Business development 25 September 2017

How to launch an estate agency business – Know your competition

Creating a seamless customer experience is vital for estate agents
Creating a seamless customer experience is vital for estate agents

It’s a competitive and disruptive market, but with the right attitude and acumen, an estate agency can set itself apart and make an impact. Here, entrepreneur Jahan Safdar explains how new founders can launch an estate agency business.

When once you couldn’t walk down a high street without passing rows of estate agents, the rise of online agencies, such as HouseSimple and PurpleBricks for example, is now transforming the way people buy and sell property.

Whether looking to set up with a physical presence on the high street or stay purely online, there are still a number of key fundamentals that prospective business owners must think about if they want to launch an estate agency.

A common concern for all small business owners is the sheer volume of red tape. Small UK business owners spend 120 days each year on administrative functions alone, according to one recent study, and while bureaucracy is inevitable in a startup, there are ways small business owners can avoid getting buried in administration.

Before deciding to launch an estate agency, it’s worth considering the following aspects of your business.

Don’t forget the basics

For a hands-on business-like estate agents, creating a seamless customer experience is vital. It’s all well and good spending a large chunk of your budget on marketing to get prospective clients through the door, but if you can’t manage appointments, reminders and calendars, you’ll really struggle to retain clients.

There are numerous software tools on the market that allow you to quickly set up booking systems – before taking your pick, make sure they are device-agnostic (so all consumers can use them) and that reminders are automated.

While this is a relatively simple function of a business, it can become laborious if you’re having to do this all yourself

It’s important to create the impression of engagement with clients. Automated reminders and calendar appointments make you seem like you’re keen and engaged. In a busy market, such as that estate agents, things like attentiveness and good customer service are effective ways to set yourself apart.

Suss out the competition

While online estate agents are shaking up the market, you’d also be naïve to underestimate the significance of high street presence before you launch an estate agency.

If you are looking to buy out a shopfront, it’s worth checking out the local competition. How much do other estate agents charge in fees? How often are properties turned over in your area?

If you want to see what the size of the market is in your area, it’s worth looking at the level of market activity and weighing that up against the number of estate agents operating locally. You can get an idea of sales per month using tools like Zoopla.

Take a thorough look at costs

When you launch an estate agency business you’ll have more than their fair share of startup costs to think about. Those keen to have a high street presence will have to consider rent and business rates, and all agents need to think about the likes of staffing, transport and advertising.

Regardless of whether you’re focused on launching a high street agent or an online platform, some costs are inescapable during the launch an estate agency.

Advertising, for example, is a big consideration. While the rise of online listing portals like Zoopla and RightMove have diminished the role of advertising in local papers, you’d be mad to overlook the significance of a well-placed advert in the regional press. These all need to be built into initial financial projections.

Keep an eye on the cash

Cliché as it might sound, cash really is king – especially when starting your own business. Late payments are a sad inevitability of running a business, but you can reduce the likelihood of this by putting your own systems in place.

Using simple invoicing software can help you make sure you keep abreast of when you need to issue invoices and when they are due to be paid.

It’s also important that with the boom in mobile payments, your system supports more modern forms of payment. When you launch an estate agency, clients may want to pay with Stripe and Paypal, for example.

Jahan Safdar is the founder of new online business management tool Grow in Cloud

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