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Strength in unity is the key to success for this home-grown real estate agency

A leaner but more united team has allowed OrangeTee & Tie to hit the reset button, relook processes and break down silos to bounce back stronger

Panellists at the OrangeTee & Tie Business Conference (from left): Ms Christine Sun, senior vice-president of Research and Analytics at OrangeTee & Tie; Professor Ong Seow Eng, Department of Real Estate, School of Business, National University of Singapore; Guest-of-Honour Indranee Rajah, Minister, Prime Minister's Office, Second Minister for Finance & Second Minister for National Development; Mr Steven Tan, chief executive officer of OrangeTee & Tie; and panel moderator Nicole Teo Hwee Nak, senior associate group director of Orangetee & Tie. PHOTO: ORANGETEE & TIE

Unscathed after a recruitment war between major real estate agencies last year, OrangeTee & Tie (OTT) has emerged even more resilient from the battle with new plans for the future.

The 22-year-old home-grown firm is focusing on growth, sales, technology and resources to better serve its clients and agents.

OTT chief executive Steven Tan says: “One team of agents left OTT last year, and that was an opportunity to ‘restart’ the company – from how our agents presented themselves to the market to how they worked within the agency.”

This is part of OTT’s new strategy called United We Grow, as the fourth-largest real estate agency in Singapore accelerates its transformation journey. 

A united front brings about greater results

Traditionally, agents of Singapore real estate agencies can form their own divisions with their own brand names and large agencies can have hundreds of divisions of any size.

When divisions leave, it could be a cause for concern for some companies but not when it happened to OTT. The leadership team used it as an opportunity instead, to restructure and unite its people. 

At OTT today, agents present themselves only as OTT agents regardless of which team they fall under. 

Mr Steven Tan, chief executive officer of OrangeTee & Tie, giving his welcome speech at the annual OrangeTee & Tie Business Conference. PHOTO: ORANGETEE & TIE

Mr Tan explains: “In the past, it was often difficult to implement company-wide initiatives and get everyone on board. But now, we are in a uniquely strong position as we are working together as one big family with shared expertise, knowledge and strong resources from OTT.” 

The ensuing company-wide restructuring has resulted in strong sales figures. 

In the first three months of this year alone, OTT agents have closed more than 5,500 deals, including sales and rentals. OTT has also gained more than 15 per cent market share of high-value residential transactions that are valued above S$10 million each.

Clearly, OTT has been punching above its weight as the fourth-largest real estate agency.

Engaging agents and clients alike

OTTs new strategy continues to embody trust, innovation, excellence and care – core values that have underpinned its relationship with clients through the generations. 

Says Mr Tan: “OTT is about unique value propositions, instead of unique selling propositions. Our agents learn that it is not just about focusing on the product you are selling, but also about adding value to the service.”

One way the company is improving its offerings and service is through innovative technology, such as OTT’s interactive virtual tours.

OTT chief operating officer Simon Yio says: “Through virtual walkthroughs, our agents can virtually conduct a viewing remotely with their clients and based on the preference of each client, they can virtually stage the property so that clients can better visualise their dream home.”

OTT also introduced other new features such as 3D maps that will enable agents to show the surrounding views, height of properties and even the projected shadows of buildings at different times of the day, at its annual business conference on April 21.

These unique-to-OTT solutions are a result of customisation that team leaders and the OTT Technology Department made as they adopted various advanced technologies in the industry, says Mr Yio. 

A first-mover in adopting new programmes and initiatives, the agency has always prepared agents well to adapt to fast-evolving trends in real estate.

Mr Yio says: “OTT wants to support agents to enhance the value of property so that buyers and sellers can make the best decision for themselves, through a 360-degree ecosystem comprising technology, applications, physical support and talent development.”

Through working on the new exciting projects, agents pick up new skills and stretch their capabilities.

From left: Mr Chipson Ma, master trainer; Mr Simon Yio, chief operating officer; and Mr Lester Tan, business technology consultant, posing with the three OrangeTee & Tie apps – OTT Agent App, AAG InstantPro and OrangeTee Analyser. PHOTO: ORANGETEE & TIE

For instance, Mr Lester Tan added another feather in his cap by taking on a new role as business technology consultant to work on new digital products for OTT. Marrying his tech expertise from his previous decade-long career as a software engineer with his current experience, Mr Tan created AAG InstantPro, which is now widely used by agents for their marketing needs.  

Mr Chipson Ma, an OTT master trainer, also helped develop a new sales-focused app called OrangeTee Analyser, which helps agents better advise their clients on a propertys prospects.

He explains: “Most property financial calculators cant be adapted to different transaction scenarios. The OrangeTee Analyser app can be customised, and processes complicated data so that our clients can have a better idea of the value and profitability of their property prices based on different outlooks  from optimistic to neutral to pessimistic.”

Besides the latest proptech software, OTT is also providing agents with the hardware they need to succeed. For instance, with the current trend of live streaming and catchy marketing videos, OTT has invested close to $300,000 in auditoriums, media studios and equipment, available for use by its agents at no cost. 

For those who have yet to pick up the skills needed in today’s social media age, the agency also provides training in producing content across different mediums.

New exciting developments aside, Mr Tan is a firm believer in the fact that human connection is what sets the agency apart from the competition. OTT prides itself on ensuring that its agents connect and engage with clients in a professional, caring and empathetic manner. 

This attitude is embodied in OTT agent Joyce Lau, 43, who goes all out for her clients and has their best interest at heart.

Ms Lau once had a client who had mobility issues and needed help in decluttering her home as it was infested with termites. She offered her help without any hesitation, and even went to buy food and necessities to ensure that the client is well taken care of. Today, many of Joyce’s clients are her friends.

Overcoming mid-term challenges in the sector 

Mr Tan notes that online competition on multiple digital platforms is fierce, and “the digital landscape is always changing”.

“Facebook and Instagram may be effective today, but users may switch to other platforms in future, so agents need to remain resilient and highly agile, and spread their marketing efforts across multiple channels relevant to their users.”

Apart from new skills, agents must brace themselves for macroeconomic uncertainty that will affect the sector, such as “geopolitical insecurity, stagflation and higher interest rates”, he says. 

To grow its talent pipeline, OTT invested S$500,000 in a new 12-month programme to train and develop new recruits. The OTT Real Estate Salesperson (RES) Internship Programme was launched in March, taking in 200 interns who have been selected from over 280 applicants.

Mr Tan is excited about the potential of the interns, adding that the programme has attracted “a wide range of people with different profiles, from the young to the middle-aged, with some professionals making a career switch”.

He is hopeful that the newcomers will come to appreciate OTT’s values, especially the emphasis on service – as evidenced by OTT’s total average rating of 4.89/5.00, based on more than 1,200 customer reviews, on its customer review platform Property Agents Review.

“The market perception of OrangeTee in the last 22 years has always been about good service, and I’ve always been proud of that,” says Mr Tan. 

“Our people are a key part of our new growth strategy - and by people we do not just mean our agents, but our clients as well. We move with our agents and clients as one, to succeed together. When combined with our focused plan to drive digital transformation through new technologies and apps, I believe OrangeTee is poised for a bright future.”

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