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Service to Make You Smile – 11 Tips from a Greek Beach

Kalimera, (it’s Greek for good day, good morning).

An estate agency is essentially a service business, right?

You don’t have a tangible product to sell, but you are judged on the level of care you deliver.

That’s why I think it’s worthwhile for estate agents (and other service-based businesses) to look at how the best hotel brands operate.

The elite-level ones have clear systems and processes, realise the importance of training their teams, and are obsessed with detail.

In mid-August, my family and I stayed at the Ikos Olivia resort in Halkidiki.

The resort had been highly recommended by many of my friends in estate agency, as had the Ikos brand in general (they have several resorts in Greece and Spain).

I wasn’t disappointed. The service and experience were very, very good.

And on the last day of our fortnight there, while lazing on a sun lounger on the beach, I noted the 11 things I’d noticed most about the place, how it was run and how little things can make a big difference.

Here they are:

  1. Service is everything – Nothing was ever too much trouble for the staff. Nine times out of ten, it was faultless. If you wowed your clients 90% of the time and did everything in your power to keep them happy, what impact would that have on your business?
  2. Leave some space – The resort was at full occupancy when we went. But there were always sunbeds available, the restaurants were busy but never felt heaving, and it felt like there was space to move, breathe and relax. This is not the case with other hotels we’ve been to in August. So, I’d imagine the hotel always keeps some wiggle room available. The lesson for agencies here is when you take on too much, it often affects your clients’ experience of using your service.
  3. Say my name – As is standard in most hotels, the staff had name badges. My pet hate (well, one of many) is people who are rude to waiting staff. I made a point of always trying to use the waiter’s or waitress’s name when ordering. This created a small but noticeable difference in their overall attentiveness, especially over a few days. Treat everyone well, and you often see the best of them.
  4. Tech – The hotel used WhatsApp well. You could message them about anything, and they would get back to you quickly. It was a clever use of simple tech that made our stay more enjoyable. Where could your agency be using tech to deliver better service?
  5. Stars – Every team has a star player. Be that in sports, business or education. You name it. In Ikos Olivia, there were many great performers, but Veroni, George, Nickolas, Matilda, Amelia, Lia and Dimitrius stood out. So who is the star player in your team? Or perhaps more importantly, who could be with a little extra support?
  6. Sh!t Happens – We had a couple of issues during our stay, but they were handled very efficiently and well. I’m a big believer that a problem, when handled skilfully and sincerely, becomes an opportunity to win trust and build rapport.
  7. Surprise people – When we originally booked, we were told we could make three restaurant reservations – which we did. But the hotel gave us a fourth as a ‘surprise’. I’m guessing this is built into their systems and processes, but it was a nice touch that created a positive first impression. So how can your agency ‘surprise’ your clients by unexpectedly doing that little bit more for them?
  8. The difference is in the details – At the end of one day, I noticed the hardworking beach boys (God only knows what we would have done without them, couldn’t resist that, sorry) fastidiously lining up the sunbeds ahead of the next day. They used one of those lines that bricklayers do. This attention to detail was replicated all around the resort, in the gardens, dining areas, and many other places.
  9. Presentation is everything – For most people, sight is the dominant sense, and practically everything in the resort looked good. The food, gardens, beach, lobby, restaurants etc. When was the last time you stepped back and thought about what your agency ‘looks like’? I’m talking about the ease of your website and the tidiness of your office and vehicles. The quality of what you hand out on your valuations and viewings? It all adds up.
  10. Appreciate your pressure – Working in an estate agency or running any business is hard and can be highly pressurised. But when it comes to helping people buy, sell, let or rent homes (or writing content), it’s nowhere near as hard as being a waiter on a beach when the temperature is hitting 35°C and you’re non-stop. Gratitude is a vital part of a winning attitude.
  11. Slackers stand out – Perfection doesn’t exist, but pursuing it is worthwhile if you care about what you do. A couple of times, we felt the staff weren’t with it or cared, but it was so rare that these incidents stood out. Again, this shows that if you create a high-performing culture, those not up to it will easily be noticed.

Finally, we had a couple of lovely chats with Veroni, the Guest Relations Manager. I asked her how they selected staff, and she said it was pretty simple.

‘We look for good people, regardless of experience, because we can teach them the rest.’

And on that note, I bid you antio sas.

Thanks for reading.

Jerry

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