Tom Mansbridge, Account Manager for mio has worked with Estate Agents for six years and, in that time spoken to thousands of agents, all over the UK, from market leaders to start ups; from high street brands to hybrids, This has provided him with a unique insight into some key learnings Estate Agencies can use to be the best they can be. This is the first in a series of articles sharing some insights he has learned along the way.
The Leaky Bucket
Understandably an agent’s primary objective is to get more instructions and increase market share – and, of course, they want immediate solutions to achieve this.
However, in focusing just on generating more instructions and market share, what can often be overlooked is addressing any potential weaknesses in the business that need attention to improve the overall bottom line. Without this an agent can’t really understand whether they do in fact need more instructions or just need to be better at converting more sales. For those not familiar with the “leaky bucket” analogy, it’s all about fixing the ‘“leaks” before adding more to the hypothetical bucket. If you can fix the leaks, more of the listings you win will exchange and generate revenue, so you don’t need to focus on adding more and more into the bucket. Which is particularly relevant when stock is in short supply!
Businesses that really understand and work on fixing where their “leaks” may be have a few things in common: they proactively collate honest, insightful feedback, they are close to the detail and they constantly review their numbers e.g. conversions from appraisals to listings and from listing to exchange.
How can feedback help identify problem areas?
Getting honest feedback from anyone your business deals with is a great place to start. It’s not just about collecting Google Reviews from your vendors, it’s about proactively seeking feedback from those customers who chose not to instruct you and listening to them and your team. Collecting feedback at different stages in the process will also provide you with a well rounded view of how customers feel about your business, for example:
- After the valuation
- Following a viewing
- At the point of agreeing a sale
- Between SSTC and Exchange
- At completion or a period afterwards
If you’re concerned about asking customers for feedback too frequently, instead invest time in reviewing a real-life customer journey. From that first call and email, through to a valuation or viewings, to the follow up communication. Whatever has happened, you need to put yourself in the customer’s position and live their experience. This can highlight if you have some problem areas in your process and where you need to focus your attention to try and ensure you aren’t losing business unnecessarily.
Once you have your feedback, evaluate this against what you would deem as Acceptable, Good or Outstanding. Everyone will have a different perception of this criteria, but this is your business and you need to set the standard you’d expect for your customers – and your team to deliver.
Top Tip: If your calls aren’t recorded Rightmove (other portals are available) offer free call recording which you can access in Rightmove Plus, use this to review the quality of your calls with potential customers.
It’s not all about the weaknesses
Positive feedback is just as important as negative feedback. You need to know what you do well so you can keep doing it. Celebrate the positive feedback but don’t forget to take time to analyse what they are actually saying about your business/service/experience (and what they aren’t saying).
Top Tip: You can use positive feedback to evidence that your business is delivering. As an example – pair a statement, on your website, about being great at sales progression with a few reviews from customers that prove it and all of sudden the statement becomes far more believable.
How do I collect feedback?
If you’re collecting feedback through a structured approach e.g. a survey of customers who chose not to appoint you, think about what information you want to gather and how you’re going to gather it. Platforms like Survey Monkey make it really simple to email a link to a survey to lost prospects and most CRM systems will have an integrated survey solution.
Keep surveys short and think about how you’re going to encourage people to respond e.g. offering a monthly prize draw. Remember that it’s easier to analyse the results of a quantitative survey rather than a qualitative survey. Qualitative surveys can offer more detailed insight, but response rates are likely to be lower because completing them takes longer.
A quantitative survey is one that asks questions like:
Based on a score of 1-5 with being 1 poor and 5 being brilliant, how happy were you with the valuation appointment?
A qualitative survey would simply ask:
What are your views on our valuation appointment?
If you want more advice on getting valuable feedback, there is lots of help available online, for example Mindtools shared this content.
Use your team for feedback
Don’t overlook the value of feedback that your team can provide. They will be closer to everyday processes in your business than anyone else. Getting honest feedback from your team can be challenging particularly in a sales environment where it’s all about constant positivity. Think about the correct environment as they need to feel safe to share with you openly and honestly (this also applies to your prospects/customers) – some people might not be confident enough to speak up in a team meeting whilst others might be intimidated if they are asked for feedback in a one to one etc. One way to overcome this is through anonymous surveys which it’s mandatory for team members to respond to.
I have my feedback, what next?
However you collect feedback and wherever it comes from, you need to act on it. Identify which weaknesses are most frequently mentioned; understand how difficult the weakness will be to fix and then prioritise what you’re going to do to improve. This will hopefully highlight priorities and training needs, which you can build into actions to drive improvement for your business, but ultimately your customers. Remember, that five quick fixes of small problems can have just as bigger impact as one big fix.
Where you do things well shout about it, nothing will sell your business better than a testimonials from an actual customer so make sure you are making the most out of these.
If you’re interested to learn more, then please feel free to get in touch and Tom can share some ideas to support your business objectives.