Decide what you need to do differently to make a breakthrough in 2017
The right moves
Here goes a new year! Last year was a good one for property and construction and all indications are that 2017 will be similar, albeit that values have probably topped out in most areas. The volume of deals in the lucrative investment sale area is likely to be down though, as Nama supply reduces and the flow of instructions will depend on the level of resales. So, with all of the ingredients there for another good year, should you, as an individual or a firm, be content with another 'good year', largely dictated by market forces? Or can 2017 be the year when you make a breakthrough to a new level of success, where the outcomes are decided by you and not the market?
As a starter, I offer you the sobering news that if you intend taking four weeks holidays this year, and not working on weekends or bank holidays, there are just 220 days left until you are sitting down again to Christmas dinner. That's not a lot of time in which to achieve all those resolutions.
In order to make real progress, both individuals and firms must have simple, measurable plans. I recommend having only one goal at a time. So, what's the game changer for you this year? What do you need to do differently to achieve it? Focus intensively on that, every day, until it is achieved. If you don't have a plan, you are just drifting into another average year.
In a market where values have stabilised and deal volumes may reduce, there aren't too many options for increasing profitability. Reducing staff costs is unlikely, as salaries are in an upwards cycle, so one option is to secure a greater share of the instructions in 2017. This is very achievable but it means getting out of your comfort zone and making developing new relationships a priority.
What changes can you make in 2017 that will pay rich dividends? No matter what level you are at, you should have at least one party in your home. This is the single quickest way to change the dynamic of sterile professional relationships and contacts, and turn them into friendships. Make it non-negotiable that you will be meeting one new contact every day, perhaps for lunch, maybe for a coffee. Make it a target to hand out four business cards per day. Even if you are poor at following up, that's 880 new contacts by next Christmas, and new business will follow.
Fee levels are recovering from the race to the bottom and offer a real option this year for increasing profitability. It's easier to increase your turnover by 20pc by increasing your fees by that amount, rather than adding 20pc more clients. Fees are success-based, certainly on the transactional side, and if you are providing a top-class professional and personalised service, I'll bet there is scope to increase your fees. I've yet to meet a developer who instructed the second-best agent on his scheme, because their fees were lower.
Take time to think before hitting the 2017 hamster wheel. What should we be doing differently? The tricky part is that achieving a breakthrough this year will mean changing some of the behaviour that served you fairly well last year.
It was fascinating to be involved with the Pendulum Summit in Dublin last week. The summit, which is the brainchild of former rugby international Frankie Sheahan, attracted 6,300 people to the Convention Centre for two days of motivational speeches and business advice. I bumped into several property figures there and one leading firm of agents had all of its directors attending over the two days.
The summit included a 'CEOs' Dinner' in the Marker Hotel, where leading Irish business figures proposed initiatives that would benefit Ireland. An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, who attended, was unfazed by an audience sprinkled with several of the best motivational speakers in the world, and delivered a stirring speech.
I chatted with Kevin McGillycuddy, managing director of Brehon Capital Partners, owner and director of The Marker Hotel and The Powerscourt Hotel Resort and Spa. He told me that business at the two hotels had increased by approximately 20pc over the last 12 months and he sees a very strong year ahead.
The Pendulum Summit itself is estimated to have brought an economic boost to Dublin worth €20m - very welcome in January.