Spencer Lawrence, Lettings Director at Paramount, reflects on his career and those who have contributed to it ahead of the Lettings Agency of the Year awards ceremony on Friday.
20 years ago I received a chance call from a recruitment company (thanks Mum) that had a profound impact on my career path. Rather than unloading a lorry at a major retailer an opportunity presented itself to temp for one day at an estate agency in St Johns Wood, and within a few minutes I was hooked. The thrill, the buzz and the energy was something I wanted to be part of. My stay was extended for a month (filing has never been so good), my career path had been plotted and it was clear lettings was the future for me.
As I enter my nineteenth year at Paramount this month, it’s fair to say that it has been challenging, rewarding and continually inspiring.
Our relationship with the Lettings Agency of the Year awards started in 2011. We didn't submit an entry but I wanted to experience the day. A fully energised Dean Mackie, CEO of Australian estate agents McGrath, made me sit up and listen when he asked a series of thought provoking questions, running around the room with a microphone asking 'Why do you do what you do?’ and ‘What do you love about agency?’.
As the delegation sunk in their seats hoping to avoid eye contact I scribbled down 'our approach MUST change'. It was an epiphany that changed the way I viewed the industry and my place within it. I realised that we must become process led, and it took almost a year to successfully implement this change in approach. Specialist sub teams, buddy systems and a focus on work ethic were also developed during this period.
With renewed enthusiasm and gusto we decided to put forward a submission in 2012. We were shortlisted but I was devastated, hurt and distinctly remember sitting on a table with another agent who pulled off a hat trick of golds. A grin and bear it approach was adopted, and whilst I was happy for the successful nominees I needed some time to reflect.
That evening I walked the 6.6 miles home from the Lancaster London Hotel, assimilating the day, making sense of what I heard. What I hadn’t realised until half way home was the profound impact Darren Shirlaw had upon me during the morning session. I called him the next day. Shirlaws taught me how to love business again, by being really clear on our positioning. The Red, Blue, Black are the building blocks of any business.
Key learnings from Property Academy events have been invaluable to me as we constantly seek to evolve and improve. In 2015 what seemed impossible only a few years before did happen and Paramount walked away with the overall title of Lettings Agency of the Year.
My 6.6 mile walk home from the Lancaster is one I often think of. It reminds me to never, ever quit and to constantly consider and question how we conduct business. It’s important to recognise that behaviour from the top manifests itself in the team. Staff are our number one priority, our most precious commodity – because they’re the people who ensure our customers and clients have an incredible experience throughout their time with us.
For me Paramount is a journey, and these awards and those involved in them (Olympic gold medallists, world record holders, inspirational keynote speakers and all those behind the scenes) have been influential in plotting our path in recent times. I have much to thank them for.
I love our industry and the very fact we seek to come together to listen, improve and share experiences is testament to how much it means to so many others. The lettings industry is neither half empty nor half full, it is positively overflowing.
To all those who have entered this year I wish you the best of luck.