Much of my time since founding Viewber has been spent delicately ‘suggesting’ that agents could service their consumers more effectively and cheaper whilst employing fewer staff.
Covid has applied a sledgehammer so, if there was ever a time to see if you really can do more with less, it’s now or never.
For aeons estate agents have had a monopoly on selling homes and most still use exactly the same business model.
Spend money up front, get the phones ringing, convert instruction leads, sell and then on to the next – for most agents the same staff carry out all those varying tasks.
Foxtons first bucked the trend back in the 80s.
I used to tell anyone who was thinking of using them to buy a pay as you go mobile and when finished, chuck in bin, otherwise you’ll be receiving a call from someone in Chiswick every couple of months for the rest of your life. Annoying but it worked.
Staff are STILL notoriously bad at working their database, just one example of the dichotomy at the heart of the existing business model.
A one size fits all approach to staff who may only be good at one thing but are expected to do all of them.
Most negs hate cold calling [who doesn’t?], but love getting in the car and getting out to show homes.
Some are hopeless at cross selling or getting offers, others dislike chasing admin paperwork once a deal is agreed.
Yet the fixed cost model agents use is still predicated on these negs being able to do all of the above.
Again, Foxtons were the first to take valuers out of the usual model and again it paid dividends.
The good news is that many of the constituent parts of the process can efficiently be handled by mature tech solutions.
Prospecting your database, getting data, keeping in touch with prospects, progressing sales, showing your properties – all can be sensibly and reliably done as and when they’re needed, not paid for year round as part of a substantial fixed cost.
It won’t have escaped your notice that two things left out above are the actual winning of an instruction and the soliciting of offers.
These need sensitive human interaction to be truly in the best interests of the client – in this case the seller.
I’m a career estate agent but am increasingly frustrated that the win/win opportunities to improve the customer experience for less money is staring most in the face.
Post Covid, with the fixed cost being forcibly removed – however unbearable that is, it must present many agents with the best opportunity to modernise they’ve ever had.
Ed Mead is co-founder of outsourced viewings service Viewber