Property sales is a tough market at the best of times, but with the unique circumstances of 2020, estate agents are facing bigger challenges than ever before.
As the markets slowly begin their journey back to normality, now is the best opportunity to get your own house in order and streamline your agency business, to put you in a strong position for when the property market returns. While you have a little more time on your hands, invest some of it into establishing these business practices and technologies before things get too busy again!
Making the most of the latest available technology is going to be crucial and will be a key factor in determining your future success.
Having had a wide range of experience showcasing properties for a large number of well-known property agencies and brands, we offer some suggestions for you to consider.
Whether you are involved in home sales or commercial, here are our top 5 tips for maintaining and growing your property business for 2020 and beyond.
1. Review your website – and use it!
Even if you have not been so reliant on your internet presence in the past, moving forward you will need to make sure that your website is modern, sleek, fast, and attractive to customers!
84% of home buyers now use the internet to search for homes – before even speaking to a professional agency!
Customers want a virtual walkaround of the property before they call you up to book a viewing, so make sure your website gives them the grand tour.
Ensure that, when customers visit your site, it is easy to navigate and the absolute best at helping them find exactly what they are looking for.
Page load times are increasingly important. By nature of the business, estate agency websites depend heavily on visual content (pictures and video) so make sure that all your media is optimised for fast loading. Customers will usually only wait 2-3 seconds for a page to load – any slower and they’ll move on to the next agency.
If you have professionals who take your photos and videos for you, explain to them how you want them optimised – for speed, but without loss of quality.
If you are taking photos yourself, take some time now to learn how to do this.
Do everything you can to push your website up the Google ranks – it doesn’t happen overnight, but this needs to be your long-term strategy.
2. Establish an amazing communication system
One of the biggest complaints in any business or market is bad customer service and lack of communication. What makes it worse is that in a study just a few years ago, 95% of respondents said they usually tell at least one other person about bad customer experiences with a company, while 54% said they share it with at least 5 other people.
So keep on top of your communications! Respond to customer communications quickly – straight away if you can. If you have a text or email from someone, don’t delay in replying. If you need time to gather the information they need, call or email them to say you are dealing with it and tell them when you expect to get back to them. This kind of communication habit is transformative!
Call customers regularly, even if it’s to say you have no news today. If you don’t, they will think you’ve forgotten about them and may take their business elsewhere. Communication improves your relationship and makes you look more professional.
If you have a full client book and a large team, then now may be the time to invest in quality CRM (customer relationship management) software. Get it up and running and become familiar with it while things are relatively quiet. Even if you are a small agency, CRM can be an organisational lifechanger.
A good CRM package will keep track of incoming communications, who you need to respond to (or which of your team is handling it) and keeps a record of what is said and when. It can flag up any customer who should have been contacted but was missed.
Once you have a system like this, you’ll wonder how you ever did without it.
3. Use video to showcase your properties
Photographs are no longer enough! Consumers from every market and from every walk of life are demanding video content – and you should be supplying it.
In fact, by 2019, only around 14% of businesses with an online presence did not publish any video – it’s what consumers expect.
There have been some amazing developments in video technology in recent years and this has resulted in almost every internet platform being optimised for video playback – even on mobile devices. By the time 5G networks are commonplace, everyone will be using video for everything, so now is the time to start utilising it if you don’t already. It’s time to find yourself a video professional who specialises in property filming.
Showcasing properties with a video flythrough is a completely different customer experience than just a slideshow of photographs. Video gives a real, walking experience and a much better feel of space and dimension that photographs alone can give.
Using video also opens you up to the possibility of using drones to create footage of the property’s area – overhead shots are incredibly popular and can demonstrate true professionalism on your behalf, as it is one step beyond what most other agencies will consider.
Another new emerging technology that seems custom-designed for property sales is 360° photography. This involves taking several panoramic photographs in each room, which are then stitched together with computer software, and allows the customer to walk through the property from room to room on a computer. Think of it as an indoor Google Street View, but indoors!
4. Keep on top of all your online presence
As you move into more internet presence, keep a check on yourself online.
See how you look in Google rankings for various searches and find out how to improve them if necessary, as we have already mentioned.
In addition, however, when you Google yourself, take time to find out what others are saying about you. Check review sites and feedbacks regularly; if anyone has posted a negative comment, for whatever reason, handle it straight away.
Don’t think that online presence just means having a website; you also need to invest time into various social media platforms and cross-promote your agency and properties on these as well. The world is moving online and doing it through social media, so that’s where you need to be meeting your customers.
If you haven’t yet, start your journey down the social media path today, as it is another time investment that will pay you dividends in the near future.
In any business, reputation can make or break success, but this is doubly true for estate agents, as the value of the commodity is so high, and homes are very personal to people, so they are more sensitive to issues than, say, if they were buying or selling a car.
So keep a watch on your personal social media representation (if you have any) as well as your agency one, as that will also reflect on your business.
Encourage all new clients and even enquirers to follow you on your business social media sites; not only does it keep you in their minds and give them another way to contact you, but if you post all new listings to your social platforms, then many people will see them a lot faster than if you wait for them to check your website – which they may do only time to time.
5. Get written feedback from all your clients
With so many communication channels available these days, make the most of them and get written feedback of some kind from every one of your clients – buyers and sellers alike.
This can take many forms – you can follow up business via email, you can ask for a review on any number of online review platforms (such as Trustpilot, for example), or you can reach out to your customers through social media.
The important thing is to get the feedback.
If it is good, you can use it in future advertising, you can publish such reviews on your website, and you can even post snippets on your social media channels.
Any feedback that is not so good is a great opportunity to adapt yourself, your business, or even find out if one of your staff is not meeting your customer service standards.
All feedback is useful and a win-win to be welcomed. At best, it will increase your reputation; at worst, you will discover a way to improve your business, which then ultimately will lead you to the same result.
Splento has professional specialist property photographers. To see some of our inspirational images, have a browse through our latest property portfolio.
If you ever need amazing visual content fast, Splento property photographers are always available worldwide for a fixed hourly rate – just £99 ($149) which also includes all retouching and photo editing. And we always deliver the final images within a guaranteed 24 hours.
For property video, we have a few options – one is an hourly rate (including editing). Alternatively, we have a choice of amazing value fixed price packages. See our property video page, for some example videos and pricing. Finished videos are delivered within 48 hours (also guaranteed).
Even if you just have some questions, need advice on property visual media or just want to discuss more real estate agent tips, then you are most welcome to get in touch with us anytime.