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Showing posts from May, 2014

Being unconventional gets you landlords

Well,  last week I went to a conference attended by 85 estate and letting agents in Cornwall. I received a lovely email from one chap on the South Coast that said,  ‘It was nice to see a new face at the conference and also a breath of fresh air to see someone stop talking about twitter and get down to the basics of keeping things simple. I totally agreed with the concept which is one we have been talking about for a while but we never seem to take the next step. ‘
You see, I think twitter and facebook are a total waste of time when it comes to lettings. How many 50 to 60 year old middle aged middle class Tory voting landlords have these types of social media accounts?  There was a guy (selling social media) at the conference that even suggested we use Pinterest and create mood boards for all our properties. Umm – each to their own . Everyone (well when I say everyone I mean everyone trying to sell you social media) thinks you should have to have these things, I don’t.  Don’t get me w…

Do letting agents care?

There is no letting agency or estate agency that cares about their landlords, tenants, sellers and buyers. Even more importantly, these letting agencies and estate agencies don’t even care about you. Your bank, certainly, doesn't care about you. Neither does your Doctors surgery or even your car dealer. This freaks people out sometimes when they discover this fact.

People, flesh and bones on the other hand, are perfectly capable of caring. It's part of being a human. It's only when company demands and regulations get in the way that the caring fades. All landlords want is an agent who offers trust and customer service. They want someone who cares. Think about it, that’s all we want from the world.

If you want to build a caring lettings (or estate agency) company, you need to fill it with caring people and then leave them to it. You will eventually get more landlords using you and your profits will increase. When your lettings (or estate agency) company punishes people for ca…

Should you host your lettings blog on a blog site or your own website?

Well of course, you should pop your blog on your website. That will mean that the content will be fresh, lots of people will visit your website and both parts will make you better in the eyes of Google and all that SEO stuff (SEO is Search Engine Optimization stuff .. eg how well google finds you and how it gets you up to the top of the google search list). So, get your blog on your website .. no brainer then? .... well no.
How many landlords type into Google ... ‘letting agents in Birmingham’ (or whatever town or city you are in) .. not many at all and 99% of them will be tenants looking for a property.
Putting your blog on your website is totally the wrong thing to do when you are a letting agent. I say this not as an internet freak, SEO guru or an IT guru. I talk as a regular guy who has thought about this long and hard through the eyes of a landlord, read a few books about it and came to a conclusion, a conclusion that is backed up with hard and fast proof IMHO .. but you need to co…

Won’t landlords steal your newsletter and blog ideas and still use another agent?

Of course they will. 
So shouldn’t you keep all your knowledge, your secrets of the trade to your special landlords? 
Yes, you could do, but aren’t you preaching to the converted? You want new landlords, and if you get a landlord, you can give them your ‘special knowledge and secrets’ ... yeah, that sounds good, or does it?
You might have the best knowledge and secrets about your lettings market, but you know that, but do the landlords of other agents know that? Or you could be generous with your knowledge. Generosity is not merely giving a discount, or giving what you do away for free. It’s far more complex than that. Some thoughts:
When someone is generous, that creates trust, but also worth noting that trust is required to provide generosity. If a little old lady person started generously leaving homemade Victoria Sponges around the Grantham (or your town) town centre, on walls and public seats, her goal probably wouldn’t be achieved, because we just don’t trust random cakes on benches…

Lucky at getting landlords

You see an agent open and he/she flies off the mark. Cracking start. Loads of new lettings business from day one.  He/she was lucky you say... I say this, ... They weren’t lucky, they were just good at the beginning. Funny word  ... lucky. You see, you might look at your competitors and say they are lucky in getting more landlords. Hey, you might be the lucky agent yourself, but luck is not a strategy.
Becoming good, even great in the long run, that's the result of effort and tenacity and smart practice. The people who are good in the long run fail a lot, especially at the beginning. So, when you fail early, it might be worth realising that this is part of the deal, the price you pay for being good in the long run.
You see when every landlord doesn’t give you their business, don’t cry ... rejection is a gift. Instead of failure, see it as a chance to learn and to do it better next time. An opportunity to figure out how to bounce back, not break. So when you have a down day, when you…

Advice on getting more landlords

Why do I, Christopher Watkin, write this blog? Well, just like you Mr (or Mrs) letting agent, I want to succeed, create wealth for myself and my family (and buy stuff for Joey) .. right? Yeah .. to a point. Yes, its gets me lots of business ... but do you know why I still do this blog even when I have enough business ..well it’s because I enjoy people coming to my blog each day and being interested in what I have to say.

You see, I do training sessions for one of big agency chains which takes me around much of the South of England, and when people ask me how Joey is, it makes my day .. why? .. because they are interested.

If you start your blog, don’t do it to get more business .. do it to make to yourself interesting to others. It’s a great feeling. The by product is that people tend to come to you and give you their business. .. that’s the best advice I can advice.

