Some thoughts ....
1. Weigh up the opposition
You can’t stand out from your local competitor letting agents if you don’t know what they are doing. In my previous job, I helped open 26 cold start letting agents in two and half years.
I insisted they carried out 20 hours of visiting and following up their future competitor agents, spending 30 minutes in each and then going back a couple of time afterwards to see their strengths and weaknesses. That’s fine if you haven’t opened yet, but if you are established, you may not be able to visit your competitors yourself without raising suspicion. Therefore, if you have a friend who is also in the letting game but in a different town, then you could check each other’s out. If you have no letting agent friends, then ask your local friends or family members to mystery shop them to in person.
Dont look to see if they don’t have EPC’s on their brochures or tenant fees displayed .. landlords couldn’t give a monkeys about that You/they are looking for what stands out about the competition? Is it the nice atmosphere, the amazing service or the friendly manager?
Meanwhile, behind the scenes, you should check out the letting agents’ advertising and marketing. How are they promoting their brands? What social media channels are they on and what kind of content do they post? How do customers engage with them on social media? What’s the feel of their websites – fun, professional informational, practical ? How easy is it to use their sites, both on your desktop, laptop and mobile devices?
2. There's no 'i' in Team
Getting involved in your local community’s organisations is a great way to make your business stand out. For instance, by sponsoring a Children’s Football team, a sporting goods store gets built-in business from the players’ parents, who will not only shop there but also recommend it to their networks.
On a slightly bigger level, being involved in a charitable organisation can not only encourage others involved to use you, but more importantly, also raise awareness of your business as being a participant in the community. Seek out the Rotary and Round Table clubs (just type in Rotary Club and the name of your town into Google .. and repeat the same for Round Table) .. these clubs are filled with middle aged 40 to 70 year olds wh are middle class – the same description of a landlord?
You can form alliances with other small businesses in the community, such as the Chamber of Commerce. There is strength in numbers.
3. Assess your lettings market
Where does your target market overlap with your competitor letting agents, and where does it differ? Use RightMove Plus’s Letting Agent Competitor Analysis tool
Section different parts of the town, see who is putting the most on the market. Use the trend button on New Listings .. a very very powerful tool to see which agent is growing and which is shrinking. This is a subject in its self and worthy of a separate posting (which will follow in the coming weeks)
Once you’ve got your reconnaissance info and your market research, sit down with your team and figure out what your competitor letting agents’ strong and weak points are.
If you decide it’s not worth trying to beat them in the areas where they’re strong (either because they’re too far ahead of you or too well established), how can you take advantage of their weaknesses?
5. Think Big and Small
Standing out from the competition may not require shifting your entire marketing strategy. Often, it’s the little things that count.
For instance, in my town there are a lot of dog owners who like to walk their dogs in the in town and bring them shopping. Some stores put bowls of water and dog biscuits outside their doors for the dogs; others don’t. Its great for the dogs to cool down and their owners are appreciative.
Guess which ones are more popular?
Guess which ones are more popular?