Prescriptions not predictions.

Although we help our members to create individual prescriptions for improving their businesses, there are 20-25 things each will be acting on to give them the best chance of 2019 becoming their best year yet. As an early Christmas present I thought I’d give you give you 10 of them, but I’m feeling especially generous so here’s a bonus one:

11. Ignore predictions from estate agents and industry commentators about the economy, Brexit and 101 things they have no influence over. The more they’re convinced they’re right the further you should distance yourself from them.

In other words, forget the crystal ball, instead, focus all your energy and focus on the things you can do that will have a positive impact on your business. Like these 10.

1. Accept the market for what it is but keep a close eye on it.
Wishing for days gone by or to come is pointless. You’ve got to deal with the here and now. But what is the market really doing at this moment? A regular (which could be daily or weekly and never more than fortnightly) review of all your google analytics and portal traffic will yield a lot of information so long as you’ve set up proper goals to measure them. Likewise daily calls made and received, number of viewings booked and other indicators of future revenue, rather than past, will enable you to react quicker and better.

2. Short term targets.
Annual goals are a staple part of many agencies remuneration packages but they don’t work as well as short term incentives. I suggest you still set an annual income target but instead of this being the main driver have 12 specific goals for each month to be agreed every 30 days (for more senior people this might be quarterly). Yes this requires more work but it’s a lot more effective than setting one goal that for many will be out of reach well before the half year.

3. Segment your market much more narrowly than before.
Get really clear about who your customer(s) are – “sellers” is far too broad, there are first time sellers, financially pressed sellers, lifestyle sellers and many more categories. This is even more important for landlords – someone letting their home for a year or two has totally different drivers to someone with a portfolio of five properties.

4. Involve your current landlords to solve the tenant fee ban issue together – it’s their problem as much as yours.
Segment your clients into three categories – those who you wish to keep even if you have to swallow the loss of tenant fee income, those who you need to increase fees – often those who you did a deal with some time ago to win their business but have hopefully won over on your service now, and those who unless they pay more – some a lot more – you’ll happily wave goodbye to and allow another agent to experience the pain of dealing with them. Then speak with each and every one of them to explain why their fees are going up in 2019 and how you’ll increase the rent, where possible, to cover this increase. Several Property Academy members started this process some months ago and 80%+ of landlords have accepted the higher fee, often offset by raising the rent.

5. Get every seller legally prepared.
14 weeks and rising is the average time from offer to exchange of contracts – that’s ridiculous. Rather than blame conveyancers, (although I will address the lazy ones in a moment), get every seller to instruct a solicitor as they put their property onto the market and then get them to answer all enquiries, etc., and get as much done prior to finding a buyer as possible. Likewise applicant buyers. Make sure they’re prepared financially and get proof that they’re able to borrow what they claim – this is part of your duty of care to the seller.

6. Sack any conveyancer that doesn’t perform and strongly recommend those who do.
Sure take an introduction fee but let this be the secondary driver to getting the deal done where you earn the lions share of your income. Agree minimum SLAs (Service Level Agreements) for things such as speed of contract issue, frequency/method of contact and regular reporting.

7. Get serious about additional income streams such as mortgages, insurances and utilities.
Once the income from these “peripheral” sources were “nice to have” – now they’re essential and what’s more, delivered properly, they’re adding to the customer experience.

8. Cull the non-performers.
Your single biggest cost is the payroll and you need your team to all be delivering. Get really focussed on behaviours as well as results and monitor weekly, ideally to catch them doing things right which you should praise them for. But if they’re not delivering then put them on notice ASAP – you can’t afford to carry anyone.

9. Properly assess your second biggest cost – marketing – by truly measuring the return on all your investment.
Focus on getting the essentials right before spending on the “nice-to-haves” or the “wows” (which are most often “whims”). That said, if something is going to give you a guaranteed return over and above it’s cost then why wouldn’t you invest?

10. Defer your own gratification.
That means don’t buy a new Porsche, take a 2 month holiday or dine out every week in the best places. Lead by example and tighten your own belt – it’s much more palatable for the team when you ask them to tighten theirs.

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