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What if letting agent fees do get banned?

What are you going to replace those tenant fees? One option is charging your landlords more? But what if your landlords wont pay? Can you afford to lose them? Can you still make a profit being a letting agent? If the answer is No to any of those questions and its making you have cold sweats, I then I have the answer. 

You better start to get yourself more landlords ...

No landlord will ever use a letting agent they don’t trust, in fact no solicitor, banker, IFA, mortgage arranger, no professional can sell any service to anyone, if that buyer doesn’t trust the person they are buying from. Ever since the dawn of Victorian commerce the principles of building trust have never changed. However, the way and strategy of how you do build trust in today's tinterweb world has changed. 

You see trust is the number one commodity to have in life, let alone business. Before the tinterweb world started, trust was built face to face where all the fine distinctions and subtleness of tone of voice, body language, shiny shoes, ability to look one in the eye and the inflection of someone’s voice were how we judged each other. As lettings and estate agency (as with most other businesses), most initial interaction is now done online, how can we prove (and judge) trust?

Podcasts, Twitter, Facebook and Blogs can feel very much like a popularity game. Bottom line is this ..likes don’t get you landlords or properties to sell. 

Even with the best of intentions, there are some primary ways that letting (and estate) agents erode trust in their online efforts.  If I had a £1 coin for every time someone said, we need to improve brand awareness, I would be a very rich man. Do you care the local solicitors have rebranded? No of course not .. so why do you expect anyone would care about your rebrand? Do you care the Statute Law Amendment Act 2014 has changed .. nope.. So why the hell do you think a landlord cares about the Immigration Act or changes in EPC law? That is what they pay their agent to do.. so you telling them won’t be interesting (and the DIY landlords who don’t know would use a letting agent anyway .. you are wasting your time fellow agents). If another accountant sent out reports about changes in the tax, would it make me swap accountants.. no .. I would assume my accountant would have that covered .. that is what I pay him for.

Trust has to be earned .. everyone would agree with that. Ask what trust is and most would say the attributes of trust are your credibility and reputation. I think we can agree on that ... well .. no actually. Now if you are an established letting or estate agent, your reputation is a reflection of your PAST actions and PAST achievements. However, reputation doesn’t equal trust (stop thinking like an agent for a second and think about people or other firms who have a good reputation).

 The only attribute required to gain trust is credibility. A good reputation doesn’t automatically lead to trust. Trust is in the eye of the beholder. Trust comes from within you as a person and by having credibility and trust will follow. We all know in aspects of life, trust is really hard work to obtain and so very easy to lose. If you can understand, as a letting or estate agent, the importance of trust and how to develop and keep it , it can make a huge impact in your agency.

Checking up on The Oxford English Dictionary, it defines Trust as: “ Firm belief in the reliability, truth, or ability of someone or something” This is where new agents and start ups can be pleased. Nowhere in that definition is there a mention of expertise, no mention of the fact you have been open since 1860, no mention you have won awards, no mention you are part of a large company. As in life, so in business, boasting about something will not necessarily earn you trust. 

So how do you gain trust? Well banging on about yourself, your firm or your services is a big no-no. First up, the big one, as we have mentioned earlier, is credibility. How do you get credibility? Your knowledge of the property market, your skills on landlord and tenant law, and finally your overall behaviour towards the landlord or potential house seller, all contribute to a customer experience that will lead to gaining trust. But it’s not just about you Mr(s) Agent. Opposite to what you might think, people want to believe in your agency, but only if you are reliable. .. but this is where every agent lets themselves down ...  the easiest way to lose trust is to focus more on your products and services  of your agency than on your potential clients (be they landlord or potential house seller) needs. Understanding their needs will help to build trust and confidence.

BUT  here ‘s the best bit ... Trust can’t be bought. It has to be earned. So what can your business do to gain the trust of your potential clients? .. easy , look at it from their point of view (the potential client) and not yours. What are their wants? What are their needs? What interests them?

Correct me if I am wrong .. but the following are not high on the needs, wants or interests of a potential landlord or house seller ...

  • ·         Landlord and Tenant law
  • ·         Immigration Act
  • ·         What property you have just listed
  • ·         Section 21
  • ·         Council tax liability of a landlord
  •           What awards you have won
  • ·         That landlords are wanted
  • ·         That you have sold millions of houses this month

You first have to earn their ATTENTION. Once you have earnt their attention, you need to earn their INTEREST. Once you have their interest, you will be able  to earn their TRUST. ..and when they trust you they will do business with you.

What are the British obsessed about? Their  local property market and the value of THEIR property. Just talk about the local property market in articles that a journalist would write, with a narrative, a story, with interest and reveals ... and I guarantee, if you adopt the principles of ‘landlord farming’ you will be on the way to getting shed loads of landlords (and even houses sellers) beating a path to your door. 100% guarantee it.