Instructions are the lifeblood of any lettings business, and there is certainly a lot of competition for them – more listings can mean a bigger market share for your agency. It does not matter how busy you are, if you do not have properties to let then you are going nowhere fast.
And whilst there is not a single silver bullet for successfully generating instructions the tried and tested hacks below could make it easier to generate more lettings instructions.
1) Review recent sales for lettings opportunities
If you have a sales department then make sure you review every recent sale and find out if the buyers are planning to let. If so, get an introduction to the new owners from the sales department. In our State of Lettings Report, based on survey data collected from our Big British Property Survey, we found that 10.6% of respondents were also landlords – and that number could significantly increase when dealing with buyers in a high-income bracket.
If you do not have a sales department, then target properties that have recently sold in areas that are popular with landlords. Leaflet dropping is one approach that works, but you must get in quick. Maintain a watchful eye on local sales boards changing to sold, or better still being removed and then make contact.
Quite often a landlord may decorate or renovate a property prior to letting. Sometimes, it may be the landlord doing the work themselves. Introduce yourself to anybody you spot in a recently sold house, you never know – they might be looking for a letting agent.
Tony Robbins, a business strategist and best-selling author, once said: “Expect change. Analyze the landscape. Take the opportunities. Stop being the chess piece; become the player. It’s your move.” A closed sale is not necessarily the end of road, there might be further opportunities for agents who take the initiative to dig a little deeper.
2) For every problem there is a solution
If a property has been on the market for sale for a long time, the owner might not be able to afford to take a price reduction. However, that does not mean there is nothing more you can do. Letting the property might be a better solution as it would generate an income for the owner until another opportunity to sell emerges.
So as with the previous tip, if you have a sales department, speak to them about any properties that might fit this profile. Alternatively, if your sales and lettings agencies are unified on one CRM platform such as AgencyCloud, then you can easily scour your database to see which sales properties fit your criteria and send them an email about your lettings service. If you do not have a sales department, then target properties that have been on the market for a very long time in suitable areas and either leaflet drop or even consider knocking on the door and introducing yourself. The owner might be very grateful to hear from you.
3) Embrace daily morning meetings
In our experience all successful lettings agents hold a daily morning meeting. The daily morning meeting is your chance to set the tone for the day, and it has the power to transform the way you manage your team and maximise business performance. Put aside 15 minutes every morning with everyone in your office and review every opportunity from the day before that might lead to an instruction. The Lettings Daily Report in AgencyCloud provides the perfect dashboard to base your morning meetings on.
Meetings may not seem like the most exciting way to start the day, but even the champion golfer Tiger Woods participates in them and attests to their value: “The amount of meetings I’ve been in – people would be shocked. But that’s how you gain experience, how you can gain knowledge, being in meetings and participating. You learn and grow.”
If you are interested in learning more about how to hold a daily morning meeting, we have an excellent webinar as part of our free Estate Agency Masterclass on Productivity – the Masterclass also includes useful webinars on branch management skills and applicant management that can help boost productivity at your agency.
4) Help your sales team identify investor applicants
If possible, get hold of a list of all your applicants who have been identified as investors. Pay particular attention to those who have been archived, or who are currently in the process of buying a property. Alternatively, you can use the Power Maps feature in your Applicants Analysis Dashboard within AgencyCloud, which enables you to segment buyer leads into ‘Potential clients’ and ‘Investors’ and follow these leads up with targeted lettings campaigns.
Make sure the sales departments are qualifying their applicants correctly. If they hold a daily morning meeting, make sure you attend. Help them to learn how to recognise an investor applicant, maybe even incentivising them if necessary.
The American investor Peter Lynch once said, “Know what you own, and know why you own it.” Identifying precisely why applicants are purchasing a property will help you to deliver the best service to maximise their return on investment.
5) Renting out a property is an alternative to selling
Here is one final tip that applies for agents who have a sales department. Quite often sales valuers will meet people who simply cannot afford to move, but for whatever reason must. Perhaps it is a job relocation or a child moving to a new school – the move must be made but the owners simply cannot afford it.
Letting the property is an obvious solution. Discuss with your sales valuers and obtain lists of any properties that they have inspected where the owner cannot afford to sell.
The American economist Paul Samuelson said that “economics is a choice between alternatives all the time. Those are the trade-offs.” This applies to all economics big and small; whilst selling might not be an option, letting the property out might be a solution with financial merits for the client.
6) Enquire about hidden portfolios
Make sure that every time a member of staff books a market appraisal that they ask the landlord if this property is part of a larger portfolio. Simply asking this question may trigger additional market appraisals. The Market Appraisal Analysis Dashboard in AgencyCloud can provide built-in, deep analysis of your market appraisals and can help you to nurture clients to the point where they are ready to instruct.
It is also always worth remembering that your existing clients may have larger property portfolios than you realise. Reach out to them and find out. If they already like your service, then half the battle is already done. There could be significant revenue opportunities for landlords in their portfolios that they are not aware of.
7) Leverage upsell opportunities
New business does not necessarily mean a new instruction. The authors of the book Marketing Metrics claim that “The probability of selling to a new prospect is 5-20%. The probability of selling to an existing customer is 60-70%.”
Take a careful look at your current portfolio and identify those that are rent collection or let only. Would these landlords consider upselling to full management? Whilst originally, they may have felt that they could do this themselves, they may have realised that the job is bigger than they thought and might be looking for some help.
Seth Godin, the best-selling author, entrepreneur, and in-demand speaker, summarised it thusly: “Don’t find customers for your products, find products for your customers.”
8) Make staff training a priority
Effective training will empower your staff to become an expert for their lettings applicants. Ask yourself the following questions:
If the answer to any of the above is no, or even a maybe, then they will probably not be able to offer the best possible service to their clients.
Make sure your team has all the relevant training and knowledge available at their fingertips. The advantages are as much for your agency as they are for your applicants: according to the Huffington Post, companies that invest in training achieve 24% higher profit margins, with retention being one of the main benefits as a strong training programme means fewer employees will leave, translating to cost savings from replacing employees.
9) Master both digital and offline networking
Networking on social media is a great way to get your face about and become known as a local lettings expert. Making sure you are plugged in to all the relevant social media platforms and use them constructively to help promote your agency brand and build awareness of your services for potential clients.
But it is also good to get off the digital sphere and to get to know your local employers. This means anything from engaging with local shops and cafes, to building relationships with the personnel departments of large companies. Not only will these people have new staff moving into the area, but it is possible that their employees may also need to move away but do not wish to sell.
Diane Helbig, the internationally recognised business and leadership development coach, author, and speaker, has had the success to claim that “Networking is an investment in your business. It takes time and when done correctly can yield great results for years to come.” Effective networking both online and off will help build your agency profile and open up instruction opportunities from surprising sources.
10) Make brainstorming a habit
Leverage the collective insights and ideas from your team to identify opportunities that others may have missed. By holding regular brainstorming sessions with your staff, where all ideas are welcomed, and everything is explored in a freestyle manner, experience and ideas come together to often reveal completely new possibilities and ways of doing. The smartest business minds of our time credit the collective vision of their teams with their success, because they understand that the whole is always greater than the sum of the parts. Get good at leveraging the power of your team through brainstorming.