Journey from Self-Employed Estate Agent to Estate Agency Owner

By: Matt Giggs | April 8, 2024

Today, I’m going to share more about my journey from being a self-employed estate agent to becoming a business owner and what a step this one actually is.

I'm telling you right now, I was employed for 16 years and went self-employed nearly 12 years ago, and a little over 2 years later, I became a business owner. Then the steps I took after that were even more daunting. When you do this, you’ll be faced with lots of challenges, but I'm going to help simplify the process in this post.

So who am I? Well I'm Matt Giggs, and I've been an estate agent for over 28 years. I now have a property group called The Giggs Group. I've been involved in growing different brands across the country, training thousands of estate agents, and selling over a billion pounds worth of property. Over the years, I've been the trainee, the junior, the tea boy. I've worn lots of t-shirts in this industry, and I'm going to continue to learn and grow even more.

So what I'm here to do now is share some of my own journey, my own wisdom around how I've done these things in order to help you to achieve your goals, dreams, and desires in this brilliant industry that we're in. I wrote about the beginning of my journey in ‘How I became an Estate Agent in the UK – Learning what works’. Read on to learn about the next step – going from being self-employed in estate agency to being a business owner!

The holy grail for estate agents

We hear about this journey all the time, like becoming a business owner is the holy grail. It's a great thing. And you know, you can go away for months and your business runs without you, you got it.

Now look, I'm not going to lie, being a business owner is also fricking hard, okay?

I have been a business owner now for nearly 10 years. How that journey started for me was coming out of employed estate agency, where I was working for other people, helping those people to achieve their goals, dreams, desires and ambitions. And then I went off to do it for myself. That was when I realised the real world is in my control.

Giggs and Co Estate Agency

So, what happened next? Well, I started Giggs and Co. I launched myself as employed and created my own estate agency in 2012, and it was the best thing that I’ve ever done.

I mean, I'm not gonna lie, right now, I'm sitting here, it's a midweek day, and I’m creating content and sharing more stories for you guys to improve your own journeys, in your own towns and communities moving forward.

But it isn't all sunshine and flowers. I'd love to say it is. Really though, It's fricking hard, and I'm not gonna lie, you need to really, really build this resilience up.

Mental preparation and growth

So the first thing I'm gonna share with you right now is you've got to prepare mentally for growth. Okay, that means you need to know, you need to be aware of what your value is. What are your strengths? What do you bring to the table? And that's really important to understand because I see a lot of people that go into self-employed estate agency who do all of the jobs along the journey.

So they're kind of ranging across their skill set. They're trying to be all things to all people. And what can sometimes happen when you go into self-employed estate agency is that you're trying to do everything in your business really, really well. But you're really not as good in certain areas in your business as you are in others.

I found this out quite quickly at the beginning of my own journey. I was helped when I read a book called The E Myth by Michael Gerber – you ought to read that. It talks about how you build a business as opposed to just being a very busy, self-employed individual.

Where’s your value?

First of all, know your strengths, then ask yourself these questions:

- Where's your value?

- Where's your A game?

You need to be able to answer these questions so you can build the teams you need around you.

So the first person I hired when I started Giggs & Co., was a lady called Nikki. Nikki was almost like the opposite of me in some respects, but we shared similar traits and skills and values in other areas.

I was the estate agent, the guy who valued and sold the houses, just to keep things simple, when I started. What Nikki really controlled was the administrative side and the customer service side.

She came and helped me to leverage my skills. Nikki took away the tasks and jobs which really held me back. They held me back from being in my A game, if that makes sense. My A game was being in conversations, negotiation, helping clients to see the value in what we brought and did.

So I really oversaw the bigger picture. I had the bigger conversations, handled the more meaningful problem solving areas, which helped me to be at the sharp end of where the business was really done.

In the back end is where Nikki got involved. She helped me with the running of the business, the way we communicated, the service that we offered, and we were an incredible team.

Hire your opposite

Learn from how I worked with Nikki – you've almost got to find your opposite. You don’t need another estate agent who does what you do. Just imagine trying to build a business on two of the same people. It doesn't really make sense because you're always going to be fighting for that spot.

And actually, what are you going to be learning if you've got the same skills and ideas? If you have that, what are you challenging? Nothing. You're not really challenging each other, you're just doing the same job twice.

So what I'm saying to you right now is that you need to be self-aware enough to understand what the key areas are that you need to work on for you to build your business.

Stay in your A game

I'm gonna give you another example, and this is more recent from my coaching and training business, whereby I sit here and I do videos once a month.

