Back in June 2011 we invited Tom from Findahome Online to visit the Rightmove offices in Milton Keynes to give us an insight into the world of online agencies. Twelve months on it was my turn to visit Tom as I was fortunate enough to be invited to join him and his colleagues for the day to get a better understanding of their daily duties and challenges.
I travelled up from Milton Keynes to Stoke-On-Trent by train and was met at the platform by Tom, who escorted me to his office in his branded car which certainly stands out and gets noticed! When we arrived at their offices I met Sharron, Tom’s wife and Business partner and Steph the Office Manager. Sharron took the time to show me what they do on a valuation call including the forms they fill out in preparation, along with the Rightmove Best Price Guide and other research on the local area. All details are also added onto their database. Sharron will of a morning call vendors to give them feedback on the previous day’s viewings to ensure they are kept up to date along with many other duties, however due to the short time I was there, only caught a glimpse of these.
In total I went out with Tom on three of the five valuations he had booked in for that afternoon. Now I don’t want to go and give away all of Tom’s secrets, as like all Estate Agents they love to have their own USP’s, but will try and summarise the valuations from my own point of view.
Vendors do their research and they already have a perception of you before you walk through the door. Some knew about Findahome Online because they had been in the Staffordshire Sentinel Newspaper, others were because of for-sale boards they had seen in the same street or because they had been recommended by a friend. All bar one vendor we spoke to said they used property portals to help with their research, as well as to look for their next property to buy.
I really do believe that first impressions count and this is one thing that Tom did very well. He is very observant, his attention to detail is superb, he comes across extremely professional and doesn’t do a hard sell, instead leaving the vendor at ease and feeling completely safe in his hands.
I was pleased to see he handed out a Rightmove Premium Listing leaflet on the valuations and I am sure it wasn’t just for my benefit of being there as they include a Premium Listing in one of their Marketing packages - these seemed very popular with the vendors.
Two final points and probably two of the most important things I picked up on were that firstly, each vendor we met noticed that Tom was doing something different during his valuation. This triggered responses of “oh the other agent didn’t do that” or “the other agents didn’t ask me that”. The reason why I make a point of saying this is because in this competitive market it is vital that, as an agent, you stand out from your competitors and in the words of agency trainer Julian O’Dell, “good enough just isn’t good enough anymore”, meaning that agents now need to be exceptional.
The second point is around fees in that not one of the vendors we met queried them. This could possibly have been because they were already aware of the associated fees however from what I observed, they seemed more interested in the person in front of them; their manner, personality and the overall interest they showed in their property, all of which add up to be a good indicator as to whether they feel they can trust this person to sell their home on their behalf.
Tom and Sharron work extremely long hours and find themselves working harder than ever before. They look after each and every client, be it vendor or landlord, as well as the phenomenal amount of administration work that goes into running an estate agency business.
One day only really showed me a snippet of what goes into running a successful estate agency business, but I can honestly say spending the day with Findahome Online has helped me in achieving what I went there to do.
I would like to say a huge thank you to Tom, Sharron and Steph for taking the time out of your day to welcome me and have me spend the day with you.