SADHANA SMILES: Show me the data

Show me the data

Blogger: Sadhana Smiles, CEO, Harcourts Victoria 

A mentor of mine taught me a great lesson: understand data and it will lead you to make better decisions around your business, marketing, customer service and the sales cycle.

As a result, I simply love the data you can capture from various areas and often will say to those I work with, “show me the data”.

However, perhaps another question to ask around these surveys is, how well do I know the market and how well does the market know me?

In our business, every month we survey our sellers and buyers and I thought I would share some insights that link back to the market, your database and your clients' needs. I would suggest that what we find would be very similar to what you would find if you did the same surveys.

Why you?

Have you ever asked the question of your clients, 'Why did they choose you?' If you don’t, you should start because the answers or data you obtain will help you make decisions on where best to spend your marketing dollars and understand where your business is coming from.

In our recent November survey:

  • 21 per cent of people came into contact with their Harcourts agent because they simply contacted their local office
  • 16 per cent knew the agent they selected personally
  • 16 per cent were referred to the agent by family or friends
  • 14 per cent were previous clients

As you head towards the end of 2013, now is a time to reflect on what you have achieved and areas you may need to improve for a better result in 2014. If the above stats are perhaps reflective of your business, then some questions around this are:

  1. How memorable is your marketing and does it connect with your marketplace, or are you just broadcasting how successful you are?
  2. How well are you managing your database with contact trails and key information that will help you build relationships? Calls from your database should never be cold, you met them once to have them on your system
  3. How are you keeping in touch with past clients that will keep you top of mind?
  4. If you work in a farm area, consider is it too big and do you have at least 60-70 per cent of residents on your database?

What are the deciding factors when choosing an agent to sell?

Our stats for November tells us 48 per cent of customers selected their agents because they were known to them, had been referred or were previous clients, and the key deciding factor was a personal connection with the agent. Twenty-seven per cent selected the agent based on their market share, and area knowledge local market presence at 24 per cent.

If I cannot convince you through this data that prospecting every day is a must, I am not sure what will! And remember you are not prospecting for listings, you are prospecting for relationships!

Why people move

Understanding why people move provides us the ability to market and connect with them. If we can show them we understand why they are moving, they are more likely to select you for an appraisal than an agent who only ever talks about results. A balanced mix of both in your marketplace is what is required.

The most common reasons for people to sell their homes in the latest survey were:

  • Need more space - 18 per cent
  • Change of family circumstances - 15 per cent
  • Lifestyle change - 14 per cent
  • Financial reasons - 11 per cent

We know that kids are staying home longer, one in three people get divorced, a recent survey suggested that more people move to get away from noisy neighbours, change in financial circumstances that leads to upsize or downsize and of course, there is death and debt.

All of these are in some way reflected in the above. And if as agents we can connect with our customers and show that we are the best people to sell their homes because we understand, we are more likely to build a connection which as we saw above was an important selection choice.

For 31 per cent of our purchasers who participated in the survey the primary reason to purchase property was for investment. This stat is being reflected in the marketplace with active cashed up investors buying property.

First home buyers followed in at 18 per cent, lifestyle change at 18 per cent and needing more space at 11 per cent. Almost the same reasons people sell!

What is interesting is the 38 per cent of purchasers wanted a proposal from property management for their investment property.

This does make me ask the question - how well do your sales and property management departments work together? There are some really simple processes you can put in place to ensure that you don’t lose these potential investors to other agents.

As I said at the start of this blog, data is a wonderful way to make critical decisions on your business that will have a positive impact on your bottom line. Don’t get too bogged down with data however, decide what are the critical one’s for you as a business or as an agent and start to track these as part of your performance assessment. Data is what should help you build your business plan for 2014 that must include prospecting, marketing, database management and training segments.

Humour me, decided what data is critical to your businesses, make a concerted effort to collect this data for three months and compare what you discover to business decisions you have taken.

You just may be surprised at what you find out.

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Sadhana Smiles

Sadhana Smiles

Sadhana Smiles is chief executive officer of Harcourts Victoria, the state division of one of Australia’s leading and well respected real estate brands. She is also a popular speaker and presenter, and is regularly asked to speak at some of the industry’s most prestigious events, including ARPM, AREC, AREL, RELC, the REINSW Women’s Conference and the Harcourts Conference. Sadhana is also a regular contributor to a number of national real estate journals and publications.

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