That’s the thing about great advice ... it is priceless. It might not be what you want to hear, but it is what you need to…

Sack your worst landlords

Landlords don’t, you just love ‘em! Most landlords are reasonable, but some aren’t. The ones you have to bend over backwards for on service or fee, the ones that suck up all your time. The landlord may barter for a price so low as to remove most or all of your profit. The landlord may agree to a price but then return to negotiate further. They may commit to buying to fully managed service and then change their mind to tenant find half way through (but still expect you to sort the rubbish out when they need the help on an eviction. They may pick your brain on what to buy for the next BTL property but then go to another agent to manage it. They may try to blag you with tales of the incredibly low fees which one of your competitors is prepared to offer. They may refuse or fail to pay some, or all, of their bill and feel completely justified in doing so. To me it is clear –you can’t please all the landlords all the time. In this collection of Landlords there will be landlords who you can g…

Landlords thought processes

If you start writing these articles and newsletters to attract landlords, you have to understand why this stuff works, this landlord farming. Landlords will have many questions that need answering, just like you will have questions about me and what I can offer. First up will the initial question most people will ask, ‘Who is this guy?’. Well, the first stop is Linkedin. That’s why I teach my people on courses that a great LinkedIn profile is vital. Next up, once they have found out about you, is ‘Is this guy trustworthy?’. Well the only way to prove trust is to ask people who have worked with you. Again, Linkedin has a feature called “recommendations” .., next time look at those, it tells who what others have publicly written about the person concerned (most peoples recommendations are under each job on their profile page). Next question will be, does what this letting agent is talking about, help me? Finally, what will other landlords / people I know think, if I use this service?

Cheap fee deals .. do they work?

How many of you advertise fee free deals to get new landlords? .. A lot of you I bet. Do they work? No. Why don’t they? Well, at the local Sainsbury’s, the deli often has cubes of cheese or cut up pieces of sausage roll for free. But does it sell more cheese or sausage rolls? I doubt it!  Don’t get me wrong, but free is a fine way to grab attention, but more and more often, it's precisely the wrong sort of attention from the wrong people. How many times have you taken the free sample from the supermarket and gone on and bought that product .. not many of you I suspect (neither do I either). Wouldn’t it be great if landlords asked, "what is your most expensive fee package and what makes it worth it?" Not because that landlord wants to pay you loads of money, but because that landlord is focused on "worth it." The people at the Sainsbury’s deli, stuffing their mouths with four pieces of sausage rolls and cheese at aren't asking that question. When focusing on …

I haven’t got time to get anymore landlords

As the dog lies at my feet, chilled out as he has his new Adaptil collar (dog collar impregnated with pheromone to chill out dogs), we get around to writing the blog.

Mr(s) letting agent, if you aren’t doing a blog, you say you haven’t got enough time, then instead of saying you haven’t got enough time, you really mean, "it wasn't important enough." It didn’t flick my switch, nor was it entertaining, money-making or urgent enough to make it to the top of the list. How long do you spend on Facebook (or any other social media site) each day? Thirty minutes, an hour or even two hours?  I don’t know about you, but ever since I started my first job, I have always been busy, everyone has? So if you had said ten years ago there would be a computer programme (facebook/ twitter etc) that most people took 30 to 90 minutes a day on, most would say, we wouldn’t have enough time .. but now we make time for them, because it is important to us If you are happy with the number of properti…

Too many letting agents, not enough time

How many letting agents are there in your town? Two weeks ago, when I did my 8 hour marathon training session in Reading to 15 letting agents, I asked how many letting agents are there in your town?  The lowest was 12 agents, the average 32 and the highest was 124. Wow, that’s a lot of letting agents for a landlord to choose from and in a world of too many options and too little time, like most things in life, it’s easier to ignore all those options ( ie other letting agents), especially if all of them are exactly the same dull boring cookie cutter shaped letting agents.
What makes you, as a letting agent different? Your property management skills ? Your ability to know all grounds of the Section 8 Notice ? You know the Superstrike case word for word? Your ARLA exam scores were the best in the UK? You might think that important, but to a landlord it isn’t. Just like I would expect the car mechanic to have all the qualifications and know the MOT rules, I wouldn’t go back the garage con…

What kind of lettings game do you play?

Before I kick off, I had a phone call from a couple of my early clients. One of the things I do is write and sort newsletters, for which the agent then emails a PDF version of the newsletter to all the landlords in a town or their professionalrepresentatives (how do you get the emails and contact details .. that's what i teach them). From the first few hundred emails he sent, he received replies to over 15% of them within one hour, thanking him for the newsletter and that they found it very interesting. A good chunk of the representatives asked permission of the letting agent to forward the report to their clients (yes I know .. how good is that!) . Done in the right format (and you will be surprised what the correct format is) and you will find this stuff works (do it wrong and it wont work). Another client has already seen new landlord business from two news articles in the newspaper, and he didn't even pay for advertorials to go in the newspaper... its a slow start, but thi…

Whats the connection between De Niro, Kings Cross and landlords?

