Agent Resources

Winning - and keeping - clients

It can be no surprise to anyone reading this that times are tough in the property industry. Sales instructions are down in many areas and sold property prices are sluggish. However, vendors and buyers are still out there - and they're looking for the best estate agents to help them close their dream deal. And this last fact begs a number of questions: Who are the best estate agents? What characterises and defines them? And are you one of them - or could you be?

Most of us will have experienced taking a call from the disgruntled former client of a competitor. It wouldn't be human not to feel a frisson of satisfaction if that individual then goes on to instruct your agency to handle their sale. Equally, it would be naive to presume that, at one time or another, that same competitor has not scooped up one of your dissatisfied clients. How can you ensure that you fall within the first category more often than the second?

1. Use trust to secure and maintain an initial instruction

It can be relatively easy to position yourself and your firm as the most trustworthy option for a new client. However, once won, trust is easily lost. Make sure you maintain your new client's confidence in you by acting in a timely and effective manner. For example, upload their property particulars to your website and other online showcases quickly. Many sellers (and buyers) are disconcerted when an online listing consists of only a brief descriptive heading and the words "coming soon". In addition, make sure property photographs are of good quality and show the house or flat to best advantage. Be wary of using fisheye lenses, as most buyers are adept at spotting the ensuing distortion. If you're not planning to include a photograph of a critical room, such as a kitchen, bathroom or main bedroom, ask yourself why - because buyers certainly will. And when it comes to property plans, ensure they always include room dimensions. Not only are many would-be buyers deterred from viewing properties without room dimensions included in the particulars, others are more likely to be disappointed after a viewing when a room's actual size does not match up to their expectations. Finally, if you've promised to erect a sales board outside the property, do so. Equally, if you've agreed not to, make sure everyone else in the office is clear about this.

2. Ensure your client has a relationship with other members of your team

It may be natural, especially for anyone with an eye on their commission, to keep clients close and away from your colleagues. However, a client who has a relationship with more than one person at an agency is usually more likely to stay with that agency and thus to guarantee you at least some of that commission. You can help your client achieve a rapport with your colleagues by ensuring you introduce other team members and having them visit the property, conduct some of the viewings and provide relevant feedback.

3. Manage your client's expectations

While we would all like to be able to promise a new client that their property will sell, and will do so quickly and for over the asking price, we almost certainly recognise that making promises that we cannot be sure of keeping is foolhardy. However, even agents who would not dream of making such rash statements might sometimes be guilty of failing to manage their client's expectations. It is surprisingly easy to allow a client to walk away from a meeting with unrealistic expectations simply as a result of what you, as their estate agent, did not say. If you don’t want to find yourself on the receiving end of accusations of underperformance, it is crucial that you are clear about your expectations for the property at the point when the client instructs you. 

4. Client care and communication

Always remember that failure to sell is not the only reason a client may jump ship: lack of communication can do the job just as effectively. Consequently, your client care and communication systems need to go beyond good intentions. An effective firm of estate agents has a proper system - which might be manual, computerised or a mixture of both - that flags when properties and their sales strategies require reviewing. The system can also be used to prompt a telephone call to the client to chat through any recent developments (or the lack of them) and give them an opportunity to raise any concerns. You may also like to consider inviting the client into the office for a catch-up. Some clients appreciate the relative formality of such an occasion and it may also reassure them as to the efforts that you are taking to secure them a sale.

5. Think laterally

A property that isn't selling or that looks likely to fall far short of the expected sale price represents a risk. It is at points such as these when, no matter how good your client care has been to date, the client may consider looking elsewhere. Now is the time to think about how you might prevent this from happening. Consider the wider market. Ask yourself whether other properties in a similar price bracket are selling locally. What's the trend in sold property prices - are they holding firm or falling? What can you do to push your client's property towards a sale at the right price? There may be several possibilities. For example, increased viewing opportunities (evening or weekend viewings or an open house) may bring the property into the orbit of a new group of potential buyers. Alternatively, should you alter the marketing strategy for the property? If it doesn't already have one, perhaps a "For Sale" board might help. You might also want to consider listing it on a different online property portal or in a particular local newspaper. For example, a property that's of potential interest to London commuters should be advertised in London as well as locally. Finally, don't forget to take another good look at the property itself. Is there anything the seller could change in order to make it more appealing? This could be something as straightforward as adding some interesting plants and pots to the front garden or rearranging furniture to delineate a particular room's possible use.

Source: 27.03.19

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