If this figure is below 50%, it is clear that we are not sufficiently on people’s radar and need to do more to ensure that our name is the first that potential clients think of when they are calling agents.
The subsequent questions we discuss are: “How big is your database of potential clients and is it well organised and worked in a methodical way?” “Are there any improvements that could be made?” “Are we speaking to enough of these people every day?”
So what do we need to do to improve this part of our operation? Well firstly we need to look at what is going on inside the office before we start pounding the streets and delivering leaflets.
The first question to ask is does the office have a valuation target that every staff member is made aware of (not just the manager and senior staff), and does everyone know how well we are doing against that target on an ongoing basis? Is this figure the first thing that is discussed in every morning meeting?
Secondly, is our awareness of potential vendors who have registered as applicants exceptional? Are they always identified or do they get lost in the “black hole” of the computer system - remember that one in three vendors only calls out one agent to value their property. That may well be the agent with whom they have the strongest prior relationship as an applicant.
Is the follow-up system for previous valuations over the last 3 years also way ahead of that of our competitors? Too often our follow-up on valuations is too sporadic and lacking focus. It is often either fanatic for a few weeks after a valuation and consists of little more than “Are you ready to come on the market?” or we give a valuation a call out of the blue some months after the valuation at which point the customer can hardly recall having spoken to us! Regular “chat calling” to inform the customer of what you are seeing happening in the market - the “gentle pressure applied relentlessly” approach. This has to be methodical and planned.
Remember the biggest fear that many vendors have at present is finding somewhere to buy rather than concern over whether they won’t be able to sell their property. Our valuation follow-up should often focus on solving this priority whether the potential vendor is looking to move locally or out of the area.
As for grass roots “prospecting”, if we are going to distribute leaflets or letters, are they effective? Too much canvassing I see is focussed on trying to get instructions from other agents rather than trying to get us first through the door. Personally I feel that what is known as the 4 or 6 letter system, where letters are sent to properties that have just come on the market with other agents is nowadays pretty ineffective and overly time consuming.
On my visits to companies, the leaflets and literature that are most effective in getting through doors are:
· Sold in your road leaflets (but sent to 500+ houses rather than the 20 / 20 approach that agents have often used (ie sending leaflets or cards to the neighbouring 20 houses)
· “We have a specific buyer” letters: where they applicant is a real person and named and profiled on the letter as looking in that specific road and with the line “I am sure they would pay a premium for the right property”
· Valuation in your road or village leaflets (these will get you through doors and talking to people and build up your long term data base of potential clients)
Remember, if you are not hitting your valuation target and speaking to enough potential vendors every day, it doesn’t matter what you do in other parts of the estate agency process, you will not have the stock to be as successful as you wish.
There is an old adage that “you can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs”.
It is also an absolute truth to say that you can’t make an omelette without buying the eggs in the first place…