Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!


So 2014 is here and who knows what highs and lows we will experience in the world of property sales and lettings. One thing is certain however...that stock will be key to success.
For that reason alone, January is a critical month for instructions as it builds the stock to sell or let in Q1 of the new year.
It is a great time therefore to reflect on why clients should instruct you rather than the competition, on what you do differently and/or better than other agents. Review your services objectively, find out what the competition are offering and make sure all staff can promote the reasons for using you instead of any other agent.
If you cannot find differences, you need to create some! Open longer hours, broaden your advertising, train your staff, improve service levels - do whatever you need to stand out from the crowd.
The public typically think we are all the same - it is your responsibility to prove them wrong! That way you will win more business and make sure 2014 really is a happy new year!


Winning instructions is key

It is important to recognise that the level of preparation which you undertake prior to valuations will have a direct bearing on your success on the day.

I remember somebody saying to me some time ago when I was a full time valuer that I treated every valuation appointment as if it was a military operation. I took this as a compliment – although I am not certain it was meant as one! In today’s highly competitive market, carrying out valuations is a battle and you must be equipped for that battle. Nobody would go into the trenches to fight in a war and suddenly think to themselves “Damn I forgot my rifle….”

There are a number of items you need on your person, in your briefcase or maybe in your glove compartment or boot. An exceptional plumber will go to every job with everything they could possibly ever need – it is no different if you want to be an exceptional valuer.

Obviously you will need pens, business cards, promotional material, agency agreements, comparable evidence, your IPad maybe if you use one and so on. But there are some less obvious things to consider taking…

SHOESHINE – clean shoes are always important – an early morning appointment in the rain could leave your shoes looking less than acceptable

COMPASS – you may have one on your phone but either way you will need to check the aspect of the garden

BOARD TOP AND BULLDOG CLIPS – if you list a property that is on with another agent, you can simply pop this over the top of their board for the photo

UMBRELLA – nothing worse than turning up like a drowned rat at your next appointment because you had to look round an acre of gardens at your previous one in the rain

LINT ROLLER AND BABY WIPES – if you are covered in dog hair or smelling of one because of the overfriendly pooch at your first valuation of the day, these will help keep your personal hygiene and appearance up to scratch

Having said all that, the most important thing to take with you on every appointment is a positive mental attitude – the best valuers treat every appointment as if it is an instruction and therefore prepare themselves mentally for that, as well as preparing themselves physically with everything they need to close the instruction there and then – i.e. measure, camera and so on.

Other less successful valuers go to valuations and then are sometimes surprised that they turn out to be potential instructions. Sadly at this point those valuers are unable to close the business because they do not have the right equipment with them.

Ensuring you are fully prepared for your appointments is one element of preparation, but there are several more to bear in mind. Best practice principles in preparation include:

A PRE-APPOINTMENT EMAIL

This can be sent immediately after the valuation has been booked to confirm all the key information to the clients – time and date, who is coming out, the likely duration of the appointment and so on. You may choose to put a link in there to your website inviting the client to visit it to find out more about your company.

You could include a sentence about how moving home can be a stressful experience and that if the client has any particular concerns they could drop you an email so we can ensure we deal with those on the day.

You might also drop a letter and pre-appointment marketing information through the door ahead of the appointment, although an email is cheaper and quicker.

A PRE-APPOINTMENT PHONE CALL

Agents that have embraced this idea have reported back a range of advantages to a call to the client beforehand.

Firstly, it gives a chance to build some early rapport with the client and break down any barriers.

Secondly, the valuer can pick up extra information about the client or property prior to the appointment.

Thirdly, it makes you different from the agents that don’t bother.

Valuers who try it do stick with it as they benefit from doing so. Some call on the morning of the appointment, some the evening before. Whatever suits you – we strongly recommend you do it!

FOCUS ON EARLY SOLUTIONS TO THE PROBLEM

A high proportion of people move house to solve a problem – for example, to move closer to work, to get the children into a better school or because of financial or relationship problems.

If we identify any of these when the appointment was booked, we can illustrate our awareness and helpfulness by trying to help come up with solutions to those issues early on in the process.

For example, if they are moving into rented due to financial challenges, we could discuss the whys and wherefores of renting a property and perhaps email or hand deliver a guide on how to go about doing so. If

Perfect preparation creates the right foundation for the appointment. It is then up to the valuer to ensure he or she reinforces the client’s opinion that your firm is the right choice by conducting themselves at the appointment in an exceptional manner.



