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Letting agents - why change now?

Thursday 12 April 2018

Established companies and industries are increasingly putting technology at the core of their business, and letting agencies should be no exception.

It should come as no surprise that High Street agencies are under pressure from many directions, including:

  • Competition in the marketplace driving down management fees
  • The emergence of online agencies disrupting traditional business models
  • Landlords increasingly turning to self-management due to legislation that has reduced rental yields
  • A prediction of revenue loss from the impending Tenant Fee Ban
  • Changing compliance regulations, including GDPR
  • The Card Fee Ban
  • Digital demands from Generation Rent

Just to name a few….  

These industry challenges are inevitable and will affect all agencies in some form.  Thankfully, those who are able to best understand today's market, and how that market expects them to conduct business, will not only survive, but thrive. Many agents are successfully overcoming industry challenges by redefining their business goals, whilst putting the customer at the centre of their business proposition.

“It doesn't matter how you want to do business with the marketplace, it's about how the marketplace wants to do business with you. How well agents adapt their service offerings to be more customer-centric will ultimately determine the winners and losers on the High Street” Tom Glason, CCO Goodlord

In 2018, it's more important than ever to listen to your customers’ demands as their power is greater than ever. Technology has become a part of everyday life and we are increasingly expecting Amazon and Netflix type customer experiences. We’re also owning less physical stuff and products like CDs, books, and DVDs have all been condensed by the likes of Spotify, Amazon and Netflix. This lack of stuff makes moving house easier and with research suggesting that people are getting married later in life, and valuing the freedom that renting provides, it’s no surprise that the current generation is renting much more than the generation before them.

By 2025, 60% of 20-39 year olds will be renting privately, up from 45% in 2013.  Additionally, 65% of the entire UK population will be renting by 2025. Millennials and tech-savvy individuals will soon make up the majority of your customer base so it’s crucial for agents to start adapting to their needs now.

As every aspect of our life becomes more consolidated into digital assets, consumers now expect convenience through the use of their own technology with each transaction they make.

Goodlord suggests a couple immediate changes:

Make communication frictionless
The likes of Uber, Sainsbury’s and even the Royal Mail have adapted and created an environment where communication is painless through instant notifications and transparency throughout the purchase. As more and more businesses operate in this way, the consumer not only begins to expect this level of convenience, ease and speed but is now increasingly demanding it, and agencies shouldn’t feel they are exempt from this expectation.

For the landlord, we recommend making it as easy and efficient as possible to review, agree and sign contracts.

Quick tip: If you use Goodlord, landlords are automatically provided with visibility and ease when accepting an offer thanks to automatically - generated contracts that are sent to their email for instant digital signing.

For the tenant, Goodlord suggests investing in automated text messages from your diary to confirm and remind tenants of viewings.

Go paperless
Not only is a cloud-based solution to paperwork more secure and more organised, tenants and landlords are increasingly doing business with agents that provide them with a paperless, digital and overall more convenient lettings experience.

After performing market research, Lucy Conlon from Peabody said “it was identified that people were less likely to rent with an agency that they had to physically come and sign a paper agreement with and take time out of their schedule.”

Website refresh
A great way to successfully compete with the growing number of online agencies is by improving the user journey and design of your current website. Be sure your website is easy to use, has a modern design representing your brand and allows visitors to gather all of the information they are looking for - particularly details of all available properties and information on how to enquire about them easily.

Additionally, be sure your website is compliant with the new GDPR regulations coming into effect 25 May, 2018.

Use social media
According to the House of Commons Library research, 53.5% of individuals under the age of 34 privately rent properties within the UK in 2017 and this is predicted to increase to 60% by 2025.  Critically, this age group is overwhelmingly the leader when it comes to presence and activity on social media.

There are 42 million users registered with social media accounts in the UK, so it is a vital place to market to and engage with the right tenants. We suggest publishing organic content such as daily posts, blog posts on your website, properties on the market.  Alternatively, you can reach more people by promoting these engagements or using some of the powerful targeting functionality available on most social media platforms to deliver the content to specific demographics.