If you build a great website and then neglect to keep it updated you are wasting an opportunity to generate new prospects, says business development coach Tara Bradbury.
OVER THE last 12 months I have spent a lot of time contacting BDMs and checking out agency websites. When I phoned one company to speak with a lady I was surprised to find she hadn’t worked there for two years, although her name and profile were still listed on the website! Why is it that so many businesses build a fantastic website which draws a lot of business in the first few months, and then forget to update the information?
If you are building and forgetting you are just wasting your time. If you don’t have the time to ensure your website is managed and updated with new information, you should delegate the task to one of your property management department members. Hand the responsibility over to them and set yourself the task of following them up. Make sure they update staff changes, office structure updates, add testimonials and, if you move your office to a new location, update the address details and add any new information about your products or services. The BDMs should write a few blogs that will provide value added information to investors.
No matter what industry you are in, if you have a website make sure you have a plan in place to ensure it is maintained. Too many agents build fantastic websites and leave them for months, even years, before the five crucial areas I believe making improvements. Here are are neglected when maintaining (or not) agency websites.
- PROMOTE YOUR PM DEPARTMENT
One of the most common points I make to principals is the lack of property management information on the website. With the technology we have available, it is important that your website has investor information to encourage them to call you first.Today’s landlords are highly educated. If they don’t like what they see on your website, chances are they won’t even pick up the phone or send you an email to ask about your services. Use your website as an area to share your knowledge and expertise. Have separate sections where your landlords and tenants can access material about your agency. This area could also include frequently asked questions or standard documents so landlords and tenants can have direct access online. For example, having your application forms available on your website will make it easy for tenants researching rental properties after hours.
- STAFF CHANGES AND UPDATES
Many agencies will have an ‘About Us’ or ‘Meet our Team’ section. These are great places to talk about each staff member. Make sure the photos are recent and the content is up to date. If the staff member has just started, arrange for a photo to be taken within the first week with an introduction profile of up to a hundred words.If you are going to post a new staff member on your website, do it 100 per cent or not at all. One of my pet hates is going in to meet team sections and find photos missing, or the photo has been added but no profile has been included. The profiles and photos section of your website is where a landlord can get a feel for your agency and team members before meeting you face to face. Remember, a lot of investors will never set foot in your agency, so make sure your staff profiles have the information necessary to get them to pick up the phone.
- AGENCY CHANGES AND UPDATES
Have you ever Googled somewhere you would like to go only to find it has moved? This has happened to me several times when I have been trying to find a particular agency. How do you expect your potential buyers, sellers, landlords and tenants to find you if you don’t update your address details when you move? Ten years ago we used to search the Yellow Pages, but now most landlords will go straight to Google. Your website may be the first point of contact with your client, so make sure they have the same experience they have walking into your office.
Testimonials enhance the credibility of both the BDM and the team, along with endorsing the product and service you provide. Landlords are bombarded with advertising messages every day. A great way to sell your service on your website is by using testimonials. You will stand a much better chance of securing the business if you can convince prospective landlords that you’re credible.Testimonials are like references on a résumé and are most powerful when they are recent. This is why it is so important to always ask for them and update them on your website. Featuring testimonials that are over 12 months old, or from landlords who are no longer clients and have left due to mismanagement, is not recommended. Go through your testimonials and make sure they are up to date.
Writing a blog has many different advantages for your entire agency. Write every day or just once a week; something is better than nothing and it gives you the opportunity to provide valuable information about the industry to your investors. Writing blogs will help you stand out from the crowd of competitors online and is very powerful when consistently updated. A blog can give your agency a much-needed boost in effective branding, so make sure this powerful tool is harnessed and used correctly.Your website is a very persuasive device which allows you to brand your business as you never have before. It’s the most popular way to engage with your prospective landlords and showcase why they should choose you.
- CHECK YOUR USER EXPERIENCE
With a user-friendly website, you make it easy for clients to share your business. Not only can they access all your business information instantly, but with social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter they can easily share material they love or would like to recommend. Your website is a central place for potential clients to learn more about why your property management department is the agency of choice in your area.Allocate time to go and have a look at your website. Picture yourself as a landlord looking at it for the first time. Do you provide material that will encourage them to ask more about your property management department? Read through all the current information on your website and check for spelling and grammar errors. Look at the team profiles and the images of the agency or the local area. Are they recent and do they give your landlords the same first impression as they would get were they to walk into your reception area? Make a list of the points needing attention and organise a team meeting to discuss when and how to action the concerns.
If you follow these five basic steps, you should end up with a website that you will both be proud of, and that will work well alongside your team as a tool for developing new business.