This post is not about being a good estate agent. Or about winning more instructions. I’ll write some of those later. This is purely about getting your foot in the door. How can you get called in to more property?
No matter how good a salesman you are, if you don’t have enough property to sell, you won’t sell enough property. Big portals like Rightmove and Zoopla are designed to sell your instructions, but not to sell YOU. They make no effort to differentiate the agents from each other. You have to do that yourself. But how?
Getting your own house in order is a good place to start. Does your office look like crap, or is it a place that draws people in with its property and atmosphere? The better your window, the more people will want to use you. You might not get many buyers wandering through the doors, but vendors are already local and do spend time on their local high street. Make sure your window looks the part. Your best listings should take priority and your photos should be BIG, in focus and inviting; get the vendor to tidy up before you press the button. In fact, ask the vendors to stay tidy! Taking new and better photos of old listings jazzes up your image and breathes new life into old instructions. It’s cheap as chips to do and makes a massive difference. You don’t need paragraphs of text in your window. Highlighting location, number of bedrooms, sq footage, 1 exceptional feature (parking, roof terrace, views, etc) and price is enough. Just think photos, photos, photos.
Chances are, if someone is going to call in a few estate agents to choose from, they’ll be looking for differences between them. “We’ve got a website and we advertise on Rightmove” doesn’t really set anyone apart these days, so what does? Well, for a start, boards do. He who has more boards, gets more calls. They are visible evidence of presence, and success. Make sure you get boards up. We all know that a viewing from a board-enquiry means the street, exterior, price and description are suitable. That doesn’t leave much to become a sale. And vendors NOTICE boards. If you’ve got ANY listings without a board (for sale, under offer, exchanged but not completed), have another go at getting a board up. I would even go as far as offering a financial incentive to the vendor. £250 off your fee, or 10% off, or whatever you choose. If it gets you one more instruction, well that’s more than paid for isn’t it?
Newspaper, magazine and other printed adverts also have an effect on your visibility, assuming someone picks up the publication you’re paying to be in, on the day you’ve paid to be in it. See my other blog post about printed media for more information on making the most of newspaper and magazine advertising. In short, it should have vendors screaming: “I want to sell my property through this agent”. Look at how to make your adverts more enticing to vendors. Forget buyers, they’ll come anyway. They’d probably rather phone you or email you than try to distinguish between the doubtless way too many properties you’ve crammed into your ad. And therein lies the answer. Think more about the design of your ad, the size of the photos, the beauty and professionalism of that page you’ve paid for. Having a rotten looking page costs exactly the same as having a lovely one, so it’s a bit of a no-brainer.
However, all of this requires the right person, to see the right thing, on the right street, in the right publication, at the right time. And of course, they’ll probably only start paying attention to such things once they’ve made the decision to move. A far better option is toget to vendors before they think about moving.
If you want to stick in the minds of potential clients for when they start calling estate agents in, I think it’s hard to beat dropping well-written and designed letters and postcards through the doors you want to be invited beyond. It is pretty much the only way to guarantee your message appears as you wish, completely in context AND, most importantly, goes to only and exactly where you want it to. You can send it to numbers 12-50, but miss out the ugly house at 34. You can choose where it goes and when it goes. You remove the random readership behaviours of newspapers and magazines.
Of course shoving just ANYTHING through people’s doors won’t get you the best response, although it is a start. But sending out thousands of leaflets with “An Invitation to a free valuation” is about the most boring – and inaccurate – route you can choose and should net you some equally boring listings. “A free valuation” is actually not what you’re offering, and doubtless the letter you send with your suggested marketing price will include the disclaimer “this is not a professional valuation…”. This is confusing for people, so don’t do it. You’re offering a market appraisal, so call it that.
Standard leaflets – from the pool of pre-designed and very horrendously cheesy flyers out there – are a lazy option and will probably reap rewards in line with the amount of time you took in choosing one. If you want to stand out, say something special. Spend an hour or so with your team, discussing what you love about the place you work. Have you achieved something momentous of late? Set a new record for price, speed or customer satisfaction? Use these plus points as the basis for your campaigns. Despite what you may think, it has not all been said. Find things that make you more valuable, not cheaper. When you’ve done that – or if you’re having some difficulty in putting those qualities into words – get a copywriter and a designer to translate your gloriousness into something that will instantly catch the eye of the person you’re looking to attract, and be no less fascinating to read.
Finally, social media. Although it’s still pretty new for most estate agents, there are some incredible examples out there of how it can be a way to build a following of enthusiastic potential clients before you ever speak. Facebook is a virtual window on your office – your property, your team, your day, your success – while Twitter gives you the opportunity to engage with your neighbours, show them you’re a real part of the ‘hood, demonstrate your knowledge of whatever marketplace you’re in AND give out free and useful tips and advice for anyone looking to move. Thousands of people could hear your voice, before they ever meet you. If you’re unsure about social media or whether you’ll ever put the time in (this is the biggest concern for estate agents), then get someone to do it for you. Could be me, could be someone else. But preferably me!