Stock up for the Autumn...

Stock up for the Autumn...

With sales records apparently being smashed by agents here, there and everywhere, as well as the delights of a proper Summer, things in the world of estate agency seem rather good for many. However, a word of caution as to stock levels, which for many agents are sliding significantly...

Generating and winning instructions are essential areas to improve upon to ensure you get more than your fair share of the market in the coming months. We run sessions all over the UK which cover a raft of best practice principles and which directly impact on the quantity and quality of instructions. We offer a money back guarantee if you don't get new ideas from the session to improve your stock levels - so you have nothing to lose and everything to gain! See you there!

2013 Tour Dates

Those dates and course details in full are...

 Tuesday 8th October 2013 in Manchester -

              "Gaining Instructions from Vendors and Landlords This Autumn"  (morning session).

              “How To “Outsell” Your Competition”  (afternoon session).


Wednesday 9th October 2013 in Coventry - 

                "Gaining Instructions from Vendors and Landlords This Autumn"  (morning session).

                 “How To “Outsell” Your Competition”  (afternoon session).


Tuesday 15th October 2013 in Bristol -  

                   "Gaining Instructions from Vendors and Landlords This Autumn"  (morning session).

                   “How To “Outsell” Your Competition”  (afternoon session).


Wednesday 16th October 2013 in Gatwick - 

                    "Gaining Instructions from Vendors and Landlords This Autumn"  (morning session).

                    “How To “Outsell” Your Competition”  (afternoon session).

 Details of the course content:  

"Gaining Instructions from Vendors and Landlords This Autumn"  (morning session).

*The characteristics of an exceptional lister. * Generating instructions. * Preparing to make your appointment exceptional.      * Gain agreement to your valuation. * Presenting your companies services. * Justifying fees. * Dealing with questions and objections. * Closing instructions – Making the most of current stock. 


“How To “Outsell” Your Competition”  (afternoon session).

* Selling skills self-assessment.  * Preparing to sell.  * Exceptional applicant qualification.  * Promoting properties through effective phone outs.  * Viewings that work. * Generating Offers  * Dealing with barriers to sales.  * Supporting the listing operation.


Each session costs &99 plus VAT per delegate; however delegates booking both sessions at the courses will get a reduced rate of &170 plus VAT to include lunch.

To book or for more information contact us on 01480 405583, email us at or visit our website


Are You Receiving Me?

An interesting if frustrating experience, this call was a reminder that arguably the most powerful tool of our trade – the telephone – is too often in untrained hands.

In this example, the negotiator had no idea who the caller was. Fortunately, it cost his company no business.

But I could have been a potential vendor, recommended by a friend to use Aardvark and Company.  Having been treated in such a fashion, a potential vendor would be justified in considering appointing a different agent, possibly costing Aardvark and Company thousands of pounds in commission.

It is almost certain that Flatboy Grim wasn’t deliberately trying to do his job badly. What is certain, however, is that Mr Aardvark would be mortified to discover that, having ploughed large sums of money into marketing to get the phone to ring in the first place, potential customers were being handled in this fashion.

On my travels delivering training and conducting consultancy work, I find that telephone skills are often below par, despite the fact that estate agencies typically report that a significant number of new customers make initial contact by telephone.

It is critical to understand that this fact means the majority of potential buyers and sellers will gain their first impression of estate agents without being able to see their sparkling offices, striking window displays and pristinely presented personnel. These new customers will judge the agent initially by how their call is handled.

Excellence in telephone techniques is a vast subject, but these points should be observed:

·         Be prepared. Many of the mystery shopper telephone calls we conduct requesting property details to be sent are first met with “Hang on a minute..” or “Bear with me…” as we are then put on hold to endure Greensleeves or some fascinating promotional message often including the ironic “Your call is really important to us” platitude – if that is the case, then be ready to deal with it properly! Excellent preparation should mean that the taker of an incoming call is ready to deal with it without hesitation.

·         A prompt response. Answering within three rings seems to be a sensible and recognised standard. Even when sitting with a client in an office, while colleagues are busy on other lines, a negotiator can politely break off and answer the call, explaining to the caller that he/she is unable to help immediately – but taking a name and number and promising a call back within an agreed timeframe – then obviously making that return call as promised.

