Time to hit the Estate Agent Reset Button?
When I began in agency in the mid 1980’s life was simpler, on my desk was a traditional telephone, a small red plastic box with cardboard dividers and applicant cards all in price order, an A4 size day personal diary, a biro and some business cards.
These were my tools of influence, that and my brain, my smile, and the ability to pick the telephone more quickly than other sales people, or stand up more quickly when a buyer walked through the door so I could engage with them first.
Rightmove did not exist for another fifteen years, and mobiles were the size and weight of a house-brick and mostly hardwired into cars of the rich and famous. Over the years technology slowly crept into my real estate world, hardware and software arrived, as they did in all other industries. But strangely it has taken a pandemic to make the property world realise that it is time to hit the reset button.
And Lockdown 3.0 Lite, the present place estate agency now finds itself in, is I would suggest a great time to re-imagine the most efficient, most profitable and most customer focused way of delivering EAaaS – Estate Agency as a Service.
All agents now will be locking their doors, some will let the public in by strict invitation, others will aim for a harder lockdown stance, either way my advice is that the best strategy for real estate owner’s is to imagine what tools and processes should be in their business.
For example, as a hungry Negotiator many years ago my primary role was to list and do market appraisals and win stock to sell. Having convinced the vendor to use me, I then spent the next hour measuring up, taking details, and taking photographs.
Many agents today still do this – stop hit the reset button. Is it the role of the agent in 2021 to do all of the ‘take on’ surely the process can be outsourced, enabling that person more time to do other functions in the business.
Accompanied viewings, is this the role of the agent, for sales and lettings? Or is virtual or augmented reality the better, more efficient path to sales glory and profit. With many childhood gamers now 30 or 40 something property clients, AR is something they grew up with, not a novelty technology.
The pandemic is a real ‘pain’ cloying up commerce and business – by why not use it to your advantage – start to plan how to make your life and your team’s life easier and more efficient. Hit that reset button, is WFH a model for your agency? do you need a large goldfish bowl office on the high street?
I would argue you need brand presence, but will Covid-19 stop tenants and landlords, buyer’s, and vendors from thinking they ever have to come to a physical office. Reset your mind. What do the click, click millennial class want – fast service. And if you give to them and you wear pyjamas and use roller skates, they will not mind. What they do mind is indifferent or low levels of service, that certainly gets their attention.
How do they go about ‘buying stuff or services’ theses digital locusts use their smart phone, so get smart and build your proposition around a clickety, click service route, instead of having team members spending hours measuring up brick-built oblongs and taking photographs, leave that to the professionals. And all of those groundhog processes that AI and software can do 24/7.
Often people ask me if I were 23 again and starting out in agency where would I start? and what would my first office look like? and what tools would I use?
I always answer the same way, get a team of dysfunctional hardworking people, mould them into a team with esprit de corps, and give them the best tools and systems that you can, remove obstacles for the consumer and count the profits as they come in.
If you run your agency like it is 1986, be prepared to earn what agents earnt in the same year. Alternatively, use the valuable time you have now – forced upon you – and hit the reset button and try and imagine what the consumer in three years’ time will be doing, and build your offering around that.
If you have a view – please let us all know by emailing me at [email protected] – Andrew Stanton Executive Editor – moving property and proptech forward.