Q: WHAT’S IT LIKE BEING AN APPRENTICE?
Working as an apprentice at Ralph James is quite involved and there are various stages of performance and experience I need to achieve as part of the government's apprenticeship scheme. I'm set various tasks and these range from looking smart and acting professionally to learning about the legal process for sales and lettings, providing good customer service and getting the correct information and negotiating on offers. My training is divided into modules and I'm visited by the apprenticeship agency to have my progress assessed. I was graded perfect for my first module which was great.
Q: WHAT IS GOOD CUSTOMER SERVICE?
Being welcoming. Listening to what people they say. Always being polite even when things might not go to plan, which can obviously happen. Basically putting people first whenever you can. Ashley lets me practice this by holding the fan over him on very hot days, which really puts his comfort before mine.
Q: WHAT’S THE MOST IMPORTANT THING YOU’VE LEARNT ABOUT WORK?
That being organised, calm and efficient makes life easy for everyone. With so much happening all the time and people coming and going all day, you have to have a system for everything. It would be chaos without them. As I didn’t appreciate them so much at the beginning, Ashley recommended making everyone's tea regularly and as quickly as possible to see how efficient I could get. I'm still allowed to do this every day, at least until I'm perfect, so I never forget.
Q: HOW WOULD YOU SAY YOU’VE PROGRESSED SO FAR?
For my first couple of days all I could do was answer the phone and pass the call to someone else, usually Ashley, because I had no idea what properties were available. There was lots of watching and learning on how properties are presented to people, how advice is given to clients and how problems are solved and nerves calmed. The next step was to start registering buyers myself, talk to people about property and arrange to take them for a look.
Q: WHAT’S IT LIKE GOING OUT ON VIEWINGS?
This is where I've learnt the most: you soon find out that if you don't ask the right questions and listen to the answers, you end up taking people to unsuitable property which is a waste of everyone's time. My best viewing may well have been one of my first ones where I got an offer, a mortgage appointment and a solicitor referral all in one go! My worst was also an early one: my confirmation email went into the owner’s junk email folder and I walked in on them eating noodles in their dressing gowns on a Saturday morning.
Q: IS THE TEAM COMPETITIVE?
We operate an open register of buyers and tenants here, which means any member of the team can call anyone registered about any property. We don't own people. And although everyone here is very supportive, they are also very good at their job, so you do have to be on your toes if you don't want to lose a sale! To stay positive and alert, everyone here looks after themselves, so Ashley let's me carry the big heavy planters in and out of the office every morning and evening to keep me strong.
Q: HAVE YOU HAD A FAVOURITE DAY?
The day I got my first sale was obviously a good one. I sold a luxury apartment in Royal Earlswood Park to some first time buyers and it was a nice smooth transaction to start off with. Otherwise I really love Mondays because I get to catch with all my viewers from the weekend and also to see how everyone else got on and how productive it was. We’ve had some Mondays with 6 or 7 offers which is a really incredible start to a week
Q: HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THE OFFICE?
The Ralph James offices are more homely than most of the other estate agents I've seen. Keeping it neat and welcoming for customers is seen as really important which means tidy desks, no piles of paper and no mess. To help me stay tidy and to keep it in my mind, Ashley lets me vacuum the office as often as he likes.
Q: ANY SURPRISES?
I knew I would enjoy my time at Ralph James, but I really never knew I could learn so much about being an estate agent from so many household chores. That was a real eye-opener so I'm really looking forward to seeing what comes next.