Whilst there are dozens of anecdotes about agents tying up sales on Christmas Eve, the reality is that the last few weeks of any year see a natural reduction in new business opportunities. However, such a diminishing of incoming workload does not prevent proactive agents from capitalising upon this highly valuable period. Those that remain focused and energetic right up to the festive season will inevitably benefit when the world reconvenes in January.
During my years in the estate agency industry, and the countless Christmases within that time, I have witnessed some brilliant techniques and ideas which have been utilised by forward-thinking practitioners to ensure productivity is maximised right up to when the turkey is stuffed.
One of my personal favourites is the “Do Not Disturb!” campaign which has proven highly effective for estate agency client firms of mine over several years, and which is a perfectly timed approach for the last few weeks of the year.
The principle is that when that agent encounters potential vendors during November and December who want to wait and instruct after Christmas, such clients have the merits of the “Do Not Disturb!” campaign explained to them and are thereby persuaded to take the step of instructing the agent sooner than they had originally intended.
The central principle of the campaign is that if the clients instruct the agent before Christmas, they will benefit from the fact that the property particulars, photography and EPC can be prepared in good time, advertising can be booked for the first week of the New Year, and the property can be uploaded onto the internet as early as practicable. This allows the property to be offered to all prospective purchasers throughout December before the surge of competition properties hits in January, particularly taking advantage of the historically extraordinarily busy week of traffic on property portals between Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. A fee incentive is an option but, if the scheme is sold effectively, by no means essential.
While this marketing activity is bubbling away and ensuring that the property will hit the ground running in January, the agent guarantees not to “disturb” the clients with viewings or contact until Christmas is over. Other instructions that come on in January will take longer to attract interest as they will have missed out on interest generated during the “Do Not Disturb!” campaign.
Leaflets, window cards and adverts to publicise the concept, along with personally addressed letters to all local applicants with properties to sell, ensure the scheme takes off. Old valuations should also be chased up to inform the owners about this option. Each time firms have run this approach, they have experienced a highly successful sales period in the early weeks of the following year. It keeps the valuers busy in December and shows the local public that the agent is doing something different from their competitors, as well as considering the needs of clients during the festive period. Equally, it does not exclude those clients that would ideally like to generate interest before the break.
Alongside this work, agents can use the quieter period in December to revisit existing stock and on occasions take the step to “relist” the properties at revised prices, with new photographs and descriptions, and a fresh advertising campaign. In certain cases, agents will secure an extended period of agency and genuinely treat the instructions as a new property to the market. Much of this approach can naturally be applied to landlords as well as vendors.
Agents who have been diligent in making personal visits to all available stock during December have spoken favourably of the outcome. As well as the positives mentioned above, there is the immeasurable benefit to the agent of increased client loyalty in recognition of their visit – a hugely important plus point to safeguard stock in a climate where many agents are short of instructions and are therefore aggressively targeting longstanding stock on their competitors’ books.
There is no doubt that the agent that makes things happen in December rather than bemoaning that things are rather quiet (and wondering what to buy Auntie Margaret) will reap the rewards in the long run.
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