The Rentview team are delighted to be a finalist in the Irish Web Awards under category of Best New Web Application. The finals will take place in The Mansion House Dublin on November 1st. Best of luck to all the finalists on the night and we look forward to meeting you all on the night. #webawards12
Data backup. One of the the key phrases that should be coming from every estate agency owner’s mouth on a monthly, weekly or even daily basis. It is a hot topic in the Rentview office at the moment, as we learn that several agencies are not backing up valuable data often enough. Some don’t even think of it to begin with! Obviously, as a property services provider, the day to day running of a lettings or estate agency will involve a lot of data entry and management. This is vital to smooth operation of the business, but the backing up of such data is CRITICAL to the survival of any business.
Say for example, you have the best in-house system an agency could dream of, data entry is done accordingly and managed to perfection. Unfortunately your office is the target of a freak accident next week where a firework sets it on fire. Now this is likely not to happen, but if you did lose your computers during an accident, that’d be the end of your company and its existence. There is no getting it back, unless you have done one of two things. A, Backed it up on external hard drives or B invested in a cloud-based system that provides data backup for you.
I cannot stress enough the importance of backing your data up on a regular basis and in a safe, secure way so that if you did burn down tomorrow, you could open the next day somewhere else easily. Most cloud-based software will be automatically backed up onto the main server regularly. I know on the Amazon S3 server we use it’s every hour. With more and more business being done digitally and important documents being sent to one another via e-mail and through software now is the time to develop a data back up strategy.
Today we are going to look at 3 free tools on the web available to letting agents throughout the world online to market their services on. The digital age is in full swing, and the way people communicate and digest information is completely different to those of the same age five years ago.
So my top 3 tools for Letting Agency Marketing are:
#1 Vimeo or YouTube Video blogs
Ever started reading something and then realised it’s so long that by the time you have gotten to the end you forgot what the hell it was about? Well in my opinion, long-winded product or service descriptions are becoming more and more outdated and people want to be shown or told visually rather than textually. So take the first step and start recording some videos to release to your landlords and tenants. We prefer to use the vimeo service due to the quality of the video.
You can also watch our video on how to set up a letting agency video channel.
#2 Pinterest Picture Sharing
As I mentioned before, the days of everything being described or sold in text are long gone. Images rule nowadays. Why not get creative with some original imagery to go along with your marketing messages? We do it a lot on our Facebook page and it is a nice break from the usual content people would expect. We are slowly building our Pinterest page with a wide range of photos from the team out on the field, business events, funny viral images and more. Check the page out here.
#3 Facebook and Twitter Pages
I am presuming that many letting agents and estate agents will have already got this far with their marketing, but many do it wrong or see now value in using social media Facebook and Twitter for business. Social media is important these days, whether you like it or not.
Have realistic expectations, though. I don’t follow an agency to find out every single listing they have available, likewise I don’t like a Facebook page to constantly hear what’s on offer from the agency. Use it as a customer development tool and start running some competitions or posting some interesting and funny relevant content to get a buzz going about your agency.
Welcome to this short blog explaining the term cloud computing how it works in terms of property management software and how it can transform your letting agency in terms of speed, service, reliability and more.
The top Advantages of Cloud Computing for Property Management are:
- More work / less space : So firstly a cloud-based system is not like any other, you purchase a monthly SAAS (software as a service) package. This is opposed to buying physical space for servers, storage and people to manage such systems. Upgrading is made simple as the system is online.
- Customisation: When you buy cloud-based software, most packages are designed to allow unique customisation to your business needs. Take for example Rentview, which is broken into four different packages for letting and estate agents.
- Money, Money, Money: Using a cloud-based system has a few benefits to do with the saving of costs and increasing sales or number of customers. The great thing about the cloud is there is no big time investment in the hardware, software and servers mentioned above, it’s usually a monthly fee which can be cancelled on a short enough notice. You can also automate many re-occurring business activities in the agency.
