Opening an office in a new suburb can be challenging, especially in the current market. hockingstuart Director Julian Conte shares his experiences in making his office stand out.
Having recently opened my second office in Melton, I’ve been reminded of the hard yards that have to be put in by agents new to an area. As agents, we’re trained to build rapport in lounge rooms, develop successful marketing campaigns and essentially get that sale over the line. However, when it comes to opening an office in a new area, a slew of other factors enters the picture. Our objective to sell houses doesn’t change, but the journey to get to that stage becomes longer. When my business partner and I opened our first office in Werribee, and recently again with Melton, I remember thinking: how will we stand out among our competitors? How can we get onto the shopping list of every vendor in our area? For agents who have recently opened, or dream of opening, their own office in a new suburb, these questions have no doubt crossed your mind.
Building A Brand Presence
There’s no fast track or easy solution to achieving cut-through in a new area; it’s a process and the first step to success is creating a name for yourself. Building a brand presence can be difficult, especially when competing with the significant number of long-standing agents in the area. This is where having an established brand behind you comes into play. From our first day in Werribee and Melton, through the backing of a strong brand, we were able to bring in the listings. The hockingstuart name gave us credibility the minute we walked into a lounge room; without the brand, our time would have been spent establishing trust in a new name instead of listing and selling those houses. With the support of a brand that already has currency in the marketplace, you can secure your place on the vendor shopping list.
Learning from Experienced Peers
Having the support of an established brand means we also have the support of established operators. When opening our own office, we may forget that we’re sales agents first and foremost. We’re experts in selling houses, which is different from being a business owner. The benefit of opening an office with an established brand means you can learn from the agents in the network who have experience in starting up and operating their own businesses – they’ve implemented tactics to build their own offices from the ground up and have faced the problems you will most likely face. When we opened up our office in Werribee, we visited other hockingstuart directors who showed us their business systems and tactics for achieving cut-through in their areas. Being able to implement tried and tested processes from the beginning was a huge benefit and helped us achieve success in our business early on.
It’s All About the Customer
However, let’s not forget we’re in a people focused industry; one happy customer could mean two to three more customers on your books. If you’ve just set up shop in a new area, building your database one person at a time sets you up for the long haul. But how do you ensure that referral business?
It’s all about providing consistent service from when you first list a property all the way to settlement and beyond. When you’ve just opened a new business, it’s easy to fall into the trap of worrying about how the office looks, if you need to recruit more staff, the bills coming in – the list goes on. While these are valid concerns, one of your first orders of business should be getting customers through your door time and again.
When we first opened our office in Werribee, we were competing with 33 other agents in the area. How did we overcome this overwhelming number? We set an objective – to do the best job we could to sell houses. We even used the fact that we were new to the area, and weren’t holding many listings, to our advantage as we could put more time and effort into our customers’ properties. The determination and hard work you put into customer service can make all the difference between you and your competition or, in our case, our 33 competitors.
Supporting yourself with an established brand and learning from others can help pave the journey to do what you do best – sell houses. Once you get there, remember great customer service means longevity for your business. Whether you’ve recently set up shop or you have plans to, do your research and find the right brand and support network for you. Then, live and breathe customer service. This formula, coupled with lots of hard work, has enabled our Werribee and Melton offices to stand out from our competition and ensured our spot on the vendor shopping list.