During the property boom that followed Covid, estate agents had an easy job of managing multiple offers to purchase for their sellers and closing the deal on the best option. Today, the property market is far more challenging. Yet there will be plenty of opportunities to be had in 2024 for proactive estate agents who have a growth mindset – who actively generate and nurture leads; take the time to ask their clients probing questions to learn more about their wants and needs and who make sure to level up their service offering, day by day.

When it comes to making ongoing improvements, two important key drivers for estate agent success in 2024 will be streamlining efficiencies while reducing costs.

In terms of levelling up efficiency, it will be the agents who are best equipped with outstanding employees-and who invest in up-to-date technology that streamlines lead generation, CRM, marketing and property management-who will fare best in next year’s challenging property market. But, hiring can be time-consuming and expensive for estate agents. Taking on extra employees seems at odds with reducing costs.

Here are some of the time and money factors that must be considered when taking on an additional employee:

1. Calculating the true cost to company

Employing a new staff member costs way more than just their salary. According to the British Business Bank*, the true cost-to-company of a new member of staff’s employment over the first year is approximately £62,890. Their calculation is based on the average annual UK salary of £27,600. Estate agents need to factor in recruitment costs and various additional, ongoing expenses such as national insurance, pension contributions and benefits to calculate the true cost of taking on a new employee in the UK. Plus, if an employee is working in the office part- or full-time there is the cost of setting up a workstation and office equipment. Other factors like sick pay, various types of leave must also be factored in.

2. National Living Wage and London Living Wage increases in 2024

To make the decision to take on additional employees even more financially challenging, the National Living Wage is set to increase by approximately 9.8% in April 2024 – up from £10,42 to £11.44. When calculated as a compounded increase over two years, this constitutes a 20.4% increase from the National Living Wage in 2022. And the discretionary London Living Wage (covering all the boroughs in Greater London) will rise from £11.95 to £13.15 in 2024. This is £1.71 more per hour than the National Living Wage and is designed to reflect the higher costs employees face if they work in London.

3. Evaluating the time cost of recruitment

The hiring process, when recruitment is done thoroughly and well, generally takes four to six weeks from sourcing candidates to identifying the best person for the job. Quality candidates are

likely to be currently employed. So the successful candidate will probably have to give four weeks or a calendar months’ notice before taking up their new position. From start to finish, this means a company will have spent about 3 months from the time at which they identified a need to onboarding a new employee. The worst possible outcome is when the new employee does not work out and the process must start all over again.

Taking on a Virtual Assistant cuts your lead time and cost to company.

The good news is that taking on a Virtual Assistant provides all the benefits that having exceptional employees brings – without having to bear added costs beyond their monthly salary. For around the same hourly rate as the 2024 National Living Wage, a Virtual Assistant with several years of appropriate experience (and a positive, can-do attitude) will take on very important, yet time-consuming tasks. They improve efficiency and free up estate agents’ time so they can focus on critical tasks. And because they work remotely, there is no need to purchase furniture and equipment. Or to worry about higher utility bills or renting a larger office space.

Virtual Assistants are far more than administrators.

Virtual Assistants should not be pigeon-holed as outsourced administrators. They have evolved to become strategic strategic assets, offering specialised skills that address diverse business needs. In other words, they are highly experienced, technologically advanced professionals with a variety of skills to suit any estate agents’ needs – from operations and property management to social media management, digital marketing and bookkeeping. They are also great at administration.

* https://www.british-business-bank.co.uk/finance-hub/tips-on-hiring-new-employees/ (Sourced from the office of national statistics ons.gov.uk, www.marketing-bersin.com, www.msci.com)