Will it really be a Happy New Year?

Will it really be a Happy New Year?

What a year of shocks 2016 has been. As a David Bowie fan, the news of his sad passing knocked me sideways and seemed to set the tone for a series of jaw-dropping surprises which culminated in the recent USA Presidential election result.

 The property market rarely reacts favourably to shocks and these, coupled with economic uncertainty as the Brexit process unravels are leading inevitably to a "wait and see" attitude amongst some vendors and purchasers.

 As the final weeks of 2016 approach and our minds turn to 2017, it is a great time to assess how well your business is equipped for facing the challenges the new year is likely to bring.

The articles in this edition of our newsletter focus on how to raise standards and implement great ideas to seize more than your current market share.

So pour yourself a mulled wine and...ahem...mull over our final newsletter of 2016.

Just before you do so, I would like to take this opportunity to wish all our valued clients all over the UK a very happy Christmas and a healthy, prosperous New Year.

Making sales happen…

A reduction in the number of ready, willing and able purchasers can obviously lead to a downturn in sales activity and a reduction in banked income. This situation is clearly unpalatable and unsustainable.

 Some investment buyers start to sit on their hands and become unwilling to commit to imminent purchases until there is clarity as to future property price movement. Many first time buyers stall for similar reasons, while others are victims of financial institutions’ change in approach to lending. On top of these categories of customer are the ones who are simply unsure what to do in uncertain market conditions – their confusion typically leads to them doing nothing until certainty returns.

 However, that there are plenty of people still trying to move home. Many of them are looking to stay within the same area. The way an agent manages this key group can make the difference between success and failure.

 By doing the right things, sales can be made to happen. Diligent efforts to assist these local property-to-sell customers to find somewhere suitable from the selection of available properties (or previous instructions/valuations etc) ensures chains of transactions are formed. With subsequent careful negotiation from the top of the chain downwards, each vendor involved may reduce their ideal sale price, ultimately allowing the dependent property at the bottom to be offered at a sufficiently competitive figure to generate interest from first time or investment buyers. Once this base property is sold, the whole chain can progress.

 A Partner in one of our estate agency client companies has spent a lot of time visiting vendor clients to discuss this concept, encourage price flexibility to assist in building such chains. He took the decision to do this over a four week period after becoming increasingly frustrated at the number of subject-to-sale offers his office had agreed which could not proceed. At that time, his branch had a total of 18 potential sales that were going nowhere until the bottom property secured a purchaser. His vendor visits led to price reductions cascading down to these bottom links, making them more saleable and ultimately leading to the next two months being far better sales periods than would otherwise have been the case.

 One success story of this nature was an incomplete chain where Mr and Mrs A, the vendors at the top, were emigrating to Spain, and had a subject-to-sale offer from Mr and Mrs B of the asking price of &245,000. Mr and Mrs B in turn had a subject-to-sale offer of &192,500 from Mr and Mrs C who were attempting to find a buyer for their &155,000 property. Mr A had already moved across to Spain, therefore he and his wife were extremely keen to get their sale proceeding quickly, and had indicated to their selling agent that should a quality buyer be found, any offer over &220,000 would be considered. After a series of conversations with the various parties, Mr and Mrs B revised their offer to &225,000, allowing them without hesitation to reduce their own price to &182,500. Being equally keen to move themselves, they contributed a further &5,000, allowing them to accept &177,500 from Mr and Mrs C. The latter couple in turn immediately revised their asking price to &140,000 and a first time buyer was secured within two days at an agreed figure of &137,500. All parties were delighted with this outcome and with the subsequent swift exchange and completion. Had the agent been less creative in their approach, these transactions would probably only remain on the potential sale list to this day.

 Local applicants moving downmarket can also serve as a key to maintaining desired sales performance, as they can complete the chain in the same way as proceedable buyers.

 Our consultancy work with estate agency firms has included assisting them in creating and maintaining a manual or computerised “chainbuilding opportunities register”.

 Each local applicant who registers on the mailing list and has yet to sell is logged onto this register which contains details of the type of property they are selling, the approximate price they are hoping to achieve, as well as what they are looking to buy and to spend. A daily review is carried out by the office team to identify chainbuilding and swap opportunities – then targeted calls are made to the relevant individuals.

 Having set up their register and undertaken the appropriate staff training via ourselves, one client company reported back to me that in the subsequent few weeks they were successful in effecting two swap situations from within the register generating fees of almost &13,000, and one “circular” transaction (where client X bought from client Y who bought from client Z, with client Z moving downmarket to buy from client X) worth over &12,000.

 Such is the power of positive linking!

New Year, new challenge…

2017 could well be a challenging year for property-related businesses, with the continued impact of Brexit and the American election. Although 2016 has been a good year for many agents, the fact remains that numbers of completed property transactions in England and Wales continue to be down on the heady “pre-downturn” days of 2007, meaning that there may simply be insufficient residential estate agency sales income within the UK to sustain anywhere near the numbers of branches and firms that exist at present.

