How to win landlords with "no sales BS" [+ podcast]
You can break down barriers to help you win more landlords if your agents ditch the corporate image and avoid selling to people, says Mike Robson, Director of letting and estate agency Avocado Property.
We have a simple set of rules at Avocado Property: "no suits, no ties, no leaflets, no sales BS". The only time we find our customers wear suits is if they have a court appearance or are meeting an accountant. Normally, they're in t-shirts and jeans, and we want to reflect our clients. If you look and talk like your customer, if you are a reflection of them, they are more likely to get on with you.
The people within the brand
The pink hoodies we wear are our trademark, they're attention grabbers. They break down barriers between ourselves and our customers. We want to have friendships and relationships with the people we work with - and people don't want to know a big brand anymore, they want to know the people within that brand. Even in the biggest companies in the world, the owners of those companies are well-known celebrity owners. Look at Tesla with Elon Musk and Amazon with Jeff Bezos. Avocado Property is known as Mike, Sanjay, Ellen… 50% of our business is getting our faces known.
Building recognition to build community support
That recognition helps us in a lot of ways. We don't like to sell to people and, in fact, we don't have to. We've got a huge following on social media and community groups are massively important to us. In my local town, the Facebook group has got around 37,000 members - that's around one in three people who live in the area. And when someone says that they're looking for an estate agent or letting agent, I see my customers jumping all over it to say that you need to speak to Mike. It really shows the power of social proof when our current landlords want other people to know about our services.
This community support means that the vast majority of people who invite us to see their property have already bought into who we are and what we do. We're rarely called to marketing appointments against four other agencies. They want to deal with a partner of the business, someone who's experienced and someone who's going to hold their hand through the process from start to finish, rather than jumping between different departments.
People can follow us for six to 12 months before they actually decide to sell or rent out their property because that decision isn't made overnight - so your agency should be prepared to play the long game when starting to build out your own community following. When you have a firmly established following, you'll start to get invited out to people's properties, not for a business pitch, but to get things moving from the first time you speak.
Property presentation is everything too
The properties will sell themselves too, with the high-res, presented video of each house for sale or for rent that we create. Everyone's proud to see their property presented as if it's a TV programme, rather than seeing a few photos snapped and whacked up on the portals as fast as possible. For a lot of landlords, it's been their life's work to get their property to a certain standard so you have to take that sense of pride and really run with it.
But it still comes back to the human, individual touch. When we write up the property details, we leave a paragraph or two for the owner or landlord to write their own opinion and tell the potential tenants or the buyers why they originally bought the house, why they live there, what they enjoyed about it. It means more to tenants and buyers when they can buy into your landlords or your agency as individuals, as well as to the property itself.