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Getting through more doors…

Generating market appraisal appointments is a critical part of any estate agency business – but it is not as easy as it sounds…this article gives some tips on cracking the conundrum…

It is important to raise your profile in the local area and ensure you are seen as a successful, proactive and above all better alternative to the competition. In short, you must be on every local vendor’s radar to ensure you are at least “in the frame” as their possible agent.

It will not necessarily mean that you will take on everything you are offered –prudent agents are declining instructions unless they enhance their available register. However, it is crucial to have the opportunity to make that choice by being invited in!

Wanted ads in the newspaper, the office window and on your website give local customers the message that you want their business. Generic leaflets and specific letters to appropriate local addresses work if constantly employed – however, this canvassing must be planned and constant.

Ensuring that the neighbouring community is made aware of every successful sale you agree locally by way of a regular newsletter or the delivery of “Sold in your area” leaflets will increase the chances of your firm being asked to future valuations. Currently, one client agent of ours even delivers “Another viewing on a property near you” leaflets after accompanied viewings to let the locals know they are active in that area.

“Farming” developments and villages is effective – displays in the village store, business cards left with hoteliers and publicans, support given to school events – these have all proven successful in building an agent’s business in those communities. Contact with previous customers who have bought and/or sold through your firm keeps your name in mind.

Beyond this background work, agents with large market shares are unsurprisingly those who focus on the provision of excellent service. All the staff recognise the concept that every vendor is a potential recommender and repeat customer, every applicant a future vendor, every tenant a future buyer.

Separating the local applicants with properties to sell from the rest of your database, and upping the level of service given to them in terms of telephone and email contact will help convince them that you are a more diligent and customer-focused agent than your competitors, leading to an increased chance of them employing you when the time is right.

Really outstanding firms also recognise that there are other “customers” to consider outside the obvious categories.

Anyone who interacts with your company should be seen as a customer – some of these relationships are less obvious but equally important.

How do you manage these “customers by association”? Firstly, it is important to identify who they are – the lady in the newsagents where you buy your paper, the tyre fitter who worked on your car last week, the board contractor, the office window cleaner to name but a few. These all represent future business and recommendations. In short, everyone you deal with should be viewed as potential business.

Secondly, these “customers” merit great service in the way they are handled. How much effort do the team make in creating rapport with the aforementioned examples? How do we conduct ourselves with them? Do they have an impression of our firm that would lead to them recommending us? Have we suggested that we would recommend their services in return for them recommending ours?

Poor service to less obvious “customers” loses business. An estate agency which sent staff on one of our seminars had not paid and were sent a polite reminder by email. Eventually, with payment still outstanding following a number of further reminders, a colleague of mine popped into the agent’s office with a copy of the invoice. It was finally paid the following week – over three months after the seminar.

The company were unaware that during this saga, I was asked by a relative to recommend an agent who would be suited to selling three newly built homes in that area. The delay in payment of our invoice led me to only three possible conclusions about the agent in question – that they were disorganised, that they could not afford to pay the invoice (less than £300.00) or finally that they were simply avoiding payment. None of these conclusions made me feel comfortable in recommending them, so the business went elsewhere – I am not party to the detail of the terms the other agent agreed with the developer but the fees will amount conservatively to over £8000.

The message for this market is simple – “Get your own house in order, in order to get houses…”

Julian O’Dell
TM training & development