Despite a massive rise in in-person meetups and major events, there has thankfully been no worrying spike in hospitalisations and deaths since lockdown was eased - although some have been calling for the return of certain restrictions as winter approaches. The numbers are pretty stable for the moment, which increases the likelihood of a much more normal Christmas this year, rather than last year’s more muted affair where half the country was in lockdown mode while the other half didn’t really know where they stood.
Christmas parties, drinks, shows, pantomimes, carol concerts and events should largely be happening as usual across the country, something which didn’t seem likely even in the middle of this year.
So, with life a bit more normal once more, what are the ways in which agents can engage with their local communities and clients again while still being mindful of the concerns many still rightly have about Covid?
Sponsor a local event
Many agents already do this and will have long-running tie-ups with local schools, charities or organisations to sponsor a given event. But if you don’t, it’s a brilliant way of getting your name out there in a positive sense, increasing your presence on your local patch, and feeling a real part of your local community.
Whether it’s a school fete, the local theatre’s group annual panto, a carol concert, a Santa’s grotto or a Christmas market, there are opportunities aplenty to enhance your reputation and give something back to the local community you serve.
Other ideas include sponsoring, or donating to, a local food bank or soup kitchen – which come under particular pressures at this time of the year – or raising money for charities this Xmas. Our frequently heart-warming Agents Do Charity column, which appears weekly on Fridays, already shouts out about the great work of many agents, but we’d like to shine a light on even more. Send over info about your endeavours to email@example.com and we’ll do the rest.
Christmas time…mince pie and mulled wine
Last year, the idea of inviting people into your branch for a mince pie and a glass of mulled wine was firmly off the venue with strict social distancing rules in play. Those rules are no longer there, so you may want to bring back this tradition, which allows you to meet members of the local community and potential future customers in a light, informal setting.
Some people, obviously, still won’t feel comfortable being indoors with other people they don’t know, so to get round this you can send a Christmas card or small gift to existing and potential customers to express your gratitude.
A Christmas card sent out to the local community, whether physically or online, can help to plant your name in their psyche as well as being a nice gesture on its own.
Decorate, decorate, decorate
You might have had a year off last year as many people still weren’t back in the office – although, going by our annual call-out for photos of agent offices decorated in Christmas garb, many still made the effort.
But now, with most agents back in the office in some shape or form, the time is right to make up for lost time and really go all out with your Christmas displays this year.
We’ve had some spectacular ones in the past, not to mention Christmas videos, poems, advent calendars and much more besides. We’ll be doing our usual call-out in the not-too-distant-future, which may include a plea for agents donning weird, wonderful and garish Christmas jumpers once more, now that many are back in the office, so keep your eyes peeled for that.
You can view one of last year’s great video efforts at the bottom of this page. What are you waiting for, get decorating, photographing and creating? Well, maybe wait a few more weeks first, but you get the picture!
Celebrate with your staff
Christmas parties were off-limits last year, so by the time Christmas 2021 rolls around it will have been nearly two years since property professionals across the country got to celebrate the festivities with their teammates.
Festive meals, Secret Santas, Christmas parties and even the purchase of an advent calendar, mince pies or chocolate for your hard-working staff, can all help to raise team morale after what has been an undeniably tough couple of years.
There is light at the end of the tunnel, in a way that was much less certain last year, so it’s time for all the industry to kick back and enjoy themselves this year (in a sensible and sober fashion, of course!).
While all this might seem a little premature, given Christmas is still 63 days away, planning ahead will help you to ensure your property truly thrives this Christmas, in a way that just wasn’t possible – or was much more difficult – in 2020.
The property market has come through the pandemic in remarkably good shape, but it is no time to be complacent. And in a heavily service-based industry like property, where reputation really matters, brand recognition and exposure remains highly important.
The festive season presents the perfect opportunity to get your name out there in a positive, upbeat, joyful manner – and if you want to dress up in an outrageous jumper and send us the pic, all the better!
Until next time…when it’ll be only 49 days until the turkey is carved (assuming you can get your hands on one this year with the current supply crisis!)
*Nat Daniels is CEO of Angels Media, publishers of Estate Agent Today and Letting Agent Today. Follow him on Twitter @NatDaniels.