Peter Knight on what it takes to be the best letting agency in the UK

Agencies who want to be the best need to have the systems in place to excel at the basics, says Peter Knight.

Andrea Warmington

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“Do the ordinary things extraordinarily well,” is the advice that Peter Knight has for agencies who want to be the best in the country. 

“Agencies are searching all the time for a silver bullet, it seems to me, something that gives them a point of difference. It doesn't exist - or, if it does, it can be copied in a heartbeat,” says Knight. “What they need to do is to focus on doing the basics well - answering the phone, and being nice to people, and doing what you'll say you do. Yes, that might sound boring, but those are the things you need to do. That's pretty much it.”

But the founder of the Property Academy and EA Masters - which anoints the best estate and letting agencies in the UK every year - knows that it can be “a lot harder than it sounds.” 

How do agencies get this right? “They need to have incredible systems, processes, and checklists,” says Knight.  “The agencies that will win this year are those who are consistent in their delivery of their service proposition and have systems, processes, and checklists in place to ensure that it stays consistent.”

“The challenge agents face is that many of them have built a business based on principally face-to-face contact, which is how estate agency was conducted for the most part, and is still important,” he says. “But the vast majority of contact is now done online, or via email, or over the telephone, and agents just do not have the systems in place to cope with it.”

Being open late isn’t enough anymore, says Knight, and agencies need to adapt their business models to cope with changing expectations. “It's 24/7/365 now and most agents just aren't geared up to be able to deliver on that.”

This was evident in the mystery shopping process that helps determine the best agencies, says Knight. “We made over 25,000 enquiries and half of them weren’t answered within 24 hours,” he says. “It is a challenge, but agencies have got to invest in technology. If you're going to do something again - or even think you're going to do it again - you should have a system for it.”  

Those agencies that already have the right systems in place are constantly seeking to refine and improve on these systems. “They are relentless in that, and actually, probably will drive some people mad in their quest to improve,” says Knight. 

“The best agencies haven’t got some secret recipe - that doesn’t exist. They just do the basic things brilliantly.”


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