As 25% of Countrywide Offices Panic and Go Online – How do you compete with the Big Agents in Your Town?

Well as Countrywide panic, creating the very monster that will destroy their High Street Agency model, an online offering through their High Street offices (more of that on the PS at the end)… how do you, as a small agent, compete with the big estate or letting agent down the road,  the letting agent with a portfolio of 500+ properties or the estate agent that takes 8 pages a week in the local newspaper, whose advertising budget that could pay off the UK’s budget deficit.

How do you impress the vendors and landlords enough to come to you instead?  

Most baby agents think they need to beat these larger agents at their own game, being bigger and better, to deliver a solid message about their agency, they think they need to have a stunning website with special add on’s that no other website has, be on every portal known to estateagentkind, spend hundreds, neigh thousands of pounds a month on Rightmove Featured Agent and RM Featured Home page (the the big long banner that is postbox shaped when you search for a property) and then there is radio advertising. That will impress the vendors and  landlords, wont it?

Yes, landlords and vendors like to be impressed, and the big boys think nothing of spending £10,000 a month a glossy a magazine feature that gets delivered to all the hip and trendy places in your area, think nothing of advertising with the small placards at railway stations, saying ‘we are your local property expert’, think its impressive when they ‘We let 50 properties last month’, think nothing of putting in 6 pages of adverts in the newspaper each week (and we know that is expensive), ..  and they do this to try and impress landlords!

So how do you compete with the big agents and be equally impressive, but not spending anywhere as much?

Well first, let me tell you they are wasting their money .. it doesn’t work …

This is particularly important for letting agents… and it is letting agents I want to focus on for the rest of the article (although if you are an agent, the same advice at the end will work for you)

I often look at RM Plus and look at the ‘new listing’ tab in Competitor Analysis… and in the Trend tab, you can see the number of new listings – it shows you if an agent is growing organically over the twelve months ..If the trend line is static and level, it means the agents are just recycling their existing stock and not growing … this info is priceless

Trust me – most agents spend money because they think they need to because everyone else does .. but it doesn’t get them any more business. . 98% of the rental properties that come on as new listings are properties they already had on their books .. you didn’t get called out for the appraisal .. because there wasn’t one in the first place .. the landlord chose them years ago and just hasn’t been bothered to swap agents.

Let me tell you what really happens in the real world. Let me ask you a question .. what do you do when someone tries to impress you? Your guard goes up, doesn’t it? And it’s just the same in lettings .. you see when you try to impress, instead of building trust, educating and informing, you immediately cause your landlord’s guard to go up. He or she immediately stops believing you.

This is a huge mistake that letting agents make – trying to impress landlords. Landlords certainly DON’T want to be impressed.

But why is one of the worst things you can do as a letting agent is deliberately try to impress potential landlords? Because impressing landlords is not your job. Most letting agents are trying so hard to impress landlords, nobody can figure out what they do. More importantly, nobody (not even landlords) care how impressive you are. Landlords don’t care how many landlords you have on your books, landlords don’t care what you have let this week (and for Pete’s sake, nobody and I mean nobody cares what you have sold this week .. it’s utter drivel), no one cares!!

Landlords would much rather know that you will look after their property as if it was your own, especially when there’s a problem. They’d much rather know that you really care about their problems and that you want to help them and be there for them with trusted advice and informed knowledge.

Your job is to help landlords solve their problems and capitalise on new opportunities. Landlords should be spoken and written to in a conversational tone of voice that strives to build trust, educate and inform, rather than the razzle and dazzle the other agents chuck out.

…. and the solution to this problem .. watch these series of short videos on how to build trust, educate and inform


PS .. Everyone is worried by the Online / Hybrid cheap agent threat. By Countrywide rolling out an Online option through their network, some might say that is good foresight. The Purplebricks, Yopas and EasyProperty’s are a commoditised type of agent, one size fits all, buy it off the shelf agency … and yes, it is something the rest of the estate and letting agency industry need to keep an eye on.  … but by Countrywide creating their own monster to beat another monster (i.e. by starting their own online agency to beat the other online agency) .. their monster might just be successful … and could end up killing the very High Street model it was set up to to protect ..or is that their game? If I worked for Countrywide at branch level, I would be worried

Christopher Watkin

I teach, guide, support, mentor, consult, counsel, partner many hundreds of UK Estate and Letting Agents in their quest to grow their estate and lettings agencies business. Old school techniques of touting, landlords wanted leaflets, ring us for a free valuation, we have sold this in your street leaflets don't work anymore. There are too many competitor agents .. meaning cheap fees are epidemic, overvaluing is almost a norm to get the stock and don’t even mention about the online/hybrid threat. So a few years ago, I set about looking around the UK and spotted that certain agents (not many mind you) in certain towns were still seen as the ‘go to person on property’, the person the newspaper editor rang up every week for a comment and I looked at what they did and they were doing some thing quite remarkable…. Only one thing but they were doing it so well .. and reaping the reward in terms of decent listings and decent fees, happy staff, decent sales pipeline and exchange income, managed lettings portfolios in the many hundreds .. but more importantly, they really enjoyed the job… they enjoyed getting up in the morning and people looked up to them Over 400 agents around the UK are on a mission to change the way our Estate and Lettings agency profession is perceived and looked upon, doing it town by town, city by city. I guide these 400 agents, teach them, mentor them and support them to be seen in a different light, to be seen as the ‘go to person for property’, actually be the ‘local property expert’ and prove it. Christopher Watkin 07950 147 572 [email protected]

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