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Showing posts from January, 2014

The '9 rules of lettings' ... Rule #8

Welcome the second installment of the ‘Nine Rules of Lettings’. 
Earlier this week, we started the countdown with Rule #9 (click here), where we looked at the size of the rental market. We discussed what was the best size of rental market for a letting agency to open up in (or grow in) by using the ‘big fish in a small pond’ or a ‘small fish in a big pond’ analogy. We came to the conclusion that the ideal pond was a medium sized pond (not to big and not too small). On the same analogy, we talked about the competition, the other fish (ie other agents). It goes without saying that if there are too many competitor agents in a town, it’s going to harder to open a lettings agency than a town with fewer letting agents.

So, back to the question ..  How do you judge if you have too many agents, what is about right, and even more interesting, when could there be too few agents (which would mean there could be an opportunity)? I am a sales man but I always like to have some science behind me.…

Landlords Recommendations .. Chicken vs. the Egg?

'Most of my business comes from recommendations' is what most established letting agents will say. But what if you are a new agent in town. You have no landlords on your books to recommend you to others.

The lettings market has changed so drastically over the last 10 years. Every estate agent has a lettings department, plenty of one-man bands have started and there have been others, like our selves who advocate the franchise option. The landlord has many agents to choose from, the list is endless. Excluding properties that are new to the market, a landlord will only swap agents in three circumstances.

Firstly, if the existing agent makes a complete mess, that the relationship is broke so far that the landlord moves agent mid way through a tenancy. It has to be pretty horrific for them to do so. Secondly, when the tenant hands their notice in and thirdly, when the property is void and the landlord gets nervous and starts looking elsewhere.

So if you were contemplating…

Rightmove and Zoopla .. which is the best for landlord (and even vendor) leads?

How many actual landlord or potential vendors leads do you get in the first place anyway? Yes lots of tenants and potential buyers,
but business giving leads from landlords or vendors? Even so, you might get a few, and you might even judge the best portal by those leads.

However, here is a thought, I as drink my coffee with the dog at the my feet, wondering where the sun has gone (anyone seen it ??) …..
Just have a think about those people who fill in the 'I want a market appraisal forms on Zoops and RM' .. how many have you actually listed and subsequently sold/let a property for them?

Humour me on this one, but check your last 20 listings .. I bet most of them (be it sales or lettings) come from people mostly picking up the phone (and in some cases, walking through your door) and NOT those who originally contacted you by an email or web contact forms.

Now look at your Righmove Plus and look back at your landlord and seller leads that they had sent to you. Got much from t…

Self assessment tax returns need to be in by Friday - what can you learn from that to get more properties let?

Yes, most landlords will file a Self assessment tax return
each year and it needs to be by this Friday. Doing your NALS or ARLA returns is a piece of cake compared to completing one of these bad boys (many of you readers will do them as well). They are an absolute pain to do... yet as letting agents, how can we learn from pain? The closer you are to the point of pain, the more you can charge.

Sarnies at the airport costs £6 to £7 compared to £3 or £4 on your High Street. Touted tickets to the Rolling Stones, outside the concert on the evening itself cost more than ones bought in months in advance.Emergency towing in a strange town costs more than an years subscription to the RAC.

The single easiest way to increase your fees is to get closer to the want. How many times could you have let that lovely 3 bed semi in the lovely part of town next to the lovely school … compared to the droves of ex-council 1 bed maisonettes that take weeks or months to let.

Why note charge different fee…

The '9 rules of lettings' ... Rule #9

One thing I have a lot of experience in, is what makes a
good (or bad) area/ town or city to open up a new cold start lettings agency in. Having helped open over 26 cold start lettings agencies in the last two and half years (doing over 40 hours research on each office) up and down the UK, I have come up with my own 'nine rules' that I apply when deciding whether a suburb/town/city is a good (or not) place to open up a cold start letting agency. I was also able to apply the rules to existing letting agencies, and the 'Nine Rules' were just as applicable to them. Therefore, existing letting agents will also be able to learn from the nine rules as a gauge on how viable/easy it is to grow their own lettings agencies.
I intend to commence a countdown of the nine  rules over the
coming weeks  and hope new and existing letting agents can learn from them. We will start with No.9 today and countdown to No.1 over the coming couple of weeks. The most important thing though is…

Landlords Wanted adverts should burn in hell

Every lettings agency's marketing campaign that I've ever seen not work (increase market share) has failed for precisely the same reason: it pleases the wrong person.

