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Creating a good first impression

"We are in need of more listings, but with strong local competition, fees are under huge pressure. I’m conscious that we need to present an impressive image and back it up – but how?"

Julian O'Dell

Julian O'DellGood quality instructions are a critical element of any effective and profitable estate agency. The process of gaining an instruction varies significantly and it is surprising how many rely solely on the skills and personality of the valuer to secure the business.

First Impressions imageSuccessful agents recognise that the strike rate of appointments to instructions is dramatically improved by the quality of the work carried out before attending the valuation appointment and in particular by the members of the team who don’t actually carry out those appointments themselves. One client improved its conversion rate of appointments to instructions during the past six months from around 38 per cent to approaching 59 per cent.

The maths are simple, by doing no noticeable extra work, they now take instructions on 21 more properties out of every 100 that they visit, leading to an increase in local profile, sales and income.

We worked with their valuers on techniques to employ at the valuation itself. However, a large part of their recent success in this area is down to the work their staff undertake prior to the valuation, following training provided in this particular area.

It is usual for homeowners considering putting their property on the market to arrange for several agents to conduct a valuation. By definition, they make a number of calls to agents to book these appointments. Smart agents identify these calls as the true starting point in gaining the subsequent instruction.

The aforementioned company had for many years dealt with such telephone valuation enquiries by simply taking cursory information and booking an appointment in the valuer’s diary.


Best practice is to use the initial call as an opportunity to impress the client with the company’s professionalism and thoroughness, by engaging them in a conversation about the property and their moving aspirations. A few minutes at this stage invested in a focused but conversational call can create a firm foundation upon which to build the remainder of the valuation process. The objective must be to stand out from the crowd, and treat this as the first chance to ‘sell’ the company to the potential client.

A few minutes invested in a focused but conversational call creates a firm foundation for the valuation.

Vendors are typically appreciative of the interest shown in their property at this early stage by the agent. There are obvious benefits to the agent in getting a complete detailed description of the property they are to visit, such as facilitating the preparation of relevant comparables to assist in arriving at an appropriate figure later and assessing suitable prospective purchasers. A less apparent advantage is that the potential seller is made to feel important and therefore early rapport between agent and client starts to build.

Skilled questioning and listening can identify other openings.

Should it be discovered during the valuation enquiry call that the client is looking to move locally, then full qualification of the client’s property requirements should be carried out, and ideally an appropriate selection of details emailed instantly – or perhaps hand delivered whenever practical.


If the proposed move is to another area, corporate agents or those who are members of affiliation groups with associated offices have an early referral opportunity allowing the provision of assistance to these potential vendors considering moving to pastures new.

Contacting fellow agents in the vendor’s intended new area and arranging details to be sent demonstrates the agent’s desire and ability to go that extra step and facilitate the move, particularly given that other agents will not bother to do so.

Best practice is to arrange for the other office to call the client to introduce themselves at this early stage or for the details to be emailed to the valuing agent’s office to allow that agent to take the literature with them to the appointment thereby ensuring that the potential vendor recognises these efforts.

Agents with access to their own national network can fulfil the above approach very easily. Agents without an obvious route of this nature can still exploit the opportunity by simply logging onto the internet and seeking agents in the relevant area and requesting details in similar fashion.

After all, which agent worth their salt would spurn a request from an industry colleague to furnish an applicant from a different part of the country with details, possibly securing viewings before their local competitors are even aware of such an applicant’s existence?

Diligent preparation in the handling of the enquiry and a small amount of effort will leave the potential vendor with an immediate excellent impression, leading to an enhanced likelihood that the instruction will be more easily secured, particularly if the appointment is conducted in the same professional manner as that which has gone before.

Julian O’Dell is founder of TM Training & Development.

May 14, 2016