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Cracking the stock acquisition conundrum

How do you achieve more instructions on the right terms? Acquiring quality stock is the starting point of the process – and the most important factor.

Julian O'Dell

“One major area of support that I provide to agents is how to achieve more instructions on the right terms. Whatever the market conditions, however effective your business is in key activities, acquiring quality stock is the start of the process and the most important.”

Link to The DilemmaI find it bewildering that so many agents fail to devote sufficient resources in terms of time and money to this essential objective – a remarkable number of agents don’t even understand the science of how many valuations/appraisals they need to do each month to drive sufficient income. If no key target is understood, shared with the team, nor monitored daily to ensure keeping on track, it is not surprising agents fall short of necessary stock levels. I urge you to incorporate this element if you are not already doing so.

Train the troops!

Obviously one cannot simply target staff to spot and convert valuation/appraisal opportunities without providing them with appropriate training and coaching, particularly around enabling them to convince a potential client who is about to instruct a competitor (or has already done so) to consider your firm instead. This is a real area of weakness in many firms as has been witnessed by me when posing the question on a training course “Why should I instruct your estate agency rather than your competitors?” to be met by a sea of blank faces. Get your troops trained in this critical skill area immediately!

Julian O'Dell image

Julian O’Dell is Founder of TM Training & Development

So the areas aforementioned must be addressed but beyond that, there are some real basic practices where agents let themselves down and which will cost them hugely in terms of lost business.

One of my favourite quotes is airline boss Jan Carlzon’s, “Coffee stains on the flip tray suggest to our customers that we do not service our engines properly,” – suggesting that getting small things wrong in your business betrays you significantly as customers and clients will consciously or subconsciously assume you are bound to be lousy at the bigger stuff too. It is straightforward to apply that principle to sales and lettings agents.


Lack of attention to detail will potentially dissuade a client from using your firm. A recent survey stated that 59 per cent of people were put off businesses guilty of bad spelling and poor grammar. This could be on social media platforms, the quality of property presentation on portals and an agent’s website. Other statistics from another survey include the fact that 40 per cent of people who are not currently thinking of moving have already a clear impression of who is the most effective agent in their area; while there are various ways they could deduce this, the most likely is the quality of their internet presence.

Lack of attention to detail may dissuade a client from using your firm. One survey found that 59% of people were put off businesses guilty of bad spelling and poor grammar.

If one accepts that the way an agent displays property online is a factor in whether potential vendors and landlords are attracted to or dissuaded from using that agent – and it seems that this is the case – then it is vital to get it right. It is important also to respond to research and shape your approach accordingly – for example, a sizeable majority of landlords consider floor plans on rental properties to be a great idea. An open goal for lettings agents whose competitors don’t use floor plans – but one spurned by so many. On the assumption that the easiest way for a potential vendor or landlord to investigate, research and judge an agent’s effectiveness in promoting properties and the overall quality of their business is on the internet, it’s clear to me that all agents should get their act together in the way they portray themselves online.

Worthy of a flogging

Sadly, many just don’t get it. There are some horrendous examples. I must confess that I keep them to use on courses on how not to do it!

Some of my recent personal lowlights that I’ve come across by pottering about on portals and agents’ websites include countless “dinning rooms”, a few “dinging rooms” (a campanologist’s dream), a “fully fitted kitten”, several “insulted” lofts and even a rear garden with “newly laid turd” and following a similar theme, a bathroom with a “shite suite”. And last time I checked, “shutters” was definitely spelt with a “u” not an “i”…

Chuckle-inducing these examples may be, but they suggest the agents involved take limited pride in their output, have no checking mechanism within their processes and lack attention to detail in even the most basic of tasks.

The first step to cracking the stock acquisition conundrum is to recognise that the process hinges on the success at the first stage of “generating valuations/ appraisals”. If you are guilty of any of the aforementioned shortcomings, though they may seem trivial, they must be addressed without delay.

And it may be advisable to remember Mother Theresa’s mantra: “Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies.”

October 19, 2019