In this episode of Survey Booker Sessions we speak with Perry Power. Perry is a well known figure in estate agency and the founder of the successful Surrey based agency Power Bespoke.
✅ The power of having a clear customer plan
✅ Giving your team autonomy
✅ The ongoing benefit of content marketing
✅ The importance of how you implement tech
✅ Tracking a Net Promotor Score
✅ What should and shouldn’t be automated
Matt Nally, Perry Power
Matt Nally 00:59
On today’s episode, we’ve got Perry Power, who is the founder of Power Bespoke, which is an estate agency based in summary. So thanks for coming out today. Are you going to give us a bit of background first as to wait a bit more about where you’re based? what you’re doing with an agency? And then getting into some fun topics after.
Perry Power 01:11
So Power Bespoke started trading in January 2014. Our main head office is in Reigate, Surrey, and we cover pretty much the majority of our properties on the South Coast or Brighton coasts in South London, that’s down the A23 passageway, and we get the odd property really out of patch that people are really coming to us and saying we want you guys to handle our house sale. And we don’t like saying no. So we handle it. And interestingly, like it all came from, I decided that I would one day have Power Bespoke when I was 12 years old, because my mom had a really poor experience with an estate, and she was a single mom. She had a really poor experience trying to buy her property. And on that day, I kind of made a business card called “Powers, Estate Agents, Surveyors, and Valuers.” Interestingly, because back then there were kind of generally estate agents, surveyors and valuers kind of all in one. Fast forward; I’m 35. Now so nearly 20 odd years. Here we are.
Matt Nally 02:25
What kept you so engaged and motivated with it from the age of 12? It takes a long time to have an idea and then act on it later. So, you must have read about 18,19 when you went to do it.
Perry Power 02:37
As soon as I was 15, I had a part-time job on Saturday, and then, from school, when I was 16, I got a full-time job. By 19, I think I was the youngest fully qualified member of the National Association of Estate Agents with a level three apprenticeship. I didn’t want to go to college or uni. I come from a background of workers, like, properly, that’s a roofer. My mom has done loads of things over the years—we’re quite an entrepreneurial family. And looking back, I think I’m going to be doing something like an autism test. Because I think I’m slightly autistic, I’m definitely number autistic like, and because of that, I’m obsessive over things, like, madly obsessive. When I get my teeth into something, there’s nothing going to take me away from it. And that’s how I was from the age of 12 on. And it’s that I’ve got four children now, and one of them is nearly 14. And I need to stop pushing my bias onto him. I’m like, So, do you know what you are going to do? You are like 14 now. But not everyone is like that.
Matt Nally 03:51
So, the number autism sort of potential side of things, that’s really interesting in terms of that focus on data and the numbers behind everything I do. Is that something that you really focus on within the business day to day? Is that what drives the success of everything else?
Perry Power 04:10
I’m 35. My son, who’s nearly 14, has been diagnosed with autism. You wouldn’t know it, but he’s extremely intelligent, not very social, and he has poor social skills. And I’m very similar. But yeah, because of that trait, whether it’s a diagnosed thing or not, who knows? I might get diagnosed when I have the test properly done, but neither here nor there. That trait of detail. Obsessiveness processes are what’s really helped Power Bespoke.
Matt Nally 04:51
I’d agree that autism can be really beneficial. And I think there was a brilliant episode of Dragon’s Den the other night on the Sky. It was a clothing company, sort of, with bigger sizes. But he was very number driven. And that was sort of the real base of his success—that he knew his business inside and out. And all the decisions are based on that.
Perry Power 05:16
I could be more analytic; I like looking at data a lot. Like, without marketing automations. I can see the difference from one email to the other: one’s got a 50% open rate, and one’s got a 15% open rate, and I can tell straight away that it’s because of the subject, so I’ll switch it up and prove it and test it and measure it. But I read the book, The E Myth, quite early on, obviously, because I knew one day I was going to have my own business. Most kids were probably reading football magazines. I was reading the E Myth all about McDonald’s and how they systemize, process, and grow the business. Because I’m obsessive like that.
Matt Nally 06:04
So, one of the things that you’re rightly so proud of is achieving the highest average sale price in your area only in the patches you focus on? What’s the driver for that? How do you go about achieving that versus other agents?
Perry Power 06:22
Firstly, all our agents are certified in advanced negotiation. So as soon as you join, you get put through your advanced negotiator. If you’ve been an agent for a year or 20 years, you go through that. Because unfortunately, the reality of estate agency is that a lot of estate agents haven’t gone through any qualifications. Haven’t gone through in-house training, but it’s an unqualified, unlicensed, and unregulated industry. And you could have been selling cars yesterday, and today you’re in someone’s house, trying to get them to buy it. So that’s very poor in the industry. So, we’re all really good negotiators. We understand negotiation, the psychology of negotiation. Secondly, it was early on, before I started growing the business, that I developed the Power Bespoke 11-step plan to achieving a premium price, because I’m very detailed, process driven, analytical. And to this day, nearly 10 years later, I got a message from one of our agents yesterday, just popping into the office: We’re running low on 11-Step plans, like it just works; the plan is to plan to get a premium price, and the only thing that changes in the plan is the property. And that comes back to the day you launch it on the market, how you write the description, how the photos are presented, and how you review the back-end data every week on the marketing effectiveness. So it’s actually not that amazing. It’s just that we’ve got a plan.
