OrangeTee’s Property Connect Alliance taps tech and mentors to groom new talent

By Amy Tan / EdgeProp Singapore | October 4, 2019 12:30 PM SGT
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SINGAPORE (EDGEPROP) - When Lawrence Tan, OrangeTee’s senior associate executive director, started Property Connect Alliance (PCA) in December 2017, he envisioned creating a team that would have ready resources and opportunities for each of its agents to succeed. Tan has been in the real estate industry for close to 20 years and has been marketing properties across all segments.
One of the things he noticed back then was that some real estate agents did not have the opportunity to expand their talents. Inspired by the sharing economy, Tan started PCA to build up dedicated resources to help its agents.
“The whole idea was to form an alliance where agents can tap the strengths and expertise of all our leaders because all of them are veterans who have been in the market for as long as 10 to 30 years or even longer,” he says.

Leveraging technology

Today, the alliance has 1,581 agents. To ensure that its agents respond quickly to market trends, PCA has a dedicated learning and development team that organises training every week. Topics covered include everything from project-specific training to broader market trends in each property segment, whether it is landed, commercial or industrial. There is also training on online marketing so agents can maximise the reach of their listings.
PCA management team
PCA's management team comprises industry veterans who have been in the market for 10 to over 30 years (Photos: Samuel Isaac Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)
As not all agents are able to make time for these training sessions, PCA has invested in its own in-house app where agents can find the learning resources and presentation slides used for each session. The app also includes various calculator functions and formulae for agents to use when advising clients. These are updated as and when new government regulations are announced.
“We need to have constant training and upgrading. Otherwise, we will become obsolete in this industry. This is something we emphasise a lot on at PCA,” Tan says.
At the end of this year, PCA intends to roll out the second version of this app. The updated version will feature training videos so agents have the option to learn at their convenience. “All the leaders at PCA are chipping in their hard-earned money to create and make a successful app. It’s not cheap and the top management is the one funding it because we believe in providing this resource for our agents,” he shares. He adds that it is difficult to put a figure to the amount invested as the functions are updated regularly.

Developing expertise

Apart from monetary investment, PCA’s leaders avail themselves to give agents advice either face-to-face or via WhatsApp. “We have many platforms for different property segments so any time an agent has a question, he can just post it and get a fast response, whether it is from another agent or leaders. I find this very encouraging because it helps everyone to learn and avoid any mistakes or common pitfalls,” explains Tan.
Among PCA’s stable of veterans is Jeffrey Sim, OrangeTee’s senior vice-president. Over the years, Sim has gained a reputation as a landed property specialist. He observes that one of the hurdles for most agents looking to transition into marketing landed properties is overcoming the psychological challenge of making the transition. This is largely due to the difference in quantum pricing. As such, he provides guidance and training to PCA’s agents so they are confident to take on landed property sales if they wish to.
“There is still demand for landed properties, especially for those that sit on squarish land plots and are well located,” he says. “The sweet spot for landed properties right now is for houses in the $2.5 million to $3.5 million price range.”
In addition, Tan points out that new launches provide good training for new agents as they get to do everything from cold-calling, marketing activities to meeting buyers. For this, new agents are usually paired with a senior agent who guides them through the entire process. According to him, OrangeTee is marketing some 70 projects at the moment.
PCA's Lawrence Tan
Tan: I feel satisfaction when I know that the leaders and agents we have groomed are able to perform even better than I am
He reckons that the interactions between PCA’s leaders and agents help to build up trust among the agents. “For everything that we do, trust forms the basis. We try to build a trusting relationship among all our agents and alliance leaders,” he highlights.
Complementing the guidance by the alliance’s leaders, PCA has its own legal counsel to provide advice and share knowledge with agents. Some of the most common queries that the legal team receives pertain to clauses in tenancy agreements. As these do not typically fall within the expertise of an agent, the legal team is contactable via WhatsApp or in person. The aim is to provide legal advice promptly to ensure that the agents can proceed with their negotiations.
At the same time, the legal counsel is also involved in updating agents on any regulatory changes. Last month, HDB raised the income ceiling for eligible buyers. Within two days, PCA’s legal team had disseminated a memo outlining the new changes, jargon-free, to all the agents.

Leaders of tomorrow

Aside from honing its agents’ expertise, Tan advocates identifying and grooming PCA’s future leaders. This is done through constant feedback and interactions with staff. “Real estate is a people business where your success depends on how you interact with your colleagues, leaders, clients, and developers. In addition to having IQ, you need to have EQ,” he says.
To him, it is more important to assist agents with unlocking their potential than to set a target for PCA to expand its agent headcount. He elaborates: “We want to help agents to increase their earnings by achieving more and capturing a bigger market share. This is better than having a lot of agents but not hitting the numbers. That is not productive.”
In an industry where poaching of talent is prevalent, Tan makes it clear that this is frowned upon at PCA. “All the leaders are on the same page. We won’t poach because it is not only unethical, you are also ruining each other’s rice bowl and that’s where distrust sets in. We believe in doing business for the long term and poaching is not sustainable,” he explains.
PCA also encourages its agents to give back to society. To this end, it has a committee that spearheads community programmes. Its most recent activity was an outreach programme at Lion Befrienders where agents spent time interacting with the elderly through lantern-making and karaoke activities.
Perhaps the biggest satisfaction Tan gets from helming PCA is watching his agents achieve their goals. “I feel satisfaction when I know that the leaders and agents we have groomed are able to perform even better than I am. It’s not a threat to me. In fact, I embrace and encourage this,” he says. “An organisation is only successful when it can continue to do well even without its CEO.”
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