by Bob Scarff

£1,000 per month fixed cost

Rightmove say that in the first half of 2018, the average monthly spend of their agent customers was £940. Those of us old enough to remember the hey day of property advertising in newspapers* will also note that this £940 is pretty much all fixed, whereas in the past, agents always had the opportunity to flex their spend on a week to week basis. Add Zoopla and/or On The Market subscriptions to this and one could easily imagine that the average fixed portal cost is £1,500 per branch per month.

*younger readers might care to reflect upon how much each branch would be spending by now on newspaper advertising if the internet didn’t exist !!

Wasted investment

In the immediate aftermath of this story on Estate Agent Today, I made a point on LinkedIn about it and quickly found myself in a thought provoking exchange with Kevin Barrett of Royal Mail on the topic of customer expectations.

When you email a business, do you expect an email back or do you expect a phone call? Would you be offended if you emailed in and had a phone call back?

Where we finished up, was that there was no firm evidence one way or the other, but that what we can all agree on is that when a customer emails in, the one thing that they’re not expecting is to be completely ignored - but that’s the fate of three out of every ten portal customers. Those agents are wasting £450 of their fixed cost Portal spend at every branch every month.

The real cost per lead

So, this got us thinking.

Callwell has been operating for nearly two years and now many thousands of Portal Leads are immediately turned into phone calls for our customers by us every month.

We had a look at the relationship between the speed of making the call and the likelihood of getting through. We found that if an agent waits for two days or more then they only have a 29% chance of connecting and having a meaningful phone conversation.

If they make the call somewhere between ninety minutes and two days then the success rate improves slightly to 31%.

If they call within that first ninety minutes, then this improves further to a 35% chance of having a meaningful conversation.

Here’s the thing

If the call is made immediately (when the customer is still looking at their phone/tablet/laptop) then the chances of having a meaningful conversation rockets to 52%.

Think about that for a second - the difference between calling immediately and not bothering for two days or more is the same as wasting £400 per branch per month.

More than that though, you don’t know what you missed out on. A listing, a viewing, a mortgage appointment, a conveyancing opportunity or just plain old giving great service for its own sake.

Bob Scarff

Written by
Bob Scarff

Bob Scarff ran the UK’s largest and most successful firm of estate agents, having worked his way up from a trainee negotiator in 1978. Now bringing his passion for customer service and organisational discipline to other companies and sectors, he saw quickly the benefits that Callwell can provide and co-founded PropTech Solutions in 2016 to relaunch it into the market.

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John

30 Aug 2018 08:18:05

I,ve just taken the decision to drop Rightmove with immediate effect. I am sick of R taking such a large proportion of my sales commission. It’s only a small firm and we’re now doing a cheap deal with Z and am a committed shareholder of OTM. Hold tight!
PS I read your comment about newspaper spend in the past. Well, we used to recover all ours! There’s no chance of charging out portal costs. The client just expects to get it for nothing..
J

Elena

30 Aug 2018 08:53:25

Interesting stats and corresponds with our experience that even if you call back the minute the email sent, very often you don’t get through. Makes me wonder why people even bother emailing if they don’t want to speak to the agent, don’t answer their phone and their email.

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