I was recently asked what I felt the best agents did to gain more landlords? After giving it some thought, the answer became obvious. Simply put, the best agents get more landlords by delivering a fantastic service and user experience. If the service you offer is poor, then regardless of how great your marketing is or how convincing the listers are, customer retention will always be an issue for you. This is a huge opportunity missed when you consider the lifetime value of a lettings customer.
How do these top-performing letting agents consistently deliver an excellent service and user experience? Several factors contribute, such as employing the right staff, paying the right salary and providing ongoing training and support. Yet the one factor which trumps everything else is:
They all have bulletproof processes in every part of the business. The very best agents will put as much – if not more – time, effort, and spend into the processes than they do into the marketing.
The exceptional agents will not only create processes, but they understand that one size doesn’t fit all. They will dissect landlord profiles into minute detail, create user journeys and processes for each stage of the journey, depending on the landlord type.
The wants and needs of each landlord profile is researched and processes are planned, documented, and just as importantly, rigorously followed.
For example, take an accidental landlord; it is likely they have previously lived in the property they now rent out, they may have raised family in it, are likely to know the neighbours and have local friendship groups. All of this creates an emotional attachment to the property. Because of this, I would argue that they care as much – if not more -about the type of tenants the agent puts into the property, than they do about getting the maximum amount of rent in the shortest space of time.
By understanding this landlord profile, every stage of the process needs to be different to that of a portfolio or B2L landlord. Segmenting your landlord types and then writing the processes accordingly makes it easier to persuade a landlord to use your service when you speak the language that the landlord wants to hear, often addressing their concerns before they have highlighted them, or are even aware of them.
Now let’s consider the valuation process. For an accidental landlord, the valuation needs to be an education piece – they want their mind put at ease. The agent needs to clearly and patiently explain the processes they follow at each stage of the journey, and explain that they prioritise finding the ‘right tenant’ who is going to look after the property, rather than agreeing to let to the first tenant who comes along. They need to showcase how they will manage the property, how routine inspections are undertaken, what they look for on inspections
(prevention is better than cure), how they handle property maintenance, how much input the landlord wants, and so on.
In contrast, this isn’t a portfolio landlords first rodeo; they care less what you do on a routine inspection and more about speed, void periods and rent. As such, the pitch needs to focus on what the agency does to fulfil this landlord’s priorities and improve their ROI.
Similarly, the-move in process, renewal process, and property management will all have a different approach. The best agents will go as far as matching the personality types of the property managers with similar types of landlord. Analytical property managers work well with portfolio landlords, whereas amiable property managers work with accidental landlords.
So in answer to the initial question, ‘What do the best agencies do to attract more landlords to use their services?’ They understand the different types of landlords. By doing so, they discover what attracts each type of landlord, where they hang out (physically and virtually) and then follow the processes.Not only are they attracting them, but also retaining them – retention is the ultimate growth strategy
Bulletproof processes are how you deliver consistent quality.People do what you inspect rather than what you expect – by having ridged processes that you can easily monitor, make improvements and manage staff accordingly whilst maintaining service levels.
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About the Author
Richard Durrant, Commercial and Strategic Director
Richard Durrant has worked in an estate agency for 24 years. Starting as an office junior in his mid-teens, Richard progressed up the ranks to Managing Director of a 12 branch estate agency, and also successfully set up and exited two smaller estate agency businesses. To complete his CV, Richard has also held Commercial Director roles in an online agency and a private equity firm.
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These views are those of the author alone and do not necessarily reflect the view of TDS, its officers and employees.