Building your lettings business in 2014

It is a common mistake for lettings agencies to focus on doing deals for immediate income rather than increasing their number of managed properties to help build their business for long-term success. Regular income gained from an extensive portfolio of managed properties ought to be regarded as the bedrock of such operations.

A number of estate agents have established a lettings function to help support an ailing sales business, with many having opted for the let-only route for the simple fact that a management operation is beyond their capabilities or means. Others have simply required the quick fix to income streams that this route can provide.

Differentiation

Building a sound property management business takes time, though the adoption of best practice principles will accelerate the process.

It is crucial that you can differentiate your management service from your competitors’ offerings. This could include more frequent and higher quality routine property inspections, perhaps that include a detailed follow-up report with photographic evidence of the property’s on-going condition.

Providing landlords with online and real-time information about their portfolios has also proved popular, as has the assignment of a dedicated property management specialist to oversee all aspects relating to their property, a robust rent guarantee scheme, an organised accounting process that pays landlords swiftly and accurately and a smooth checkout process that minimises void periods.

Detailed record keeping to prove your successful track record, in terms of landlord and tenant retention and success stories relating to resolved disputes, carry considerable weight when pitching for an instruction, as do testimonials from existing clients.

Promotion

Having established your clear points of difference, the next stage is to assess how effectively these are being promoted.

The ability to sell management as a concept to potential landlords varies massively among the lettings firms for whom we are invited to carry out consultancy work and training. It is an area that we concentrate on very early in the business development process and, once the skills and principles are addressed, firms always see an increase in their number of managed properties. On average, we have succeeded in increasing some lettings agents’ managed deals to represent over 90% of their lettings clients business.

It is interesting to ask frontline lettings staff, who are usually the ones responsible for convincing landlords to opt for a fully-managed service, to list exactly what the benefits of this service are and what they mean to clients. There are several benefits that staff regularly fail to promote.

Benefits

The obvious benefit that a managed landlord will experience is the avoidance of hassle relating to issues such as utility provision, assuming the agent has a 24-hour helpline for tenants to call in the case of emergencies.

Any landlord hinting that they are intending to self-manage their property should be asked the best contact number on which their tenants can reach them at 2am, which tends to make them rethink their decision.

Data that some of my lettings agency clients have shared with me in recent years show that the average length of a tenancy is greater for managed properties compared to unmanaged. Furthermore void periods tend to be shorter, often because a proportion of tenants specifically request to view only managed properties for the likely ease of problem solving. This may also account for market evidence that suggests that rents achieved on managed units compared to unmanaged ones are higher.

It may also be helpful to remind clients about the fact that they will at some stage be faced with the deposit protection minefield, as well as taking the correct legal steps to deal with a defaulting tenant.

As a landlord myself, I genuinely believe that opting for a tenant-find service is a false economy. But it is the job of lettings agents to persuade landlord clients of this at the outset of their communication and for their property management departments to convince them that they have made the right choice.



Are you well read?

Newsletters sent via email are a great way to get your brand in front of potential clients. Everybody that comes into contact with your business should be added to your database and kept in touch by way of the cheap, fast and simple method of a regular communication.

But what should go into them to attract interest?

One of the most popular items that I have put together for my estate agency and my client firms is a “Top Ten Investment Opportunities” feature. This always seems to be read more than all the other features put together, so it strikes me as an important inclusion within any ongoing client communication.

To put it together is straightforward. Select the best ten investment properties that are currently up for sale and lay them out with a thumbnail alongside. State the address (without house number), quote the asking price, the likely monthly rent and the gross annual yield (annual rent divided by asking price, multiplied by 100).

Put the list in descending yield order (a recent one I put together for an agency started at 7.1% and ran down to 5.2%) and drop it into your newsletter with the tantalising headline “Don’t miss our top ten investment opportunities”.

Monitor response and update content each month. Let me know your results…It should be a winner!





2014 Tour Dates

Those dates and course details in full are...

Wednesday 5th February Central London -

Wednesday 19th February Coventry -

Wednesday 26th February Bristol - (Only a few places remaining)

Tuesday 4th March Manchester -

Thursday 13th March St Neots, Cambridgeshire -

Wednesday 19th March Fleet, Hampshire -

 

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

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

Details of the course content:  

"Gaining Instructions from Vendors and Landlords "  (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 admin@tm-traininganddevelopment.co.uk or visit our website http://www.tmtraininganddevelopment.co.uk/online-booking.php

 



Thought for the day ...

“If you work just for money, you’ll never make it, but if you love what you’re doing and you always put the customer first, success will be yours.” – Ray Kroc, Founder, McDonalds