On my travels around the country, the market seems better than for a long while pretty much everywhere – the only difference from one area to another seems to be the degree to which lack of stock is an issue. One office literally ran out of sales stock a few weeks ago, while another has circa 20 when the norm is between 60 and 70. While these situations are partly as a consequence of great sales figures, it is patently obvious that such results cannot be sustained without available stock of the right quantity and quality.
The “Instruction Process” is worth revisiting whatever the market conditions as your performance as an company within that process will shed some light on where your future focus should be. The process comprises ten key stages for winning and retaining stock –
ü Opportunities and Connections
ü Generating Appraisals
ü Booking Appraisals
ü Preparation for Appraisals
ü The Appraisal Appointment itself
ü Immediate Follow Up
ü Ongoing Contact
ü Point of Instruction
ü Client Management
ü Future Customer Relationship Management
These ten stages are all critical to success and every agency will have different approaches, procedures and challenges at each. However, the fact remains year in year out, that the agent who performs differently to and better than their competitors at each of the ten stages will win the lion’s share of instructions available in their area.
The first step is to analyse objectively where your agency sits in terms of calibre and differentiation at each of those stages. It is impossible to formulate an action plan to help you get to where you want to go without knowing where your starting point is.
I have just carried this exercise out with a couple of agents and the issues that needed addressing were different for each. One was simply not getting through enough doors while the other had issues over converting appointments into instructions. Subsequently the planned course of action for each agent was geared to their specific shortcomings. There is no “one size fits all” approach…
Having said that, most of the hundreds of valuers I have trained in recent years are now doing an exceptional job when they are given the opportunity to do so. It is the lack of opportunity that is the main battle. Therefore, the first two stages of the “Instruction Process” may well be the two to pay special attention to at present.
The first stage of the process – “Opportunities and Connections” – relates to how successful your firm is at being in the hearts and minds of the local property owning public. Are you on their radar? If a poll was taken among your local residents as to who was the most active agent or which agents’ names they could quote, would your name come up first? Are you active in the community, on social media, in the local press? Brand awareness gets the phone ringing so be brutally objective about your own performance in this area.
Are you making the best of all your local connections and ensuring that everyone you know is aware of what your business offers? Think of all the people you interact with on a regular basis – the postman, the pizza delivery person, your hairdresser, the guy you buy your Sunday paper from or who services your car. How about setting yourself a target of talking to a specified number of connections every day or every week?
Are your family and friends actively linking your business to their connections? Daft as it may sound, do your family and friends really know enough about your business to be able to promote or recommend you?
Tell them what you do and the type of opportunities they might come across where they could recommend you and why they should – but make sure you make this 100% reciprocal. Nobody I know has reported negative feedback to sharing their professional life with their personal contacts.
Furthermore, there are so many opportunities for random connections to be made every day and you just might be surprised where they lead. Strike up a conversation with people you encounter, rather than assuming they have no relevance to you or you to them. I remember listing and selling a house a few years back as a result of passing the time with a fellow parent outside my son’s school – That piece of business may never have come my way without that conversation taking place.
The second stage – “Generating Appraisals” – is all about the effort and focus of the agency staff at the coalface so to speak. The best agents I work with place huge emphasis on the number of appraisals they need to do. Having scientifically worked out the necessary total, they are then aware of the minimum required and will set a target accordingly. That target is then shared amongst the team with each individual knowing their own essential contribution to the overall figure, even down to what each attended appraisal will ultimately mean in terms of income.
Each team member is then coached and trained on how to secure appraisal appointments from the opportunities that present themselves. The key ingredient to success is to understand in detail your own firm’s service proposition and those of your competitors to ensure every employee in every case can demonstrate to a potential client that their agency is significantly better equipped to secure the result the client is seeking – whether that be the best possible price, the shortest possible time, a committed and capable buyer, a lack of stress or all four of the aforementioned.
Creating, targeting and converting appraisal opportunities and appointments really will make a massive difference to the final stages of 2013. Don’t leave it too late.