Taking risks got this letting agent 105 properties let in 9 months (from a cold start)

Most letting agents will do just about anything to persuade potential landlords that buying their services is risk free. We all know the biggest risk is the tenant not paying the rent and trashing the place. Agents even use rent guaranteed insurance to attract landlords, so the landlord doesn’t miss out on their rent .. so its risk free. In fact there is a well known and well thought off chain of letting / estate agents who use that as their main USP



However, is that the best way to get more landlords? In my humble opinion, I think not. Let me tell you why ..when was the last time a landlord said to another landlord, “hey you want to go and use that agent .. they guarantee my rent” ..

Now most most landlords don’t shout about that they are even landlords, let alone compare service levels and extras. The British keep their finances private .. just like people dont go around telling their friends and family what they earn, most landlords that own a BTL property dont go broadcasting to the world that they have a portfolio of 8 properties. It is not something most landlords shout about. Think about it Mr (or Mrs) letting agent, we all know landlords do talk to each other, but when was the last time a landlord came into your office and said, “You charge me 10% whilst you charge my mate (who uses you) at 6%”  No never.. do they.. (well it never happened in my 16 years of being in agency)

Rent guarantee insurance isn’t going to make a landlord go wow, it isnt going to make a landlord sing from the roof tops that you Mr (or Mrs) letting Agent are the best thing since sliced bread. You need something that makes them go wow .. that guy/girl is good .. they go the extra mile … 

So, lets think for a second ….

Word of mouth is directly proportional to risk. If I take a risk and it works out, I tell everyone. if someone tasks a risk on behalf (ie you going the extra mile (a risk) on behalf a landlord) .. that’s even better. If there was no risk, it’s not interesting, so not remarkable and that’s the end of that. Early adopters of new ideas are proud of their stance. It makes us feel good to share stories. Be proud of your risk takers and they’ll return the favour – ie recommend you to other landlords

So what could you do that is different? Well there are lots of things you could do. One simple thing that comes to mind is this … Why not visit the current home of the tenant that wants one your properties and report back to the landlord .. be honest with the landlord, say its reasonable but not brilliant, so would recommend a slightly higher deposit .. they will love you for that

Create a service that is riskier to adopt or create a marketing campaign that is riskier and if you can get over the hill, you’ll be rewarded with buzz, recommendations and business.

Therefore, I want to leave you with a story of a couple of letting agents I helped recently. They were based in suburban town which formed part of a much larger City. Nice Northern town of around 50,000 population. They opened in February 2013 and they took my advice to network like hell. Now networking isnt just about BIN meetings  http://www.bni.co.uk/  . In an up and coming post, I will discuss networking in greater detail, how there is covert networking and overt networking, and more importantly, how to get rental properties on you books from landlords from them, instead of just paying £10 for breakfast and sitting round a table at godforsaken 6.30am, hearing the same 30 people give you their 30 second pitch, the same 30 second pitch you have heard the previous 23 weeks and to add insult to injury, getting no new lettings business from the meetings.

Now, back to the story, they rang me up because they had spent a couple hundred quid to sponsor a evening where all the movers and shakers, the mayor, the chamber of commerce, Rotary club would be in attendance ……. everyone, who was anyone, was going to attend. It was an awards ceremony, called the The Pride of “Northern Town” awards  (real name has been substituted to Northern town). The sponsorship gave them a 3 or 4 minute speaking slot in front of everyone. With two hours to go, I got a phone .. ” hey up Chris, can you help us with our speech“, to which i said, “yeah, give me a few days“. The reply came back, “but Chris we are on stage in a couple of hours“. It didnt surprise me.

Now in this world, if people are good to you, you don’t mind repaying that in return. So, I dropped everything and asked,”So, what are you going to say?“. The answer came back was as unimaginative as humanly possible, something along the lines as “ Hey up, we are a new letting agent in this Northern town, and if you are a landlord looking for an agent, we offer great deals for you to use us  .. blah …blah.. noise .. blah … drivel ” .. my word .. how bad was that?  Coma inducing stuff.

