Thursday 21 February 2019

'Choosing the right business is the most critical factor' - Zoopla

Zoopla - the property portal - has released the results of a nationwide survey that asked sellers 'What was the biggest single factor in selling your property?'

They gave respondents six answers to choose from...

  1. Dropping the asking price
  2. Picking the right agent and price
  3. Changing agents
  4. Changing market conditions
  5. Seasonal fluctuations
  6. Any other factors

As you can see from the chart, the overwhelming 'first choice' is 'picking the right agent and price' at 47% (beating the next highest - 'dropping the asking price' - by a massive margin).

So this begs the $64,000 question - how to choose the right agent?

Now we know there is no single answer. People will perm one (or more) from...
  • We have used them before
  • We know them personally
  • They have a very good reputation locally
  • We see their boards everywhere
  • My friend/work colleague/relation recommended them
  • Our neighbours sold through them
...and more. But, as I'm sure most readers have guessed by now, whichever of these reasons is relevant, they will almost certainly read the agent in question's reviews.

Not necessarily on purpose, either. Because Google reviews are so 'in your face' these days - looking up an agent's phone number? You'll see their reviews. And those reviews can do one of two things...
  • they can reinforce the good impression already made
  • they can undermine it

That's why review management is so important. Look like this...

...and you'll get the call or the click.

Look like this, however positive every other factor in the process may be...

...and you will see business leak away.

Now, we can hear some of you saying, what if the first business is just great and the second one is as bad as the reviewer makes out? Isn't that what Google reviews are all about - providing reassurance and highlighting businesses to avoid?

Now we know one of the businesses well - they are clients (and they are dedicated to doing a great job) and we don't know the second business from Adam. What we do know is that estate agents, especially those involved with lettings, suffer from a very high proportion of 'unfair' reviews.

What do we mean by an 'unfair' review?

An unfair review is one where the reviewer is mistaken in their criticism. It's not always the case (for all we know Eleanor Suggett's review of Jones & Chapman is entirely fair and accurate) but it is surprisingly common. We know because our moderators see every review of every client before it is posted - and well over three-quarters of those that are originally critical of the business are found to be either factually incorrect or would be potentially misleading if posted publicly.


The estate agent is criticised - and given a harmful one star review - when...

  • it was down to market forces
  • it was another agent in the chain's fault
  • it was the fault of a professional adviser - mortgage broker, solicitor, surveyor - unconnected to the agent in question
  • it was due to the reviewer misunderstanding elements of the transaction or contract
...and we could go on, as any agent will know. The point, though, is that professional review management minimises the chances that an 'unfair' (by which we mean inaccurate or potentially misleading) review will see the light of day.

The questions every good business should be asking...

Is 'What is it worth to ensure that our reputation, built over years and reinforced by our happy customers through word of mouth, is not undermined by inaccurate or potentially misleading comment on the web?' and then 'How?'

The answer to the second question first - adopt professional review management. It will minimise the chances of inaccurate or misleading reviews of your business appearing anywhere, but especially on Google.

The answer to the first? Depending on the size of your business, the price of a modern mobile phone contract per location would be about right.

Further reading...

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