Difference between high street agents, hybrid and online agents

October 2016

If you really want to know what goes on behind the scenes at estate agents, who better to interview than the person who trains many of them!

In this frank and direct interview, Boyd Mayover discusses what he sees as the fall down of both high street agents, hybrid and online agents.

What are they good at and where do they need to improve? What is the difference between them all? Who would Boyd instruct?

All these questions and more will be explored in this most insightful interview yet!

Eye opening interview with a trainer of Estate Agents

Alex: Very excited indeed to be interviewing a chap called Boyd Mayover. Now, he has a company called Sales Doctor, and what’s so incredibly interesting is he actually teaches estate agents behind the scenes. Boyd, fantastic to have you on the phone this morning. Thank you very much indeed for spending the time with us.

Boyd: That’s great. Thanks for asking me.

Alex: Not at all. Now just sort of getting straight into it, just talk me through how from your perspective, from effectively the Sales teaching point of view, how you feel estate agency as a business sector has actually changed over, I suppose, the last 10 years or so?

Boyd: Well, I think there’s a few things that have changed. I think some of the estate agents have started to realize that they’ve got to be far more consultative. The hard sell’s gone, unfortunately. I’m sure there’s a few odd balls out there, but by large the hard sell’s gone. The estate agents are realizing they have to offer a world car service now, otherwise they’re not going to keep and retain business. And when I say that, I mean to everyone: to the tenant, to the landlord, to the vendor, and to the person buying. And that service has to be from the moment somebody calls them, to the moment and after they’ve moved in.

Alex: And you feel this is one of the key areas that estate agents really need to get better at, if not the only reason that they need to get better at, in terms of keeping their clients?

Boyd: Absolutely. I think they forget sometimes, and what happens is… You know, Alex, there’s times where estate agents are very busy and life for them is pretty easy, and what I find happens then, they get lazy. And if they have a lot of inquiries, they don’t treat each inquiry with the respect it deserves.

Alex: And why is that, Boyd? Why do you feel that the agents don’t sort of… I guess that’s partly why they get a bit of a bad reputation, is this of the handling of calls and returning the calls. Why do you feel that’s the case?

Boyd: Yeah, I think it’s because they carry big, and sometimes the culture within the agency… I’ve even heard agents say things like, ” Oh, they’re just tenants.” Now think about it, the person who’s renting today, might well be renting to scope the area and then have an absolutely enormous budget to buy. So it’s a very short, [inaudible 00:02:31], Alex. And they are changing and they are getting better, but there’re still too many of them don’t treat every customer. I call it the George Clooney effect. I say, if George Clooney walked into your estate agency office tomorrow, would you treat him any differently to your normal clients? And unfortunately, over 80% of agents say, “Yes, I would.”

Alex: Yeah, I probably agree with that, having been that side of the fence myself, as you know. I mean, guess a lot of what’s changed over the last 10 years or so is very much now with this targeted type culture and key performance indicators, and that sort of grindstone mentality. And I suppose from your perspective, which is almost very much the insider with estate agency, do you feel that that’s changed the business sector for better, for worse, or do you feel that it’s just had no effect whatsoever?

Boyd: I think it’s changed it for worse with the corporates. You know, there are many companies I know that built up very nice businesses, they might have had seven or eight branches or maybe more, got taken over by a corporate, and within a year their start turnover was almost 80%, because they changed from being what made that company special and why they bought them, to just a sales machine where the only thing that was important was a number of calls you made. And it just doesn’t work. And let me tell you, Alex. Unless estate agents are careful, the likes of Purplebricks and easy property are coming over the power pit with their bayonets fixed. Unless they’re careful, they’re gonna lose the war and it will be their own fault.

Alex: It’s a valid point. I mean, it’s very much sort of seen as the insurgency, so to speak, at the moment, the pure online agents like Purplebricks. You’ve got the hybrid agents such as you, me, for example. Why are they making such a hit within the estate agency sector? Why does their business sort of seem to be growing at the moment and they’re taking more of the properties on?

