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We've all seen the recent news stories about the woes of the retail sector, with a number of major retailers – including Marks & Spencer, Debenhams, New Look and House of Fraser – either restructuring, closing stores, going into administration or going out of business altogether.
The pressures of Brexit, high rents, falling consumer confidence and the growing reach and influence of online shopping have formed a perfect storm around the high street, with chain restaurants such as Prezzo, Jamie's Italian and Byron also cutting their number of branches.
Now Kings Group is calling on redundant shop workers to become estate agents instead.
Shop workers who have been left unemployed by the latest round of retail closures and redundancies could put their skills to use in the property industry, with many transferable skills from the sector they were working in before – not least customer service, assisting with queries, administrative tasks and dealing with consumer complaints.
Skills like stock-taking, money management, organisation and good time-keeping may also be easily transferred from one job to another.
We're looking to recruit trainee estate agents from the retail sector, taking advantage of all the brilliant sales people out there looking for jobs the retail sector can no longer provide. Some 21,000 jobs were axed in the first three months of 2018 alone as Maplin and Toys R Us both bit the bullet and other major retailers announced a string of store closures.
Great retailers often make great estate agents. There is a great deal of crossover between the sectors, although they are not always natural bedfellows. However, as outlined above, they require a similar skill-set, so retail workers changing paths to agency shouldn't be a massive leap into the unknown or a huge career change.
An easy conversion
Good sales people are good sales people, whether they exist in retail or agency. Many negotiators have a background in retail; many sales people in general do, in fact. And they know the art of good sales is really listening to the customer to understand their wants, needs and desires, and then seeking to deliver that in a fast, efficient, professional way.
There is a difference between selling houses and selling clothes, carpets or homeware – we're talking about a person's biggest asset in the former case, with not insignificant sums of money at play – but the core principles are the same. The skill-set required is, on a basic level, very similar.
Why estate agency?
People are always going to be buying and selling homes, and in the main they will want to deal with humans during that process. The face-to-face interaction and relationships built up between agent and client are still vitally important, so the demand for good, reliable estate agents will always be there.
In other words, if you're good at your job, you can be pretty much guaranteed a job for life – which isn't the case in the far more unpredictable world of retail, where lots of jobs are part-time or limited hours and you're left at the risk of redundancy if there's a dramatic downturn in the fortunes of the high street (as has been witnessed recently).
Of course, estate agency isn't bulletproof – and has struggles and challenges of its own – but in the last decade it has done a remarkable job of bouncing back from the global financial crisis and then batting away the uncertainty caused by Brexit, political and economic issues, and a larger than usual number of elections and referendums. It is one of the most stable and robust industries out there, which should give would-be estate agents plenty of confidence in long-term job security.
What's more, if you like working closely with people, there is plenty of scope to do that as an estate agent.
Another bonus of life as an estate agent is the old (but no less true) 'no two days are the same' line. It is an interesting, varied, unpredictable, funny, bizarre, fascinating and (yes) sometimes frustrating job, but you certainly won't be bored and you certainly won't lack for job satisfaction.
People who have been in the industry for years can regale for hours the various things they've seen and heard during their time as an estate agent – the good, the bad and the sometimes downright odd.
If you want to be kept on your toes and avoid the monotony of a bog-standard office job, estate agency is definitely something you should consider.
What skills are needed?
If you are confident, good on the phone and good at putting people at ease, the role of an estate agent could be perfect for you. People skills are hugely important – both on the phone and in person – and good communication skills are also vital. You need to be able to communicate with your clients – whether by email, text, letter or another form of correspondence – in a clear, concise and accurate manner.
If you are shy, introverted or don't deal well with targets, the job may not be for you – although, truth be told, there is no one type of person who is an estate agent. It is a broad church and trying to pin down the characteristics of the average estate agent is impossible.
Generally, though, people skills, strong levels of self-motivation, high levels of organisation and an interest in property are all needed to be successful in this profession.
In return, you get the buzz of closing deals and the joy and satisfaction of guiding people through major transactions at crucial points of their life.
Why Kings Group?
We work in some of London's most diverse and interesting areas, from multicultural Tottenham to trendy-but-gritty Bethnal Green and hipster favourite Hackney. We also operate in some of the capital's busiest commuter hubs – locations such as Cheshunt, Enfield, Hertford, Church Langley and Walthamstow.
As well as working in interesting areas, you'll be joining a successful company with a wide number of branches and services, and the chance to rise through the ranks. We offer constructive training to help you grow and result-inspired wage structures to reward you.
We have been operating for more than 25 years, so we understand the local market, what is needed and how to get the most out of our employees.
If you have the drive, motivation and enthusiasm to deliver the highest standards to clients (with ongoing training and development to allow you to thrive), please view our Careers page to find out more.