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My biggest mistake in lettings


Morning everyone, hope everyone is well today. Just had my Nespresso for the morning (aren’t those coffee pod machines ace! – gold star for the person who invented them) and fed the dog (Joey  aka Lettings Dog) and so I thought I would put down my thoughts for today before I crack on with the work. 



Yesterday, I had an interesting chat with an agent on the South Coast.  I asked him why he rang me and why now, to which he replied he had been reading my blog for a few months ago and liked the idea of becoming his town’s property guru. That is in essence is what this is all about, because, as an agent, you can become the leading light on a topic that all the homeowners and landlords in your town are obsessed about .. property. 

Why do you think the Savs and Knight Franks of this world have multi million pound Research Depts, producing stats and figures that the Sunday papers lap up quicker than Joey eating a particularly juicy slice of chicken (his favourite)? They are creating content that will make their firms look good. I am sure they don’t do it for fun. They recognise by writing decent content about the London property market or the UK property market, they will be seen as the leading informational expert’s on those subjects in the world? .. and correct me if I am wrong, but most people like to do business with the best people? Who is someone going to use to sell their posh London pad or Country mansion with .. JoeBlogs Realestate or Savs or Frank’s? I know which one my money would be on.   

So let me ask you this, if you could choose any topic you like, so you can be the leading authority on.....  in the world .. what would it be?

Loading Dishwashers 

Mine would be Loading My Dishwasher. I am the world’s leading authority stacking our dishwasher. Nobody else’s dishwasher, just our’s. Does anyone care apart from myself? Probably not, not even  Senior Management (aka Mrs Watkin) just rolls her eyes when I precisely pack the shelves .

.. but what if you were the leading authority in a subject that lots of people would be interested in, not Chris’s dishwasher, but your local town’s property market? Every homeowner in your town is obsessed about the value of their house as is every landlord. .. and here is the best bit, not only do you know what they are interested in, you also know where they live.  100% of owner occupiers (by definition) live in the property they are interested about. 50% to 60% of landlords live in the same town or immediate villages to their buy to let property, because most landlords tend to buy local, because they buy what they know.

Nobody wants to know about your agency

You don’t need millions of pounds to have a research dept. All you need is a PC, access to the tinterweb and then go on the Zoopla website, Rightmove website, Office of National Statistics website, Census website and the Mouseprice website, look at the numbers and write articles that local property owners will lap up. The stuff you write has to be interesting, so write like a journalist would write. Don’t even mention the name of your firm or your services and whatever you think, being the world’s leading authority on s8 vs s21 or asking for Free Valuations .. which you might think is interesting, it isn’t to the  punters.  Your thoughts need to be totally focused on being the principal source of information for all the homeowners and landlords in your town.

 So why do agents just want to talk about themselves, their services, their fees and how good they are?

When I was in my late teens, there was a large group of us who hung out, went down the pub for a crafty pint. In the group there was one chap who only talked about himself, whilst on the other hand, there was another chap who always asked how I was, what interested me etc etc. Both were the same to the others in group....  Which person was the one, most of us always gravitated to? I think you know. Let me ask you it in another way, I am sure you have similar situations in life, which one of them would you rather talk to?

As in life, nobody wants to listen to you talk about yourself all day.

Now let’s imagine you were at the local ARLA meeting, all talking shop. Most of them are saying the same things, stuff you’ve heard a million times before. But one person has a totally different point of view. You may not even agree with him all the time, but he’s bringing something new to the conversation. Who would you rather listen to?

People don’t want to listen to the same things, over and over again. So stop talking about yourself, your firm, your network, how good your fees are, how many viewings you have done, how many ESTA’s you have won, how many offices you have; it’s boring and nobody wants to hear it. Would you be interested if the local solicitors practice talked about their firm constantly, their services, how good they were? No, so why should anyone care about you. However, start talking as yourself and show us how the world looks through your eyes, in a subject that potential customers are interested in (and potential property sellers are not only interested  but obsessed about the value of their property as landlords with the value, rent and yield growth of their rental property ..and you are onto a winner.

Why aren’t  the Corporate Agents writing this stuff?