I love the film Ronin (late 1990’s action thriller, fab car chases ... everyone over 30 has seen it but if you are below 30, and haven’t seen it .. see it  .. De Niro is in it .. it is awesome (especially the car chases)  Movie Trailer here Now, not wishing the spoil the ending (spoiler alert) but I hate the fact you never get to find out what is the the bl**dy silver case. One of the reasons that Ronin is seen as being a particularly good film is that it's everyone goes to so much trouble to get their hands on the case, but they never get to find out what its in the case. You see it, Its the journey, not the destination. ... and talking of journeys, got me thinking about my recent train trips to London. I always thought Kings Cross and St. Pancras were awful and in turn thought the railways were as bad. Now they have done them up and at Kings Cross, they have even put on that lovely side canopy, so my estimation of the railways has gone u…

As a letting agent, you need two things from prospective landlords ...

... attention and trust. And attention is in short supply because it doesn't scale. We, as humans beings, can't do more than one thing at a time, when i say human beings, I mean men, because ladies (super human beings) can do more things at once ... and here is the worst bit, day in, day out, and the number of letting agents that are competing for our attention grows daily. Trust is scarce because it's not a simple thing but more of a gut feelingand it's incredibly fragile, disappearing often in the face of greed, cutting corners or ignorance. It must be earnt. The game most agents play happens because often, it seems as though landlords need to trade trust in exchange for attention. Letting agents rely on gimmicks, or overpromise and bull in order to get landlords to, "look at me!" And of course, the game happens because once attention is attained, asking for trust merely slows matters down. The best idea to attract new business (new landlords in otherwords) …

Examples of Advertorials

As requested by some of my readers, another example of the sort of stories you should be writing each week, for insertion into your blog, newsletters, advertorials, tweets, eshots and all other groovie things to get your message out there.

Doing these for nearly two years shows that its housing estates that rally get the juices flowing with landlords. Problem is that they can be a bit tricky to split down, but there a few techniques using Rightmove that works 

Again, the title is so important .. it would have to be ..

Nottingham Housing market - Why has Churchdown out performed Forest-tree?   .. the punters (landlords) do go wild for this stuff

"Following a discussion with one of my landlords who lives in Forest-tree area of town and has property to let in the Churchdown and  Forest-tree areas, we got talking and discussing the purchasing of another buy to let to add to his portfolio. I did a comparison between the two and was surprised to find that the annual yield/return in the Chu…

A bit of fun for the Bank Holiday weekend

I have just found this little app on the iPhone called iMovie. Its free and written by Apple. I had a play on it, had some fun and came up with this little one minute video about Joey (the dog)

I hope it makes you smile ... and I promise on Tuesday we will get back to the serious business of getting some landlords .. but in the meantime .. enjoy!

START A BLOG! .. I will tell you that for free!

Well, a few days ago I was talking to a good friend of mine who is a letting agent in the North. I don’t charge him for my advice, because that is what friends do (to a point). He doesn’t take the ‘michael’, takes on board what I tell him and in fact has given me something in return that is far more valuable to me in my business than the £100 a month I would charge him for the advice I give (One of my things I give, is a biz gen mentoring service to letting agents for £100 a month). 

Anyway, back to the story. He has given me something that will earn me 10 or 20 times that a month. My other friend from Middlesex is the same, he doesn’t get charged a penny for my advice and he also have given me something back that will earn me 20 or 30 times back in return .. funny that .. but givers do receive. Anyway, less of this Grasshopper wise old words and sayings rubbish (Those of you in your late 30’s to late 50’s will remember a TV program from the 1980’s called Kung Fu .. here is a great 90 …

Are some letting agents discriminatory?

I don't ask this lightly, but are letting agents being discriminatory, if they put signs in their windows, saying this?

NO DSS signs in your window. Yes, that is exactly what I am asking. 

You might say, yes Chris, we have such signs and hey let's its make double sure, and put it on the door, so the stupid chavs can read it before they walk through our door and waste our time? Genius! Guess what, there is no legal requirement that you have to have signs have to make you sound like a ‘Kuwaiti Tanker’ (I was going to say a rude word but thought I best not) in order to inform the general public. 

I don’t know about you, but when I see signs like the ones below, it makes my blood boil... Toilets Only For Patrons OnlyNot Responsible For Any Damage To Your Car Lost Or StolenAll Breakages Must Be Paid For.. wouldn't it be better to say? Our spotlessly loos are for our treasured customers only, so come on in and buy something! Also, there's a public loo in the library round the cor…