How to knock a corporate estate agent out of your town

I thought this might be fun to talk about. I’m not an estate agent anymore, but as a fan of independent companies – and finding large international chains rather boring – I couldn’t help but wonder about how one of the little guys could knock a big guy out of the high street.

 

The tough thing with corporate agents is the sheer amount of money they have flying around; far more than a one or two branch company. In some ways that benefits them – bulk buying power for advertising and other promotional stuff – but it’s also a bit of an Achilles Heel. It costs a lot of money to keep one of their branches open and it works for them to spend so much on marketing because the perceived security and extra coverage it produces gets them business, without them having to be as good as the independent agent needs to be. But once you begin to dig into their business, soon a branch will become unprofitable. Now, what do corporations exist for? Money! They’re not interested in anything else. Yes, they realise that giving a good service will probably net them more clients and get them more income, but it’s not really their interest. Corporate agents don’t exist to make customer service better. They exist to make money for shareholders. Or the shareholders walk.

 

So, if you wanted to knock a corporate estate agent out, you don’t need to take ALL their business; you just need to take enough to make their presence in your high street of no further interest to their (shareholder accountable) CEO. And probably, given the general resignation of most little agents to the corporate’s presence, you’ll be the only one doing it. So it should all come your way. What you need to do is demonstrate to the vendors you’re after, that paying a corporate agent’s fees, or using a corporate agent, or thinking a corporate agent will give them more coverage, is actually completely pointless. You know and I know that, when it comes down to it, high street branches of corporate agents don’t have secret lists of Arabs and Chinamen desperate to snap up Victorian terraced houses in London suburbs. But they create the impression that although it might be a long shot, it is possible a vendor will benefit. Well yes, it’s also possible a spaceship from an unknown world might land on Clapham Common and its passengers grab an ice cream.

 

I would suggest picking one corporate agent and really giving them some jip. Or you could be really brave and go at them all. You need to be targeting their vendors regularly; weekly, in fact. Post interesting, funny, useful, complimentary and most of all ORIGINAL letters and flyers through their doors. Don’t stop till they get enough. If they phone you to complain, be unapologetic. Be nice, and tell them you KNOW you can sell their house, and you want them to know this. You love their house. It’s right up your street, as it were, and you want to be the one that sells it for them. DO NOT STOP. Keep doing it, and doing it, and doing it. So long as what you put through people’s doors is original, you will be remembered and people won’t get upset. Keep on, and on, and on.

 

Now, if you’re going to do this, you really do need to make sure that: a) you really are capable of selling that house and: b) you come across as the agent they want to switch to when they do finally invite you round. That means you need to look great (I’m not necessarily talking suit and tie – you know what works best in your market) and you need a red hot presentation; nothing less will do. You need to show that people aren’t dropping their standards by going with you. So take a good look at your office; are you worthy? Do you LOOK worthy? If something’s off, fix it. Now look at your presentation. What do you do and say when you go into someone’s home? Are you astonishingly knowledgeable, personable, genuine, professional and interesting? You’re not? Why not? If you’re remotely ‘agenty’, or creepy, or ‘wide’, or vague or anything else even slightly unsavoury, you’ll blow it.

 

Now then, your presentation, You do have a presentation, don’t you? You don’t just walk in with a clipboard, have a look around, give them a price and your card, and then walk out? Oh dear. Well, if you want to remain exactly where you are, keep on with that. BUT, and this is a big but (and who doesn’t love one of those), if you want to be taken super seriously and really stand your ground against the big boys, you NEED a proper presentation folder that tells – and even more importantly, shows – the vendor exactly what you get up to on their behalf. Your sales details, a picture of your office, your advertising, website, Facebook page, twitter feed, and whatever else makes you worth consideration. I’d also suggest some bullet points about how you operate, how long processes take, what you can be relied on for, etc. Then you need to have something to leave people with; I’ve just written a Presentation Document for Davey Stone estate agents in London. I was really pleased with the text, but even more so when I saw just how much they’d spent on the design and paper. It’s a really fantastic piece of marketing for them; nobody in their area is giving out anything near as good, and it will undoubtedly win them business. You need to give vendors more than your business card. You need to give them something to help them remember what you’ve said. They shouldn’t have to take notes.

 

That should keep you going for now.

 

Image courtesy of hin255 / freedigitalphotos.net