You might wonder why the LSL’s, the Countrywide’s the Sequence’s of this world don’t advocate this method to attract business. The reason is it isn’t a one size fits all system. Each town, each article is totally unique to the town. It’s simply too much like hard work and it takes too long. It’s a damn sight easier to print of a million ‘Landlords wanted ’ leaflets and print the different office’s address on 20,000 at a time. 

If you stopped delivering ‘landlords wanted’ or ‘free valuations’ leaflets, would anyone miss them? Remember the story of the Kent agent who got thirty landlords (thirty landlords he had never done business with or spoken to as he had scraped their details via the Land Registry and other sources) ring him up in one day because they were worried they wouldn’t receive the next newsletter – original story here  http://how-to-grow-your-lettings-agency.blogspot.co.uk/2014/10/what-would-make-30-new-landlords-ring.html

Would anyone miss your agency if it didn’t exist?

Your articles about the local property market should be an irreplaceable resource for your existing and more importantly, potential landlords and vendors. You need and will become the leading light, the “go to” man (or lady) on your town’s property market. 

In fact, I was talking to my friend Steve Frost from Martin and Co in Chelmsford when he told me loads of people rang him up when he missed putting his weekly article in the newspaper one week. 

Would that happen with your advert? In fact, go with me on this one, what if someone rounded up all your newspaper adverts, your leaflets, your online marketing and locked it in a metal box, as if it never existed. Would anyone miss it?  Answer me honestly, the answer is no, isn’t it?

Landlords yearning for you

You should have homeowners and prospective landlords wanting, needing .. no hold on, yearning  for your content and articles. Sounds weird doesn’t it? Yep .. too right, it’s supposed to.

There are twenty, thirty, forty agents in your town. Come on, stop playing their game and play your own. You won’t be alone, I am here for you, as are over 130 other agents around the UK.  As you know, I help many agents, ghost writing the articles for them, but all my clients and pupils have come together to form the ‘Landlord Farming Club’. We have our own Facebook group, where share ideas on getting more landlords, help each other, have monthly webinars and best of all, we have seminar/workshops every six months where we all get together and share best practice. 

It’s like having all your best competitors in a room at one time, but as nobody is in competition with anyone else, everyone is eager to share their best practices on getting landlords.. it’s like being a member of a brilliant club – no in fact it is. (The reason nobody is in competition with other is that I can only ghost write for one agent in any town – which is a pain, because I could have had 20% more clients, but we are strict on that and keeps the integrity of the group) .
.. but back to my ramblings

This is your town, your manor, your patch of earth. There can only be one No.1 Property Guru in your town, one trusted expert, one “go to” man or lady. My fellow Agents, are you going to stand there and let your competitors steal your crown of being the expert?
 (and if you are a Neg, show the Manager this blog and its videos (who knows they are probably too busy to see it)  and if you are the Lettings Manager, show the MD. It will make you look good in their eyes, that you have spotted an opportunity to grow your agency) 

Trust and Attention in Agency

In today’s, internet full on, advertising everywhere, you look world, it's harder and harder to get the attention and trust of potential clients and customers. You have to earn that attention and trust. You need to earn it today, tomorrow, next week, next month, next quarter, next year and five years from now by delivering the most awesome info your existing and potential clients could ever ask for.
Yes, I can help you create the content by ghost writing it for you, or you can pick up the pen and write them yourself.  The delivery of the articles and juxtaposition of the newspaper editorials, newsletters, social media and the blog are as important as the writing of the articles themselves (there is no point writing good stuff if nobody reads it). If you want to have a go yourself, genuinely, I am more than happy for you to pick up the phone for half an hour and I will point you in the right direction.

Content Marketing

This content marketing thing works, I guarantee it does. And you know in your heart it does. All of us are fire fighting the day to day trials and tribulations of running a letting s agency, that we never have a chance to step back and look at the bigger picture. It’s bl**dy hardwork running your own lettings (and estate) agency. I have been there .. I have walked in your shoes. Why don’t you use this summer break, take your ipad and look up on Google, the phrase ‘content marketing’ . Landlord Farming is just a another name for ‘Content marketing for Letting Agents  .. forget my ramblings, see for yourself .. do it right and it will work.

Can you make a difference?

You will able to become your town’s Property Guru, your town’s local expert on the local property market. You will be a person who makes a difference. People will want to hear what ideas and opinions you have on the local property market, you will become an influencer. Becoming an influencer is very, very important. Why? Because there are only two ways to influence a person: you can either manipulate that person or you can inspire that person. 

