When employing a new member of staff there are a lot of checks and balances put in place by any business before they take someone on.
These include checking CVs, references, interviews and tests all to determine if the candidate has both the technical skills and their fit with the company values.
However, when employing the services of an external company not all companies apply the same due diligence, when actually it could be argued that this is even more crucial because the impact can be even bigger, in either a positive or negative way.
Many small businesses, estate and lettings agents in particular, are inexpert buyers. They don’t have access to a procurement team of expert buyers and often the buying decision is made upon the shiniest presentation or simply the lowest bid.
Building relationships and working with trusted partners, however, can be key to the success of an agent’s business and never has this been more important than in an agent’s online and digital strategy.
Many agents view their website provider as just that, a website provider, when actually working with them as a trusted partner can provide so very much more.
What is the difference?
A service provider does just that, provides a service. A trusted partner is a company seen as a long-term partner whose contributions (products, insights, processes etc.) are viewed as key to a client’s long-term success.
A trusted partner understands your success objectives and because they are embedded within the industry they are also able to advise, comment and introduce other companies and technologies that can add greatly to the weaponry you need to compete and achieve your objectives.
Your website provider, working as trusted partner, can deliver more than just a website.
Why is it important to work with a trusted partner?
The simplest answer is that they can advise on other purchases that you may be looking to make.
They work with, and meet, hundreds and thousands of agents as well as meet and work with hundreds of industry software and technology providers. They can see first-hand how effective different systems are, understand compatibilities and incompatibilities and can share best practice.
Like a lot of SME businesses, most agents don’t have buying teams or significant experience in evaluating technology systems. They don’t have a process for understanding or calculating the total cost of ownership of technologies they might purchase. This can often lead to just presentation or price being the deciding factor when other more advanced evaluation methods may have presented a better decision.
This is where having a trusted partner relationship with companies that have, and invest their time in, industry knowledge and knowing who’s doing what and where helps enormously. This is even more paramount in relation to technology.
Working with a trusted partner comes with so many benefits:
Understanding: they have invested time in getting to know you and your business, as well as your objectives and strategy.
Money: not building a trusted partnership can be costly and result in you buying a product or service that doesn’t fit the needs of the business or will need to be replaced sooner rather than later.
Knowledge and resources: a trusted partner will have the knowledge to understand what needs to be done and the resources to deliver it. They will have invested in researching the best possible products, services, and latest industry knowledge to meet the needs of your business.
James White from Where We Belong, used his trusted partnership relationship with The Property Jungle to take advantage of many years of experience, extensive research and a special relationship with immoviewer. As a result they integrated 360° technology into his business from the start.
James said: “When we go to see people they are impressed by how different we are in our approach to presentation. These tours really make us stand out.”
As a consequence of this great first impression, their valuation to take-on ratio is 75% - 80%, compared to a more usual 30%-40%.
Spending time upfront to make sure you are working with the right partner
People work with others who they know, like and trust.
Credit checks, checking terms and conditions etc. are measures a business would perform before working with any new supplier, but in addition it’s important to consider:
- Do they have a value set that is aligned with the values of your business?
- Fundamentally, do you know, like and trust them?
- Do they demonstrate knowledge, experience and understanding of the industry and what is their track record?
- Who do they have trusted partnerships with themselves?
- What is on their product and business roadmap? Are they building a business to sell? Are the owners and directors investing in the business to ensure sustainability?
These relationships of course will take time and need to be nurtured. However, starting early really helps.
Anyone can build a partnership, but a trusted partnership means that someone is really there for you, and your success means something to them.
Of course this swings both ways. Are you being a trusted partner to your clients?
Agents who gain the trust of potential buyers, vendors, landlords are of course likely to get the best result.
Sometimes this means they need to think outside the box. With the recent changes to letting fees legislation, agents need to think how to best serve landlords in the most cost effective way, whilst making up for lost revenues and covering costs that still need to be charged.
Having a trusted partnership with a website provider can assist agents in incorporating software and platforms that can potentially save time, effort and expense in other areas, enabling the agent to continue providing landlords with a service at an acceptable fee.
As a trusted partner to our clients, we are the gateway to services delivered using the internet.
We have a wide breadth of industry and supplier experience, which in combination with the fact that our own partners know, like and trust us, means that recommendations we make to clients for other services not only make sense, but will result in them making money, saving them money and being compliant.
We’ve helped over 2000 estate and lettings agents get more from their website and we want to be your trusted partner. Call: 0208 050 8822 or email: email@example.com for a chat.
*Mike Smithson is managing director of The Property Jungle