- Reliability: Because the system is served on the internet, you can access your data and management system from any place in the world once you have a internet connection. The data is also backed up on servers, assuring there is no loss of information if say for example, you lost your USB or the office burnt down!
- Opportunities: Many of these systems have built-in tools and features that can help you to take your business to the next level. Some will offer the chance to engage with customers and be used as a CRM tool as well as in-house management tool. This allow you to learn more from your market and generate new opportunities.
Hope you enjoyed this one and can see the advantages of cloud computing for your letting agency.
Some of you will have read the article last week on business strategy for letting and estate agents in the Lettings Management Industry, which received a good response, so I am continuing in a similar theme this week. Obviously we discussed what strategies agencies can take to the market, but before you get anywhere close to deciding on your strategy towards achieving a competitive advantage, you have to first do some analysis. Analysing the situation you are in as an agency will involve:
- internal analysis (factors unique to the agency like routines, capabilities, strengths and weaknesses) and
- external analysis which is where I am going to start today.
So external analysis involves factors outside of the agency’s control and common tools business analysts use are; PEST analysis (political, economic , social and technology factors), Driving forces, Key success factors, Industry Life Cycle and Industry forces. One of the most prominent and more important tool is the PEST analysis, which many of you will be already familiar with. So here we go:
Political: This is where business activity in the industry is restricted due to either laws or interest groups. The first thing that comes to mind is the new property services regulatory authority. In a previous blog, we learned that several Irish agencies had to re-apply for their licences after failing to have the correct information prepared for the body. There is also new regulation set to be brought in next year on the monitoring of monies in client accounts.
Economic: These factors are mainly to do with the purchasing power and spending patterns in the market. The question a company usually asks themselves here is are people willing to spend on the services provided in the industry. In Ireland this, in my opinion, is a ‘no’ to the vast majority of landlords, tenants, home-sellers and any other customers of letting or estate agents. This is down to one simple factor of people not having as much money to spend anymore. The one area I might say the consumer is willing to spend on is the sale of a home, as it may be urgent or important to get the highest price obviously.
What every agency in the Lettings Management Industry wants, a bunch of happy tenants, landlords & homeowners.
Social : Social factors affecting the industry include the population trends, family size, diversity and education. So thanks to Indexmundi.com, I gathered some stats on some of the key trends I think are effecting the industry currently. Things are good and bad, our population is still rising and currently stands at 4.72 Million, up from 4.67 last year. Net Migration rate is down from 4.5 to 1.6 per thousand. This means there is less and less people coming to Ireland. And lastly the birth rate is 15.8/1000 which again is down from 16.5 in 2010. In my opinion, these stats are not good for the industry.
Technological : Technology is the final piece to this puzzle we have been trying to solve. Currently I would think technology is actually affecting areas of the property services industry such as management, sales and lettings, marketing and customer relations. As we become more and more fond of our devices and technologies, agencies must adapt to suit their market. This may involve having a digital strategy in marketing their services or a C.R.M system to manage their clients.
This analysis applies to the Lettings Management Industry specifically, but it can be applied to any business.
That’s it for this week’s business strategy blog. Thanks for reading!
Another week and another bucket load of property news is making it’s way across the internet and into the property services community. Rentview bring you the top stories so far this week.
Monday 8th of October : The first nugget coming our way on Monday was the interesting news of a large influx in premium properties (worth 1 Million plus) going up for sale on the French property market. According to the Mail Online the reason for the large increase in properties on the market is the proposed new higher tax of 75% for the wealthy people in France.
Another interesting story on Monday was the the upcoming legal changes on the sale of property in Ireland set to come in from January 2013. The Law society of Ireland chaired by a former exec of the property registration authority accessed the current regulation on the sale of property from 2010.
Tuesday 9TH October 2012: Unusual news and quite horrifying for some as there were explosives going off at a NAMA housing estate. There were two separate incidents, with methane and carbon monoxide causing damage to some of the properties in the estate, but luckily no parties were injured.
