In this series entitled Agent Success Stories, we sit down with agency leaders to find out their side of the story. From their humble beginnings to the challenges they have faced on the road to success, we learn that a career in the real estate industry is one filled with boundless opportunities – if you know where to look.
Shanel Liew is an team leader at Propnex’s Powerful Negotiators Group (PNG), a mother of two, and a proud owner of five properties (three are fully paid-up!). Shanel has a rather varied background: she was previously a full-timer in an IT company and a door-to-door salesperson, spending a year in Taiwan and China selling home appliances.
She shares her journey into real estate and how she still makes time for family and business, and how she makes sure her agents can as well:
Starting out in real estate
Shanel Liew joined the real estate industry in 2006 at the young age of 23.
“It was during that time that I came to know Kelvin (my spouse) whose brother was in real estate”, she said. “Kelvin too, wished that I would join him in the same industry, so I took the leap and switched careers. Soon after I started, I realised I actually had a flair for this and managed to do well!”
No one would doubt her natural aptitude. Today, Shanel is frequently ranked among the top 10 Achievers in her agency, out of more than 7,000 contenders. She’s also a four-time Champion Private Transactor in PropNex, from 2015 through to 2018, and a recipient of the Asia Pacific Elite Awards and Singapore Industry Awards.
Today Shanel leads her own division, Shanel Liew Division, which specialises in Districts 15, 19, and 18. About 90 per cent of their business is private property, and 10 per cent is HDB.
It takes more than aptitude to ensure consistent success
Shanel doesn’t think having a natural flair for it is the be-all and end-all:
“Honestly, I believe that anyone can do it if they put their mind to it”, she says, preferring to highlight discipline and process over talent. She adds “My division is very strategic, and we have a clear direction regardless of market conditions. All our agents operate with zero procrastination and are highly efficient.”
To ensure consistent success, the Shanel Liew Division has a system that uses the key tools of:
Or T.E.A.M.S, for short. She stressed that the overall goal is to be “highly invested in individual mentorship, ensuring that our division’s culture continues to motivate our agents.” She’s shares that the team specialises in teaching agents how to mark out geographical target areas, and how to constantly market their presence to generate passive leads.
The results are indisputable. On average, the Shanel Liew Division sells 60 to 100 properties per month, of which she often transacts five to six personally.
She attributes her success strategy to the value add she and her agents bring to clients:
“Even for houses that are less than perfect, we will propose strategies to make them more attractive to potential buyers. I always keep owners updated on the processes to market their property, and temper their expectations with realism. The sellers also need to be mentally prepared for what’s ahead.”
Building a successful team of agents
“In my previous agency, there was no expectation for agents to recruit,” Shanel says, “Rugged individualism was the rule throughout the company. When I moved to PNG five years ago, I decided to take the time to understand the culture and saw how well the training platform works. I’ve come to truly appreciate and believe in PNG’s style of learning.
Currently we have 80 trainers, and the best thing is that all of our agents can learn from any one of them. Even if leaders are not from the same division, any agent can approach them for a meeting.”
Shanel’s division now has more than 60 agents, and are looking to grow to 150 to 200 agents this year. They welcome anyone enthusiastic for a change to join their team.
Building the Shanel Liew Division culture
Shanel’s division teaches each agent to “build their own brand”, but through a time-tested and coherent system.
“I will ask each agent to produce their own timetable”, Shanel says, “for which they will be accountable for during our weekly meetings. They will receive case studies, conduct calculations and manage timelines.”
For new agents, she focuses more communication and interpersonal skills. For example, an agent may be great with property numbers, but might be unable to get appointments. In such cases, it could be due to one’s tone, gesture or simply subtle things that only experienced agents can pick out.
“Every Tuesday and Thursday I’ll personally review how our new agents are prospecting on the ground. I’ll help to fine-tune their approach so that they can be excellent salespersons. These skills cannot be taught in the classroom” says Shanel. “I try to impart as many skills as I can, considering my sales background. Our agents appreciate such value-add as well.” she adds
Besides work, team-bonding activities like darts, KTV and steamboat are part of the division’s culture. They also have a Family Fun Day, when all the agents can bring their children for a get-together.
“We pride our division for its strong sense of cohesion and familiarity, which is why we bring in three to five new people at a time and give them sufficient attention as they settle down. I believe that only when we expand gradually can we achieve long-term, sustainable growth.” Shanel says.
Balancing work and family life
Shanel brings work-life balance not only to herself, but to her agents as well. It’s a matter of organising activities, and creating a set routine.
“Everyone in my division has a timetable, including myself. It charts all my daily activities in an organised manner, and keeps me disciplined. Everyday I simply follow the schedule and adjust each segment if required. I follow it so much so that our daughters are used to both Kelvin and I being at home daily from 4pm to 6pm, but out working on the weekends.”
Shanel’s division is especially open to recruiting women with family and children – not a common trait in the world of real estate.
“Based on how I am able to manage my business, children and household, I have no doubts in encouraging career women to join me. For the men as well, if we consistently put in the work and we follow the structure, we’ll all be able to achieve a stable, sustainable income.”