 Every December, I reread my favourite non-fiction book “Moments of Truth” by Jan Carlzon – one that I first enjoyed many years ago and which has helped me improve the way I run my businesses more than any other.

 As I devoured for the sixth or seventh time the words of wisdom on each of the 135 pages, it struck me that every estate agency proprietor should do the same.

 Jan Carlzon took over Scandinavian Airlines in 1981 – a company on the verge of losing $20 million. One year later, it was making a profit of $54 million. That turnaround is quite extraordinary in both size and speed. Better still, the way he achieved it was simple and straightforward. It was all about understanding and maximising what he called the “moments of truth” – in other words, every single interaction that a customer has with a company, whether it lasts only a few seconds or more, needs to be a positive experience - better than they expected and better than the competition deliver.

 I have run dozens of seminars on the “Moments of Truth” principles and encouraged estate agency proprietors and managers to apply them to their own operation. Conveniently the initials of “Moments of Truth” are “M.O.T.” – and by giving your business an annual “M.O.T.” in the same way as you do a car, you can ensure that your business is operating as efficiently and smoothly as possible. Those owners that have done so frequently report back that having carried out the three key stages of listing, reviewing and perfecting the “moments” that customers experience, an upturn in business levels inevitably follows.

 Just listing the “moments” is a time-consuming task but an essential one. Think about sales and rental applicants and all the interactions they have with your firm from their first visit to your website, to contacting the branch, to receiving information from you, to arranging viewings and so on.

 Vendors and landlords have a vast list of experiences with you from their first awareness of your brand, to booking a valuation appointment, to the appointment itself, to the point of instruction, to feedback calls and many many more.

 Once these have all been listed, it is crucial to conduct a review to see exactly what your customer’s real experience is like (perhaps by way of “mystery shopper” exercises or customer feedback forms), and then to take steps to perfect each “moment”. The steps taken towards perfection need not cost any money – rather an investment of time, energy and diligence.

 Once you embrace this concept (and ideally read the book!), you will find yourself experiencing your own “moments of truth” when you are a customer. I experience them daily – many are far from positive.

 I remember well one standout customer experience when I visited a well-known High Street bookshop (which I imagine is not having their most profitable period given the competition from online suppliers) to look for a particular book. Failing to locate it, I approached an assistant behind a till and asked if she could help me. I gave her the title and author. Without explanation (nor eye contact nor smile), she tapped away on her keyboard for two minutes or so, asked me again for the name of the book and who wrote it (mildly irritating) and finally handed me a small printed ticket. She then explained that I might find the book in “a number of places” in the shop, all of which I had already looked in. Finally, when I asked her whether she could confirm that they had it in stock, she told me their “system can’t tell us that”. Genius!

 I went home and bought it online. In the most challenging of times for the retail sector, the shop has lost a transaction (and a future customer) in minutes. If only they stocked Jan Carlzon’s book and made their staff read it!

Tour Dates 2017

The courses will be


Building a Saleable Stock of Properties for 2017

This course will help you increase your stock for the new year

Topics covered are:

  • Generating Valuations
  • Working a data base of potential Vendors / Landlords
  • Booking Valuations and revisits
  • Effective preparation for meetings with potential Vendors / Landlords
  • Taking Control of an appointment
  • Building exceptional Rapport and empathy
  • Gaining Commitment to : Price / valuation : your companies USP’s
  • Presenting fees effectively
  • Dealing with barriers
  • Follow Up and closing on instructions


The course will be a full day course being held in

London on the 10th January 2017

Manchester on the 11th January 2017

Newcastle on the 7th February 2017

Bristol on the 8th February 2017



The course will cost &225 plus vat per delegate.

To book or for more information contact us on 01480 405583, email us at admin@tm-traininganddevelopment.co.uk or visit our website http://www.tmtraininganddevelopment.co.uk/online-booking.php


And finally...

Thankfully, Julian and Cat managed to access a world-renowned specialist in Harley Street and after a brutal treatment regime over a 6 month period including 18 separate chemotherapy sessions, on October 28th Cat was told she is now in remission. Not a Christmas miracle as such but certainly an Autumn one.

As a result of this news, Julian has switched all his fundraising activities (including his original pencil drawings which have raised in excess of &15,000 this year) to help Action Against Cancer, the charity that Cat's specialist is involved with.

Julian does not put a price on his work - it is down to the buyer to pay what they feel it is worth, but most go for three figure sums. They would make great Christmas presents and every penny raised goes to the charity. You can see a small selection here but he also does requests where possible.

If you are interested in purchasing any of his work, visit his Facebook page Art Attack On Cancer or email him at julianodell@live.co.uk

Thought for the day

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.” - Charles Darwin