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Canvassing For Business

I can remember back in 1990/91 when I was with the forerunner of this firm (my god that's nearly 20 years ago!) that we were in the middle of a property market down turn that I personally believe was far worse than the current one. Osbornes Property Services as we were then called was suffering from a serious lack of income that also had a root in a serious lack of good saleable property to sell.

We were new, very professional, very keen, very hardworking and very keen to please but no one had heard of us. Our marketing budget was limited - we were skint to be truthful! What did we do? Well we set about making people aware of us by 'canvassing'. I wrote letters to other agents vendors, I dropped leaflets, we advertised as imaginatively as possible saying that even in that market we needed property for sale. Did it work? Yes to a degree and we certainly wound up some of the more established local estate agents who were not keen to lose instructions to newcomers like us.

20 years have rolled on. We have gone through some name changes and 'evolved' as all businesses have to do or they disappear. Not moving forward is the same as going backwards so they say. We are not used to having to canvass but will probably have to go back to it as the circumstances - not enough property on the market - are beginning to appear again. If certain other agents are reading this - and you know who you are - then please remember I've probably been doing it longer than you and I'm probably more plausable than you and, dare I say, better at it than you!

The technology available today for some agents is superb. The latest little stunt is a sheet of lined yellow legal pad, 'written' on in red ink that is mail-merged and printed but reads like a personal note from a very keen young lady who styles herself as New Business Manager. Goodness, estate agents are beginning to sound like a branch of an insurance company or big corporate business (hmmmm, haven't we been there before?) I bet this was dreamt up by the Marketing & Promotions Manager who has a degree in Marketing and experience of working for Heinz or Tesco. This note gets followed up by a note on a compliments slip saying 'Please call me as a matter of urgency quoting reference number 02037.....' Now that really is a 'personal' message! The sarcasm is 100% intentional!

The only thing missing on their little notes is a line or two about people having signed sole agency agreements and being liable to pay more than one fee. Every agent is now a member of a scheme like the Ombudsman for Estate Agents - the one I'm writing about is. They need to read the Code of Practice for Residential Estate Agents. All of it would do their marketing guy the world of good but in particular item 4.m I'll repeat it here:

Advertising for New Business (Canvassing)

If you use leaflets or send letters to seek new properties for sale, you must include a warning about fee liability, including potential dual fee liability, on the part of the potential seller.

Now I need to think of something original for us to use!

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