Almost everywhere you look, some industry know it all like me is offering you their opinion on what lies on the other side of this chaos.
You’ll be pleased to know then, that I don’t intend to add to that pile of conjecture – well not today anyway…..
What interests me today is what is going on in the market place right now.
In a normal month Callwell serves up well in excess of 300,000 email leads to its estate agent customers. Until 10th March that monthly average looked very steady. Then from 10th to the 24th there was a consistent day by day decline to the point that on 24th most of our customers ended up with between 50% and 67% of their normal volume.
Then something very interesting happened.
Things stopped getting worse – well in a business sense they did.
Boris spoke to the Nation on the evening of 23rd and we entered Lockdown, from that point the decline levelled out.
Some sales enquiries are clearly from customers who have been living on Mars because they want to go “viewing this evening please”. For the most part though, people are very aware of the limitations Lockdown brings but still want to begin dialogue about their current property, their mortgage, their next home etc. They have more time to chat than normal and (probably) are expecting that agents will have too.
It is also interesting that in Lockdown, the mix of online enquiry types has shifted. For years it has been two phone calls for every one email. Right now it’s running 50/50. A customer is just as likely to email an agent as they are to pick up the phone. Which is interesting because if they do pick up the phone then on the basis of my own observations they won’t get very far.
Now – it clearly goes without saying that this Pandemic is everyone’s worst nightmare. Literally a matter of life and death. People who ignore the Lockdown guidelines are not just fools, they are selfish, dangerous fools. Stay Home - Protect the NHS - Save Lives.
With all that said, there are many amongst the law abiding, isolated populace still dreaming of moving home – if they weren’t then there would be no portal traffic at all.
So – and this is my point –
At one end of the spectrum you have a number of agents who have simply disappeared. Phone them up and you’ll hear a recorded message telling you to email in and you’ll be treated as a priority customer for your viewing or valuation when all of this is over. While at the other end you have agents Working From Home to offer Virtual Viewings, Virtual Valuations, Video Mortgage Appointments, Video Auction sales. Genuinely helping customers make the very best of the time available without risking anyone’s health or well being.
The second group may not be generating that much immediate revenue (although I have been astonished by the achievements of at least one agent that I know well) but what is being generated more than justifies not simply putting everyone into Furlough. More importantly though, they are truly nurturing customer relations and are creating an enormous amount of goodwill (and future revenue) in the process.
We track the lead volumes for each of our agent customers and it is clear that the approach taken by each one of them is self-fulfilling. Those in the first group, who are expecting very low volumes ……. are getting exactly that. Those in the second group who have evolved a tactical approach to expecting certain types of leads to start growing are also seeing exactly that.
I said at the beginning that I wouldn’t offer you my opinion on the future of estate agency, so I won’t.
All I will say is that whatever that future is, it belongs to Agents who always put the customer in the room when they make decisions. You can make up your own mind about which group is which.
Stay well, stay safe, stay positive.