How long have you been part of the industry and just what is it that you offer modern day agencies looking to improve their results?
I started in the industry just after Christmas 1975 so I have 42 years of property industry experience. Of course I started when I was three!
During that time I became a Partner in A C Frost and Company, Area and Regional Director at Prudential Property Services and a main board Director in the Connells Group and their subsidiary Conveyancing Director. I am a Fellow of both the RICS (I was the inaugural Chair of their Residential Faculty) and NAEA and hold an MBA from Reading University.
For the last 14 years I have run my own business, Integra Property Services and my business services to agents and others in the property industry fall into three main areas: Business mentoring, training and marketing (primarily content for websites/brochures/social media). Integra have over 400 property industry clients.
My business mentoring activities are largely working with business owners on strategy, organisational management and managing change – helping businesses maximise performance and revenues whilst maintaining tight cost controls, creating high productivity levels from quality teams and thereby generating strong profitable growth.
I undertake a lot of coaching within the industry at all levels to ensure powerful salesmanship, good business practice and compliance. I provide management and compliance training courses and my Consumer Protection and Money Laundering Courses have had over 1000 delegates in the last two years.
I also provide a range of cost effective content solutions to assist with agents marketing needs.
How concerned should traditional estate agency be towards the emerging hybrid / online agencies? Maybe they should not be concerned at all and should carry on as normal?
Agents cannot be complacent and should look to embrace change. The emergence of low fee, online only agents is just one threat to the traditional High Street model. I do see many “traditional agents” failing to provide the levels of service and performance that will be enough for them to compete against other offerings, particularly when seeking to justify a higher fee, but there are also many new entrants who are falling short in terms of professionalism, compliance and service delivery.
In the same way as there are some people who still see an issue between Corporate ownership and Independence, there will be those who feel the same way between online, hybrid or High Street.
I see good, bad and indifferent in all sectors and, as a consequence there will be winners and losers in all sectors. Key is differentiation, brand strength, quality communication and service performance.
A hardening market will simply accelerate change.
What are the common mistakes made by Estate Agencies who are seeing failing results against their competitors? How do agents appraise themselves correctly?
Key to successful agency is stock – whether sales or lettings. Quite simply, if you haven’t got the property on your books, you are out of the game. I often see agents focusing on banking money and failing to spot that their business is heading South as they are not putting enough energy and effort onto “feeding the machine” An inability to “spin several plates” is another common problem and so agents chop and change too often, failing to create a consistent, high quality approach.
A lack of a business plan and the thought that goes into it is a huge mistake and this is followed by a lack of regular monitoring and review of all areas of the business. Many businesses fail to spot trends or opportunities until it is too late.
Is being on Rightmove and Zoopla enough for any Estate Agency or should there be a lot more ammunition in their fight to gain their market share?
Whilst a presence on Rightmove and Zoopla is a “given” for most agents and needed in order to display stock for sellers and landlords and reach buyers and tenants, the landscape has changed and their dominance has meant that consumers do not register with agents until much later in their buying/renting process and this makes it harder to build rapport and secure business opportunities such as valuations.
Consequently throwing more and more money at the portals in terms of additional banners, highlighted displays, microsites etc is showing a greater and greater diminishing return
Smart agents are generating the majority of their new business (instructions) from their own databases and from a more sophisticated and targeted approach. Both Rightmove and Zoopla have powerful “behind the scenes” tools and insights that agents can use but few have invested the time and resource to really maximise outcomes.
Social media can be made to work if engagement is at the heart of the plan but, again, few agents have really invested the time and resources to maximise the potential.
With the majority of consumers using online services outside of business hours and from mobile devices, agents need to move their offerings to meet that need. Aiming to capture the consumer earlier in the transactional life cycle is key. Automated valuation models on websites can capture customer data and another simple example is an ability to book valuations and viewings 24/7.
Personality and differentiation through brand reinforcement is vital and, as most agents are still local businesses, integration with the local community remains another important factor.
A big thank you to Michael Day MBA for answering these questions for Estate Agent Networking.
Author: Estate Agent Networking UK
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