INDUSTRY INTERVIEW: Richard Rawlings of Agent Masterclass.

Richard Rawlings is a name that I am sure many will have heard of, but how exactly to did you become involved in the UK property industry?

I started off as a young agent in Kensington over 30 years ago and was approached to manage Winkworth in Fulham at the age of 23. We were fortunate enough to win the What House Magazine Estate Agency of the Year award. The publicity was huge and I realised that promoting my agency was actually more important than promoting any specific property. That realisation started a lifelong passion in specialist estate agency marketing. This fits well with the training side of my business, stimulated by four years as an agent and manager in Cape Town where the training I received was superb – but virtually non-existent a the time in the UK. Since then I have dedicated my career to researching innovation in agency and creating services that enable my clients to demonstrate remark-ability. I am fortunate enough to have clients all over the world, which provides me with regular insights into alternative agency techniques.

You appear to have many brands online, what is your focus?

Whilst my own work focuses on training (AgentMasterclass.co.uk) and content–writing for agents, as well as consultancy work and bespoke training via EstateAgencyInsight.co.uk, I have a great team with leading specialists in data, stats, technology and communication systems. Overall, our focus is business generation for agents, delivered via proprietary systems such as AgentProspects.co.uk and Smartcanvassing.co.uk. This extends to automated delivery of bespoke editorial programmes via AgentWords.co.uk and our amazing personal video messaging system, AgentVox.co.uk which is revolutionizing the way agents engage with their clients and prospects. (Sorry about all the plugs, but you did ask!)

Do you feel the way in which consumers and estate agents find each other is changing? Is online taking over from popping in to your local estate agency?

I think the term consumer is misunderstood in agency. Most agents regard the seller as the consumer, presumably because it is the seller who ultimately pays the agent’s fee. This mindset is very dangerous and could prompt the end of agency as we know it! Today’s sellers understand why they should use an agent because, when they themselves were buyers a few years ago, there were few digital enhancements to the buying experience, be it in property or elsewhere. They “get” agency! But today’s buyers are digitally enabled/addicted across most of their buying experiences (eg Amazon, Spotify, Uber, AirBnB, etc). As such, when they come to sell, if they have had little reason to appreciate an agent’s involvement in their former purchase, then why should we blame them if they instinctively choose the online agency route in the future? The threat is not the online agencies themselves – as all they offer is a cheap sub-standard service. The threat to an agent who refuses to adapt, is that other “traditional” agents, in response to the perceived online agency “threat”, will significantly up their game, especially with buyers, and offer a much more enjoyable boutique experience as well as a creative digital approach.

As for “popping into your local agent”, I don’t think there is a lot of popping going on. However, local people still prefer to know that they are dealing with the enthusiastic and committed local expert and a visible branch clearly proves this. It is a strong counter to the “invisible” online agent who needs to spend a fortune to achieve the same objective.

Is social media important to the industry, is it now a marketing tool that simply can not be overlooked?

Absolutely yes and no! If you think that social media is simply dumping your stock on Twitter then you are just going to alienate people. Agents need to stop “getting” and start attracting, and many are making good inroads into this. Those who generously offer opinion, comment, advice and guidance across multiple social media platforms without expecting anything back in return, not only tend to become highly “likeable” but they also improve their SEO rankings, especially when they incorporate video, which is the medium currently experiencing the fastest growth as everyone now has the ability to record video through their smartphone.

What should the industry look out for in 2016 in the world of marketing – What do you think will be trending?

Big data, and the use of sophisticated marketing approaches such as those usually employed by the insurance, travel, retail and banking sectors. I’m very excited about this and our initial trials with our new SmartCanvassing.co.uk service takes full advantage of big data – with a database of over 20 million entries. That’s big data! It may sound as though I have a vested interest (and I do) but certainly agents can no longer rely on their own marketing efforts and simply must outsource to technically competent specialists across a number of marketing initiatives, just as they outsource their CRM requirements. The great thing is that small agencies can punch well above their weight using this approach.
Lastly, what are you thoughts on the Estate Agent Networking concept?

EAN is a really good example of how social media does eventually gain traction. I have seen it for a while, but not really acted on it. From time to time my eye had been drawn to articles that aroused my interest and I’m increasingly engaging with those articles, their authors and contributors. If the content is good then people engage and hopefully refer, reTweet, Friend, forward etc. Some sites have complete imbeciles contributing. They appear determined to spoil otherwise interesting debate, but EAN seems to be well moderated so the quality is always high.

Christopher Walkey

Founder of Estate Agent Networking. Internationally invited speaker on how to build online target audiences using Social Media. Writes about UK property prices, housing, politics and affordable homes.

You May Also Enjoy

Who are Rentd
Letting Agent Talk

Renters (Reform) Bill Dropped – Thoughts from the Industry

The Renters (Reform) Bill has been dropped as a result of the general election being called. Here are some thoughts from within the property industry. Ben Beadle, Chief Executive of the National Residential Landlords Association: “It is hugely disappointing that this Bill will not now make it into law. The news comes despite the fact that…
Read More
Estate Agent Talk

July 4 General Election – Thoughts from the Industry

Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak has called a general election for July 4, 2024, citing now being the time for the people of Britain to choose the next government. Here are some thoughts from within the property industry. Tim Bannister, Rightmove’s property expert: “A look back at recent elections shows that house prices and activity usually…
Read More
Rightmove logo
Breaking News

Rightmove’s weekly mortgage tracker

Matt Smith, Rightmove’s mortgage expert said: “Today’s inflation drop feels like an important milestone on the road to the first Base Rate cut. There’s been some to-ing and fro-ing over whether we’ll see a summer Base Rate cut, but today’s news will likely reinforce some of the positive words coming from the Bank of England…
Read More
Estate Agent Talk

Rayner right to be ambitious on housebuilding

At UKREiiF, Angela Rayner, Shadow Housing Secretary made several commitments to help solve the UK’s housing crisis including new towns, greater numbers of affordable housing, a return of housing targets and a clear design code criteria. Richard Beresford, Chief Executive of the National Federation of Builders (NFB), said: “Although election season is the time for…
Read More
Breaking News

Comment on Land Registry’s House Price Index showing an annual rise of 1.8%

Commenting on Land Registry’s UK House Price Index showing an annual rise of 1.8%, Daniel Austin, CEO and co-founder at ASK Partners, said: “The property sector is recovering. Rent values have seen sustained growth, positioning real estate as reasonably valued in comparison to gilts and presenting growth potential. In the realm of commercial real estate,…
Read More
Breaking News

Breaking Property News – 22/05/24

Daily bite-sized proptech and property news in partnership with Proptech-X.   Sunak calls General election for 4th July 2024 – American Independece Day Many pundits feel that post the General election Rishi Sunak will fly off to Silicon Valley, so maybe holding the General election on American Independence Day is no coincidence! The real carnage…
Read More