Would You Work For Free?

Would You Work For Free?

Well, would you? Work for free?

It’s looking that way.

What was once, many moons ago, considered a respected and dignified profession has turned into bitchy, free-for-all fisticuffs in the estate agency playground.

The big boys, those with the wealthy parents, throwing their weight around.

Because they can.

In some cases, their cost per listing has been reported in excess of £12,000. We’ve seen where that profligacy got others.

The disruptor being itself, permanently disrupted.

R.I.P Emoov, House Network and Homeseller.Com  No one misses you now that you’ve gone.

On the face of it, offering a service at a ridiculously inexpensive level. Claiming to be “just the same”, whilst not even coming close.

Vendors saw through the trickery.

But this digitized, deceptive, disruptive and demonetized exponential strategy has left many traditional high-street estate agents teetering on the edge.

Unable, or unwilling to charge a fair fee because “the market is demanding cheaper fees.”

Let me lay this out, nice and simple, for you.

The market is NOT demanding cheaper fees.

That’s become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Reducing fees to match the disruptor plays straight into their hands.

It adds credibility to their ‘cheap as chips’ pricing.

“reduced fees make you a winner in a losing game.”  -Reid Hoffman (Founder LinkedIn)

The problem many agencies now have is that they are so wrapped up in this competitive pricing strategy, they see no way out. Greater market share becomes their Holy Grail.  Selling more properties at an ever lower fee with supposedly killer scripts.  Supposedly, crushing it with automated response mechanisms and chatbots.

Busy fools.

I am reminded of a clip from Bradley Cooper in the excellent film, Burnt.

He plays a Michelin starred chef, interviewing a talented young chef for a junior position.

He asks him if he would work for a low wage.

To which the young chef replies ” Yes, I greatly admire your talent, to learn more I would certainly work for a low wage to start with.”

Bradley Cooper then asks, “Would you work for free?”

Whilst the youngster is contemplating this dilemma, Bradley says to him:

” It’s not a question. You’re a good chef but, you lack arrogance.  You lack self-worth. Your answer should be No, Fuck You.”

That, in a nutshell, is estate agency in the U.K today.

Confidence in your ability is one thing. But arrogance?

That only comes with supreme belief in your competence and decision-making capability.

Unconcerned with what others think of you. Happy for your competition to belittle themselves with an ever lower fee. Delighted that it is you choosing, rather than being chosen.

Would you work for free?

If a competitor dropped their fee, would you match them?

Would you even have to think about it?

Or would your reaction be..?

“No, Fuck You.”

If that is your answer, telling vendors how passionate and successful you are as an estate agent isn’t going to work.

That’s the same story every estate agent tells.

You’re not just another estate agent, are you?

I don’t know. Maybe you are. Just another estate agent lacking arrogance.

Offering to work for free. Until you get paid.

But I do know this.

Vendors don’t willingly buy your services.  They buy your character.

And if you have that arrogance, tell them.  If you have humility, tell them.

That’s your story. That’s your not-so-secret weapon.

Those that share a natural affinity will recognise themselves in you.

Tell them what shaped your arrogant nature. What is made better by your being humble.  Tell them what you believe. Tell them why they ‘need’ what only you can bring. Tell them, not how you’re better, but how you’re different.

Just don’t make the mistake of telling them at the ‘job interview’ (listing presentation).

There’s not enough time to get your point across.

They know that you’re most probably capable, even most competent.

They don’t need you to tell them.

They know what you do and have a fair idea of how you do it.

They can pretty much guess the value of their own home. What they do know, and what you don’t, is the ‘bottom-line’ under which they’re not prepared to move. So your free valuation is really just small talk. A ‘suggested guide’.

Here’s the thing.

Vendors are looking for confirmation that you’re someone a bit like them.

Do we share affinity?

Are we on the same wavelength?

If you rabbit on about marketing plans, databases, negotiation skills and your ever-so-valuable offering, you force them to guess whether there is affinity.  You force them to guess your character.  You force them to bet on whether they can trust you.

And if you talk about fee, more fool you if the vendor asks and you cough up the answer before you even know whether they are a good fit for your agency.

Would you work for a low fee?  Would you work for free?

It’s not a question.

Vendors are researching you and your agency.  Well before the enquiry.

They are seeing pretty much the same web site design, saying pretty much the same thing about what you do and where you do it. A few even go so far as to explain why they do what they do.

But I can count on one hand the number of agencies that say anything about who they are.

There’s an About Us page, of course.

Telling the vendor absolutely nothing of interest about you.

Just a string of vaguely familiar words that every agency uses on their About Us page.

” We’re passionate about selling property. We live and work in the area and our knowledge will achieve for you the very best offers. We provide an honest valuation. We provide 5 star service. We go the extra mile.”

Wait, where are you going, I haven’t finished yet?

“Experienced, very experienced. Did I mention experienced?”

“Likes walking, fishing, cycling, football, you name it.”

And that’s it.

How Not About Us can they get?

It’s as if they either have nothing of interest to say about themselves.

Or, they lack the courage to be vulnerable.

Same with politicians in their race to be the next leader of the Conservative party.

Jeremy Hunt, Dominic Raab, Micheal Gove, Rory Stewart and Sajid Javid, all alike.

Talking about future policy intentions.

Talking about what they would do, were they elected.

Without ever much shining a light on their personal brand.  Their character and competence.

For one brief moment, on Channel 4 program, The Next P.M, they were asked to expound on their biggest fault.

Impatience, Ignorance. Were two of the better answers given.

Meanwhile, the epitome of personal brand surges ahead by a country mile.

Without ever debating his future policies.

His biggest faults already exposed to the country via the un-supportive media.

It’s a leadership contest where no-one ever mentions how they are going to lead.

It’s just assumed that they all can.

Until we end up with one as sublimely unable to lead as the incumbent First Lord of The Treasury.

For vendors it’s the same.

No one ever questioning who the estate agent is that has ‘charmed them’ and promised them the earth.

Only to later discover, when the home doesn’t sell, that not only are they incompetent, but they have all the makings of a thoroughly flippant, manipulative and apathetic spiv.

Estate agents, politicians and journalists.

The bottom three in the veracity index of trusted professions.

Aren’t you embarrassed?

To be compared to a politician?

Or, a journalist?

How did it ever slip so far?

There’s still hope, though.

A personal brand will shine that light, in depth, on all of your qualities.  And in the interests of fairness, on a few of your moments that didn’t turn out as planned.

It has to be that way.  Few believe the polished and perfected fairy-tale that is a TrustPilot 5 star review.

Vendors aren’t looking for the perfect estate agent. They’re looking for evidence that their sub-conscious choice, of who to trust, is the right choice.

Don’t make it harder for them.

Tell the story that only you can tell. Build an audience for your story.

With a community now hanging on your every word, would you still work for free?

It’s not a question.

You can be blunt.

Thanks, as always, for reading. If you’d like to explore developing your personal brand, I’m happy to help.

My advice is always free.

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