I've got a guy called Ed behind the camera, brilliant guy. He's told me to say that a bit, but no, he really is a brilliant guy. He does my filming and editing of the videos. He sends them across to a lady called Ems. Ems and her team organise my marketing, and they help me to produce the content to get in front of you right now – including having those videos turned into blog posts, like the one you’re reading right now. Imagine if I had to do all of that myself.

Well, it's no different in estate agency.

Imagine if you had to deal with the details, so you had to:

- do the descriptions,

- answer all the phone calls,

- send out all the letters,

- do all the prospecting,

- write and post all the social media posts, and

- receive every client phone call.

You wouldn't be able to deal with anybody, because what would happen quite quickly is that your A game, your skill set, which is selling the properties, listing the properties and helping clients to move forward, are being swapped for tasks that are outside of your skill set.

So you're ending up devaluing your service to your clients because you're trying to do lots of things in other areas. Meanwhile, your clients really need you in your A game. Does that make sense?

I hope it does because it's a step that I see many of the people that I've mentored who have gone from being employed to self-employed take. It's a lot easier to control everything, which ends up meaning you don't grow.

Get support or burn out

This is probably one of the steps that most self-employed estate agents struggle with, not straight away because everybody that goes into self-employed estates loves that initial part. When you're out there, you're in front of clients, and you're the one. But try and do that three to five years down the road.

Yeah, you've got it.

You're dealing with sales progression, you're doing your admin, you're doing all of these things that have taken you further away from selling the property for your client. Actually, that’s not what they need. It's not good for them. So you need to make sure you've got that back office support and you've got the right support around you. Without it, you’ll burn out.

Build an estate agency team

The next step I took was hiring estate agents that I could train up to do it my way. And when I hired those guys, the most important thing was that we had shared beliefs and values around the service and delivery that I needed in my business.

We had an ethos back at the start of Giggs and Co, which was: black and white, no grey areas.

I don't want bullshitters working around me. I want people who can educate, inform, and inspire our clients. So it was important to make sure that I attracted the right people. In the process of doing so, we started to build a team.

I have a video series on 'How To Build A High Performance Estate Agency Team' on my YouTube channel. Watch the first part here to learn more about building an estate agency team.

Every team needs a manager

The next step in building my team was to move into having a manager. It was quite simple. I needed to hire someone who could make sure all of the processes, all the systems, all of the things that we said we would do, get done.

That person wasn't there to set the vision. They were there to make sure that the job got done, the work got done, the plan was met, the actions were influenced and they were taken. And I would support the team with the leadership and vision of the business, to make sure that we were moving forward. So I was training the team on how to do things.

Having a manager in my business allowed me to start doing nice things like:

- taking weekends off,

- going on holiday, and

- enjoying the flexibility and the benefits of having my own business.

What I see a lot at the moment, especially in estate agents who have been self-employed for two or three years, is that they get to enjoy the income, but not the outcome of being a fully all-in, fully responsible agent across the whole customer journey.

Why? Because they end up spending a lot of their time doing the things that they don't necessarily feel inspired by. Which then means they start to resent certain areas of the customer journey, and the service becomes more difficult to deliver.

I understand how that happens, and I know not everybody's got deep pockets to go and hire lots of new staff. But you have to attract the right people if you’re gonna build a business.

A clear vision attracts the right people

To attract the right people, you need to have a clear vision. I touched on it a minute ago. If you haven't got a clear vision, then people aren't going to join you, or the right people certainly aren't going to join you. If you haven't got clear values, then you're going to attract people who just want a job and are just in it for themselves.

Now, I understand being a business owner requires going through lots of steps. And these are just the first few steps that you need to go through in order to build your business. If you don't go through these steps, you're just going to be very, very busy working for yourself, on your own, going round in circles. And I'm telling you right now, that won't last longer than just a few years. You're going to be knackered before you know it.

So you need the right people around you from day one, month one, year one, in order to grow gradually, You need to build a sustainable team of people that can deliver your vision with your values.

When you have that, that's when you get to the stage of actually being a business owner. If you've got a team that can work without you, you know that you've got something special and something that you can enjoy and help to develop over the years ahead, providing a much better service for your clients moving forward.

What resonates with you?

So, how did you get on? Did you like that? Does that make sense? Do those steps really resonate with you and where you are right now? It can be done. There are lots of brilliant people that have made this transition before.

Don't forget, one of the biggest steps is moving from being employed to self-employed. So, you've already taken a huge gamble on your career already.

So, hopefully you've liked this post. If so, bookmark my blogs page so you can read future posts. If you want more great training content, head over to my YouTube channel. While you’re there, ring the notification bell and make sure you subscribe. Finally, keep me posted with future content and videos that you want me to do for you.

I hope you continue to enjoy the journey of becoming a real estate agency owner, so you can scale your careers with integrity and without the sleaze.

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