Estate agents should love their suppliers – even Rightmove!

Simon Bradbury

I recently appeared in a podcast which was posted here on EYE in which I shared 10 lessons I have learnt during my last 40 years in agency.

I received quite a lot of feedback both publicly and privately and by far the most disputed contention was my suggestion that agents should love their suppliers – even Rightmove.

I suspect it was the “Rightmove” reference that excited most of the respondents. I’ve always found it interesting that the UK’s biggest and most successful  property portal, as measured against nearly every accepted metric, is literally (and I know that this is a strong word!) Hated by a lot, even the majority of estate agents. This despite the fact that Rightmove is well liked, even loved by the general public!

Simon Bradbury shares 10 lessons from four decades in estate agency

Now don’t get me wrong, the other two of the “Big Three” portals, On The Market and Zoopla, do not enjoy unfettered adulation either and I love them too – I really do. However, I would seriously suggest that working WITH them rather than against them is the most mutually beneficial approach and a strategy that should be adopted across all of the suppliers you may use.

I remember that a few years ago at one of the many conferences I have attended, the outstanding estate agency mentor and commentator Peter Knight suggested that agents should view the numerous firms who provide services and products to our incredible industry, as “supporters” rather than just suppliers. It really was a light bulb moment for me and transformed the way in which I approached and dealt with numerous supporting businesses.

I’m sure that a number of you will cynically claim that “Peter would say that wouldn’t he” – referencing that he needs the financial support from various suppliers for the events he organises and that may even be true, but his advice has certainly benefitted me and my business interests in a number of ways over the years.

It’s always surprised me that whilst attending an industry event with the requisite exhibition stands, I see most other estate agents actively avoiding any interaction with potential suppliers. I suspect that they worry about the inevitable follow up call subsequent to displaying even the vaguest expression of interest and fail to see any value in discussing how they may be helped. This is a very naïve, negative and ultimately self defeating approach in my view. I was once told that an effective mind is like an effective parachute – it only works when it is open!

Once a business relationship has been established with a supplier/supporter it should like any relationship, be nurtured with honest two way feedback, both positive and negative. I have lost count of the number of advantageous nuggets of information I have discovered as a consequence of a conversation with a supplier either online or in person… a new service that the supplier would like to test, a previously unknown secondary product that I wasn’t aware of or even a different charging mechanism.

I would even flatter myself that on at least one occasion I have made a suggestion to a supplier that a particular service could be amended and improved on. It’s an immensely satisfying experience to see such a suggestion converted to a new product or service.

Such an approach really does require a change of mindset from most agents who often appear to think that as they are the paying customer, what they want goes and at the cheapest possible price. This is of course the very antithesis of how they would/should approach their own clients and how they would like to be treated themselves by a customer.

Personally, I would take a leaf out of the book from my eXp colleague Katy Poore who set up her agency in St.Ives Cambridgeshire just three months ago and emphasises to all of her potential selling clients that “we are in this together and we must work together as a team if you want to achieve the desired result”. If the client doesn’t accept that premise, she will (and has) refuse the listing. The consequence of this collaborative approach has been impressive.

In her very first quarter Katy has listed 20 properties, agreed sales on 13 of them and already has an exchange, all whilst charging 35% more than the average agent in her area.  Of course Katy is the first to admit that her success is not simply due to her own talents, considerable though they undoubtedly are, but is based on the relationships she has with her clients and suppliers…

Even Rightmove!

Simon Bradbury is a consultant specialising in securing new instructions and runs a (very) small estate agency powered by eXp

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