My third book “Growing your property partnership – Plans, Promotion and People” was published in June 2009 and you can order a copy either through the EG Books web site or on Amazon. The extended blurb is as follows:

“Being the best agent or surveyor does not always mean that you will be the best leader or the best manager, But being an agent, surveyor or other flavour of property professional probably means that you are averse to taking time out to learn about management, or even to tackle the odd business book.

Help is at hand. This is a light-hearted and pragmatic introduction to alternative growth strategies and management solutions in planning, leadership, human resources, strategic marketing, promotion, selling, “clientology” (client relationship management) and achieving change. It is packed full of ideas and checklists to spur you along and includes guidance and insights on: market analysis, motivation, networking, new service development, persuasion, project management, rapport development, resistance to change, tendering and the A-Z of promotional tools.

Kim’s irreverent style, combined with a working knowledge of both large and small property partnerships, makes it easy to read – whether from cover to cover or as an occasional reference book to dip into. The real case studies from partnerships around the UK add extra zip.

With a quantity surveyor father, over a decade of working at and with national and local property practices in the UK – as well as many years consulting for legal and accounting partnerships – Kim Tasso is well placed to offer down to earth, practical management advice to new and experienced partners.

Kim is qualified in psychology, management, marketing and coach/mentoring and is a freelance journalist – having written a monthly column for Estates Gazette for a number years and co-authored Media relations in property with Graham Norwood. She also wrote the book Dynamic Practice Development- Selling skills and techniques for the professions.

Her property clients have included: Allsop & Co, AtisReal (now BNP Paribas Read Estate), Brown & Co, Colliers CRE, Henry Adams & Co, Pellings, Segro and Stiles Harold Williams.”

The book contains the following chapters:

  1. Introduction
    • Why a management book for surveyors and agents?
    • How to use the book
  2. Planning the future shape of your firm (Planning strategies)
    • Why do you need a business plan
    • So what is a business plan?
    • Seven step guide to producing a business plan
    • Your mission – if you choose to accept it
    • Developing a business plan
    • It’s a jungle out there! – external economic analysis
    • In our neck of the woods – regional analysis
    • Shops, sheds and semis – Sector analysis
    • Do it to them before they do it to you – competitor analysis
    • Eagle eye – Looking at your business critically
    • Walking the talk – ask partners what THEY think
    • SWOT – Strengths Weaknesses Opportunities Threats
    • A dirty weekend
    • Aim for the sky! Avoid the middle ground
    • Diversity, social responsibility and all that jazz
    • Selecting appropriate strategies
    • Structure follows strategy
    • Case study – Stiles Harold Williams
    • Case study – Douglas and Gordon
  3. Leading the way and managing action (Leadership strategies)
    • Who’s the boss?
    • To lead or not to lead? How is the question…
    • The helicopter view – strategic thinking
    • Walk like a man, talk like a man – developing confidence, credibility and communication
    • Where do I start?
    • Wanna be in my gang – Picking a management team
    • Meetings, bloody meetings
    • Power, persuasion and influence
    • Delegate don’t abdicate
    • Amaze as an Ambassador
    • Bring in the experts
    • Banging heads together – managing conflict
    • Mr (or Mrs) Fixit – Creative thinking and problem solving
    • Don’t turn a crisis into a catastrophe
    • Case study – Henry Adams
    • Case study – Chase & Partners
  4. Strategic marketing (Marketing strategies)
    • Strategic vs operational marketing?
    • Why marketing your practice is different to marketing a building
    • The marketing audit – strategic analysis
    • Business sector analysis
    • The Crown Jewels – Key client analysis
    • Where does it come from? Source analysis
    • Stars, dogs and cows – Portfolio and life cycle analysis
    • Setting SMART objectives
    • Strategic choices – Competitive advantage, target markets and priority services
    • Finding your niche – Segmentation strategies
    • Dreaming of your perfect client?
    • Innovation and new service development
    • Pricing
    • Spot the difference – Commodities and brands
    • Decisions, decisions – what makes a good marketing strategy?
    • To plan or not to plan? – Simple marketing plans and campaigns
    • How much? Budget questions
    • Make or buy? Acquiring marketing expertise
    • Keeping your eye on the ball – Monitoring
    • Proforma marketing plan
    • Case study – Pellings
    • Case study – Cluttons
  5. Tactical marketing (Promotional strategies)
    • Yep, throw your money away!
    • Apples and pears – Marketing properties is not the same as marketing professional services
    • Logos, straplines and visual identity
    • Rules! Rules! Rules! – Consistent house style
    • All mixed up – Marketing and communications mixes
    • A big DRIP
    • Aunty AIDA
    • The digital age is upon us
    • Database nirvana
    • Choose your weapons
    • Awareness vs relationship marketing
    • A-Z of marketing techniques
    • A winning campaign
    • Better briefs – Choosing and using external specialists
    • But what REALLY works? – Measuring results
    • Case study – Chase Buchanan
    • Case study – Colliers
  6. Selling and business development (Sales strategies)
    • Dealing with enquiries – From marketing to selling
    • Targeting
    • Conversion – the sales process, pipeline and cycle
    • Decisions, decisions – the buyer’s perspective
    • Rainmaking – Core selling skills
    • Cold contact
    • Networking nuggets
    • First impressions – non verbal communication
    • Getting to know you – Rapport and empathy
    • Personality and communication styles
    • Structuring a sales meeting
    • Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition – Asking the right questions and active listening
    • The psychology of persuasion
    • Perfect presentations
    • It’s in his pitch – pitching and tendering
    • Following up
    • Negotiating – Competition or collaboration?
    • Closing the deal and handling objections
    • The trusted adviser
    • Case study – Drivers Jonas
  7. Clientology and referrer relationships (Relationship strategies)
    • Why focusing on your existing clients is so important
    • Touch points and intimacy – Levels of client relationship management
    • Delighting your clients – Managing the client experience
    • Managing expectations
    • Take a walk on the client’s side
    • From the horse’s mouth – designing your own client research programme
    • Looking after the crown jewels – Identifying and analysing your key clients
    • Key account management programmes
    • Getting under your skin – client intimacy
    • The leader of the gang – relationship partner
    • Beyond the call of duty – adding real value
    • Key account plans
    • Cross selling
    • Pigeon holed?
    • I don’t believe it – Managing complaints
    • Stand and deliver – Handing over your clients
    • TQM, ISO, IiP– quality programmes
    • You scratch my back – referrer management
    • Let me entertain you
    • Case study – Spacelab
  8. Talent, teams and tomorrow’s leaders (People strategies)
    • Essential HR processes
    • Who’s in charge? – The Staff Partner
    • The Experts – The Human Resources Manager
    • The way we do things round here – Culture
    • Vive la difference – Celebrate people’s differences
    • Tantrums and timewasters – Dealing with difficult people
    • Time to talk? – Internal communication
    • Talent spotting – Recruitment
    • Keeping the saws sharp – Training and development
    • Encouragement through coaching and mentoring
    • What did I do wrong? – Appraisals and feedback
    • Why should I? – Motivation
    • What’s in it for me? – Reward systems
    • Rubbish! – Dealing with under performance
    • Unsung heroes – Support the support staff
    • It’s all in your mind – Knowledge management
    • Succession
    • Case study – Brown & Co
  9. Change management (Flexible strategies)
    • Why is change so difficult?
    • Cultural context – hawks and doves, lone wolves and worker bees
    • Understanding how people change
    • Are they with you?
    • What’s in it for me?
    • What type of change?
    • Planning for effective change
    • Scream if you want to go faster
    • Leading change
    • Do as I say not as I do – partner role models
    • Delegate and be done with it
    • Crisis – what crisis?
    • Project management in a nutshell
    • Time management basics
    • Mergers mania
    • Using outside consultants
    • Change fatigue – not another change initiative!
    • Don’t always look to the peak – celebrate your successes
    • Case study – Coda Studios
    • Case study – RICS

