“By 2003, every fool was getting into real estate. The checkout girl at my local supermarket handed me her newly printed real estate agent business card”
Ooh! a little harsh Robert.
I mean that is what the world was telling everyone to do back then. Become a property expert in some capacity.
Less than five years later recession came along and temporarily ripped the bottom out of the property market. Plus we experienced a shift from relying on bricks and mortar as a way to run a business and witnessed new opportunities in technology.
Needless to say, the landscape is very different now.
I love working with agents. They are a wonderful mix of the old and the new in business. And because of they sell or manage high ticket items, they tend to have little fear of big numbers. When you quote in six figures all day, a bill for £500 is not scary. Though, that is irrelevant if the money in your bank account struggles to cover the agency's bills.
The following characteristics are not present in all agents or agencies, but ones that are thriving seem to have most of them.
Characteristic 1: The owner does not get stuck in the day to day details or tasks that do not make money. They do know what is going on, but they concentrate on spending time on things to grow the agency.
A controversial one is viewings. Being in the presence of a potential buyer or tenant is of course growing the business. It is an opportunity to progress the buying process. But the deal is unlikely to be closed there and then. There is a vendor to deal with. If you are a larger agency then you will have members of your team who would go instead of you anyway, but if you are smaller, then you are the one who is usually jumping in the car.
There are services now that will conduct viewings for agents, just like there are suppliers who conduct inventory checks.
I have agents that take this even further and outside the running of the lettings to another broker that specialises in providing this service for agents. The property sales are still run in house.
Characteristic 2: They hire the best talent they can afford or who have good track records. That includes internal staff, outsourced providers and contractors. And if they do hire newbies, they are prepared to invest the time and money to ensure the person receives good training and industry qualifications when necessary.
Characteristic 3: They invest in technology, not just for marketing, but to help them and their team to run the business better. Estate and letting agents are one of the better served industries for finding dedicated software. There are too many stages and variables to rely on paper-based systems or spreadsheets.
Characteristic 4: They have internal systems and procedures that run like almost like clockwork. This makes them very easy to do business with and to work for because you know what happens next in a given scenario.
Characteristic 5: They build up cash reserves and have a minimum running balance in the trading bank account to cover during down times. If they are marketing well and getting a good stream of leads then this does not pose such a problem. But the time span between getting a new instruction, then closing the deal, then getting the money in can be a long one. All that time they are paying out money for advertising, getting properties ready and of course their own business expenses.
Characteristic 6: They are very interested in the finances. They are willing to learn what their financial reports mean, but they are not responsible for tracking the numbers, or bookkeeping. As part of Firmer Figures for Estate & Letting Agents; owners are encouraged to be leaders. Being an accounting expert is not necessary. They merely take information, analyse it and make decisions about what they need to focus on next.
Characteristic 7: For agents that are primarily bricks and mortar or on the high street; they still explore online ways of marketing. They do not completely rely on just listing properties on places like Rightmove and Zoopla. They realise that we live in a communication and connection economy more than ever before. It is increasingly necessary to give people options to communicate with you that suit them.
LeadPages is a popular product designed for online marketing. This image is taken from their blog. Here agent Alex Larson offers buyers a free guide. The prospective buyer gets some tips and Alex gets an opportunity to keep in touch with them via email. If what he sends them is useful, then hopefully when they are ready to buy, they will go to him.
Characteristic 8: Their companies have a human face. The selling experience is a pleasure for their customers. This is easier to do once you have a potential seller, buyer, landlord or tenant in front of you, but what impression do you give before that.
Does this sound familiar? A potential buyer has just been looking at properties on a website. Let’s say Zoopla for example. They contact an agent, have an initial conversation and the agent sends them back to the internet to look at properties. Probably the same ones they were looking at before they called.
What do you do to move people on from that loop? Even if they do not commit to anything, how do they feel when they have finished speaking with you or one of your team? And it is not just the initial contact with you. How are people treated at each stage of the buying and letting process? The successful agencies do this very well and make it a priority.
“To be successful in real estate, you must always and consistently put your clients’ best interests first. When you do, your personal needs will be realised beyond your greatest expectations”
Anthony Hitt – Successful Realtor
As a busy agent it may be too much to personally answer every call or enquiry. Happily we have technology to make that easy, but the downside is you can the personal touch.
Look at this example of a realtor who uses an automatic response to show the enquirer they are important.
Running an estate agency has never been a business for the faint hearted. But it is one where you know that if you succeed, you are indeed a kick butt entrepreneur.
Don’t let anything stop you.
You are not the checkout girl giving Robert Kiyosaki a business card.
You my friend, are the real thing.
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