Six lessons for agents from Season One of OnTheRecord

With Season One of our OnTheRecord podcast coming to an end, we highlight some of the best tips and lessons from the leading sector figures who joined us as guests.

Launched to share unique insights into the industry’s digital transformation from the perspective of an agent-backed, technology enabled portal, our panel of guests has provided a wealth of anecdotal insight and actionable takeaways for agents. The six lessons below all represent valuable nuggets of insight for agents to help their businesses grow, thrive and create an edge over the competition.

Personal relationships are an agent’s most valuable asset

Having worked for the likes of Savills, Strutt & Parker and The London Office before settling up his own business, Henry Pryor knows a thing or two about working for some of the most well recognised firms in the industry. Joining the podcast last August, the renowned selling agent was one of the most entertaining guests to sit down with OnTheMarket Chief Executive and podcast host, Jason Tebb. Henry stressed the importance of adding value to clients in order to build relationships that last.

“We know that people don’t buy houses just because they’re being sold by a certain brand, certain firm, certain label. And more’s the pity if they did, then obviously a lot of these firms would have a much easier life. It’s about people. It’s about the advice and the trust and that relationship you build up with somebody when you are selling a property.”

Too many negotiators have lost the simple art of conversation

Callwell’s Bob Scarf joined us last year as OnTheRecord’s first ever guest, having worked in the sector for 40 years, notably leading the Estate Agency Division at Countrywide. Bob raised his concerns about skills and behaviours that have become less prevalent in the younger generation of agents.

“People talk about the modern generation (how) they don’t like to speak on the telephone. If that’s true, then there’s a lot of people who aren’t going to end up being very good estate agents. Because if you can’t talk to somebody properly, if you can’t get what they want, get what you want out of the relationship by talking to them, then you’re pretty stuck… I’m sure there are many deals that haven’t happened because a proper agent didn’t get involved in the negotiations.”

Remembering the basics of relationship building is key for agents, even in an ever more digital world where more convenient forms of communication are becoming more popular at the expense of the human touch.

The money’s in your database!

Another guest that aired concerns about vanishing skillsets and best practice was estate agency consultant, coach and founder of the Innovation Collaboration Group (ICG), Iain White. In September, Iain bemoaned the fact so many agents were not making the most of their pipeline, stressing the importance of nurturing existing leads rather than constantly buying more only to neglect them also.

“Let technology do some of the work in terms of understanding which lead to give to the human at this moment in time. And then let the human decide whether he gives it back to technology to nurture it or whether he, or she, keeps it to keep in touch with. But most of the estate agents don’t do any of that. They possibly get round to speaking to the lead, and if the person won’t jump there and then for reviewing or evaluation, they just rot. It’s the end of the conversation. They then pay thousands of pounds to get another one of those. And another one and another one. Guys, the money’s in your database. The cash is there!”

Iain’s message is clear, be efficient with what you’ve got and make the most of every penny you spend.

Diversity adds real value to your business

In the fourth episode Amy Reynolds, Area Director at Chestertons, discussed the ways in which the sector had adapted to changing attitudes towards equality and diversity within the workplace.

Whilst acknowledging how the ranks of women holding senior leadership roles in the property industry had grown, Amy raised questions over whether estate agency firms were doing enough to ensure that change was not merely superficial. She went a step further by explaining how a diverse workforce, beyond simply evening up the balance of male and female negotiators, can benefit all agencies.

“I don’t restrict myself to just pushing for women. We need to be diverse because our clients are diverse. And our voice, if we’re just one voice, if we’re just a middle-aged white man, how are we representative? How are we going to make sure our business is the best? All industries need this, and our industry is behind.”

Add value to potential customers with digital content  

Whilst many estate agency business have begun to grasp the importance of delivering content to their key audiences, many are still behind when it comes to connecting with potential customers digitally. An online presence goes beyond having a website or listing your stock with portals like OnTheMarket, as Daniel Daggers, Founder of DDRE, explained when he joined as a guest on our podcast last December.

“The first viewing takes place on the mobile phone. It no longer takes place in the shop window, it no longer takes place in the office, it takes place digitally, on the phone. And so if you are not adapting to the norm, now whether or not that’s (connecting with) a fifty, sixty, seventy year old, or a twenty year old, searching for a property, I’m afraid that they’re going to miss you out. So your content needs to be insane and people need to see it and the delivery of that information is extremely valuable. As information becomes more democratised, the value of that information is no longer there because everyone has it. So where does that value go to? It goes to the person who is delivering it to the customer.”

How are you reaching digital audiences and promoting your expertise online? A blog like this one, a podcast or even a series of informative social media posts can go a long way to showing up in front of a future client and making them take notice.

Adapt to the new, ‘slower’ normal

Interruptions to the process of selling a client’s house can be hugely frustrating for agents and their clients alike, with clear communication the key to making sure that frustrations don’t boil over or impact the process further. Peter Ambrose, Managing Director and founder of The Partnership, joined OnTheRecord in November last year, calling for fresh solutions to improve the buying and selling experience. In the episode, Peter explained that interactions with third parties were massively impacted by Covid 19 and the growing culture of working from home across all industries.

“If it involves a human, then it’s getting slower. And that doesn’t matter whether that human works in a mortgage lender. It doesn’t matter if they work for a management company or if they work for another law firm. Wherever there are people involved, and this is not anecdotal, we can prove it, when people are working remotely, it is more difficult to communicate with them… we will call the other side’s lawyer to try and get hold of them and it is very common for them to say, ‘I’m sorry, but they’re working remotely and we cannot contact them’. That is a definite trend and the challenge is we see no change at all in the way that people are working. And so therefore, I don’t envisage that getting any better.”

Season One of OnTheRecord is full of invaluable tips and practical takeaways that could help you take your estate agency to the next level. You can listen to the series in full below. Keep your eyes on our social media channels for the second season, which will be launching shortly.