Review of Growing your Property Partnership

Published in Professional Marketing, winter 2009 – Review by Nick Shepherd of Drivers Jonas LLP

Perhaps seduced by the allure of alliteration, I cannot help but think that the author has rather unnecessarily restricted the potential readership of her latest book in the selection of a title. This book looks at a series of issues facing those who manage and direct small and medium sized property partnerships. But the scope of those issues is quite clearly not solely limited to businesses conformed as partnerships. Exactly the same challenges of running a business exist for those who are directors of limited companies, and the book seems to me to apply equally well to them.

Likewise, but perhaps this is a function of her publisher (EG Books) I cannot see why she has chosen to limit her target audience to the property profession. The matters addressed in the book are common to other professional disciplines as well – firms of solicitors, accountants, architects and so on.

So, on the basis that this is a book for those who are partners and directors in SME professional service businesses, does it hit the spot?

I would like to start by explaining that this book is not. It is not (and not intended to be) a motivational text, inspiring changes of behaviour and style through its narrative form. It is not a book for a manager to pick up one Friday night and read cover to cover in the expectation of seeing a new light by the following dawn.

The book is a weighty tome of more than 400 pages, divided into the three main themes of the subtitle: plans, promotion and people.

Under each of these thematic umbrellas, the book tackles many of the key issues faced by those who manage and direct their professional firms, from preparation of business plans, to leadership strategies and client relationship management.

These issues are explored with the help of business school and academic models, and regular reference to some of the established business theorists like David Maister, Ken Blanchard and Jim Collins. The text is also illustrated with a number of case studies, prepared by directors and partners from those firms featured and also by frequent checklists of actions to take, which are helpfully highlighted from the rest of the text in shaded boxes for easy reference.

To this extent the book is much more of a manual for managers than anything else. It is the kind of manual that a managing partners or marketing director might dip into before embarking on a new project in the business, in order to seek ideas for the structural or organisational approach to the matter in hand, such as “how should I go about developing a proper appraisal process in my firm?” or “where on earth would I start in developing a marketing strategy for my firm?”.

Make no mistake. There is plenty of material in this book for managers and leaders of professional firms to take on board. But for me there were two particularly unsatisfactory aspects of the book.

Firstly, I found the smorgasbord approach to business school and academic models rather irritating. Whilst referencing dozens and dozens of sources throughout the book, little space was given to developing the context of any of them, to the extent that there was a smack of namedropping just for the sake of it.

Second, I think there is a real weakness in using case studies written by the partners and directors of those firms featured (including mine, by the way) without any attempt by the author to evaluate them from an independent perspective.

In summary, I believe the book does have a place on the “practical” shelf for managers of SME property firms, but I think it is unlikely to find its way into a wider academic canon.