Come the first week of January each year and most people start making a few New Year’s resolutions. How about a few business resolutions to add to the usual best laid plans? These ideas could help you grow and expand your commercial property business in 2018 and beyond.
We’ve listed five New Year’s resolutions a commercial property agent should consider in 2018.
1. Learn where people are finding your properties online
From patent lawyers, to tech startups and from two man bands to multinational businesses - every single property search is now going online. If you don’t know which online channels work for your business, this should be your primary goal of 2018.
So if your New Year’s resolutions in the past have been a new website, a new blog and getting into social media - this year you’ve got to start learning how people are finding your properties online. It’s no longer enough to tell clients that you’ll put it on the market and the viewings will come: increasingly they are demanding more. In London, innovators like WeWork have changed the game - and it’s coming to a town near you.
What’s more, there’s a big opportunity to make sure you beat your competitors and ensure that your clients’ properties are unmissable. If you’re getting more online enquiries than your competitors, then every landlord will have to hire you (and they won’t have any trouble working out who you are...because they’ll find you online too).
2. Prepare for GDPR
If you haven't heard about GDPR yet, I can guarantee you will hear about it a lot in Q1 of 2018. GDPR or General Data Protection Regulation is a new EU-wide regulation coming in May 2018. As part of this new law, companies operating in the EU (including the UK after Brexit) have to obtain permission from customers to process their data (as opposed to the current regulation that allows you to do so as long they haven't actively opted out).
- Speak to your legal department (or your solicitors) - check with them what steps you should undertake to be compliant
- Review your database - check what percentage of your contacts have relevant permissions, remove old data or contacts without permissions
- Put a process in place that allows you to obtain data with the right permission
- Ensure your team understand the implications of the regulation
- Experiment more with different online marketing channels to your email channel
3. Embrace automation
The best businesses in 2018 combine a powerful mixture of automation and human interaction. Using automation correctly is the ultimate driver of productivity: achieving more output with less input. That means more revenue, less effort, a happy team and easy recruitment. Any agent would want to join the slickest run operation and this is what automation is all about.
Here are a few ways for agents to embrace automation:
- Raise the standard of your marketing: streamline and improve the quality of your marketing activities by using software that will help you create and publish high quality collateral automatically.
- Improve customer service: - with a little help from tracking and reporting tools, you can speed up client reporting and performance analysis to give your clients comfort that you’re on top of every instruction.
- Improve team productivity by centralising data: input once and update everywhere, to avoid duplication whilst improving team collaboration and accuracy.
4. Tame your data
Landlords need to understand why they are doing the deal at the level you suggest. Access to data helps to close deals faster.
Gathering this data in a system which makes it easy to access and present, fast and accurately, is essential. Creating your own, well organised proprietary database should be a key priority - in itself it should underwrite the value of your business, particularly if you are a niche agent.
Acquiring and organising this data will drive business development, win pitches, speed up deals and make you look like a legend in front of clients. Data was always important, but in years to come clients will expect more and more of it.
In 2018, your data should be extracted in seconds from a slick software system incorporating your team’s market intel and stored investment brochures going back years.
5. Establish a culture of innovation
Changes in company culture take time to implement. It’s a fluid process that can take years. Individual employees can shape and impact the company culture but without an overarching direction from the leadership team it is hard to build a sustainable vision. Here are a few ideas the leadership team could introduce to create a thriving culture of innovation:
- Introduce ‘idea’ meetings for your team to share ideas and inspirations - giving proper, reasoned thought to these is a good development exercise for your team
- Develop an innovation programme where cross-department teams could collaborate - it could be used as a form of formal development for your team.
- Introduce financial incentives for ideas which are successfully introduced and implemented - after all, you’re making an ROI based decision, so this is the right way to acknowledge the benefit which your team will gain.
- Above all: follow up the best ideas from your team - don’t leave them hanging for months waiting for approval! This only disincentivises people from putting time into new ideas.