Boyd: Well, I think it’s simple. If the customer’s perception is that he’s not getting a good service and in fact sometimes he’s getting a bad service – no follow-ups, no calls, etc. – he might as well pay for the cheaper service. Now, my experience Purplebricks, some of these hybrids, their service is not good. You know, people forget that when you buy a property or you’re selling a property, you need the agent to have a great deal of expertise, because it’s not the fee you pay, it’s what you get and in what timeline, Alex. It’s not the fee that’s important to the customer. I urge vendors, “Don’t just look at the fee! Look at what you’re going to get,” because some of the hybrids, they have no sales progression whatsoever. So what I mean by that is, from the moment the customer makes the offer, they’re on their own.

Now, how could the customer know about surveys, about convincing, about the fact that his buyer, if he was able to get another 1% reduction on his mortgage, would easily be able to buy his house rather than struggle? This is what a good, a world-class estate agent knows and does, and that’s the value in estate.

Alex: So very, very valid point. And I mean, I suppose it’s also been in the news, and we’re not saying anything untoward, but as an example, Purplebricks… Just talk everyone through this, because they’ve had a bit of controversy recently, just in the way that they sort of get their fee.

Boyd: Yes, absolutely. They get their fee in advance! So you paid them your money, and therefore what incentive is there for Purplebricks to do a wonderful job selling the property at the right price for the vendor? Zero.

Alex: In detail, they’re not motivated. As soon as you instruct them, you pay your money, in effect, in advance, and that goes straight into the Purplebricks account, and then I suppose they just leave you out there to dry, and that’s one of the biggest issues out there. But I suppose if you are a homeowner of seller, you don’t find out about it until it’s too late.

Boyd: Well, that’s right. And as far as the seller… If I was selling my property, the agent I want to choose is an agent that can demonstrate to me they’ve sold properties like mine at the price I want, but most importantly, they will hold my hand from the moment the offer’s in. And I want the right offer. You know, there could be two people offering the same amount or similar amounts. One could be in a chain of 10 and one could be a crash buyer. Which one would you prefer to buy your house?

Alex: Exactly. It’s a cash buyer every time, and it’s having, as I always say Boyd and correct me if I’m wrong, it’s all about the the agent’s experience, not the number of years they’ve actually done in specifically in estate agency, and obviously the front-of-house team, because those are the guys and girls that tend to take incoming inquiries and walk-in inquires.

Boyd: Absolutely. It’s hard jobs they’ve done. You know, the truth is, anybody can go on and be Purplebricks tomorrow. They could be a franchisee of Purplebricks tomorrow and many of these hybrids. Now, what experience have you had in selling houses? What experience have you had? Zero, in most cases. They’re not schooled in what helps the customer.

Alex: I mean, we’ve talked about sort of agent experience. Where do you feel that agent experience comes into your own? Why is it not akin, whereby someone just, I suppose in insurance sales, for example, feels that they’re in a sales role and they feel estate agency is very sales-led, but they don’t have any property or estate agency experience. Where do you feel that they will be let down as individuals and agents?

Boyd: Well, I think what happens is there’s lots of chunks in the chain, and in the journey of selling your house or buying your house it takes up many different components. And someone who’s running a franchise, the master book of how to run the franchise will not tell them how to deal with a mortgage adviser, how to do with a conveyancing solicitor, how to understand what the survey means, how to make sure that he’s in control of the chain. These are things that only an experienced agent will understand and will have the experience…and more important, Alex, the history of success. You know, if you and I were looking for an agent tomorrow, we don’t necessarily want the most experienced or the least experienced, but we want the one with a history of success who sells properties at the right price, in the right time.

Alex: I was about to say, you mentioned the other week to me that you’re also going in behind the scenes to these companies that say, “Well, we will buy your house now for cash.” And just talk everyone on, I suppose, the inside track on those sorts of companies.