·         Smile. More difficult than it sounds especially if a sale has just fallen through, but customers like dealing with people who are enthusiastic in their work. A smile conveys that impression.

·         Positive greeting. The words, tone and pace all need to be considered. Many companies adopt a greeting that includes the employee’s names and an open question such as “How can I help you?”

·         Listen. It may sound obvious, but there are countless examples from our mystery shopper exercise of failure to listen. How about this recent classic…

“Hello, Bloggs and Co…”

“Hi. My name is Mr O’Dell and I’d like to go on your mailing list please.”

“Certainly, sir, may I take your name?”

Concentrate on the caller’s opening words, make notes and clarify any uncertainty. Ignore the distractions going on in the office and focus totally on the caller.


Best practice

There are dozens of other points to consider when adopting excellence on the telephone, but just the few above would have helped Aardvark and Company in the event that the call had been from a potential vendor…

“Good morning. Aardvark and Company, how may I help you?”

“Hi, please may I speak to Alan Aardvark?”

“I’m terribly sorry, sir, he is currently out of the office and won’t be back in until tomorrow. My name is Simon. Can I be of any help in the meantime?”

“Well, you’ve been recommended to me by a friend of mine. I’m thinking of selling my house…”

“Excellent. Thanks for considering us. We’d be delighted to help. What I’ll do is take some details if you’re OK for time, and arrange and appointment for Alan to come and see you as soon as is convenient for you. Please may I take your name?”


Another instruction on the way, another future sale, another commission earnt…all because of excellent telephone techniques.

Prepare to win

The most successful agents I work with recognise that the strike rate of appointments to instructions is dramatically improved by the quality of the work carried out before actually attending the valuation appointment.

One of our estate agency clients has improved their conversion rate of appointments to instructions during the past six months from around 33 per cent to just over 55 per cent.

The maths are simple, in that by doing no noticeable extra work, the company now take instructions on 22 more properties out of every 100 that they visit, unsurprisingly leading to an increase in local profile, sales and income.

We worked with their valuers on a range of techniques to employ at the valuation itself.

However, the proprietors report that a large part of their recent success in this area is down to the work their staff undertake prior to the valuation, following training provided in this particular area.

It is usual for homeowners considering putting their property on the market to arrange for several agents to conduct a valuation.

By definition, they make a number of calls to agents to book these appointments. Smart agents identify these calls as the true starting point in gaining the subsequent instruction.

The aforementioned company had for many years dealt with such telephone valuation enquiries by simply taking cursory information and booking an appointment in the valuer’s diary.

Best practice in reality is to use this initial call as an opportunity to impress the client with the company’s professionalism and thoroughness, by engaging them in a conversation about their property and their moving aspirations including what and where they are hoping to move.


A few minutes at this stage invested in a focused but conversational call can create a firm foundation upon which to build the remainder of the valuation process. The objective must be to stand out from the crowd, and treat this as the first chance to “sell” the company to the potential client.

Vendors are typically appreciative of the interest shown in their property at this early stage by the agent. There are obvious benefits to the agent in getting a complete detailed description of the property they are to visit, such as facilitating the preparation of relevant comparables to assist in arriving at an appropriate figure later and assessing suitable prospective purchasers. A less apparent advantage is that the potential seller is made to feel important and therefore early rapport between agent and client starts to build.

Skilled questioning and listening can identify other openings. Should it be discovered during the valuation inquiry call that the client is looking to move locally, then full qualification of the client’s property requirements should be carried out, and ideally an appropriate selection of details hand-delivered or emailed on the same day whenever practical.

If the proposed move is to another area, corporate agents or those who are members of affiliation groups with associated offices have an early referral opportunity allowing the provision of assistance to these potential vendors considering moving to pastures new.

Contacting fellow agents in the vendor’s intended new area and arranging details to be sent demonstrates the agent’s desire and ability to go that extra step and facilitate the move, particularly given that other agents will not bother to do so.

