On branch visits, during interviews, at industry events, or out with friends I’m often asked, “What advice would you give people wanting to make it in the world of estate agency?”
It’s a tricky one. There is no ‘one’ quality that you’d say, yes, that’s it, that’s what you need, however, I think I know what makes a great agent, so here are my five principles for success:
#1 UP-TO-DATE SKILLS
Becoming a great estate agent involves hard work and dedication and absolutely nailing the basic skills: marketing, communication and negotiation. You need to be genuinely passionate about getting sellers the best deal; finding buyers their perfect home and you need to offer that little bit extra.
Paul Smith CEO of Spicerhaart always drilled in the importance of being unforgettable, he said, “I always say, ‘be memorable’ and ‘have a signature’.
Customers expect you to sell their house – it’s how you make that experience memorable that counts.
Paul always looked in the loft on valuations – his ‘signature’. Very few other valuers did that, customers always remembered him for it.
While these basic skills stay the same, the way in which you can achieve them is always changing, so if you want to be on top of your game, you need to be ahead of it. Make sure you have all the relevant qualifications, you understand the latest technology and are well aware of changes in legislation/regulation that affect the industry.
#2 PERSONAL CONNECTION
This is using your personality and your communication skills to market yourself and your properties. Some say, ‘people buy people’ – being a good estate agent is all about ‘brand ME’.
Creating a rapport with people is so important; buyers and sellers need to feel they know you. This isn’t just face-to-face. Our most successful agents are increasingly moving their roles online; networking and connecting with more customers via social media platforms. You need to use your immediate and extended circle of social media contacts to connect and keep them updated with valuable content.
#3 THE ART OF NEGOTIATION
The art of negotiation is key, for becoming a vendor’s chosen agent and securing a sale at the level they need. Your negotiation skills must set you apart from the competition. Every agent markets properties in a certain way, all take photos (some better than others!) and put up boards… some focus on fees, or on service – everyone offers a USP, but it’s the Agent who is skilled in the art of negotiation who will truly add value. I have worked with some pretty amazing negotiators, watching and listening as they work with buyers to increase their offer – observing a skilled craftsman.
In my view, purchasers making offers will not go anywhere else to sell when the time comes because they know how hard that agent worked to get the vendor a good offer.
#4 CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE
The customer is king, it’s imperative to get the customer service right. As estate agents, we have a whole range of customers – sellers, buyers, brokers, we must ensure all of them receive the best possible customer journey. That means going the extra mile – getting to know them, so when you offer a property, you’re already confident that they will love it enough to put in an offer.
Estate agents have to get the valuation and marketing proposition right so the sellers get the very best price in a timescale that works for them, it is about assessing all their needs, not just getting a huge offer. Properties go on the market to sell so people can move, not because vendors have a burning desire to work with estate agents (there’s a thought!) so to win the business, an agent needs to provide 6 star service every time.
I work closely with Andrew Benn, MD, Spicerhaart Residential Lettings. He’s always looking for a 6-star service, pushing for that one per cent more, he says, “Customers expect you to sell or let their house – that’s what they entrusted you to do – it’s how you make that experience memorable that will get those clients to remember and recommend you.”
#5 BE REAL AND BUILD TRUST
You need to understand your industry and be passionate about it. People can tell when you are not being genuine, so be real, build trust. If that passion isn’t there, they will know it and will struggle to trust you. If you are real, the customer will believe you, and they’ll trust you.
Genuine customer service is real. It is not pretending you have the customer’s best interest at heart, it is actually having the customer’s best interest at heart, if you do, you will reap the rewards and if the customer enjoys the experience of dealing with you, you’ll have a customer for life.