This article was sponsored by our partners at ZPG.
The current market for estate and letting agents is challenging.
An uncertain economic climate along with the rise of online agencies, means that high street agents are increasingly looking at ways in which they can differentiate themselves to gain an advantage over the competition.
To understand consumer sentiment, confidence in the property market and their needs from agents, ZPG recently commissioned and presented independent State of the Property Nation research in a series of live web conferences.
One of the most striking findings was that a significant gap exists between what vendors want and what they feel agents are delivering in terms of transparency. The gap between expectation and delivery was 42%.
This gap presents an opportunity for agents to differentiate their business value.
In a series of live web conferences hosted by Phil Spencer, a panel discussed three ways savvy agents are approaching this challenge.
Successful agents are investing in technology that enables them to offer more transparency and information to consumers with an ‘always on’ service.
They are becoming more responsive by enabling their clients to do things online, like book viewings or valuations, and check the progress of their sale or letting, anywhere, anytime.
This has the added benefit of helping high street agents save time and money through increased efficiency.
ZPG’s PropertyFile tool marks a significant step towards closing the gap, by enabling agents to improve visibility to clients, as well as capture more leads in the process. “Providing more clarity is a positive move”, as Gareth Helm, Chief Marketing Officer at ZPG commented while presenting the State of the Property Nation research, “as there is an opportunity here to explain the service [agents are providing] more and to help people realise, in real terms, what they are getting as part of their package.”
By offering consumers a higher level of service, agents improve their ability of winning more instructions to avoid losing out to online competitors.
Increasingly, consumers expect a seamless experience and moving home is no exception.
Entrepreneurial agents are offering additional services to make moving less stressful, such as providing comparison quotes for ancillary services to buyers and vendors, to help them get the best deal on conveyancing, financial services and utility switching.
This move towards a more open and available range of services from agents helps them address the transparency issue more broadly. As Phil Spencer commented during the research presentation, “Discussion and managing expectations are so key to an agent’s role, and it’s not always easy in a moving market.” Using emerging technology to facilitate this can take the pressure off the agent and give consumers more control.
Offering a wider range of services gives customers a better experience and helps drive more recommendations and testimonials.
There is also the added opportunity of creating an additional revenue stream from referrals for the agent, offsetting costs, such as property marketing. And this is taking off, with ZPG reporting recently that its comparison tool, MoveIt, has reached over £1m in potential referral revenue to its agents.
There are more economic and political challenges ahead for agents, and consumer behaviour continues to adapt to an online world.
Successful agents in the future are taking steps now towards a way of working that is enhanced by technology.
James Toogood, Group Sales Director for ZPG’s property software division commented, “We are seeing agents invest more in technology to drive efficiencies, but also to offer higher levels of service than their competitors. Good technology companies are helping agents generate more revenue or even totally new revenue streams. This is particularly important, not just because the economy is fragile but also because of changes in legislation such as the looming ban on letting agent fees.”
The move to cloud based property management software is allowing the pace of development to accelerate. Tools like MoveIt and PropertyFile integrate into these systems and can be activated immediately. However, it’s down to agents to work out how these technologies will shape their future.
James continued, “not every agent is seeing the same urgency, but they’ll need to adapt to survive in the current challenging marketplace.”
Taking a proactive approach in the present could help safeguard your business for the future.
This article was sponsored by our partners at ZPG.
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