Agent Resources

Estate agents: how to make your business stand out

Among estate agents, there's more competition than ever for clients. Fortunately, there are several steps you can take to help your business stand out in an increasingly crowded market. We discuss five of them in a little more detail.

1. Clever branding
Branding does not need to be complicated, flashy or even particularly expensive to generate results. It does, however, require a certain amount of time, thought and the identification of a clear business purpose. This mission can leave many otherwise seasoned professionals scratching their heads. Some will turn to branding and design professionals - and, particularly for large, high-end agencies, this may be the right response. Others may lack the budget for this kind of enterprise or may simply prefer to keep branding firmly in-house.

As a first step, ensure the focus stays on your core customers. This means being really clear about who buys from you - and then ensuring that your branding targets this audience. For example, if your agency specialises in luxury flats and conversions in London, this should be apparent straight away from your website. A prospective buyer looking for such a property may well click away from your page if they have to scroll past listings for large countryside properties with equestrian facilities. And, once you have appropriate branding in place, make sure it is duplicated across the business. Every webpage, email, printed publication, outreach piece, advert and client correspondence needs to reflect the brand. Your ultimate aim is for a prospective client to spot your brand and immediately feel drawn to use your services. This may sound risible or far-fetched but, if it works for brands as diverse as BMW, Apple and Aldi, it can work for you too.

2. Make use of social media
It's easy to get a little blasé about social media. After all, we all use it, ignore it, puzzle over it and laugh at it in roughly equal amounts. That said, it is a force any business ignores at its peril. Essentially, for an estate agent, you want to use it to drive traffic to your business website or shop front, win new market appraisals and sale instructions, and attract buyers who make offers that translate into sales. Put like that, it sounds simple. And, for some savvy social media users, it is. Others may prefer - and may benefit from - engaging the services of a social media marketing specialist. The right professional will be able to advise you on which social media channels to target, how to keep your social media presence fresh and interesting, and how to attract new followers. 

3. Networking
You might want to dismiss business networking events as a "jolly" or even just as a waste of time. And, undoubtedly, sometimes they can be one or both of these things. Other times, however, they can be an immensely valuable way of building up confidence in your business among a pool of prospective clients or those who might refer prospective clients to you. It's human nature to find it easier to trust someone we've already met or who, at least, is recommended to us by someone we know. Attending networking events, especially local ones, can be a fantastic way of building up trust and growing a good reputation. You'll need to attend regularly and to be as generous with your referrals as you'd like others to be with theirs. If your chosen networking group has a website, make sure your business information and contact details feature and remain up-to-date. Finally, don't be shy of coming forward to speak at networking events or of encouraging others to do likewise.

4. Consider entering estate agent awards
Industry awards are another somewhat "Marmite" point when it comes to showcasing your business. On one hand, most of them incur an entry fee. On the other, there's almost always a party, often headed up by a celebrity to present the awards. There are also a fair number of awards: the ESTAs, the Negotiators Awards and the Sunday Times Awards are just some of the better-known ones - but identifying which ones are worth entering can be a head-scratching affair. Whether or not they really matter to your business comes down to the salient point of what added value they represent for your clients - the core group of sellers, buyers, landlords and tenants who keep you afloat financially. What matters to your clients (and even more so to your prospective clients) is whether an award tells them if you provide the best services out of all the available options. There's no single answer to whether or not it's worth entering industry awards, but you should always think about what you hope to gain from doing so before filling out any forms and certainly before handing over any entry fees.

5. Link up with a non-profit organisation
This may seem cynical but, as anyone who works in the industry will be all too painfully aware, estate agents do not always enjoy the best press. Reports have a tendency to focus on agents seeking to profit from rising sold property prices while providing poor service levels to their customers. Of course, impeccable professionalism should go a long way towards quelling such talk, but even the best-run agencies can struggle against accusations of profiteering and general sharp practice. Counteracting this requires some care and thought. Some agencies are choosing to take a leaf out of the book of many financial services firms, law firms and other businesses and link up with a non-profit organisation. This is a step on from soliciting sponsorship for a worthy cause or even giving staff a day off to paint walls in a homeless shelter. Rather, it's creating a tangible and much more permanent link with a carefully chosen organisation from the voluntary sector. The type of organisation depends on the size of your business, its branding, the skillset of your staff, and on your core client demographic. By way of example, some businesses have chosen to link up with non-profits supporting ex-prisoners. Others might focus on charities connected with children or organisations involved with sport or the arts. Ultimately, the choice matters less than the commitment behind it and the effectiveness of your support.

Source: Nethouseprices 23.05.19

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