I pride myself on being ‘independant’ – not so much in my personal life where I still look for an ‘grown-up’ to deal with spiders, but in my work as a Property Finder. Although I am part of the FrenchEntree network of Property Finders scattered around France, we all work individually and run our own businesses. Being independant means I can show my clients houses listed with any estate agent (and you often see the same property in several agents windows at varying prices), any property that just has a private ‘A Vendre’ sign outside, houses that are listed by the local ‘notaires’ and through local gossip I even hear about really interesting houses that are not officially on the market yet. However, all this independence can be a bit lonely sometimes as instead of being able to have a gossip around the office water cooler with my colleagues, we have to rely on the internet and telephone to keep up to date with each other. That is why it was so good to spend a couple of days in Bath (UK) recently when Head Office arranged a conference for all of us.
Most of my colleagues I have met already, whether on our stand at The France Show in London or at the last conference held in La Rochelle, but several new members have joined the network recently and it was lovely to be able to put a real face to the website photo (and to work out who had made the best use of PhotoShop to enhance their picture)! On the Thursday evening FrenchEntree hosted a dinner at a local bar/restaurant which also gave us the opportunity to meet several members of the UK based Head Office team. This turned into a very lively social occasion and as the wine flowed freely, by the end of the evening they were all my new ‘best friends’!
The next morning found us slumped over conference tables at the Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution. (There was a fossilised dinosaur on one wall which at first I didn’t like to mention in case it was a hangover-induced hallucination but luckily the others could see it too!) The coffee machine in the corner soon perked us up and we had a really interesting day. We had presentations from ‘The Boss’ about his plans for the company, then from the girls who ‘triage’ the enquiries from clients and forward them to the relevant property finder, we heard from the editor of FrenchEntree magazine, and also from the features editor who gave us some excellent tips on writing articles and also on the merits of using Twitter (so I now feel it is time to dip my toes in the water). We also heard from the ‘Computer expert’ who, despite the fact that I have trouble getting into my own website, managed to show us how to analyse who is ‘visiting’ our sites and where they come from. I am still not entirely sure why this is useful but it is at least helping my geography knowledge – who knew that there were so many different countries in the world!
For me the most interesting part of the day was hearing stories from other property finders – little things from sharing details about how to keep good records to advice on how to handle ‘difficult’ clients (and I’m sorry if any of you are reading this but you know who you are!). Whether we are finding ‘just another holiday home’ for a millionaire or tracking down a 50,000 euro ‘renovation project’ to fulfil somebody’s dream, we are all part of a team and share very similar experiences.
So, many thanks to all of you at Head Office in Bath for arranging this, and you will be pleased to see that I have taken on board your advice to write my Blog more regularly!