Safe & Boring Important.

Last week I met with a company that specialises in compliance, in particular financial regulations such as money laundering. I can feel some of you switching off already, “really Peter, is this the best you could come up with today?” – actually, YES IT IS, (said in a loud voice), and if you read on you’ll see why.

In a recent survey carried out by this specialist firm, (so I acknowledge they have a vested interest), 90% of the estate agents they assessed failed to comply with the legislation, many multiple times, which could lead to substantial fines and even convictions. But rather than play the scare-card, instead I have a suggestion of how you might turn compliance to your commercial advantage, (ie, make money from it).

Every business needs to have a competitive advantage in order for it to consistently and profitably grow. For the most part, companies tend to seek out new product and service innovations to give them an edge, even if these are, all too often, short lived. No sooner do you have a new offering, piece of tech or an enhanced service delivery then it’s copied. That’s why culture still trumps all – it’s much harder to replicate.

That said, I reckon there’s an opportunity to be had from being fully compliant, honest and having integrity beyond reproach (which you all might think you are/have but the 90% who failed the money laundering survey can’t substantiate – so how about you really?).

Let me illustrate the opportunity by using a brand we all know: Volvo.

Over many years Volvo built a reputation for being the safest car on the road. I recall as a child wondering why Volvos always had lights on, even on the sunniest day and this was just one of many product innovations based on safety, such as 3-point seatbelts and side impact protection. All of their innovations were copied, some improved on and yet because Volvo consistently demonstrated that they weren’t that bothered by style, performance or economy, but took safety very seriously indeed, millions of people chose to drive one, particularly when they had a young family.

How does this translate to a competitive advantage for an estate agent?

Let’s consider a number of facts.

  • Approximately 50% of all properties listed haven’t sold after 12 months.
  • There’s a significant gap between the average asking price (on Rightmove) and average price achieved (via Land Registry)
  • The average time it takes from agreeing a sale to it completing is 4 months, more than double the time the average homeowner believes.
  • If a letting agent isn’t fully compliant this could have serious financial and legal implications for landlords.90% of estate agents are not compliant with current legislation which could mean that you (prospect client) will be at risk of attempted fraud.

Now imagine an agent that puts all of these negative facts up front and then can prove that they are different.

  • We sell and complete 78% of all properties within 6 months*
  • We achieve 97% of initial asking price*
  • On average our sales complete in less than three months, (87 days)*
  • We have a compliance process that is the highest standard in the industry, independently assessed and verified allowing us to insure all our clients against any malpractice and protect their assets.**

*As evidenced by our assessment and rating in the Best Estate Agent Guide produced by Property Academy & Rightmove (for example)
** As evidenced by (insert name of firm that’s accredited you)

This isn’t the sexiest proposition I’ve ever suggested but I do think it’s one worthy of your consideration and, if done properly, could result in your becoming known as “safe and reliable”, not something that can be said about all agents.

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