Sometimes, it’s hard to be an agent.
Despite the ongoing economic situation, not that many estate agents have closed down, so everyone’s fighting for their share of a smaller cake. No-one wants to give up (what else are they going to do?), but when the market was better, there was more money around to spend on making your company stand out from the crowd: another full page advert here; professional photography there; feature boxes on Rightmove and much more besides.
Now things are different, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be creative in making a name for yourself. Having worked through two recessions, I found the ways of operating listed below helped me and my teams stand head and shoulders above the competition. I hope they provide you with some inspiration.
1. Don’t be a bitch
Slagging off your competitors is one of the most boring and unimaginative things you can do. Making any reference to them while talking to a vendor or landlord is counter-productive. Some of the very least successful advertising is that which criticises its competition; Pepsi dissing Coke being a supreme example of how to lose your market share by publicising your rival. You’re not there to talk about your competition, you’re there to talk about you. Talking about themselves is one of the greatest skills of estate agents, so use it. Show the vendor what YOU do, what makes YOU great, what makes YOUR team their best bet.
2. Stand up straight
This nifty little trick has escaped many estate agents. If you stand up straight and hold the camera straight while taking a photo, the picture will immediately look better and more professional. Your website and window display will look better, you’ll get more viewings and, more importantly, you’ll get better quality instructions from more vendors wanting to use that smart and creative estate agent on the high street.
You can increase the effectiveness of this scheme by regularly rotating your window display and taking new and seasonal pictures of any listings that hang around a bit. Cleaning your window display is also a winner, along with removing any cards that have started to yellow or curl.
3. Bend over backwards
Saying you give a good service, saying you’re the best and saying whatever else, isn’t actually DOING those things. Showing your customers you care costs absolutely nothing, but earns you respect AND recommendations. Make sure every one of your team sees the property. Keep in touch. Think of a reason to say hello. No viewings for a week? Call the vendor. Tell them what you think they should do. Might be nothing at all. Might be tidy up, reduce the price, take a new photo (see above), mow the lawn, leave the house while you’re conducting a viewing, anything.
Calling shows you care. Calling shows you’re not giving up. Calling shows you’re worth keeping.
4. Say something interesting
You don’t need to be a property copywriter to write a decent property description. In fact, you don’t need to write that much at all. But what you do write down should focus on the points that make that property stand apart from the rest; not that you are delighted as sole agents to be offering it to the market, and not that it has central heating. There is ALWAYS something more interesting to say. Your best first port of call? Ask the vendor what made them choose the property for themselves; there’s gold in them there hills.
5. Be a know-it-all
How many times do people moan about an estate agent’s lack of basic knowledge of their properties? Where’s the boiler? Who made the kitchen? What’s the service charge? Who’s the managing agent? How much is the council tax? What’s the vendor’s position? These are among the most commonly asked questions, yet so many times the information has never been gathered from the vendor. It makes the agent look amateur and wastes valuable time in getting an offer, time the applicant will spend viewing other properties. Be an expert. Be a professional.