High Street Estate Agency is Dying

Those of you in your 40’s and 50’s will remember Sunday evenings, taping the Top 40 with your finger on the pause button, so you didn’t get the DJ talking over the songs. We listen to those songs and went down to Woolies to buy the Singles and when we were old enough the albums on tape (for the Walkman)

Do people buy records and tapes anymore? Nope .. its all downloaded nowadays

Back then, the Record Companies was built around a model that sold singles, tapes and albums. In the 60s, my parents we listened to LP albums at home on their stereos. In the 80’s, I listened to music on my Walkman and later in that decade, on portable CD player.

However, things changed in 90’s with MP3 players. Digital recording meant that we could store thousands of songs on tiny, cheap and handy MP3 players. It meant we could take our music with us. But the digital format didn’t just change where we listened to music, it changed how we listened to music.

As a result, the British recording industry watched its revenue from the sale of music go from an industry high of £53.87 per person each year in 2000 to about £15.79 per person each year in 2014 (according to the IFPI)

.. but the record industry saw it coming!

iTunes was launched in 2001 and by 2003, 10m songs had been downloaded, by 2006, 1bn songs downloaded, 2010 – 10bn songs downloaded and 2013, 25bn songs downloaded.… and now these new boys (Apple and alike) have recognised things are even changing again as streaming is starting to take over from downloads, so the Apple’s of this world and others have recognised this, and so Spotify and AppleMusic are also streaming music, changing as the music changes … they are taking the lead, the vanguard!

The big wigs in the record industry had decades to see what was happening to the record industry .. and that is what they did .. they just watched. They kept on burning CDs in spite of the intense deterioration in CD sales. They just carried on the way they had always done them because in the 60’s and 70’s, those ways had made them a shed load of money. But the world changed around them, and they did nothing. Why?

The record industry stubbornly failed to read the writing on the wall and change the way they did business.

The writing is now (and has been for the last five years) on the wall for the estate agency profession.

So what can the estate agency profession learn from the music industry? Estate Agents need to change the way they do business before there is no business to do.

Purplebricks and their gang have recognised that the British public perceive all estate estate agents to be the same… and we are all the same. We have created this monster called Rightmove, which means any Tom, Dick and Harry can start an Estate Agency from his Kitchen table and with £700 a month to RM, a couple of certificates from the HM Gov’t, a note from their Mum and a £200 website, can become an estate agent and play on the same playing field as your agency.

Rightmove was the savior of UK estate agency  ,…. and, if we aren’t careful, its will become its ultimate destroyer.You had the chance to kill it with OnTheMarket, but most of you didn’t have the balls to jump ship, sitting on the fence to see what others would do .. problem is, 80% of the UK estate agents also sat on the fence

… and so, the Rightmove juggernaut continues with their fees going up by 10% a year.

The record industry could have recognised the way music was consumed and started their own iTunes, but instead just kept out banging CD’s. You, my estate agency friend, have a choice the way your business goes in the next 10 years.

  1. Convert To Hybrid / Online. Close the High St shop and run it from an office. Slash your costs (rent/staff etc) and compete against the Purplebricks and Yopa and charge a little bit more than those other hybrid’s
  2. Do nothing and Die – and end up with an ever decreasing stock of properties to sell, that you just close the door when the lease of the shop comes to an end in a few years time
  3. Up your Game. Stay on the High Street and ‘up your game’. Be exceptional, be amazing, be boutique, be relevant, be the local property guru, be the local ‘go to guy’ for property, like it was in the 1950’s and 1960’s.

The estate agency profession can’t wait any longer. Your agency can’t wait any longer. You have got to start….. Just bl**dy start. Take the first step and make the choice. Either choose Option 1 and set yourself up as Hybrid/Online from a position of strength in your town or Option 3 … become the ‘go to property person’ in your town. … because Option 2 .. well, be honest .. that isn’t pretty (but at least you will have all your CD’s to keep you company as you stack shelves)

Estate Agents who are unwilling to change the way they do business because a new way of doing business, whether its hybrid agency, online agency or call-centre agency, will rarely be as good (or as easy) as the old way. – At least not at first.

The first rule the music business failed to understand is that, at least at first, the new thing is rarely as good as the old thing was. If you need the new way to be better than the current situation from the very start, you will never make the first step.

Soon enough, the new thing will be better than the old thing, yet if you wait until then, it’s going to be too late. We can all be nostalgic about the old thing, but don’t fool yourself into believing that it’s going to be here forever. It won’t.

Every industry and every profession changes. Estate agency is no different. Just because your estate agency firm has been successful up to now, doesn’t mean it will continue to succeed if you continue to do things the way you’ve always done them.

If you like the sound of Option 3 … then I can help you. Myself and my team, mentor, support and guide many estate and letting agents companies in the UK, making them the go to guys, the property gurus, the legends of their property market.

Other ‘purple’ agents might say they are ‘local property experts’ .. but you prove it. You know what I advocate, I bang on about it enough … become the ‘local property market guru’ by talking about the one thing your potential clients (house sellers and landlords) are obsessed about … the value of their own property and what is happening in the local property market… and do that with newsletters about the local property market, blogs about the local property market, videos and social media about the local property market, talking house prices, how one area in your town has gone up in value compared to another, where the great deals are for landlords etc etc

The question is this my fellow estate agents …are you going to be at front of this change, leading your agency and your team to ‘Property Guru Superhero’ status and be in the vanguard….. or will you be at the back of the train, in the Guard’s Van?

kind regards

Christopher Watkin (look me up on Linkedin)

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 christopher@christopherwatkin.co.uk

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