Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Real Estate; Making A Team Out Of Staff!

“We are made wise not by the recollection of our past, but by the responsibility for our future”… George Bernard Shaw.

No need to give introduction to this name as probably one of the greatest writers in English literature Shaw knows how to make use of the words best! In any industry when you are a boss then month of May is nightmare, as its increment month for most of the companies! First thing is its human tendency that however wealthy  you might be yet when it’s to depart with your wealth then you become very calculative & second is you can’t stand to expectations of others from you when its giving, not even your own team, accept these two facts.  And then speaking about real estate the days are already…., well we all know it! But that can’t be the excuse when it comes to increment or facing your own team who is with you during all the ups & down. Speaking about real estate there is RERA for customers & then vendors, consultants as well contractors are in their respective business or profession so they do enjoy the good times when its high tide in real estate but one segment is often neglected that is employees in real estate. In first place not many will chose to become an employee of a builder (commonly referred term so using) as the builder may have got all the lime light but not true about his or her employees. Especially when it’s mid segment builder or a partnership firm. In my twenty seven years of real estate exposure I have rarely come across some builder’s employee who is IIT or IIM pass out or even from reputed B-school rank holder. That doesn’t mean the lot I have seen is dumb or below par rather many of them are street smart & learns very fast whatever you throw at them. What I meant is the so called crème d crème of academics never considers real estate as their first choice for making job career! And that makes real estate a tricky industry as to work with lesser intellects is a fact. The main reason of this situation is most real estate companies even those of big names with public limited tag are in reality are one man show. There are VP’s, Directors & GM’s, but all are of just obedient servants with the fancy tag. Very rarely the decisions which matters are collectively taken by considering opinions from all these posts but only by the boss i.e. the builder! And the result is what we are seeing today, not many real estate companies has successfully running over the generations, rather many of them vanishes during tenure of their entrepreneur only! The builder himself decides which land to buy, what to build there & at what rate it should be sold even what discount should be given! Naturally rarely in real estate firms’ things like HR & any such team building related things happens. As it’s solely the builder who decides the future of his servants, sorry for putting it harsh as a team has to be build out of the servants or else they just remain servants! When I see most of the real estate firms & their employees then I feel that they are still in “Bahubali”, (a recent super hit mythological movie about kings, queens & kingdom) era as whatever the person in the chair (read builder) of King or Queen decides, that becomes the rule or policy for the company!

Now with such legacy how we can expect to develop talent or new ideas or innovations from the real estate employees as all these are supposedly to be done only by the builder himself! I think what situation real estate has reached i.e. run out of new ideas the main reason is the rulers of this industry only as they have developed a culture where we produce not the team members but the slaves of our own self who are best in carrying builder’s orders or call it as whims & they do it obediently! And then if you see the background of the most staffers with the builders they are from small towns or middle class family & with average education! For them survival is most important priority & they are smart enough to understand if they want to survive in a builder’s owned company then the builder is God, is the first rule here! This may not be true for all the real estate firms as I know a few who have a better work culture but such companies are as I say just a  few & even here final word is of the builder. I haven’t ever come across a case where an important policy decision such as building plan or advertise theme, has been taken by the staff or some key person from the staff which is not from family of the builder! Many will say what’s wrong if the builder himself has got all his money at stake then it’s natural that he should take all vital decisions! Well, my view is if a person owns a ship that doesn’t mean he can maneuver the ship also! Any business’s final aim is to make profits but at the same time how many businessmen/women that business has created is also major criterion of the success of that business or the industry & on that account real estate scores pretty poor is a fact! And that’s why migration from real estate to other industries is very less as other industries doesn’t counts experience in real estate much.

Then comes taking care of the people who works with you, here also real estate has poor rating as most of the people in real estate are not eligible for even home loans as well don’t have basic facilities like PF or insurance. The real estate makes the builder rich or poor is different aspect but it seldom makes its employees rich is another fact. This is one main reason of corruption in real estate though it’s a private enterprise as when you deprive a person from what he deserves then he finds the avenues to fulfill his desires! As a team leader the builder should take equal effort on his staff as then only it becomes a team. Make them read, show them path of self development & it doesn’t take much of the money to do so. We at Sanjeevani has some simple ways, I am great fan of movies & I make my entire staff go to the movies which I feel can make difference in developing them. Right from Disney cartoons to Dangal, I make them see many movies. I love reading & I have made a small library at office for my collection & it’s open to my staff also & I urge them to read as much they can. Whatever interesting article in news paper I come across I share it with my team. I write to my staff very often & the writing is rarely about work but about life’s experiences. Some seven years back there was acute shortage of vegetables & rates have gone nearly three times of normal, then I tied up with a vegetable vendor & made him to come to our office & whatever vegetables my staff buys, the company bares fifty percent charges of the vegetables & the scheme is on till today! Every permanent employee of our staff is insured for any illness or accident up to Rs one lac & the company pays the premiums for the same. I am not mentioning this how great we are doing but sharing such small acts makes a team out of staff is what I feel & we can take it to further at any length! Sure many companies might be doing many good things with their staff but unless we share new things & adopt we won’t do better is what I feel!

