Technology should be used intelligently to create an imperative efficiency – there is enormous competition in business which must be counteracted in a methodical and ethical manner.

The South African property market has recently reached a crossroads. Bogged down by the mire of an antiquated market, property technology – known by the industry buzz word “proptech” – has begun to show itself in South Africa’s property industry landscape. Yet agents are slow to adopt, as they have been elsewhere in the world, resisting the potential for huge increases in productivity and efficiency that property technology can bring.

Some players in the South African property market, however, are fighting the good fight. For the inaugural edition of Imfuna Spotlight, we focus our spotlight on Vivien Marks, joint partner of Assessment and Training Centre for Estate Agents in Cape Town. We asked her for her thoughts on the property industry, the role of women in leadership, and advice she has for others.

What does your company do?

The Assessment and Training Centre for Estate Agents specialises in the personal and online training of landlords and rental agents in the management of residential rental property.

What suggestions do you have for someone looking to get ahead in business?

A leader must know and understand the service offered better than an average person in a profession/industry. Read everything that increases knowledge of the industry; attend seminars, courses, meetings, social gatherings – anything that can increase knowledge and future performance of the business concerned.

     • Are you a people person?
     • Do you value your employees?
     • Are you familiar with their backgrounds?
     • Do you listen?
     • Do you give others the time to express their needs and opinions?
     • Do you treat everyone with dignity?
     • Are you punctual and reliable?
     • Do you behave professionally?
     • Are you dressed appropriately for your leader role?
     • Are you able to train your employees to be ethical?
     • Have you established a policy for treatment of clients and the public?
     • Have you ever expressed a negative opinion on social media?

What do you feel are the greatest challenges facing women who pursue leadership roles within business today?

The glass ceiling is the greatest obstacle for women in business, resulting in most women working twice as hard as any man to reach management or leadership levels. There are still social expectations that women can only give part time attention to their businesses due to the traditional role of having been care-givers to their families. A direct reaction is women tend to do far too much to prove that they can balance work and home life, something that has become the expected norm in the workplace.

How can women combat these preconceived notions?

My personal experience is that to cope with expected day to day juggling on the office and home front, being smarter and more decisive is imperative. This is indeed the greatest challenge as it does not mean that women have become ‘tough’ as often labelled, it means being well informed and professional in your particular field.

Women in business leadership roles who become adept in work-life balancing create new business concepts. That balancing act allows little time for a softer approach in business and women have been forced to grow a firmer and more aggressive shell to erase traditional social expectations. This is proving to be just fine!

Is there anything in particular someone can do to set themselves apart in the property industry?

Technology should be used intelligently to create an imperative efficiency – there is enormous competition in business which must be counteracted in a methodical and ethical manner. Knowledge is truth and truth should be based on exact facts.

Be reliable – know that once an arrangement or promise is made it must be executed. A good reputation takes years to establish and it can be destroyed in a day.

Always make time to create lasting face-to-face relationships which is the foundation of successful business and good leadership. To be easily available to clients is an asset which is invaluable resulting in good verbal reports and the best marketing result.

Vivien’s commitment to her clients and the value of the services she offers is something Imfuna shares. We are always working to give our users the highest quality product while fundamentally changing the way they work – to become more productive in a shorter amount of time than ever. Vivien told us recently that it is imperative to “work smarter with more useful apps,” and that is exactly what Imfuna strives towards: helping our users get the most out of their day so that they have time to devote to the things that are important to them. “Work smarter,” “increase efficiency,” “enhance productivity” – any way you say it, we want you to spend less time working and more time enjoying life. And with Imfuna’s property inventory and inspection software, you can do that. Let us show you how.

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