Think about it... it wouldn't have launched to the punters if it hadn't pleased your MD, right?

Pleasing the wrong person meant failure. The same thing is true on a deeper level in your career choice even what you write, what you say, going even deeper, what you sell or how you sell it: if you are working hard to please the wrong people, you will fail. 

Does that person or that customer or that boss or that girl or that landlord really matter as much as you think they do?

Challenge what your marketing department does?  If you do your marketing, then challenge yourself. The tenants are covered. Tenants will come to you because the property is on RM or Zoops. As long as the pics are good, the pricing is right, that property will rent.

All your advertising has to be focused on attracting landlords to…

Landlords for free

Well a few months ago, Mrs Chris and I, together with some friends
(yes I have them!) went to a local Indian restaurant in town, you know the ones where there are few curries, as many bhajis as you can eat (yum!). We went early and it was lovely.... filled my plate a few times .. it is eat as much as you like! A few weeks later, 12 of us from Round Table went to the same restaurant, but towards the end of the evening, and let’s just say, it wasn't as brilliant.

One of the Round Tabler’s said, when looking at some rather dry bhajis, "Oh, don't worry about how fresh the bhajis are, after all, they're free”. Indeed, as far as the kitchen is concerned, each individual item on the buffet is free of charge (FOC) in the sense that the customer didn't spend anything extra to get that item. The problem is obvious, of course. Once you start thinking that way, then every single item on the buffet gets pretty dreadful, and the next thing you know, the customers you seek don&#…

Will the Zoopla Power 100 get you more landlords?

I have built up some good friendships and acquaintances from this social media lark.I always like to make the next step and pick up the phone, to talk to a real person, have a chat, maybe share a joke. After a while, we start to build a relationship and from that I have recommended people and helped them got business. In return, i too have received business from such interactions.
However, firms like Zoopla have started leaderboards, especially their Zoopla Power 100  (link here if you want to have a look . .. but will it sell you more houses and get you more landlords? 

It might make you look good, and yes, in the top 20 there are some great people who do very well at selling and renting property. But should you strive to join them in that top 20?  No, you should do social media to get you more landlord business (that's why you are in business)... if you are doing it right, then the accolades and leaderboards will follow .. not the other way roun…

If you want more landlords - do this and get .....

Most people, let alone us letting agents, whether we like it or not, we are all influence by, and make day to day decisions based on, incentives (real or potential) - do this and get that in response.
Figure out what you want, figure out what you need to do to get it, and go do it. However, I was thinking about the way my friend Marcus in Round Table does business the other day. He's been a successful car dealer for more than 10 years. I realised that I can't remember one time when he didthisto getthat. When he volunteered to run the local Christmas float, or when he helped a raise money for Children in Need by pushing a bed down a busy road between Nottingham and East Midlands Airport (you should have seen the queues .. over a mile long), he didn't have an ulterior motive. Same thing when he helped dozens of OAP’s get a decent meal at Christmas It's been a consistent approach, and it sure seems to work. Consistent as in all the time, not just when it's convenient... …

£13,000 in advertising down the drain - there must be another way to get landlords?

Let me tell you a story of someone I know very well in the property business. 

They own a small chain of estate/letting agents (6 offices) and manage in excess of 3000 rental properties. Nice people and nice bosses. However, in one town, they were strong in student lettings, but not in professional lettings.
They had a plan .. we will stuff the local newspaper with adverts saying how cheap our fees are ... £35+ VAT per monthfully managed.. cheap in anyone’s book! They had a 2 inch by 2 inch colour box on every double page in the local newspaper from page 2 ... '£35+ VAT per month fully managed' .. on every double page ... and I mean every double page secreted amongst the news articles (the stuff people really actually read).. there must have been over 15 of them .. sometimes nearly 20 .. and when you got to the estate agency section ... a half page advert that said letters 4 inches tall ... £35 + VAT  fully managed .. no gimmicks, no minimums, no subject to’s .. no catches.

