Luís Silva, Managing Partner of Engel & Völkers Sintra Agency, answers the following 10 questions:
1. What did you do before opening your own Engel & Völkers agency?
After completing my degree in Business Administration and Management (UCP-Lisbon) and my MBA at the Faculty of Economics at UNL, my professional career was essentially followed in the financial sector for about 25 years, initially in investment banking. research, capital markets, etc.) and followed by commercial banking and financial supervision (Crédito Agrícola firm).
In banking, there is an intense relationship with the real estate business by financing many of the real estate purchases that businesses and individuals need, obtaining collateral and cross selling related products such as insurance, valuations and financial studies of the investment projects.
At the same time, I maintained a connection with the Faculty of Economics at the Nova de Lisbon University, where I taught tax-related subjects for about 26 years, first as a Guest Assistant and later as a Guest Assistant Professor.
2. Why did you decide to start your own business?
Starting my own business as an entrepreneur is for me the most logical path to take since I am qualified in economics and have worked in this field for a number of years. The experience I've gained in various facets of business management and business strategy development has allowed me to increase my knowledge, skills and abilities that gradually led to the need to move to a different business activity that puts my skills to the test.
3. Which aspects were the most relevant when choosing to invest in a brand such as Engel & Völkers?
In addition to gaining some knowledge about real estate from my previous banking experience, I think the most important thing was the discovery of the very close alignment with the principles and values that the Engel & Völkers brand adopts and conveys. Hard work, passion and professionalism, among others, as well as an interest in the luxury market segment.
Of course, at the time, Engel & Völkers was coincidentally looking for partners in 2014 to expand its national network of offices in the municipality of Sintra, a municipality in which I have great interest.
4. What are the most important factors for managing a team of estate agents?
I believe the most important factor is the ability to organise and articulate the different profiles of agents, in their diversity of experience, ambition and capabilities. Also it's necessary to define a set of consistent and transparent rules and practices that keep the team motivated and aligned with the business objectives of our business plan.
Selecting people to join the team is undoubtedly the toughest and most rewarding challenge for achieving a dynamic balance that will grow the business.
5. What aspects do you consider when selecting estate agents for your team?
The desire to belong to the team and to share the brand values are essential. We have been able to maintain a cohesive and stable team thanks to this alignment and dedication. The diversity of previous experiences and the ability to help each other through teamwork have also been very important preference factors.
Naturally, whenever possible, we also seek to work with people who have some knowledge of the municipality of Sintra and live here or intend to move to this area.
6. What are the main benefits of a brand like Engel & Völkers for the franchisees?
This is a very strong brand, which inspires great confidence in the target audience, for the great effort, efficiency and seriousness it conveys. Its positioning in the premium market segment is clear and highly focused, which also helps differentiate it from other brands.
From an operational point of view, the entire structure is organised and has complete and innovative tools, based on our international portal and the multiple services it provides to both agents and clients. Permanent innovation is another feature of the brand that is committed to promoting the digital transformation of real estate consulting.
7. How does your agency differ from competitors in your area?
The work methods in property acquisition (the permanent farming, with the allocation of exclusive positioning zones to each team member) and the personalised, competent, rigorous and transparent service delivery to clients are the most important differentiating factors. The geographic positioning is a typical brand approach and is perceived as a very important differentiating factor by our target audience.
Also our international network of brand contacts and innovative ways to keep the owner aware of our activities are additional factors of the brand's prestige.
8. What advice would you give to a franchisee who is about to open their Engel & Völkers branch?
Be ambitious and create a business plan that matches the potential of your area, leaving the Engel & Völkers brand to organise and structure your shop to maximise opportunities for rapid development and achieve goals as quickly as possible. Focus on team selection and never lose sight of the principle that business success depends on people!
9. What aspects should an investor look into when buying an agency?
You should thoroughly analyse the potential of your area, calculate the required initial investment as well as the capital you want to invest in your business and select a good office location with easy access and good visibility to quickly gain customers.
10. How do you adapt your personal life to your professional life?
I try to combine work and personal life in the most balanced way possible by dedicating my time to both.
However, the physical presence with the team in the office is a determining factor in the relationship of trust and availability for the different day-to-day issues. It is very important to be there whenever the estate agents need support, or when you are required to make a decision. The speed of decision making and action are nowadays critical factors for business development.
We also try to work closely together whenever possible so that there is some degree of problem sharing and circumstances of one's personal life that may influence greater or lesser availability for day-to-day work and, where possible, we all help each other in order to maintain a good team spirit.