Thomas, you got appointed as Leasing Director in March this year – only a couple of weeks before COVID-19 resulted in lockdown for Dubai, and many other places in the world. How have you found your start during this ‘challenging’ time?
“It has been a baptism of fire to say the least, but I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the last three months despite the evident challenges we have all faced. It’s been a whirlwind of a ride so far with the lows of the lockdown, to the highs of bouncing back and then an exceptional month for the leasing team which is testament to the quality of the people we have at haus & haus.
Naturally, I hope we do not ever have to experience such challenges again, but I personally believe that it really benefitted me in the sense of having to quickly adapt to managing a team during adverse working conditions. The last three months have forced me to establish my role as a leader very quickly to ensure that the team are fully supported during this time of crisis, and I feel I have demonstrated that I was deserving of the appointment.”
The lockdown in Dubai lasted about 2 weeks, followed by restricted regulations for outside activities and office capacity, first 30 % and then 50 % until the end of May. From June, your team is at 100 % capacity for the office… What was the most difficult thing your team was confronted with during this period, and how did you help them through?
“I think that the most difficult aspect of the lockdown and restrictions was the fear of the unknown – the unknown being when we would be returning back to work and a sense of ‘normality’. Being confined to our homes was something that none of us in our lifetimes have experienced, and I sometimes found my job being difficult as I couldn’t give assurances of when we would be able to return to the office and be able to do viewings freely. Thankfully as a company we were ahead of the game and took the proactive approach of preparing virtual viewings on most of our properties prior to an inevitable lockdown. This meant that we could still service our clients, and effectively deal with incoming enquiries by sending them videos of the properties – which in turn added value to the customer experience.
In such unprecedented times, feelings of anxiety, stress, and fear can be at the forefront of people’s minds, so we had a big focus on mental health. I found the best way was to do two ‘Zoom meetings’ a day with the teams to maintain routine, set and measure daily goals, and to install as much positivity as possible. The strength of character of each member of the team, combined with the preparation to service our client’s needs, resulted in us successfully completing many deals despite being in lockdown.”
"I think everyone can take positivity from the last three months and we have learned some invaluable lessons from the impacts of COVID-19; the main one being that those who offer the highest levels of customer service will always prevail.”
– Thomas Poulson, Leasing Director at haus & haus
Despite the challenging times, we have seen record-breaking numbers from the Leasing team! Tell us more about it…
“All I can say is that this only consolidates what I already knew that we have the best leasing team in Dubai. The record breaking number of deals closed resulted in the record revenue being broken too, and this is a true testament to the ability of each member of the team. The strategy was very clear during the lockdown and that was to identify what clients were ready to move as soon as the restrictions were lifted, and to add enough value to our customers to ensure they used our services to find their new home. Granted, you have to factor in pent-up-demand as peoples’ property search was unwillingly on hold, but we still had to capitalise on this and convert the high levels of demand into deals; it’s evident that the teams’ hard work and resilience paid off as many individual personal bests were beaten.”
Are there any positive impacts of COVID-19, after the lockdown in your opinion?
“I think everyone can take positivity from the last three months and we have learned some invaluable lessons from the impacts of COVID-19; the main one being that those who offer the highest levels of customer service will always prevail. The message was very clear to the team during the lockdown – ‘be a person first, and Real Estate agent second’. In short, this meant we weren’t trying to sell anything. We went back to basics and checked – in on all of our clients, both past and present, to make sure they were ok, and if there was anything we could do within our remit as property professionals to make their lives easier. For sure, technological advancements have made our personal and working lives easier, but picking up the phone and having a conversation to show you care about your clients will always separate you from the masses of other brokers out there, and is the true fundamental of being a successful salesperson – in any industry.”
The Global economy collapsed, and now needs time to recover. How do you see the real estate market in Dubai has been affected, and how do you see the next 6 months panning out? Any predications on the rental prices?
“We have to remain positive and there’s no point in worrying about what might happen in the next 6 months, this is something we cannot control – all we can do is focus on what we can control today, and that is our attitude and work rate. There’s every chance that prices could continue to soften over the next 6 months, but we have to bear in mind that prices are already at a historical low-point, and with that comes a healthy market where it’s evident that many transactions are happening both pre and post COVID-19 lockdown. By no means do I think we are out of the woods, but it’s clear that confidence is generally growing and the residents of Dubai have full faith in the leadership of the Government in light of how well the crisis has been managed, and how fast we have returned back to work. The beauty of Real Estate and what makes it such a good investment is that, yes, it can go down in value, but what goes down must come back up; the Real Estate market may get bruised, and even pick up a few small scars, but it never dies.”