This year has been like no other, that isn’t really the revelation of the century, is it. Though, for me, I’ve happened across a few revelations in the past 12 months that might be useful for an agent or two.
Lockdown and all it’s associated loveliness has done many things, one of the most apparent impacts has been our increased reliance on technology. The meeting room has been replaced with the Zoom screen, the commute has been replaced with a short stumble from bed to your desk and the after-work drinks have all but disappeared (for now…)
Though, with all the negativity in the world, it is useful to focus on the positives. This year has made all of us, in our own way, upskill. We have learned new and valuable digital communication skills. We have been able to use new and exciting technologies and have learned that adaptability is within all of us.
Working in a tech company comes with a few demands, to answer people’s questions I must educate myself. In answering these questions, you come across all sorts. In one situation you are asked how an agency whose most technologically advanced equipment or system is their mobiles, to another where a fully technology-enabled office is asking how to improve one particular process. In both cases, you have to know what you’re talking about. Most of the time it is just a matter of getting to the root of the issue and advising what system can be adopted or adapted to meet their needs.
Put simply, a competitive advantage is a series of factors that allow you to out-compete your industry rivals and deliver consistently higher profits than the norm. In terms of service delivery, most of this comes from either processes or marketing. When speaking in terms of processes, consultants reckon that around 60-90% of all best practices diffuse to the competition. So, to stay ahead, you must be constantly vigilant and on the lookout for new ways of doing things.
So what does this fully PropTech-enabled agency look like? Well the answer is, and you’ll not like this, no two are the same. Though, there are similarities. The fully PropTech enabled letting agent has a great understanding of where technology should be used and where it shouldn’t. They have an excellent grasp of where they add value and where the areas of their operations can be sped up or improved via technology.
They have a firm grasp of what sets them apart from other agents and on what areas of their operations they source a competitive advantage. Now, this may be the communication skills of your staff or a carefully cultivated brand reputation, it isn’t likely to be the ability to do admin work or book a viewing better than the agent down the street. The catch-22 is, while the likes of admin work or booking viewings won’t set you apart, they can hinder your performance. The emphasis should lie in identifying areas in which bottlenecks can form and alleviating this by adopting systems and technology.
Now, I have read enough blogs that beat around the bush without actually giving anything concrete, and while I am hesitant to make any company or product recommendations, I will try to give a few good examples.
Take the customer lifecycle, having talked to a few people in both the lettings and PropTech sphere I know it can be easy to get bogged down in your own operations and forget the customer/tenant experience. Now, we could go into extreme levels of depth on each area of the tenancy process but I’ll try and keep this brief.
This is an area sometimes forgotten by agents, before a potential tenant makes contact with you they will be running through a consideration set. Of course, these are more likely to relate to their own intrinsic needs but you can help them along in this pre-tenancy process. Providing good quality images or videos within your marketing content, perhaps using 3D mapping devices such as the Giraffe, or using CRM systems that can push marketing info straight to portals.
Good quality info can help tenants quickly decide if this is the unit for them. In today’s world, concise but data-rich information is needed, people today have less time and are bombarded with thousands of marketing messages every time they unlock their phone. Following this, say they want to book a viewing… great! Though, tell me this, do you do most of your browsing during or after work? Hopefully after, it’s not ideal to have potential tenants waiting about for a response, they can pile up for you, or they could go elsewhere. Technologies such as Inspect Real Estate allow your potential tenants to book themselves into a property viewing outside of office hours.
The viewing is done, they love it, though do you love them? Tenant referencing can be another cumbersome and time-consuming process for many a letting agent, though again systems exist. Companies such as RentProfile provide quick and rigorous tenant reference checks, ensuring that you can make the most informed decisions when taking on new tenants. Again, the aim here is not to adopt every system under the sun but to see where you are either slow or inefficient and finding a way to combat it.
Have you ever heard that it is 5 times more expensive to acquire a new customer than it is to keep an existing one? This where you earn your keep.
Slick communication between the agent, landlord, and tenant is paramount. Using a system that is robust, flexible and easy-to-use is the determining factor in this. Being able to ensure that you can consolidate past growth so that you can focus on new growth is something that will help you rest easy. Using systems that work as you do will ensure the easy day-to-day management of your portfolio.
Again, as I mentioned before, you should be using a system that allows you to speed up what everyone has to do so that you can focus on what only you can do. Systems like Origin and Elevate may be the ones for you but like all the products mentioned, it’s what works for you. The ability to leave a lasting positive impression on tenants facilitat
ed by systems will help cultivate a positive brand image and improve the chances of them renewing their tenancy.
While they are leaving you, there is still an opportunity to leave a lasting impression. This can translate into not only for a potential reentrance into your business at a later date but also for word of mouth (WOM) and also EWOM (electronic word of mouth) recommendations. Again, the emphasis here should be to reduce bottlenecks prioritise a seamless transfer from one stage to another.
From the outset, I have tried to make this as applicable to all readers as possible. What I am trying to say is that I cannot give you specific recommendations, few can. As an agent or decision-maker in your agency, you should be mindful of what you do better than your competition. On what grounds do you compete? What tasks in your day-to-day are taking away your time and focus from these value-adding activities. Once you have looked intrinsically, you can then look externally to find systems to help you build this competitive advantage into a sustainable advantage.
If you want to chat about our systems or PropTech in general, fire us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to hear from you.
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