Reducing your outgoings and raising your revenue through better structure.

4 Desks, a plant, a computer with a CRM and a phone on each. 2 Negs, a valuer and an administrator and go, your estate agency is in business. It has been this way for 20 years, but we just found out…. It is wrong, but why?

Reducing your outgoings and raising your revenue through better structure.

The setup mentioned in the introduction to this article is one that anyone in estate agency is familiar with or some variation of it but if we look at the origins of that setup it starts to show some concerning evidence that this tried and tested method is not actually the right way to work.

So this setup, of negotiators, valuers and an admin person is something that has been carried over right back from the Corporate Filofax days of estate agency in the 80’s and is really based around the idea that the majority of business enquiries will come through walk in’s or over the phone. Anyone who lived through estate agency in the 80’s and 90’s will tell you that the best desk is the one right by the door and the second that door opens you are up off your chair and round the other side of the desk looking to find out if there is an opportunity for you to register a good buyer or grab a valuation or mortgage lead for yourself.

The valuer, meanwhile, is out of the office trying to win instructions. Coming back to the office in one of two ways. Either not wanting to talk about the valuation as they were a waste of time OR swaggering back in like the Godfather and dropping a brand-new listing on the desk, like food for their hungry pack.

Meanwhile, the administrator in the office is generally kept out of all matters but is the only one who knows how to use the ‘word processor’ computer, in order to create details and window cards etc from the Dictaphone recordings.

But that was a lifetime ago, surely estate agency has moved on?

Well, yes things have moved on in terms of how we work but strangely the setups have remained largely the same. What has changed is that the amount of admin work has gone up significantly. However, rather than the number of admin staff increasing, estate agency has gone the opposite way and removed many of their administrators, instead asking valuers and negotiators to do their own admin and this is where everything starts to fall apart.

The old Estate Agency CRM systems are quickly becoming a thing of the past, even some of the newer flashy looking versions are really no longer fit for purpose. But smarter systems are starting to reinvent the way estate agents can work and in turn making them look at that age-old structure and by doing so it is showing an awful lot of structural damage.

For instance, the valuer. For an agent using one of the basic estate agency CRM systems, they are generally being asked to book their valuation into the system themselves. Go and do the valuation, come back and enter the information into the CRM and then regularly phone and email those people to ‘stay in touch’ and try to win the business. But most fail to do all of that well, so instead we are only interested in the ‘go and do the valuation’ part of that job, if they are good at that bit, the rest can be forgiven and if not they have to go.

Then let’s look at the negs. They used to jump up from their desk to grab those applicants when they walked in but now, the majority of enquiries come through Rightmove or Zoopla. They no longer have to place people and properties together manually everyday; they need to qualify all of the leads that are coming in. Find out if those people have a property to sell, find out if they need a mortgage and get them out to see the property, get the feedback and try to make some sales. But most fail to do all of that well, so instead we are only interested in the ‘try to make some sales’ bit, if they are good at that bit, the rest can be forgiven and if not they have to go.

But smart systems like Lifesycle have started to show agents that this all needs a rethink. When you have a system that will stay in contact with every single valuation you have ever attended and let you know when that person is reading your content on social media or visiting your website in the future it starts to become critical that the admin work for every valuation is done properly and if we are truthful, we already know that no matter how much you shout at a valuer, they are not going to be super-efficient at admin. By default they are more at home speaking to people and that is actually great. Keep them doing their high value jobs of closing deals and keeping clients happy, why distract them to do low value tasks? However, those tasks are still critical and therefore the rise of the administration team can reformat the way this works. Your valuer never again needs to book an appointment into Lifesycle themselves – there is a person or eventually a team that does that. They no longer need to enter all of the information into Lifesycle in order to send a post appraisal report and track and nurture that client as there is a team that looks after that. They no longer need to have a big pile of files for chasing as Lifesycle will present your admin team with all of the recently active valuations and people that have been interacting with your social media, or their presentations or your website and they will follow up with the right people at the right time.

Freeing your valuers up to do their high value tasks of speaking to people in order to win new business and retain existing customers.

The same can be said for the negotiators, who currently spend all day chasing after portal enquiries to ask them if they have a deposit? When they can view? If they have a property to sell? Do they need a mortgage?

But systems like Lifesycle can just do this for you by automatically replying to your enquiries asking them for this information. Not only that, Lifesycle can then send those people off down different routes of marketing depending on the opportunities that arise from their answers. Got a property to sell that is not yet on the market? Automatically send them the instant valuation tool to use. Got a property already on the market with another agent? Send them a survey to rate their current agent. Need a mortgage? Show them a Facebook advert about mortgage advice the next time they go online etc. All possible in Lifesycle without anyone lifting a finger.

This would leave your team to review their ‘lead deck’ and clearly see where the best opportunities lie, allowing them to not only speak with those people and solve their problems easier but also allowing them to spend their time on the valuable tasks of making deals happen.

On top of all this, your Lifesycle systems will now highlight to your administration team, who to call in order to book more viewings, get more market appraisals and win more instructions.

This new structure of working is proving to be a winning formula for everyone involved. Valuers get to do more of what they love and less admin, the same can be said for negs. Administrators have a significant and meaningful role to play in the business and the owners outgoings reduce and revenue increases.

On top of all of that, this setup allows agents to have a real strategy for expanding into new territories without having to worry about needing so many staff for the manpower side of things.

All in all, it is proving to be a much smarter way of working.

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