For the same reason everyone loves their Apple products, people are attracted to other people, other companies, other organisations that are good at communicating what they believe. Those companies/organisations/people's ability to make us feel like we belong, to make us feel important, and part of something, goes a long way to what gives them the ability to inspire.

Nothing important in this world (friendships + relationships+ family + love) comes quickly .. it must be worked on. That is the issue with ‘landlord farming’ .. it needs a huge bucket of patience as it takes at least six months before you see one piece of business, but do it right, and you will grow your agency by 20% to 30% within 18 months.

What is your job as an agent?

Your job is to build and nurture relationships with landlords (and homeowners if you in estate agency as well). You do that by interesting them and inspiring them with what you say and do. You can only do that if you have clarity, discipline and consistency. It’s hard work (if it were quick and easy - the corporates would do it). 

If you start this, you will have doubts in the early days when you are paying out in time and money with no return (we talk about this all the time in the Facebook group mentioned above) , everyone has wobbles and disbelief in the system around that crucial 3 to 5 month period, but you hold your nerve, you will reap the harvest.

Remember, I will repeat myself, it’s all about clarity, discipline and consistency. By writing an article, once a week and getting it out on social media many times a day is central to the system. By delivering newsletters in paper form to every landlord on your database appears from feedback in the group to be one of the most powerful and effective methods. Then on your blog, you will see you need to post a couple of BTL deals a week.. without fail .. drip- drip- drip ... walk the streets hand delivering leaflets.

It’s like being in a big club of competitor agents – but everyone helps each other

In the Landlord Farming Facebook group, we have letting agents (we call ourselves Farmers) sharing help, support and guidance. However, the best bit are the awesome ideas which have sprung from the group,  with some innovative methods using social media (including Farmer Patel from the North West with his sublime Facebook group for local landlords in his town which is a landlord magnet for him (it’s not the FB group that is magic, it’s how he attracts them to it, makes them addicted to it, then they eat out of his hand) ..or Farmer Kev from Kent and his audacious method to get hundreds and hundreds of addresses  local competitors stock, for free, in 10 minutes. Or Farmer Leo and his switching service that bagged him 30 new rental properties (from 30 landlords) in six months. These (and many more) have been posted on the FB group, with offers of help, guidance and support to implement them

So what are you going to do?

You don’t need me to start it the process .. just do it. I give away on my blog www.landlordfarming.com just about everything you need to know to start it. However, if you do need a hand or support, we are here.

 When you are in business, you are on your own .. but with us, you are not alone.  You see my biggest mistake in lettings is I wish I had started this years ago. All I ask is this, don’t sit on the fence too long and let it be your regret that you left it too long. If you are thinking about jumping into the ‘content marketing’ way of marketing then consider this. 

As I said earlier on, there can only be one No.1 Property Guru in your town, one trusted expert, one goto man or lady. Are you going to stand there and let your competitors steal your crown of being the local property expert?

I myself, will help you, guide you, support you in your goal of growing your lettings agency. It will be hard work, it will require a huge amount of time (yes time), a little bit of money and a truck load of patience and belief .. but together, we will grow your lettings agency ... and when I say we,  I also mean, if you want, the help of your fellow farmers, as we are a group of people who together help each other out .. because if you don’t ask ..  well let me tell you a story I read on the internet ...


A little boy was having difficulty lifting a heavy stone.
His father came along just then.
Noting the boy’s failure, he asked, “Are you using all your strength?”
“Yes, I am,” the little boy said impatiently.
“No, you are not,” the father answered.
“I am right here just waiting, and you haven’t asked me to help you.”
~ Anon


Want to read more?  I am the Author of the Landlord Farming Blog which has over 280 posts going back to 2013, on attracting landlords to a letting agency http://how-to-grow-your-lettings-agency.blogspot.co.uk/

Want to listen to more about the ideas I mention? Listen to the UK’s first iTunes approved Podcast for Letting Agents, a podcast on how to improve your lettings agency. https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/letting-agent-podcast/id1014892281

Got something on your mind? I’d love to know your thoughts on this topic – please leave a comment, or if you are shy, email me at christopher@christopherwatkin.co.uk




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