Real estate is going through a transformation phase as margins have reduced & clients are becoming very selective. Supply will not be as less as it used to be earlier & selling every single unit is going to be a challenge though not impossible. At such times every team member of the firm needs to perform better & it’s not possible unless as a leader you make them do so. Right from peon to driver to marketing manager every person counts as for the customer every person he come across is face of the company only! And this feeling needs to be shared by the builder with his team, as management is not just science but it’s an emotion making every individual feel his or her importance for the company.
On all this background increment is nightmare for every owner & you need to take your teams in confidence about what you expect form them & make them understand the situation your business is in. Here is something I shared with my team about increment we gave. Figures are not important feelings are, so please go through…

1st June 17

"You get a reputation for stability if you are stable for years"... Mark Zuckerberg.

Dear Sanjeevani Team,

I am great fan of people like Zuckerberg not because they are rich, famous & build great business but in the simplicity as well clarity of their thoughts! And these things don’t come to you without knowledge which is their main asset as well strength! In the above quote Zuckerberg has said about stability & I feel he has said it in sarcasm as he is one person who will take stability as no growth! But I will go with plain meaning as in today's market of real estate being stable in itself is great progress! If you remember last year in May I have shared my concerns about not so "Achhe Din" in real estate ahead & unfortunately I was correct. We have survived only as we stick to basics as like in China War our Indian Army used to tell jawans, "Ek Goli Ek Jaan" i.e. one bullet one life, use the ammunition with such preciousness! Same is at our front, it’s a war as with Demonetization & RERA & GST already arrived, and nobody knows what will happen ahead. The sales are down & imagine we have stock of nearly Rs. Fifty Crores, half of our yearly turnover, a rare thing for us!

I don't blame any of you for not being able to sale as even industry like IT which is blue eyed field for most, is on job cutting & in every industry there is unrest. At such times to sale our product which is costliest is going to be more tough for us but not impossible. Rather this is the time when we need to improvise on all fronts of our industry. The marketing team should think of new avenues to reach customers & in cheapest ways. The engineering team should focus on finding vendors & contractors which will deliver in time with quality but keeping tap on spending for the same. All other departments should support these two departments in their best way & most important keep existing customers happy & satisfied & keep connected to us as they are our best brand ambassadors! And you may ask what I should do as your leader; well, I will do my best to keep you motivated as well able to think something different & make you deliver your best!

I know increment is something which each of us expects & will be never satisfied with as that's human tendency & I too am no exception when it comes to earnings! Yet as a team member each of you should understand the situation & this is time where to remain stable is our first priority & earnings will follow. It’s only with your dedication to the job we could remain unharmed even in worst crisis of real estate & sure we will ahead also. But remember one thing, here after the scene will be same in real estate. As gone are double rate increase of the flats in a year's time as well pre-launch bookings; here after the real estate market will be very selective & only those who stick to commitments will survive & we will be just like all other industries where business is done on margins. All over when we are seeing job cuttings, as your leader I too have to face toughest question, less people & more salary hike or lesser hike & no job cuts? Well, you know what I chose as I believe in going ahead with entire team because business is not just about earning more money but progressing together even if it is inch by inch! And one more thing I personally don't like to judge efficiency of any of team members on behalf of sale or production as it's a service we are in & our customers are the best judge for it which they will by responding in booking our homes or scraping us away; our choice what we want to achieve! So be it & lets enter in a new financial year together & that's our main strength, mind it! All wishes!

Sanjay Deshpande 

To conclude I will say what we do as a builder is what going to become image of our industry. And no industry has survived with the image of just money makers, if we are unable to make our own team members happy then the clients now are smart enough to understand what their fate will be with such company!

Sanjay Deshpande 

Sanjeevani Dev.

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