educates housing agents on how to be successful in real estate.

Location: Singapore

Veterinary surgeon at Toa Payoh Vets, Singapore and operator of a Singapore housing agency,

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

SURVIVAL SECRETS - Driving an old bomb

August 3, 2005. Driving an old bomb.

"If the person is that good," the prospective 40-year-old employee said to me, "He will not consider working for as a manager."

At the end of the first interview which took over 2 hours, he parted saying that he had not decided. So, I felt that he was not that keen and asked him to write down the scope of his duties and what he could offer me.

He had expected a monthly allowance of $2,000, 50:50 sharing if agency commission is less than $10,000 per case and 60:40 if the amount is more than $10,000.

"Do you know how to use info-tools (an online database)?" I asked at this second interview. I thought he had left real estate 3 years ago. He was talking of networking and Straits Times Classifieds to source prospects.

"Never heard of it."

He had no experience in residential real estate and had been out of the real estate industry for seven years. How could he manage my agents if they don't respect him? He acknowledged his weakness but was willing to start from the bottom. So, he said. However, he would not be able to do expatriate rentals as competitors have better and bigger cars and he would not be able to project an image of a successful realtor. Worse, he might damage the reputation of the company by association.

"Would you mind spraying your car?" I asked. I was willing to give him an opportunity and advance him the $500 to spray his car. When he earned the commission, he would pay the company back.

The paint work had dried up. The black body paint was wavy and as wrinkled as the oldest man in the world.The boot paintwork peeled off revealing a white paint.

Image is important for real estate residential work as we drive expatriate clientele to see prospective houses and condos. Agents who drive Mercedes, no matter how old it is, commands some respect. The interviewee was driving a small Japanese car which must be over 13 years old. It is extremely difficult to spot such a car in Singapore as almost 100% have decent paintwork.

Was this prospect just using me as a stepping stone for better offers? Nobody can read another person's mind. $2,000 is a lot of money to pay a manager who does not want to let me know how many days off a week he wants and how many hours of work he will devote to building up the company.

I was willing to give him an opportunity. He was extremely reluctant to spend $500 to re-spray his old bomb. Maybe he was not hungry enough as he had just left a $2,000 job recently. We parted amicably. I had known him for 3 years when he was managing a non-real estate job and had impressed me with his hard work and excellent public relations skills.

This is sad. But life is like that.


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