How to make your business more sellable
You’ve invested years of your life to build up your own brand for your estate agency but now the time has come to sell your business. How sellable is your business?
Selling a business is hard and requires a lot of preparation. You have to determine what you have to sell, ascertain what are the positives of your business while putting in all effort to eradicate the negatives that buyers could use to negotiate a lower offer.
It is therefore important to determine what your business is worth. Most valuable are assets that can deliver a return on investment such as branded vehicles, a capable sales team and immovable property – such assets add value to your business.
Bernice Ross, well-known US real estate coach and author, lists the following ways to maximize the value of your business:
Database with your client list plus the people in your referral base. It is important that you have a system in place where you document your contacts and how often you have contact with them. You must have a client relationship management platform (CRM).
Ross says if you don’t have a CRM, you should hire a virtual assistant or someone to upload your contacts on a CRM and begin using it immediately.
Specialize in niche markets. Real estate is a competitive business – to stand out, industry experts advise that you find a number of niche markets that you ‘own’. This could be a certain type of property such as sectional title properties or security estates or a geographical area. Or you could specialize in the property needs of specific demographic group such as first-time homebuyers, downsizers or property investors. Single women are currently the biggest group of property buyers in South Africa.
Further reading: Single women are now SA’s biggest group of property buyers
Use this subdivision of your business in your marketing. This will increase the worth of your business and it’s a cost-effective way to rank higher on the search engine results pages (SERP) when customers are doing a search for an estate agency to help them find the right home.
Branding – what’s in a name? Ross discourages the use of your name to brand your business as she believes this negatively affects it’s attractiveness to buyers. She advises that a great brand should reference real estate and target a specific market, for example Knysnarealestateplots.com or Flats4USstudents.com.
However, if you did use your name (as this is what many independents do), then you can create alternative URL’s where you reference your location or a niche market and link the URL directly to your homepage.
(It would be interesting to hear what our agencies have to say about this as using a name as a brand is still very popular. Ed.)
Never miss a lead – automate. In real estate it is crucial to stay on top of leads and not miss out on a potential sale because of lack of follow-up. In this digital high-tech age it will add real value to your business if you have automated reaction to inquiries that come in through your various modes of marketing. In this respect many agencies have already brought in chatbots to provide immediate answers at least to general queries that visitors to their websites may have.
Further reading: AI in SA real estate need not be feared
Transaction management. Lastly, Ross recommends that agencies make use of what she calls transaction management programs. In South Africa the amended Financial Intelligence Centre Act (FICA) made it compulsory for estate agents and agencies to have a risk management and compliance programme in place. The government brought in more stringent risk control requirements as the real estate sector has been identified as one of the high-risk areas for money laundering.
Further reading: The FIC and estate agents
These are just a couple of suggestions about aspects of your business that you can improve to improve it’s worth. Naturally, your financial management systems should also be up to date with modern standards – receipts kept in shoeboxes won’t work says Ross.
The best team. One aspect she doesn’t expand upon and that is the most important of all, is building up a well-trained and motivated team. After all, it has been proven again and again, that it is excellent service by everyone on your team that brings customers back and leads to further referrals. Neither the best marketing plan nor the most expensive proptech systems can compete with friendly professional service by a real person who is willing to listen and respond appropriately to what the customer really needs.
Further reading: Supply in consumer needs or follow BlackBerry