How to drive efficiencies in commercial broking
When commercial real estate broker Stamford Capital noticed a bottleneck in its mandated deals, the solution was relatively simple.
“We realised we needed more resources in the credit function so we could meet deal demand,” says Michael Hynes, Director Stamford Capital.
However, without complete and granular visibility over the pipeline of deal flow the firm would not have identified the friction point that was costing them time – and potential revenue.
Certainty of outcome is just as important for our clients as it is for us. That’s what operational efficiency, combined with the value of our expertise, provides.
“There’s a major risk in wasting time in our business, because we are remunerated on successful outcomes,” Hynes notes. “If we don’t close the deal, we earn nothing.”
In just three years, Stamford Capital has grown from around 12 staff in Sydney to 26 in Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide and now Melbourne. Hynes says efficient systems are integral to maintaining control over the firm’s organic growth.
Investing in productivity
In every category of the professional service sector, efficiency is the new mantra. Yet this doesn’t necessarily mean ‘doing more with less’ – aka slashing costs. Instead, a time-based workplace demands relentless focus on productivity, removing any obstacles to getting things done quickly.
Because time is money.
Macquarie’s benchmarking survey of Australia’s accounting and financial services firms found two of the top three drivers for improving profitability relate to efficiency: through better use of technology, and by optimising processes in the office1. That’s why 78% of high performing firms are using technology to make efficiency gains.
Hynes says Stamford uses Kubio as their CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system, Dropbox to share files collaboratively, Xero for accounting, payroll and HR, and Gmail to ensure calendars and emails are in sync.
“We get high value information out of Kubio; we can track the number of days we’re spending on various stages in a deal and that helps us see where deals get stuck,” he explains. “It also helps us measure staff productivity, and analyse the types of business we are transacting so we know where to channel our marketing efforts.”
Improving client experience
These efficient systems and processes help free up time – which can then be spent on building long-term relationships with clients and capital provider partners such as Macquarie Bank.
“Unlike residential mortgage broking, every commercial deal is different and needs unique input,” Hynes says. “That means it’s entirely on us to systemise our own processes – because clients are relying on us to make sure their capital is supplied when they need it.”
Hynes emphasises the alignment between client and business interests. “Certainty of outcome is just as important for our clients as it is for us. That’s what operational efficiency, combined with the value of our expertise, provides.”
Optimising staff performance
Hynes says they’ve deliberately expanded the business at a manageable pace, because they know each new office and every new staff member requires time and attention from senior staff.
“We’re confident in the model, but also conscious of investing time in new employees. We have onboarding processes, and an operations manual to provide guidance.”
As a result, although they have systems in place to measure staff productivity such as call and meeting activity metrics, they’ve found they haven’t needed to “police it” as much recently.
Most employees want to be productive, but according to Bain & Company research, companies typically lose more than 20 per cent of their productive capacity due to organisational drag, the processes that slow things down and drain people’s energy2.
By implementing more efficient systems and identifying (and removing) ‘drag’ or friction points, you can empower everyone to perform at their peak. That could include seamless access to documents, or logging and progressing each stage of a deal.
When things run more smoothly, brokers have more time to engage proactively with clients and capital providers. And that in turn creates a virtuous cycle of high performance: more deals, turned around faster, ensuring everyone can achieve their goals.