Most days, I chat to an estate agent about their biggest challenges. Up and down the country; single office or multi; their challenge is almost always the same: they aren’t getting through enough doors. There’s nothing more frustrating than a board going up on your patch that you haven’t even been invited out to, is there? But what can you do to make sure you always at least get the opportunity to value, without spending the GDP of a small country on advertising?
The answer may lie in pizza.
I suggested this idea to a great agent in Devon a couple of years ago, who tried it, then said it was the best staff morale booster ever. And he generated a load of new valuations from it too. Since then, quite a few agents have had a go, under my bossy tutelage, with similar success.
Ask your team for a couple of hours one evening. Tell them you’ll pay them and ply them with all the pizza they can eat. This is best done in your office, but if you don’t have the room, a local pizza parlour will do too. The purpose of the evening is to figure out new ways – or better versions of the old ways – to generate new leads and valuation appointments. Even if you only have a small team, perhaps three or four of you, that’s at least three times your ideas.
What you’re also looking for, is a campaign leader. This is someone who will take the best ideas of the evening, and actually implement them. After all, I’m sure you’ve had loads of brilliant marketing ideas over the years, but how many of them have you actually applied? Exactly.
You’ll also need prizes for the session, to keep things fun and rewarding. Prizes for best ideas, the most ideas, and perhaps for the daftest. Choose someone to be scribe, and to put the initials of each person next to the idea they came up with. Your job as session host is to be encouraging and supportive, and also to keep things light. Don’t let arguments break out and ruin the creative mood.
Go round the table a few times for ideas, letting people knock on the table when they have run out of ideas. When everyone has exhausted their creativity, go back to the list, read it out and highlight everyone’s single favourite idea. Now you have a shortlist. Discuss these for a while, sketching out the practicalities and resource implications, then draw the meeting to a close. Make sure you thank everyone individually, so they know how valuable their contribution was to you, and how much you appreciate them giving up some of their own personal time. End the meeting on a high, leaving them smiling and motivated as they leave.
Next day, call a meeting with your campaign leader. Explain what you want them to do and reassure them that it will be financially rewarded. This is important. They need to feel valued and willing to take on the extra responsibilities you’re going to give them.
Together, look again at the short list. In the cold light of day, do the ideas still have strong merit? You may want to trim the list again, to finish up with a core of excellent ideas to try. Don’t take out all the outliers though: it’s good to have a wildcard in there to try. You never know where it might take you.
Print off a blank calendar for the next three months and decide on a start and end date to each campaign. Keep the activities different colours for the different ideas, and add in any tasks that need doing to make the idea work.
Once you have your calendar, it’s time to set some targets. Between you, set some optimistic but realistic goals for your ideas. These need to feel a bit of a stretch but not to be wholly unachievable. Agree them together then write them on a large poster size piece of card for the office wall. You may choose to use a ‘church fund’ type picture of a thermometer that you colour in each time you get a new valuation. Whatever it is, however you choose to illustrate the targets you’ve set, make sure it is clear and that it recognises every small success, so that everyone in the office is on board.
When you spread your targets for new valuations across the ideas you are going to try, they start to look much more doable. For example, if you have three ideas, and a target of 3 new valuations per week, each idea only needs to bring you 1 new one every week.
During the campaign period, keep the energy and interest high. Make time in your meetings to report back, and above all, make time to keep your campaign leader interested and engaged in their role. Take them out for lunch to discuss progress, allocate resources in time and money, set mini targets and reward with vouchers as they reach them. In short, make them feel valuable and special. Because they are. In fact, if they are generating new leads for your business, no one in your company is more valuable than they are.
So are you going to try your very own pizza party? Go on – I dare you. You never know where it might lead. In the words of Doctor Pepper, what’s the worst that could happen?
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