So, I said, nobody is gong to watch, listen and more importantly remember you speak for 3 or 4 minutes and go wow, these guys are remarkable, if you said that. You have get inside the heads of all the people in that room, so they go, wow, there guys are good, not because you are great lettings agents .. but because you are great blokes,, who just happen to be a letting agents  (person first, trade second .. not the other way round)

So, we have a group of people, I said how are we going to make you be remembered after the evening, so when the subject of property comes up (which it often does as the British are obsessed with property,  how are we going to make you be remarkable (the clue is in the word .. remarkable means people will ‘remark about you to other’s’ and that “Hey up, we are a new letting agent in this Northern town, and if you are a landlord looking for an agent, we offer great deals for you to use us…. ” speech isnt remarkable)

So, I quickly thought of something; we had a group of people, the movers and shakers of the town, the thing that brought them together were that they all came from the same town. Most landlords buy in the same town they live in. Most of the people in that room were probably landlords due to their age/status/standing/job or came into daily contact with them. Whilst not word for word (as there was a little bit more), this is what I advised them and wrote for them  …

ladies and gentleman, my name xxxxxx, I am the co owner of the new lettings agency in town. I want say how proud I am to be part of this town, just like everyone I see before me tonight, all of us of proud of our town (dont forget this was a Pride of Northern Town awards’). Like I said, we opened our lettings agency a few months ago. I want to tell you a very quick story of man from ‘really posh Northern town’ who came into our office last week (really posh Northern town is known across the UK as the place where all the footballers live, range rovers are two a penny and the local waitrose is considered to be beneath most of the residents .. its selfridges for them) . He had a couple of hours to waste, waiting for his wife doing something in our town, so to keep out of mischief, he went for a walk and ended up walking through our door. He wanted to know how our quaint town’s property market was doing, as most of his properties were in the posh town (mentioned above).  He didnt want to invest his money in our little town .. it wasn’t a good investment he told us. 

So, just for interest, we looked at his posh towns’ property market and found out that 2 bed apartment would cost around £450,000 and rent for around £2,000 per month, a decent yield of 5.3%. I also looked at how the values of properties had gone up over the last year in the posh town, and noted they had risen by an impressive 5.1% .. he said he knew that and that’s why he bought in the posh town.

ladies and gentleman, let me tell you what I did next .. i showed him that you could buy a similar apartment in our town for £115,000 and it would rent for £675 per month ..an impressive yield of 7% .. and here’s the best bit. Property values have risen by 8% in the last year in our town. In fact, our little towns property market has consistently done better over the last couple of years than that the posh town.  You see, the property market in a town is a vital barometer of the towns well-being. 

Our town’s property market has consistently outperformed the town where WAG’s are two a penny and Premier League footballers are as common as sparrows. You want to be proud of that local people are investing in local property and making our town have one of the best property markets in the North West.. …. I think our friend might be buying his next property here, in our town and not in his own posh town. 

If you want to be part of our town’s property market and want to know what (or not to buy), feel free to come and see me or my fellow owner xxxx and we can give you some straight talking advice on investing in buy to let.  ladies and gentleman, be proud our town, be proud of its industry, be proud that the property market is doing so well and finally be proud of all the efforts you do to keep our town as vibrant as it already is.

Rapturous applause erupted and the mayor walked onto stage, turned to the crowd, and said, “How the hell can I follow that”, and with a huge smile, shook the hand of the letting agent, then promptly crumpling up his speech into a ball, throwing it over his shoulder and walking off stage with the letting agent to more applause.

These guys took a risk, they stood and said their piece. It could have gone so wrong, but it didnt. Ok, some of you wont want to do such  public speaking, but you could easily adopt this for a BNI meeting, or an advert, or even when speaking to to someone on a one to one basis … take risks and if you care, people (landlords) will see that and remark about you, because you are remarkable .

You see that is what I do, I help letting agents on all aspects of attracting landlords. Be it newspaper adverts that triple rental market appraisals, be it blogs that can get  between 15 to 20 rental listings in eight months in the Home Counties, be it advanced social media techniques that got 23 new rental listings on one month for guy in the South, be it using Brief your Market in a clever way to increase turnover from £36k a month to £43k a month in 8 months, be a new method of attracting most of the landlords of any apartment block to your offices within 6 to 7 months, be it the advice of having buy to let evenings and buy to let workshops to attract landlords (which I can host and run for you if you dont like public speaking) or even be it giving you advice on how to network locally to get you business …..

After 9 months of opening, at the end of October 2013, these guys who I had helped mentored from a cold start opening in February 2013, had let 105 properties.  Funny that … eh?

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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