My series of articles is designed to help blow away myths that seem to be prevalent in our industry.
This article looks at how attention to detail, which I am often told is not a trait of negotiators, can make transactions fly and pipeline conversions more reliable.
If you enjoy cars like I do, you may have enjoyed watching the BBC’s recent live coverage of just how modern-day Minis are put together at Cowley in Oxford.
It proved to me that British car manufacturing is far from dead, and more than anything else, the attention to detail that goes into every model is constant, and exacting.
Another thing that came across to me was that they didn’t build a batch of white cars and then a batch of red ones: each car coming off the production line was being built specifically to order, to satisfy the specific needs of the buyer.
It made me realise just how much information the car industry collects so they can complete the order exactly to the customer’s specification – and it got me thinking about the way we sell properties
When I first started work (over 40 years ago), one of the first things that I learned about was the sales memorandum – and in the last 40 years this form has barely changed.
It is very basic and due to its design it doesn’t require the author to provide the level of detail we need to get cases started quickly.
To put this into context, I am reasonably certain that if I was to pop into my local BMW dealer to buy one of the new 7 Series which costs over £80,000, there would be the need to record a number of very basic things:
They would want to know exactly who I am – and verify my identity.
I think recording my surname only would be unacceptable, particularly if I was Mr Smith.
I guess they would also want to know where I live, and how best to get hold of me. Is it at my home address or elsewhere? And of course take a note of all of my telephone numbers?
After all, they probably want to keep me updated with the car’s ongoing build and delivery date.
As important would be just how much deposit I was going to pay, by when, and how – actually nothing will happen till I have proof that I could pay for the car on delivery.
I can imagine the response if I was to say I was paying with cash, and if instead I had to part exchange my existing car, the salesman would want to establish its value, and whether there is any equity left after having paid off any finance. And what of the balance – how is that being paid?
Not until the salesman is entirely satisfied will the car be ordered, and his signature be applied at the bottom of the form.
By now you can probably guess the initial problems with today’s Sales Memos, and remember it’s these deals that are in your pipeline, and in your exchange predictions.
Let’s be honest, and I don’t need reminding, that in the last 40 years life has changed and agents are now dealing with issues that were rare or not even conceived back in the 1970s.
Back then divorce was less common, and co-habitation was rare. Property bought as a buy-to-let was virtually unheard of and even ‘Right to Buy’ was 15 years in the future.
New flats or houses with a 99-year lease were easy to sell – almost as if it they were freehold – but today anything with a lease dipping below 99 years flags as a problem for mortgage companies as it undoubtedly affects the property’s value.
And with leasehold now representing nearly 30% of transactions, it is very disappointing that the forms and procedures used in the property sector haven’t been updated to reflect the complexity of the information needed for such cases.
I am currently working with a select group of estate agents to try and implement a much more detailed “Transaction Information Document” to provide us with the detailed information we all need – much of which is already known by the agent but rarely finds its way to us.
In my view, collecting and sharing as much detail as possible at the outset of a case could well take a week or two out of the transaction.
Deals would go through more quickly, and the conversion of pipeline would increase substantially. And let’s be honest, if a car sales man can get it right, then so can we.
Sales negotiators handle transactions worth much more than the value of a car, and so if we’re to be praised for raising the standards and reputation of estate agents and conveyancers, then we need to get those devilish details right.
P.S. Last Friday, I heard that Tony Pidgeley of Berkeley Homes still signs off every transaction that his company books. Perhaps other business owners might want to do the same.