The presupposed notion still exists that new online agents are ‘tech savvy’ whilst the seemingly old fashioned high street agents are struggling to compete, anxiously biding their time until the last existing internet-phobic seller walks through their door with an instruction.
In fact, high street agents are already competing fiercely in the online arena through their adaption of new technology which, when combined with their human interaction and focus on customer service, presents a strong offering to sellers.
The fact is that websites of traditional high street names still dominate estate agency on the web, attracting the largest volumes of traffic as they reap the benefit of years of brand building: leaflet dropping, boards, shop fronts and maintaining a real presence in our neighbourhoods.
With the right technology, high street agents can be just as clever about online marketing, managing their data and offering value for money. This is easier than ever, with online records for every vendor and applicant enabling agents to track progress, manage viewings, establish key milestones and log all activities, with automatic alerts and diary prompts ensuring nothing is missed. Marketing too is simple and straightforward through agent software, whether it’s managed in a high street office or an online call centre, ensuring properties reach all the desired channels and reporting back, so agents can see exactly where their leads are coming from.
Harnessing new technology and training agents to use it can seem like a challenge for smaller high street agents who may struggle to make the initial investment of time and cash. But their failure to supplement their customer service with technological advancement could leave them vulnerable.
Online agents are not afraid to rely largely on instant marketing, sending the net far and wide and spending less time nurturing applicants over a longer life cycle, as agents undoubtedly do on the high street. They are naturally monitoring the entire process online, but how do they fare without face-to-face interaction and the months, often years, of relationship building with customers carried out by high street agents?
Ultimately, strong customer relationships remain paramount. Technology is enabling high street agents to compete in the online arena, freeing up their time to deliver the kind of old fashioned customer service which is needed to push property sales and lettings through the often arduous process to completion. As all agents know, it’s not just about selling the house, but achieving the best possible price in the ideal timeframe. What the right technology can do is take care of the administrative process, leaving agents to nurture the contacts and build the human relationships that will keep the sale alive.
* Trevor Youens is Managing Director of Qube Sales, Lettings and Management Software