Tuesday we also got some good feedback from an interesting photo we posted to our Facebook via broadsheet highlighting a potential rental boom. The pic which was taken from a showing at a three bed property in Ranelagh last week showed a crowd of property-hungry people queuing up to view the cottage. Just the area or is this happening throughout Ireland?
Don’t forget to suggest any other property news or areas you may wish us to cover!
Thanks for reading!
As some of you may know, the backbone of the Rentview team are currently over in London to attend the Annual NALS Conference where they are exhibiting our letting agency software to the masses. The conference is one of the most popular of its kind and our own Andreas has been live tweeting some great nuggets of information throughout the day. So here are the best bits coming from the Annual NALS conference:
- As expected the Rental sector is set to continue its growth as the new generation cannot afford to become first time buyers in the market
- The average age of first time buyers in London is four more years (36<40) than that of the rest of the UK
- What are the leading traits of successful and competent agents in the UK? Highly responsive, customer-focused and ethical
- Green deal is set to keep utility costs lower for tenants and agents
- The private rented sector is a whopping 16.5% of housing stock and this is an 84% increase compared to the same time in 2001
- Students in the UK are being severely affected becoming first time buyers going forward due to the national student debt
- What’s the one area in the mortgage market that’s growing? Buy-to-let properties, due the growth in the rental sector across the UK
- Apparently 30% of peoples take home pay is going on rent! And almost 70% of London’s renters expect a rise in rent next year!
- Increase the marketability of your property through using an interior photo as the cover photo rather than an outside one.
If you are based in the UK what are your thoughts on all this relevant information and if you are an Irish based agency do you see the same happening here? Let us know through our Facebook and or the Twitter page, we appreciate the comments!
So you’re thinking about starting a Letting Agency?
Back again with another business blog, and today I am going to recall some of my global strategic management knowledge to help break down the different letting agent strategies. Starting a Letting Agency involves a good bit planning and strategy. If you know anything of business strategies, you will have heard of Michael Porter, a leading opinion leader on business strategy and lecturer at the professor at Harvard Business school.
Image: Michel Porter’s Generic Strategies for Letting Agents
A popular approach that he believes for any company to take is the generic focus strategy. And what this means is you are either going to try and be the best on the market or you are going to try to be the cheapest (See Image above). On both occasions you are looking to work towards one thing, a competitive advantage in the industry, for the purpose of this blog we are going to discuss the lettings and management industry.
So what I decided to do to show you a quick example of two different letting agents with two opposite strategies is jump on Google and see whats on offer with agents in Ireland. Within a few minutes, I stumbled upon two agents advertising with VERY different approaches, one taking the low-cost strategy and one offering a premium and differentiated service to landlords for lettings.
Agency 1 – Mannix Ryan Estate Agents
Letting agency Strategy Case Study 1
This agency stuck out to me in particular because of their claim to be the only agency doing what they do. This is a clear attempt at gaining a competitive advantage due to their superiority and different offering, compared to every other agent in Ireland. Even comparing their website and the social media tags below the text to others, I have seen that it is clear that this service is based around quality and not price, in fact there is no mention of how much it costs. So the value proposition to the landlord is on innovation through the use of video. Now we look at another agent offering the same service but differently.
Letting agency strategy Case Study 2
Now we look at the low-cost letting agent. As you can see from this advertisement, that I came across on Daft.ie , everything about the company and the brand screams low-cost. This is in stark contrast to above where the product offering was describing in detail the excellent service and differentiated marketing ability they offer. A great example of one the biggest companies in the world who has gained and sustained a competitive advantage in their market, based around choosing a focus strategy on costs is Ryanair. On the flip side, a company who has developed a sustainable competitive advantage based on differentiation and innovation/quality is Apple, who charge big bucks for their products.
So there you have some basic business strategy examples for starting a letting agency. I guess I wanted to find out what agents are doing at the moment and how effective are they finding their business strategy in terms of increasing their landlords, tenants, properties and revenues. Is one strategy better in the other, can we find a balance between the two?
I’d love to hear your thoughts, or if you have any questions, do get in touch!
The following may be of interest: