This week has been a manic one, -20°C with snow and moving, I am now having a well-deserved break of a couple of days snowboarding in Bansko, Bulgaria.
As I sit on my balcony looking at the looming mountains it strikes me that each of you that have emailed or gotten in contact recently all run very different businesses. Your needs, objectives, and strategies all differ, and on that basis, I have no one size fits all solution – as I haven’t been in every situation or tried every tool out there. What I do know is that certain concepts are universal whether you operate a boutique one-branch operation in London, or a large network of branches across the country.
Sales progression, after-sales, sales chasing or any of the other names by which it’s known is a very important part of any estate agency.
Rarely in our industry (but almost always in other sales environments) we hear terms like sales funnel, churn and velocity bandied about, but, what are they and how do they affect us?
“We must work to reduce churn in our pipeline whilst maximising our sales velocity”.
For us as agents that means it’s all down to our SSTC properties (sales pipeline) and our ability to reduce the number of fall-throughs (aborted sales or churn) and maximise the speed in which we complete properties (sales pipeline velocity). Sounds easy right? It’s not. it’s damn hard.
The sales progression part of our business has two factors that can affect our profitability: –
Fall throughsSpeed of getting a property to exchange & completion. So, any tools that help us optimise these two factors are to be taken seriously. For example; if an average high street agent charging £2,000 has 50 properties including sold and has 50% sold at any one time (i.e. 25 for sale and 25 SSTC) then their pipeline is £50,000. The velocity of this pipeline can make a huge difference. For example, if the agent takes 13 weeks to complete then bringing that time down by a couple of weeks would make the agent tens of thousands more in revenue annually.
We currently use a piece of software called <a href=”https://viewmychain.com/home>”Viewmychain</a> that allows us to monitor the progress of a sale. It not only looks at our property but the rest within the chain too. This helps reduce the chances of a full chain collapse as we get notified by the system when a property in the chain falls through. This means we know straight away and can keep the chain together, rather than wait for the agents in the chain to advise (sadly in many cases, agents never bother informing the whole chain when their property falls through). Secondly, it automatically notifies us when searches are applied for, and when searches come back, etc. – which saves us calling around to get milestone updates from solicitors. This bit is not 100% currently, however I must say it is improving. Hopefully in the future it will be able to get all the updates on all properties, but it still saves us time in its current state.
Then, as all of you know, the most complicated and potentially risky stage comes: enquiries. <a href=”https://viewmychain.com/home>”Viewmychain</a> doesn’t help much at this stage and it’s still very much down to the agent to liaise with solicitors and parties in the chain, but, let’s be honest, if it did that bit you wouldn’t need anyone doing sales progression at all!
Overall, it’s a good tool that is helping us reduce fall throughs via the early warning notifications and a tool that is reducing our time taken to complete. It’s a well-regarded system and the team are super helpful and quick to continually improve the software. This is a part of my estate agency tech stack (more on this next week).
In terms of speed we can’t ignore the idea of just palming it off to someone else to deal with. I tried an outsourced sales progression team a few years ago. It was an awful experience and I would never do it again, but I have heard of other providers that have provided fellow agents with a better experience. It’s worth considering if your fees are decent and your volume is low.
Taking about low volume; It seems everywhere I go I see less and less stock being marketed by Countrywide agencies. When I started out with them this was not the case. Locally they were the best firm, with the best people, and were hard to beat. Now, a lot of the good people have left (there are still some excellent people there and some top branches) and in my area of The Midlands they are not the force they once were. I was perplexed by this until I realised the problem is at the top; not on the high street but in the boardroom. And now, rather than continue to innovate they have given up and want to go back in time, they are even asking ex-employees to return and ‘make Countrywide great again!’
In related news, this article from Countrywide’s boss from a few weeks ago was interesting for me:
Next week I want to explore the idea of a tech stack; What it is, and its importance in your estate agency business. Feel the rhythm, feel the rhyme, get on up its snowboarding time… a brown man on ice always brings out the Cool Running references!