Working his way up through the ranks from beginnings in Manning Stainton as a front desk negotiator, Mark Stanning tells BQ about his journey to becoming MD and his aspirations for the business.
What is it the company does?
We’ve been helping people to move for over 30 years. Manning Stainton is the region’s leading estate agent and we’ve got 19 sales and letting branches across Leeds, Wetherby and Wakefield. We also operate Fine & Country, a specialist division that deals with high-value and unique properties.
Our aim is to help people find and buy their perfect home, whilst making the sales process as simple and easy as possible. Many people find moving a stressful life experience and we’re here to help make it as easy as possible.
Describe your role in no more than 100 words
I’m responsible for the day-to-day running of the business and setting the roadmap for our future. I still get involved on the front line too, helping clients reach their desired goal, because it still gives me the greatest buzz!
Give us a brief timeline of your career so far – where did you start, how did you move on?
After university, I started as a front desk negotiator in Manning Stainton’s Wakefield branch, before working my way up through the business. I was a valuer, then a manager, then a department head and then sales director. I became MD three years ago.
What do you believe makes a great leader?
It’s important to have self-belief, courage of conviction and to be prepared to try new things; nothing changes if you don’t. I think a great leader in an industry like ours has to be able to inspire people because, in the end, it’s all about the service we provide to our customers. As a team, we need to feel inspired and motivated to offer the best possible service to our customers, which is always our ultimate goal and something we’re very successful at doing (even if I do say so myself!)
What has been your biggest challenge in your current position?
Managing such a large team of people has to be up there, but I also work in a business where the market and competition are always changing so rapidly too, which can also be really challenging. The property market changes on a daily basis sometimes, so being able to read and react to what’s going on in is key and something which has kept us at the top of our market for a long time.
How do you alleviate the stress that comes with your job?
I love to run, keep fit and play golf. Running is medicine for the soul and really helps me to clear my mind, stay focused and process the day’s events. I think having holidays in the diary is vital too, as having downtime is so important when you’re busy. There’s nothing better to refresh you and give you a new lease of life than a holiday in a beautiful location where relaxation is the order of the day. Everybody needs to take time out, turn their phones off and spend holidays enjoying the simple pleasures in life.
When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Honestly, I don’t think I could ever have imagined doing anything else. I know it sounds like a cliché, but I really do love what I do and look forward to going into work and running the business. I’m lucky to work with a brilliant team and every day is different – I certainly could never get bored of doing what I do.
Any pet hates in the workplace? What do you do about them?
I hate it more than anything else when people are late. When I was 16, I went for a work experience interview with Edward Ziff, the chairman of Town Centre Securities and got stuck in awful traffic and was late. He asked me when I arrived “why were you late?” and I responded, “the traffic was awful”. He said, “No, you were late because you didn’t set off on time!” That was the last time I ever turned up late to anything and I hate it when others are late too. With proper planning, it’s easy to be anywhere on time.
Where do you see the company in five years’ time?
We are entering a world of modern estate agency where our business must be flexible to the needs of the customer and how they want to interact with us. Our vision is to make sure that we can offer this whilst continuing to expand our services and potentially our geography.
What advice would you give to an aspiring business leader?
Listen to those around you who know more than you, you’ll learn lots and gain valuable insights that will you’ll be able to use in your career. You also need to have courage in your convictions and be prepared to try new things – if you’re standing still, you’re actually going backwards.
What do you wish someone had told you when you started out?
I honestly think between my father, his two business partners and a few other people, I got all the advice I could ever have needed.
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