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How to protect your agent brand

We ended the year strongly on sales but now have a worryingly low level of stock to start 2014. Actually we also have a similar problem on the lettings side. Help appreciated!

Property Drum
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Julian O’Dell is founder of TM Training & Development

JULIAN SAYS: I was lucky enough to be asked to present at one of the industry’s premier events towards the end of last year – The Negotiator Conference in London.

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Laziness shows in this poor photo. Would you really choose this agent?

The objective of my presentation was to help agents protect your agent brand and raise standards in key areas to increase valuation appointment numbers. I included within my presentation airline boss Jan Carlzon’s famous quote, “Coffee stains on the flip tray suggest to our customers that we do not service our engines properly,” and then applied that principle to sales and lettings agents.

The basic premise of Carlzon’s quote is that if you get the small details wrong in your business, a dangerous bigger picture presents itself to potential clients. Lack of attention to detail will potentially dissuade a client from using your firm.

A recent survey stated that 42.5 per cent of people found bad spelling and poor grammar in social media usage to be damaging to a brand. Beyond social media, the quality of property presentation on portals and your own website can prove costly if strewn with errors.

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; 30 per cent of clients only call out one agent to appraise their property before putting it on the market.

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 that gives agents clues as to issues on the future client’s priority list; 65 per cent of landlords thought floorplans on rental properties were a great idea. At the time only nine per cent of properties on Rightmove had them. An open goal – but one spurned by many agents.

With all this data, and 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.

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!

My presentation at the Conference included the Terrible Top Ten, which were my personal lowlights that I had come across by pottering about on portals and agents’ websites.

A lounge with a “chimney beast” was one. A house with a “rear bobby” (a real boon for buyers or tenants keen on security) was another. And a “large loving room” (we call them “living rooms” round our way) made the cut. Plenty of others didn’t… “

A double bowel and drainer unit”, a “kitchen/doner” (ideal for kebab lovers), several “dinging rooms” (a campanologist’s dream) and a few “insulted” lofts missed out on the final list.

Further to portal presentation, social media messages can reflect very positively upon you and your firm – yet do so much damage if your spelling and/or grammar let you down. Tweets to say how busy you currently find undermine the impact created by lack of attention to detail. My personal favourite example? It has to be “Morning all. Busy busy day ahead – those hoses won’t sell themselves!” – now unless that agent has branched into garden equipment, I detect a rushed tweet and a poor impression created.

Poor quality photos are another trap into which agents regularly plummet. Negotiators reflected in mirrors is commonplace, animals and children in shot are also reasonably regular and even out of focus shots crop up now and then. There are a number of websites which feature such camera crimes – my personal favourite being http://terriblerealestateagentphotos.com.

The serious message here is that these crass errors are your firm’s “coffee stains” and some clients, when reviewing how you present properties will strike you from their list of potential agents as a result.

On a fi nal note… “complimentary tiles” are the types of tiles that, when you walk into the bathroom, say, “Looking gooooood”…it is ‘complementary’ that agents should be using. And don’t get me started on “comprises of”…

February 9, 2014

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