, and that relationships are the bloodline of the business. It’s a highly competitive market, fused with a climate that is increasingly unstable. This exposure places pressure on brokers to be smarter about their operations, both in relation to acquiring new business and nurturing existing clients.
Looking “under the hood” of your operations is the place to start to make sure that new business doesn’t simply become a collection of “empty” opportunities or that existing clients are neglected due to lack or inefficiency of resources. This exposes a common but nonetheless challenging situation of when and how to best utilise and/or add internal resources to boost business growth without straining cash flow.
A recent paper by Harvard Business Review identifies that sales representatives are most effective when they have the right amount of support staff. It’s been found that devoting 50–60 per cent of sales employees to support functions is optimal (and also proven).
This is further quantified by getting the right ratio of non-managers to managers, which is suggested to be around 8:1 (support staff to managers). This scenario would obviously be ideal, but in an industry that is typically lean, its feasibility might be limited, particularly in the dominant SME sector where the majority of the broker market operates.
So, the question becomes: How do you adopt the principle of creating a support environment that optimises a broker’s core sales functionality without breaking the bank?
The first step is often to shift your focus about how you view your operations. Here are some suggestions of where to start:
- Assess your current resources: Take a look at your current operations and work out how you can be removed from all activities that aren’t sales-related, including administration, bookkeeping and marketing. Identify members of your team who can take on support duties and assess their capacity.
- Delegate: Avoid micro-managing and delegate anything that’s not sales-related.
- Identify the gaps: Do your current staff have the knowledge or strengths to fulfil your requirements? Look beyond who you have access to and work out what your business needs to be better. This might be a bookkeeper for half a day a week, a marketing resource for one day a week, etc., and then find the most efficient way to source your requirements. Often this is addressed by an in-house hire. However, it’s unlikely that the new hire is skilled in all areas required, which brings us to the next point: outsourcing.
- Outsource: It’s a common misconception that doing everything yourself saves money. The money you save needs to be compared to your earning potential if you’re completely focused on sales. Similarly, it’s a common mistake to view outsourcing as cost-prohibitive. To the contrary, it’s an efficient, economical and highly utilised approach. Outsourcing enables a gap to be plugged on a temporary or ongoing basis — without the enduring cost of an in-house staff. Hiring specific, skilled resources for a set period also eliminates the traditional support person being a “jack of all trades and master of none”. Don’t underestimate the breadth of resources available, including virtual assistants, bookkeepers, marketers, copywriters, designers, etc.
- Lose the perception of traditional office mentality: Business is increasingly moving away from the traditional operations model of an office of full-time people working from a set location from 9am to 5:30pm. If you’re flexible in your expectations on where and when people work, you can tap into a network of qualified people looking for part-time or contract positions.
- Invest in a CRM system: Reduce time in administrative and back-office tasks plus streamline the sales process through investing in a customer relationship management system. This is a highly valuable tool that immediately effects efficiency, directly aids the sales + administration process, and centralises data.
Reference source: https://hbr.org/2016/05/in-the-best-sales-teams-about-half-of-the-people-are-in-support-roles
Nick Young is a results-driven specialist who has more than 20 years’ experience in the mortgage broking industry, and now heads Trail Homes: Australia’s most established and longest serving trail book purchaser.
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