Friday 17 April 2015

Estate agents - move NOW!

An interesting piece in today's PIE, Charles Dunstone (of Carphone Warehouse fame) who pumped £5 million into HouseSimple earlier this year, is quoted as saying that estate agents "earn money for old rope"...

Now, it would be easy to dismiss this as PR puffery, but £5 million buys an awful lot of PR, and journalists (and bloggers...) will listen to Charles Dunstone.

If conventional (we call them 'full service') agents are going to stand a chance of withstanding this onslaught (and convince Joe Homeowner that selling property is just a tad more complex than booking a taxi) they had better recruit their chief advocates now. Their 'chief advocates'? Their clients, of course.

Here's just one comment on the PIE article...

'Typhoon' makes some good points here, but his opening line is telling: Charles Dunstone's estimated wealth is £1.49 billion. He can afford to follow up on this investment. Carphone Warehouse became the financial success it was because it generated the cash to pay for the marketing to drive its growth.

The simple fact of the matter is that estate agency is going to carry on getting more and more competitive, and one of the very few things that separates a great agency from a not-so-great agency is the opinions of their clients. To not show those opinions to prospective clients is to fail your business.

Monday 13 April 2015

Another example of a well-known multiple getting it wrong

Get it here and you can't complain if it's not first class!

Sushi - twenty years ago the average Brit had never heard of it, now it's on every high street. We did a quick poll around the office and came up with the (very unscientific) result that we eat Sushi once a fortnight on average. That's a lot of sushi - and a huge incentive for a multiple with over 250 outlets serving sushi to get their product right. 

And - we have one right across the street. Unfortunately this is a member of staff's opinion (and she is reasonable and realistic in her expectations):

"Salmon and prawn OK, rice dry and stale - avocado hard - ginger woody and tasteless; tastes like it was made three or four days ago."

Luckily she's a HelpHound staffer, so she wouldn't dream of posting her opinion on Google (or TripAdvisor, or Yelp...), but she has told all of us. That's quite a lot of sushi not being sold every week. 

Our point

If the multiple was a HelpHound member, they would already know they had issues (or, in a more unlikely scenario, that they had one customer out of thousands who did not like their sushi). They would have invited their customers' opinions and they would have been told - in private. They could then address the quality/supplier issues (with hard evidence to hand). Job done. And we could all be eating their sushi.

What does Dialogue™ say about your business?

Maybe more than at first meets the eye? Let's take the wording above phrase by phrase...
  1. 'We have partnered with HelpHound' : These are real reviews, not testimonials, so the conclusion to draw is that we are confident that our business is run so professionally that we are happy to have our clients' opinions effectively 'audited' by an independent outside body.
  2. 'You can be confident these reviews are genuine' : TripAdvisor, Yelp and some other prominent review sites have tarnished the concept of reviews, because it is possible to set up a false identity and write a review under that. Not so with HelpHound, all reviews (and reviewers) are verified before they are posted live on our clients' websites.
  3. 'Unfiltered opinions' : Dialogue expressly incorporates an automatic 'promise to publish' (see 5 below).
  4. 'Unbiased independent review service' : Some have levelled the accusation that 'HelpHound cannot be unbiased if it is being paid by the business', our response to that is that our reputation is more important to us (and all our clients) than that of any single client, so there is no amount of pressure that can be applied by one of our clients to 'bury' or otherwise filter out a negative review.
  5. 'Promise to publish' : If a negative review is written, it automatically enters HelpHound's Resolution™ system; the review is submitted to the business to give them an opportunity to resolve what ever issue(s) their customer has raised (99.7% of such cases have so far resulted in a positive outcome, for both parties). If the customer wishes to publish a final review after going through Resolution, they are entitled to do so. But remember that you (the business) have right-of-reply.
  6. 'Genuine clients' : Don't bother to even try and post a review if you are a competitor or disgruntled ex-member of staff; HelpHound will identify you and your review will be rejected. Absolutely and 100% certain.
  7. 'Real and reliable' : The key phrase; 'real' because we (and you) can promise there are no illegitimate reviews at all contained in your HelpHound module and 'reliable' because they are unfiltered: every client who wants to post a review gets to post a review.
So what does all this say about your business to your prospective customers? How about...
  • You are great at what you do: Only a truly professional business can possibly adopt Dialogue.
And therefore:
  • It sets you apart: from businesses who would find exposing themselves to such customer scrutiny an uncomfortable experience.
One of our clients said 'We want you to become the gold standard' and we couldn't agree more. All HelpHound client businesses are great businesses.


Wednesday 8 April 2015

Estate Agency fees - it's all about differentiation

An interesting piece in the Eye this week - a detailed analysis and breakdown of estate agency fees. The main conclusion is that the average fee, as expressed as a percentage of the sale price of the property, has fallen over the last four years. 

These charts show the marked move away from fees over 1.5% in the last four years
The full article is here, so we will concentrate on the aspect that we can influence: differentiation.


Yes, it's a horrible word, and we've struggled for years to find an alternative, but we seem to be stuck with it for now. What, in the context of reviews, does it mean? It means setting your business apart from your competitors in order that...
  • You gain the instruction
  • The client is willing to pay a decent fee

This is just one exchange out of the many the article prompted; the former is much more likely to be our client!

And that is what Dialogue is all about. If it can enable our clients to gain just one more instruction and charge just one tenth of a percent more in fees, then it's more than paid for itself. If it does better than that, then everyone is in clover (if you missed the recent post about a new client's experience, read it here).

Tuesday 7 April 2015

Hotels and Restaurants - yet another reason to adopt Dialogue

Apple shows TripAdvisor and reviews in mobile search...

... is nearly all you need to know, but combine this with the proven effect Dialogue has on your TripAdvisor ranking and your score, then Dialogue becomes even better value than ever.

Friday 3 April 2015

Estate Agents - how long before Dialogue produces results?

It's a question we are often (invariably!) asked. 

Most of you will have noticed that Winkworth went live at the beginning of last week. Well, yesterday Winkworth in Putney got the first valuation that they could directly attribute to the 'Dialogue effect'. How?

They asked the client what had decided them (the client confirmed that they had been consulting a competitor) and the answer was direct and to the point: "The great reviews on your website."

And with reviews like these - who should be surprised?

 So a happy and prosperous Easter to Winkworth Putney and all our other clients.