Chris Watkin from Landlord Farming discusses the future of lettings and winning landlords.
Most lettings agents will say, "Just get a landlord sat in front of me, let me talk to them and I will get their business". Well, if you want new landlords to talk to you, you first need to find new landlords.
It might feel nearly impossible to find more landlords. Nobody walks around with a badge that says "I’m a landlord" and the only landlords that do walk through the door of your lettings agency are those who have had their rental property on the market for six weeks, the tenant moved out at week four and they have an overpriced void property that three agents in the town have already tried to let.
But the challenge gets even more difficult. When was the last time a landlord of yours swapped agents whilst there was a tenant in the property? As there is a tenant in the property 95% of the time, the landlord is unable (without incurring withdrawal fees and hassle) to swap agents 95% of the time.
The only time a landlord can swap agents, without incurring those withdrawal fees or hassle, is when the tenant hands in their notice. But how many landlords at your agency, when you inform them that the tenant has handed in their notice, say to you, "Don’t put my rental property back on the market for a few days, I am going to see if there are any new or better letting agents in town"? Again, not many.
"But I can't get new landlords because they don't want to swap"
Unless the landlord has really fallen out with their agent, 99% of the time the rental property goes straight back on the market. The landlord has better things to do with their life than take time off work to see if there are any new or better letting agents in town.
I believe the relationship that most landlords have with their letting agent is the same sort of relationship that people have with their own bank. People don’t love their bank - in fact, most people don’t even like their bank. It’s just that they can’t be bothered to swap banks. I believe most landlords feel the same about their letting agent. In their mind, you are all the same and it’s too much hassle to swap, unless you make a mistake in arranging their repairs or in another area.
However, what if I could show you a way to attract landlords? To make them want to come and talk to you before a tenant hands in their notice? It's important to remember that, as much as you need them, landlords also need letting agents.
Target landlords by treating them as people, not commodities
If you believe lettings is a "people business" and "people buy people" then, over those months, between them meeting you and the tenant handing in their notice, you begin to build a relationship with that landlord. You're never asking for the business - instead, you are interested in them as a person.
You will never get a landlord’s interest until you get their attention and you will never get a landlord to take action until they make a decision. So, how do you do get a landlord to decide they want to come and talk you before their tenant hands in their notice? Getting the attention of the landlord is easy, but it’s the obtaining and keeping of the landlord's interest that’s the make or break issue here.
Lettings agencies seem preoccupied with the next new entrant into the agency marketplace or which portal they should use, but landlords couldn’t care less about that. They have two concerns:
- How well is my current property doing?
- Where is the next one I want to buy?
Find more landlords by becoming a local property expert
What you need do to is create value for your prospective landlord. Many people don’t understand the concept of creating value, but it’s quite simple: just think about "being of service to a potential client (i.e. the landlord)".
If you, Mr/Ms Letting Agent, can create something for the landlord which is designed and embedded with specific ways of serving the landlord, value is created through that service.
All of you create value with your existing clients by letting their property. But just like the chicken-and-egg scenario, how can you create value if you don’t have the property in the first place?
Well, what if I said it was much easier to create value to a potential landlord/vendor client than an existing one? All you have to do is simply "be of service to your potential client".
Finding potential landlords is easy – 60% of them are live within 5-10 miles of their rental property, aged 40 to 70 years old, hold down middle-class jobs and live in the nicer parts of town. They are obsessed about the local property market and obsessed about the value of their properties. But how do you find them? Well, in fact, on my courses, I teach agents how to get all the email and contact details of these people – it’s like a goldmine!
Remember, something has value as long as it is able to serve. In this sense, value you must create is the potential to serve. When you build your marketing around serving your potential clients' goals, aspirations and interests, you can’t help but create value. Just talk about something that is of interest to the potential landlord/potential vendor and everything else will follow.
So, can I ask if you think these things would be of interest to a landlord?
- Tenants or buyers waiting
- Tailored services
- 10-20 years experience in agency
- Part of a nationwide company
- Open 8am to 8pm
- Landlords wanted
- Free valuations
Why do agents keep chucking this stuff out with such messages in your promotional material? You might be interested, but the punters aren’t. What if a local solicitor's practice put in their leaflets stuff like “We offer over 45 years' worth of experience in law, with three partners all trained in the latest aspects of law, open from 7am to 9pm and our no-win-no-fee guarantee means we are always looking for new clients.”
Boring, isn’t it?
You guys are in a profession that the British are obsessed about: property! Landlords care about their property; they are interested in what is happening to property prices in their town, not on a national or regional basis.
You might not be interested in the Tunbridge Wells property market, but the property owners (landlords and homeowners) of Tunbridge Wells are. Talk about the local property market to local property owners and you will have their attention and interest. Dripfeed hard copies to every prospective landlord on your books (both ones you have and from the technique of getting email addresses mentioned above), using social media to get PDF copies out there and delivering hard copies throughout the town.
Deliver this sort of information to people who are more likely to be the local landlords and watch them beat a path to your door. Does it work? Well, in the offices I helped last year who adopted my methods, they more than doubled (some almost tripled) their rental market appraisals within nine months.
One office went from a consistent six rental appraisals per month to a consistent 15-18 market appraisals per month, and another office went from a consistent four appraisals per month to a consistent 14 per month.
Read more about how to create a robust business strategy to win more landlords here.