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Poll Tax, the Tory's, Spitting Image .... and letting agents getting landlords

Well fellow blog readers, I was banging down the A14 last week on the  way back from Italy (sun, mosquitoes and believe me these mozzie bites aren’t pretty) and we passed Huntingdon. Now I have one of those boring minds that reminded me John Major was MP of Huntingdon (I know I am boring to remember that .. but you cant help who you are).

So it got me thinking about the general election of 1992 when Captain Grey (Major) won against fiery Welshman (Kinnock). Millions of pounds were spent, but some of the best successes (and worst failures) were absolutely free. Why did the passionate Neil Kinnock lose against an incumbent, a man of grey, a man whose PEE was extracted on Spitting Image (John Major) with near-record-low approval ratings (after he was tasked with introducing Maggie’s Poll Tax) . This election result took many by surprise, as polling leading up to the day of the election had shown the Labour Party under leader Neil Kinnock to be consistently, if narrowly, ahead after Labour had spent millions of the unions money on his 1992 campaign? Simple. He didn’t tell a consistent story, a story worth sharing and ultimately a story worth remembering. 

People make decisions big and small based on just one thing: the lie we tell ourselves about what we’re about to do and Kinnock failed to tell a story we wanted to believe. No, not a story in a speech, but living a story, consistently telling us the story in everything he did and said. From the clothes a politician wears, to his better half Glenys Kinnock and his cabinet. Candidates sometimes want to manage response with a press release or a speech. It won’t work anymore. Like him or not, John Major did an extraordinary job of living the story of the plain man, a safe man ... boring yet infallible leader. Neil Kinnock tried to win on passion, intellect and he lost because too few voters chose to believe a story they perceived as inconsistent and unclear. Voters just did not believe Mr Kinnock was fit to run UK plc, but it was John Major the voters knew they could trust.

Throughout the 1992 election campaign, Mr Major's PERSONNAL standing remained much higher than Mr Kinnock's. Voters saw Mr Kinnock as more extreme than Mr Major, less inclined to look after all classes and less capable of being a strong leader. Just like in politics, as in any business, so as in the lettings business, in any competitive marketplace, the market for votes (or in our case the market for landlord giving us the properties to manage) is filled with landlords who have already committed to a point of view, who have a bias in favour of their current choice of letting agent and are delighted to ignore or even put down alternative letting agencies (ie YOU). The temptation in politics but as in business, is to be so certain of the facts of your case that you arrogantly believe you can persuade people to change their minds. 

But voters, like all consumers, so by saying that, landlords .... hate to admit they are wrong. The only way to change minds is to somehow get past the filters and safeguards that people (and so landlords) erect to protect themselves from contrasting points of view (so in our case we need to get inside the landlords head, past the barriers the landlord inposes on him/herself that it's better to stay put with their existing choice of agent)—and then to tell a story that spreads.

Now I know this piece has been rather heavy today  .. it is meant to be... this is important. 

I want you to think about this long and hard. Yes it's a different way of thinking about you being a letting agent. Some people take the micky , saying landlords don’t want fairy tale story’s ... of course they don’t but if you look at Monday’s blog post you will see a number of letting agency blogs that talk about what is happening in their local property market and where the next BTL deals. 

All of them are cold hard facts not fairy tale claptrap, they are wrapped up in little stories that say ..’Oh , saw this today’, or ‘I was chatting with a landlord who asked me ..’ .. that is all you have to say and as long as its authentic and true, as long as the stories make a promise and are subtle and aimed not at everyone, but just people who are interested in property and even more importantly the landlords in your town  ... then tell a story which will get you the attention, then interest, then desire of a landlord to come and talk you ... it won’t be straight away, but I guarantee you, if you start this process of ‘landlord farming’, put your back into it with passion and heart, write the stories, write the blog, do the newsletters and newspaper editorial, you will get more landlords for your lettings agency ... you will not get any business for the first six months but in 15 to 18 months time your lettings agency will be 20% to 30% bigger and 12 months after that,  it will also be 20% to 30% bigger ...... that’s why we call it farming .. a farmer doesn’t expect to crop his wheat after a couple of weeks of popping the seed in the ground (he knows he needs to wait 10 months to get the wheat .. all golden and ripe) and neither does the farmer who plants the sapling trees in to make Cider apples expect any crop of apples for at least three years, if not more.. but if either farmer forgets to tend and water and weed during those waiting months and years, he or she won’t have anything ....

Landlord farming will get the results .. some of my clients get one or two pieces of business within a couple of weeks but some don’t get any for four or five months ..... hold your nerve. I have other clients who have had portfolios of 15 and even one of 30 dropped on them after a few months .. But this is a windfall .. the exception. Expect nothing for six months.

My longest standing agent who adopted the farming technique told me after 18 months of adopting the principles, she is always has three or four (minimum) landlords walk through the door of her lettings agency  EVERY WEEK (week in,week out).... not landlords who ask the fees or landlords who have a property that has been on the market with another agent for nine weeks, no, just three or four landlords wanting advice and opinion on what to buy for BTL. For some strange reason, these landlords bought what she suggested and give the property back to her to manage (funny how her monthly turnover has increased by 30% in those 18 months). She got nothing for months but she held her nerve... but she was in the letting game for long term....   

You don’t need to pay me to do this for you. I have told you what to do and how to do it in the 170 posts of my blog and my videos . I have shown you other people who are on the journey of landlord farming. What is stopping you doing this? It is the voice in the back of your head? The same voice that tells us all to ease off, be wary, be suspicious, not too fast or finding the middle ground. 

All landlord farming is writing interesting stories about the local property market and getting them out there to all the people in your town who you know are landlords, believe to be landlords or mates with landlords .. thus making you YOUR TOWNS PROPERTY GURU . That's because the voice hates change and achievement and risk.

Some letting agents have said what if every agent in town starts this? Well they might but if you are first you were the first. Some say what if the corporates’ jump on this? I can assure you they won’t because all their marketing is the same from Inverness to Truro .. their marketing is one size fits all, homogenous. Theirs is a ‘pink gloop’ marketing .. the same old rubbish ...  they compromise to keep everyone happy, have meetings to decide what to talk about at future meetings, work to fit in, fear the bosses and generally work to appease the voice. (ie keep your head down and produce the numbers for the Directors spreadsheet on a month by month basis). That’s not to say if you work for a corporate yourself you can’t do this yourself, in fact I would encourage it. Start with a personal blog about the local property market .. do you need permission from your boss ... Of course not if you don’t mention your firm.... remember, it’s a people business, not a property business.

. .... and you independent agents, you have no excuses my friends, tell that voice in your head to calm down and chill out ... it doesn’t need to cost you one penny to do .. what have you got to lose apart from a few hours each week?  No excuses..