Competing with pure online agencies

Thursday 21 April 2016

There’s a new breed of competitors in town. Actually, they’re not in town, but they’re making a lot of noise. They are the pure-play online agents, who operate away from the high street, and who use the power of the internet to attract and service their customers. Your customers.

Online agents broadening their offering
While these new online agents are often portrayed as fixed-fee merchants, with a disregard for customer service and centralised processes in faraway call centres, it’s important to understand how they’re evolving. Their charging structure is very different from the standard agency’s percentage fee structure, but many are now offering a range of services – and charging for each one - that is much more similar to the full service offering of the high street agents.

Most significantly, however, is the introduction of local representatives in certain areas, in whatever guise or under whatever name, which shows they understand that agency is a local business, where local knowledge and market understanding is all-important to secure the best possible price, and actually to complete a transaction. In this regard, they may be operating online, but are becoming more and more…like you.

Traditional agents use their websites to fight back!
So, you need to fight back, and there’s no better way than to use some of their online expertise. You will have been using the power of the internet for years, reaching new customers and advertising properties on your own website and the various portals; you have probably even been building your brand and conducting online conversations with your local market through social networks.

Now you can go so much further, to build relationships with potential vendors and landlords online; you can compile intelligence about your customers by what they do on your website; you can commence a conversation or continue one that started in branch; and you can ensure that all that intelligence captured on the website is made available to your staff in branch, rather than stuck in a separate database to which no one can remember the password!

Your agency is no different from all other businesses in its need to communicate with its customers, and for its customers to have a seamless relationship with you – whether they choose to do so in branch, on the phone, via a website or on a tablet. Only with a smart website, and proper integration between the website and your other systems, is that possible.

Let’s welcome the innovations championed by the online agents…but let’s turn them to our advantage.

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