Real estate can be a ruthless game.
In any one postcode, there can be a handful of agencies, each with a handful of agents, all competing for the same limited listings.
In order to secure those elusive listings, agencies take a number of different paths.
While same take the high road, unfortunately, others choose aggressive tactics, designed to lock in a new client at any cost.
At EAC, we represent and work with hundreds of agencies that decide every day to take that higher road.
We know that’s not always easy.
In our latest survey, our members told us, right alongside keeping up with legislation, competing against aggressive and ruthless agencies is one of their biggest and most consistent challenges.
And though, on occasion, it might seem easier to do what those agencies do – to undercut, undermine and even underquote – there are better ways to win!
1. Never stoop to their level
The first rule for going head-to-head with an aggressive agency is to never allow yourself or your team mates to stoop to their level.
It can be tempting – we know – but you have much more to gain from taking a values-driven and customer-centric approach to winning, than diving into the dirt.
Agencies and agents that sling mud at each other may have some short-term wins.
Putting down a competitor may, on occasion lead to a listing.
But in the medium and long-term, lies, deceitful behaviour and even just putting someone else down can affect your reputation more than it does your competitor.
By ‘going negative’ in your campaign, over time, you come off as hard, unrelatable, untrustworthy and bitter – and in small communities, reputations like this precede a business, and can be impossible to shake.
Building yourself and your business up in a positive way, rather than trying to tear someone else’s business down, speaks to your character and to how you treat other people – including clients.
2. Find your unique positioning and stick to it
Speaking of reputation, you want yours to be positive, to be well-known, and most important, you want it to be unique.
Your brand or business’s ‘positioning’ is the unique place it occupies in consumer’s minds, and it’s the way you stand out from your competitors and become more relatable and relevant to specific clients.
If you think about the auto industry, as an example, a Volvo is a car, a Tesla is a car, and surprise, surprise, a Porsche, is a car.
So, how do drivers choose the vehicle for them?
It’s all about positioning – and that can be based on something as simple as price point, or as unique as it’s ‘fuel’ source.
Volvo positions as not just a car, but as a vehicle designed for safety – it is a family mover that is worth the spend, because its focus is on keeping its valuable cargo secure and unharmed.
Tesla is not just a car; it is a vehicle designed for the environmentally-conscious driver.
Porsche is not just a car; it is a high-end, luxury vehicle built specifically for a driver who likes to go fast and look expensive.
Real estate is the same. In one postcode with three agents, if all market in the exact same way, tell the same story and position as ‘a seller of real estate’, potential clients can’t see a difference (because there isn’t one).
If you are up against an aggressive agency, position yourself opposite to them.
For example, while you will obviously still talk about your great performance; focus your entire brand in on the personalised, understanding and empathy-based service you deliver – ‘we work to understand our clients and their needs, in a way no other agent does’.
3. Collect testimonials
With a vast majority of consumers – including your clients – influenced by peer review, a good testimonial, especially in an impartial forum, means everything.
We all know aggressive agents go in hard on the sell. Often, they are pushy and sometimes a little deceitful.
If the sale goes exactly according to plan, the client may never question this approach.
If it doesn’t (and let’s face it, sellers have high expectations), that aggressive agent can expect negative reviews not just about the sale itself, but about their approach to signing the listing.
If you are focused on delivering optimal results for your client AND an outstanding service, always ask for a review and send them to the most highly visited, most objective forum around, so potential clients find the review and trust it.
4. Create a referral program
Just as above, an even slightly imperfect experience with an agent who delivers a side-serve of aggression with their service, can mean poor testimonials.
Worse, it can mean their own past-clients won’t recommend them to the people they know directly.
Agents know how powerful a referral can be.
As an agency built on performance and service, on values and genuine relationships, a referral program can be an invaluable tool in your arsenal, that your more aggressive and less friendly counterparts just can’t take advantage of.
When implementing any kind of referral program, always be careful to review the relevant legislation to make sure you operate within the law.
5. Market, market, market
At the end of the day, the agency that delivers high performance and excellent service, AND is known more widely by more potential sellers and buyers, is going to be more successful.
So, to get the drop on your aggressive competitor, to win more business, you don’t have mirror their behaviour, you simply need to be more well known then them, for all the right reasons.
Don’t just invest in marketing your listings, invest in marketing your agency brand – using a variety of different channels.
Ensure your agents’ faces and reputations are known equally – that people stop to say ‘hi’ to them on the street, because they are a fixture in the local town or suburb, and they are that approachable.
Make certain your local community is hearing from you in the paper (if relevant), on the radio (if relevant), on socials and in social advertising, looking for your contact details on google (by name), seeing your cars drive around town and catching a glimpse of you volunteering your time at local charity events.
Be everywhere – but do it genuinely, with community spirit and desire to create real relationships.
Aggressive competitors only have the opportunity to beat you if they get their foot in the door.
Create a positioning, a reputation, a grand brand awareness that is so strong and positive, that locals who answer the door to your competitors simply say, ‘thanks, but no thanks’.