Boyd: Well, yeah. I was absolutely shocked. I worked with one of these companies, and my perception, before I got there, was that most of the people phoning them would be people who were saying, “I’m in a res. The [inaudible 00:10:05] are due. I’m behind with my mortgage. I’m desperate to sell. Please help me.” And you know, Alex, I was shocked, over 65% of their inquiries were from people that just got fed up to the back teeth with bad service from agents.

Alex: And that was their main job. It wasn’t the fact that they were being into a forced situation. It was primarily just down to customer service at the end of the day.

Boyd: Just down to customer service, “I want someone to sell my property for me.”

Alex: Well, that is an extremely strong figure. And as you said, it’s not what you first think from first impressions. I mean, how are you actually helping? What do you actually do behind the scenes with estate agents? And by the sounds of it, you help both the pure online agent, the hybrid, and indeed the high street agents in your line of work. But what is it that you’re actually teach them? What are you giving them insight on?

Boyd: I think what we’re saying to the high street eight is this, you have to be world class in everything you do. So when somebody phones in, what I don’t wanna hear an estate agent saying is the first question “What’s your budget and have you got anything to sell?” It’s selfish, it’s stupid, it doesn’t help the customer. And if I was a potential buyer, I’ve just found out your agency and virtually the first thing you’re asking me is, “Have I got anything to sell?” Too many agents have gone through that formula for too long. What we teach them is show an interest in your customer, find out what’s important to them, why are they looking to move to [inaudible 00:11:53], where do they live at the moment, what made them choose the house they lived at the moment, whereabouts do they live, what’s gonna be important to them.

You know, I always tell the story of a lady that was looking to move, and she lived in a four-bedroom house, and she approached five agents. And they all asked her how many bedrooms she wanted. She said four, and most of the agents said, “Would you accept three bedrooms?” She said, “Absolutely not.” The last agent, world-class, said to her, “Can I ask you why is a four-bedroom so important?” She said, “Because I believe the four-bedroom houses always have a bigger downstairs than a three-bedroom and the downstairs is the most important thing.” The agent said, “That’s fine. If I can show you a property with a downstairs in a three-bed is as big as a four-bed, would you look at it?” She said, “Of course I would,” and she ended off buying through them.

Alex: So it’s all about asking the right question, isn’t it?

Boyd: Absolutely, and do an under promise and over deliver. If you tell someone you’re gonna ring them back Tuesday, ring them back Tuesday. You know, for me, I always say to people, when someone walks into your office, depending on the area, they could have from, say, a quarter of a million to well in excess of a million in their pocket. That’s what they’ve got in their pocket to spend. Now, if you were selling diamonds, how well would you treat the customer that came in with a quarter of a million pounds? Very well. Why on earth aren’t they being treated exactly the same? And it has to be from the beginning to the end. You know, I hear agents say, “Oh, thank you for looking at the property. I’ll ring you next week.” And I say, “But hang on a minute. This is someone who has an enormous amount of money to spend. It’s very important to them. Why aren’t you making an appointment to speak to them next week?” Don’t get me wrong Alex, there’s some very good agents out there, but too many are still trying to take what I call the easy route.

Alex: Absolutely. I think it’s down to you and I, Boyd, to save the estate agency sector. And I’ve gotta say thank you very much indeed for coming on probably one of the most powerful interviews we’ve had on the show to date.

Boyd: You’re welcome.

Alex: Just remind everyone your contact details and the website, if they want to get in touch.

Boyd: Yeah, the website is www.salesdoctors.co.uk. Please have a look at the website. I think you’ll find it very interesting. You can always email me at boyd@salesdoctors.co.uk, and we’re very happy to take inquiries from anyone. And as I said, our business is all built around the world-class customer service should be the minimum your delivering.

Alex: Fantastic.

Boyd: Thank you for inviting me.

Alex: No, not at all, Boyd. It’s great to have you on. Thank you so much indeed for a fantastic sort of talk through the real insider tips and tricks, and I look forward to speaking to you soon.

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