Christopher Watkin: 5 steps to get landlords to switch to your agency
Chris Watkin, Business Generation Guru for letting agents, outlines the five things your agency could be doing to attract landlords to you over your competitors.
Have you ever wondered why a landlord stays with an agent that doesn't have the same level of customer service as you? Or why don't they leave agents who are less rigorous in their compliance checks? It's the same reason why people don't change banks - they can't be bothered.
If people choose to stay with the same bank, it's not because of a lack of brand awareness about the alternatives. Anyone can reel off the names of 10 banks. It's the same for landlords. Most landlords will be aware of the names of agents in their area.
But, in their eyes, a lot of letting agents are the same. And that's why you have to make an effort to be different - and make landlords realise that a change would be worth it.
The increasingly competitive lettings landscape
The number of letting agents has quadrupled over the last 20 years. In Derby, there were five or six back in the early 2000s. Now there are more than 50.
If your version of marketing is a social media post with a logo saying "these are the reasons you should use us", every other agent is doing the same. It's just noise and landlords will ignore it.
You need landlords to pay attention and listen to you. That means they need to be interested in what you have to say. You need to work out what your local landlords want to hear, and create great content that’s tailored to them.
1. Outline your target audience
Understanding who you're talking to is important, as it will change the narrative and the advice that you share.
For example, landlords can make money in two ways on a rental property: capital growth or yield. The properties at the lower end of the food chain tend to offer great yields but poor capital growth. The properties that tend to offer great capital growth offer low yield.
You can help your prospective landlords understand what they should prioritise based on their demographics and goals.
If they're hoping to retire within the next 15 years, capital growth becomes the priority. If they're younger, a continuous revenue stream may be more advisable.
2. Define what those landlords want to hear
When you understand who you're talking to, it becomes easier to understand how to tailor content.
Luckily, estate and letting agents are the gatekeepers to the second most interesting topic in the world to the Brits. The first is the weather; the second is the property market.
A landlord's property is an investment, whether they entered the market as an accidental landlord or investor. Every landlord is obsessed with the value of their investment, just like homeowners.
So, that's what you need to talk about.
There's so much data out there that you can use to detail what's happening to house prices and rents and yields in your area. That’s what they really want to hear about - and there are lots of ways to share it.
3. Choose the right channels and format for your audience
If you're trying to attract 24-year-old landlords, it's TikTok videos all the way.
The problem is there aren’t that many landlords that age. If your target audience is 50 to 70 year-old landlords (which is most landlords), that demographic tends to be middle to upper class.
To target that middle-aged bracket, eighty percent of your social media should be on Facebook. You can join local Facebook groups - as an agent, not an agency - and post content about not the weather but the property market.
4. Create your engaging and tailored content
Whatever format your content takes - blogs, videos, podcasts, etc - it's all about creating great headlines. Write about the two things every landlord is interested in.
Firstly, the value of their rental property and what is happening in the local property market.
Secondly, great local buy-to-let deals - especially if they are with your competitors. (I know that sounds weird – yet it works because you aren’t trying to sell them anything)
And it's not all about making your logo as big as possible. You should simply focus on getting landlords to engage with you.
You need a title that doesn't mention your agency, but highlights in a specific way the information your target landlords need. I get accused of being clickbaity. It isn't clickbait if what you say matches the headline and brings value.
5. Get creative
You should always be looking for different ways to get your expertise out there. For example, most towns still have a local newspaper but they've got rid of most of their journalists. So why not write an article about the property market and email it to the editor every week?
Don't expect them to publish it the first time. If it's well written and specific to the area, they'll recognise the value eventually. I'd also print it and send it, with a little post-it note saying "feel free to use this, I'll email it to you in a couple of days".
All of this is competitive advantage marketing. You're not shouting about why landlords should choose you. You're making them see your value and how important it is.
That's a strong incentive to get them to make the switch - and make sure your landlord portfolio stays healthy.