Purplebricks recently launched a meditation service to help buyers and sellers manage stress. You might disagree with the idea, but moving home is stressful.
I know because I’m in the middle of it. Here’s a few tips from a home mover on the practical things you can do to manage your customers’ stress levels.
1. If you ask clients to complete digital forms, make sure they are easy to complete. It took me 30 minutes to re-format a word document so that I could actually fill in the boxes.
2. Don’t ask your clients to provide the same information over and over again.
3. There are lots of things you can’t change, for example how quickly Property Searches are returned. Focus on the areas where you can help, even if it seems insignificant. It could just be a quick phone call to ask your sellers how they are.
4. Is there anybody there? Unanswered phone calls and emails are really frustrating. Outsource to live chat and/or a telephone answering service. They’re low cost and simple to implement.
5. My sellers last moved home in 1994. They don’t understand how the process works today, because nobody has explained it to them. Giving them a simple guide to the home moving process at the initial appraisal would have helped. Not everyone will read it, but some will, and this is all about ‘small wins’.
6. Ask your buyers and sellers how they want to be updated and how often – email, phone call, or app?
7. My agent rings me once a week, on the same day at roughly the same time to update me. He said this is how I would be updated once we’d accepted an offer. The call usually lasts about five minutes. I save up any questions I have, unless they’re really urgent, and he updates me on everything I need to know in one go rather than dripfeeding information via numerous emails and calls. It’s efficient, simple and reassuring.
8. Stress is often related to a feeling of losing control. Help your buyers and sellers understand what they can control and how they can speed up progression – responding promptly to requests for information; mortgage decisions in principal, no search insurance, bridging loans, flexibility on moving into rented, etc.…10 minutes doing this at the start of the home-moving journey will help you turnover your pipeline faster and that’s a win, win.
9. Some sales will complete much quicker than the often-quoted ‘20 weeks’. That can lead to a nasty surprise for a seller who thinks they have weeks to find their dream home when their buyer is ready to exchange. Try and give buyers and sellers an accurate indication based on your understanding of the status of the chain and each person in that chain. Take into account the impact of short chains; cash buyers and buyers whose sales are nearing exchange.
10. Get an agreement from the buyer and seller on the ‘hoped for’ moving in date. It doesn’t need to be set in stone, but it gives everyone a target; it helps manage expectations and it helps with pipeline forecasting. My sellers’ agent didn’t do this. I want to move on November 28, but my sellers want to move in late January. That sent my stress levels soaring and I suspect it made by sellers think twice about selling.
11. Moving dates that don’t match up will leave people needing temporary accommodation. This can be really stressful, particularly if the gap is only a couple of months and someone is moving to an area they don’t know. How could you help solve this challenge? Have you got a rental property on your books that might be suitable? Is there a local holiday cottage that might fill the gap? How about a deal with a local hotel for really short-term requirements?
12. If your branch doesn’t do sales progression, don’t refer buyers and sellers to your ‘sales progression’ team once a property reaches SSTC. It just creates an expectation that they’re going to progress the sale and stress levels only increase when enquiries are met with a resounding silence. Better still, get your ‘sales progression’ team set up on mio and help them to be more effective.
13. Is it really so bad if your buyers and sellers talk directly to each other? Not everyone will be happy to do it, but where it is possible, it will save you time and it prevents information being lost in translation. Additionally, questions will often be answered quicker and will help to reduce stress.
14. If you’re referring clients to other businesses, for example conveyancers and removal firms, regularly check the quality of the service they provide. Everyone is really busy right now, so delays in responding to enquires should be expected, but I’ve been referred to removal firms in the past who just don’t bother to reply.
Finally, be kind, honest and empathetic. Treat people how you’d like to be treated. You might think that a home mover is over-reacting, but they could have a hundred things happening in their life that you’re not aware of.
*Emma Vigus is managing director of mio