Best practice is to arrange for the details to be sent or emailed to the valuing agent’s office to allow that agent to take the literature with them to the appointment thereby ensuring that the potential vendor recognises these efforts.

Agents with access to their own national network can fulfil the above approach very easily. Agents without an obvious route of this nature can still exploit the opportunity by simply logging onto the internet and seeking agents in the relevant area and requesting details in similar fashion.

After all, which agent worth their salt would spurn a request from an industry colleague to furnish an applicant from a different part of the country with details, possibly securing viewings before their local competitors are even aware of such an applicant’s existence?

Diligent preparation in the handling of the enquiry and a small amount of effort will leave the potential vendor with an immediate excellent impression, leading to an enhanced likelihood that the instruction will be more easily secured, particularly if the appointment is conducted in the same professional manner as that which has gone before.

Communication – don’t allow it to let you down…

Every so often I experience situations, which as a customer irritate and infuriate me beyond belief. But they help to remind me of the critical nature of certain elements of customer service, and can be used to help agents avoid the classic pitfalls encountered when dealing with customers.

 I was one of the stranded Brits abroad in 2010 – my stay in Egypt was extended by six days – and witnessed the best and worst of customer service during that time. The entire episode revolved around the quality of communication by the companies involved.


The volcanic ash crisis began two days into our holiday, which I booked through a small independent tour operator. Once we had been informed that our return flight had been cancelled, we sought information from the firm about our best course of action, as well as guidance on what financial assistance we might receive. The tour operator simply told us to contact the airline involved and seemed entirely disinterested in our plight.

 The airline was impossible to contact despite numerous attempts, which meant that our only source of information was their website, expensively accessed via my mobile phone, which was of little use anyway as it failed to answer our key concerns.


With no communication from the tour operator or airline, we were left to discuss our situation with fellow hotel guests, which is when we discovered that the extent of their troubles depended on which tour operator and airline they had booked with.

 Some were informed immediately that their accommodation and food would be paid for and to continue to stay at the hotel and await further instructions, but that the airline would get them home as quickly as possible. Updates were then emailed to the hotel each morning about which flights were scheduled to depart that day.

 Other guests, ourselves included, were left totally in the dark, which meant that we were forced to rebook our rooms on a daily basis by phoning the tour operator in the UK. We eventually decided to book new flights with another company in case our original airline failed to honour its responsibilities.

 The chasm in the quality of communication displayed by various organisations seemed remarkable and was directly responsible for the amount of stress, uncertainty and dissatisfaction experienced by their customers.

 I subsequently began negotiations with my tour operator and airline about reimbursement. The outcome to both sets of negotiations was disappointment. Needless to say. I will never deal with either in future and will ensure I warn other potential customers to avoid them and thereby avoid the nightmare that we encountered.

 Both continue to email me details of flights, holidays and special offers, despite me informing each of them unequivocally three years ago that I will not do business with them again.


We are now subject to real-time information streams due to the evolution of technology, which means that we are confounded when we find ourselves in situations where information is limited.

 Landlord and vendor clients who switch from one agent to another will frequently cite lack of contact and communication as the driving force for their desire to change their allegiances. Countless friends, acquaintances and family members have bemoaned their experiences with agents, who have failed to keep in touch with them during their search for a property.

 Similarly, conveyancers are frequently criticised for their slow approach, which seemingly nothing happens for days or even weeks on end – at least that is clients’ perception when they are not informed of progress behind the scenes.


The key to a business avoiding such problems is to ensure clear communication at every possible stage of the process. Try to ensure that you provide vendor and landlord clients with viewing feedback within 24 hours, plus weekly telephone updates and fortnightly written progress reviews, while ensuring that buyers are updated constantly via the telephone, email, text alerts and appointment reminders, which all help to build and strengthen relationships.

 Agency surveys suggest that a majority of agency customers desire weekly contact as a minimum. Whatever the frequency of your client contact, it is crucial that you manage expectations at the start of the relationship, which means that you should agree contact and communication standards with clients before disillusionment sets in and the inevitable loss of business is suffered.

Thought for the day ...

“For every sale you miss because you're too enthusiastic, you will miss a hundred because you're not enthusiastic enough” - Zig Ziglar