Gumtree phone calls to landlords dont work .. do they?

Who hates ringing Gumtree landlords? I am not a big fan of them, as Gumtree landlords tend to have properties towards the lower end of the food chain. However, I know some of you do make those callls, so I wanted to share my thoughts on the matter. If your Gumtree telephone calls aren't working, the problem is probably you.  Now, I am no fan of cold calling and believe there are more effective ways to get more business. 
However, if you are the sort of letting agent does cold calling, but doesn't get the results .. here some thoughts

I believe it's your beliefs about cold calling that can make you ineffective, not making the cold call itself. 

Here are 5 beliefs that people making cold calls get so wrong..

1. 'I'm bothering peopleAssuming that you're actually selling something of value, you are actually doing your landlords a favour by calling their attention to the availability and importance of what you're offering. They may need somebody (like you) to get th…

Are you a remarkable letting agent?

You want landlords to recommend you dont you Mr (Mrs) Letting agent? You want them to talk about you to other landlords. Another way of saying that, instead of talking about you, would be (stay with me on this one) you want them to remark about you to others ...and whilst this isn't a GCSE (O Levels in my day) English lesson, the word remarkable, is an adjective of the verb to remark.

 If landlords aren't discussing ( aka remarking) your services to other landlords; what you do, how you do it, and why you do it ...there's a reason... your Mr (or Mrs) Letting agent aren’t remarkable .. let’s be honest, being a letting agent .. there is nothing to remark about... its a boring job (collect the rent, sort problems out, find new tenants etc etc)

You're probably boring on purpose. You have boring pricing because that's safer. You have a boring office on agency row because to do otherwise would be crazy. You have boring services because that's what the market wants. ...…

Landlord referrals - why arent you getting any?

A friend of mine went to a nice restaurant a few weeks ago in Grantham
(yes we do have nice places to eat in the sticks of the East Midlands). When I saw him a few days later, I couldnt shut him up, he was raving about how good the meal and service was. Now as you can tell by looking at my pic, I do like my food. So I asked what so so special about the food. Transpires the food was very very good, but not to the extent that it was the best meal he had ever had (which i thought was the case when I couldn't shut him up). What happened was the restaurant owner rang him (as he had booked) the day after to say, "How was your dinner last night?" Not to follow up to sell something, just to know. Just to ask. Just to set things right if they were wrong. That got me thinking, how many times have you had an OK meal, but for something to say, told your friends or work colleagues, well it is was OK, and the waiter service was little slow. Also, because we all like a story of misery, …

Testimonials for Christopher's work

I have worked with a number of letting agents over the last year,
 teaching them, guiding them, supporting them in their quest to improve their lettings agency's and get more landlords to use their lettings agency.

Now I have set up my own company, some of them have kindly given me some recommendations on LinkedIn about what i can do, which I would initially like to say thank you and to show you, my blog reading friends that this stuff works.

Be the numero uno property expert in your town and landlords will want to come and speak to you ....

Thank you again everyone for taking the time to give me these recommendations

Phil Collett - Belvoir Bury We opened our cold start lettings agency in February 2013. From day one, The Watkin always offered his help and guidance on how to attract landlords to our agency. He was always coming up with new ideas and his creative thinking, expertise, positive can-do attitude and drive made him the go to man to increase our stock. I can particu…

Taking risks got this letting agent 105 properties let in 9 months (from a cold start)

Most letting agents will do just about anything to persuade potential landlords that buying their services is risk free. We all know the biggest risk is the tenant not paying the rent and trashing the place. Agents even use rent guaranteed insurance to attract landlords, so the landlord doesn't miss out on their rent .. so its risk free. In fact there is a well known and well thought off chain of letting / estate agents who use that as their main USP However, is that the best way to get more landlords? In my humble opinion, I think not. Let me tell you why ..when was the last time a landlord said to another landlord, "hey you want to go and use that agent .. they guarantee my rent" .. 

Now most most landlords don't shout about that they are even landlords, let alone compare service levels and extras. The British keep their finances private .. just like people dont go around telling their friends and family what they earn, most landlords that own a BTL property dont go …