I recently went to a wedding anniversary party. It was a touching celebration of a loving marriage, it involved the whole family but later in the evening, events took a darker turn.
A boy and a girl in their late teens had been dancing together for some time. He was becoming increasingly amorous, the girl was having none of it and sat down at our table. Unfortunately, the young man was not easily deterred and continued to make overtures to the point where a silver-haired man who was sitting next to me felt the need to intervene. The young man told him to mind his own business. When he wouldn’t back down, he threatened to take him outside and knock his teeth out!
What the young man didn’t know was that the silver-haired gent was a Black Belt karate expert who could have killed him in fifteen seconds. I waited for events to unfurl but what happened next was not what I was expecting at all. The karate expert spent the next hour patiently calming the young man down, then called him a taxi. At no point was the word ‘karate’ mentioned.
At breakfast the next day, I asked the old chap why he had handled the situation as he did. “Well”, he said, “that young man had a lot to drink, he was in a very aggressive mood. If I had mentioned karate, he would have seen it as a challenge and felt compelled to take me on. He was fifty years younger than me and much stronger, I would have had to hurt him pretty badly to stop him. If I had, it would have spoilt the party for everyone so I chose a different route”.
If you lack belief in the quality of your service or don’t have arguments to justify your fee, you’ll give in. If you believe your service is worth the extra fee and can prove it, you will fight like hell to justify it!
This was a lovely example of wisdom, patience and self-control – what does it have to do with estate agency? Well, the story is all about confidence. Without his karate skills, the old man would not have had the confidence to intervene and things could have ended very badly. If he had been a less capable karate expert, he may have felt the need to prove his skills sooner. It was only because he had absolute confidence that he could deal with any situation that arose that he was able to resolve the situation peaceably.
What does it mean to me?
What does this have to do with estate agency? The connection is that much of your power to influence events is in your mind. Imagine that you are on a valuation and the prospective client challenges your fee. What do you do? If you lack belief in the quality of your service or do not have arguments to justify your fee, you will quickly give in and reduce it. If you really believe that your service is worth the extra fee and have visual evidence and case histories to prove this, you will fight like hell to justify your fee and find a way to win the business without concessions.
There are many well-tested arguments; explain the concept of ‘you get what you pay for’… convince the client that specific aspects of your service will achieve a better price even after a higher fee. You can argue that if you cannot negotiate a fair fee for yourself, you couldn’t be trusted to achieve the best price for the property. You can use case histories of previous cases where you successfully sold a property after another cheaper agent failed. You can use cases where you achieved a record price for a property. You can use case histories of horror stories where a cheaper agent sold a property below its value.
Proven principles pay
These principles are well-proven, I have letting clients achieving average fees of 16 per cent for full management, where their competition charge half this amount. I have a sales client who achieved average sales fees of 2.37 per cent last year – where most competitors quote one per cent or less – I have a client who is the clear market leader despite charging half a percent more than his most expensive competitor.
You too can achieve this if you really believe that you are worth the fee, refine your sales presentation and negotiation skills to the point that you can persuade others to agree. It is not something you can do in five minutes but the impact on your business can be transformational.
Adam Walker is a business transfer agent and consultant who has specialised in the property sector for more than twenty-five years.