Matt Nally 08:07
which makes sense. If you’re refining that process, then you can get better and better at what you’re doing.
Perry Power 08:14
I was probably five or six years in, and no one’s ever actually asked me, “Can I see your marketing plan for my house, please?” No one because they’re not educated enough to the fact that not all of the edges are the same.
Matt Nally 08:33
The transfer to surveying is that many consumers and viewers evaluate at level 2 or level 3 the same product across surveyors. And it’s meant there’s a minimum service in estate agency, which is you sell the house. But there are a lot of things you can do around that. Similarly, for a surveyor, you can produce a report at the end of it, but how you get there and what you include are very different. How do you get that across to the customer? Because obviously, the benefit of having a higher sale price is being able to charge higher fees. But imagine, but how do you communicate that plan? Do you proactively go through that marketing plan?
Perry Power 09:12
The plan is really interesting. Because it’s like the Holy Grail—like, it’s our marketing method to get clients. It’s our marketing method to sell their house once we’ve got our client. It’s our prospecting tool. We get to give it away freely; someone’s on the market with another agent. We’re like,Hey, we have a really relevant set plan. This results in our achieving 102% of the asking price versus the 98% national average. See if there are a few things in there that your agent can implement, like the content advice given and the majority of our clients are second-hand businesses. So, they’ve already been on the market with another estate agency. Because we don’t get in, we don’t get drawn in on this; a big part of the business model, which is purposely quite spread, is that we haven’t got to play the game when the local agents in the town or one local agent are starting to pull their fees down to half a percent because the markets tightened up. We don’t get involved in that; we just let them crack on because we’ve got stuff coming up at 2%. In Sutton or 2% in Brighton.
Matt Nally 10:27
If you’re putting that type of content out there, so you’re putting your 11-Step Plan out there as an example, what stops other people from copying it? So, a fear sometimes can be that if you’re putting your USP out in front of everyone, then competitors can copy it. And then they just didn’t give the same spiel to someone else, even though they might not actually do that. And then they lose the job. So, is there a risk with that? Or is it different? It’s not a problem.
Perry Power 10:51
It’s a tiny risk; it happens, but it’s not a problem. I’ve been to a house and seen a rehashed version of that plan; they’ve just literally downloaded the digital version, put their picture on top of mine, changed a few colours, and rehashed it, which is cool because the advice in it is good, and if more homeowners read the advice in it, whether it’s got my name on it or someone else’s, they’re going to have a better, quicker move. This is from marketing these days; people are too scared to share their best secrets and advice. And then they’re like, the best thing that no one knows about?
Matt Nally 11:29
Did you have the same risk? Actually, then no one knows what to use.
Perry Power 11:34
We’ve had clients recommend us to their friends because they’ve used our advice to get their house sold with their current agent. Because they were tied in for six months with their current agent, they wanted to move to us, but they were just tied into these terrible tie-in contracts. But we’re the ones getting recommended to their friends, not the agent who actually sold their house. And the most important point on that is the reason why it doesn’t worry me: knowledge isn’t power; implementation and actions are, and very few people get shit done. And that’s harsh. I’ve never coached someone who just gets shit done so quickly. And when somebody tweaks something, because I’m obsessive about stuff. It’s on the Trello board. And it’s getting worked on immediately and rolled out within days. And I like that nimbleness of the business to be fair as we grow. We survey all of our team, and every month, they get like an anonymous give us your feedback kind of thing. And I wouldn’t know who’s saying it. But one of the real leading things is autonomy. So our team has real freedom within the constraints of the brand standards and how we do things here. But they’ve got complete autonomy to make good decisions and implement good stuff and love all that.
Matt Nally 13:02
So that ties me to something. I never touched on this before we started recording. But in order to get stuff done and have people follow the right things, and you got the training side, how do you bring the right people into the team? So, I know you’ve got a mix of employed and self-employed. And within the surveying industry, different people have different models; some will be fully self-employed, some will only be employed. There are different benefits and drawbacks to each, but it’s interesting that you’ve got a mix. So, what do you find? Why do you employ someone? And then why would someone else be self-employed? And how would you find the right people to fit in with that get stuff done attitude?
Perry Power 13:42
So that depends on what they want? I might want an employee to be a selling machine, but they also want a bit more autonomy, because autonomy to me is a really important brand culture. And just because you employ it, I’m not going to ask you what you’re doing on Thursday. I’m not interested. What I’ll be saying is that if we’re not hitting target or if we’re not selling out, we’ve got a problem, whether you’re employed or self-employed, and we’ve been through some people. Don’t get me wrong; we’ve got a fairly good retention rate for the industry. But yeah, it comes down to the person themselves. Like, we’ve got a waiting list of 74 agents that have joined our waiting list over the last couple of years. And it’s probably been my hesitation to push too hard in the current climate as to why they have not joined us. Really, 15 of those would probably have been suitable to join us. So, it comes down to the person and what they want. We’ve got an amazing agent who I’ve been chatting with for a couple of years, but she just wasn’t ready to be self-employed and to be at that stage of her life. I’m totally fine. And I’ve got other people who have been employed for 15 years and just don’t want the thought of having a boss ever again, whether he’s a nice one or a dickey one. That doesn’t really matter to me; it’s the person, and if they produce, I think there’s a bit of a misconception that when you go self-employed, you get all this time in the world to do what you want and no one to answer to. But it’s interesting because you have someone to answer to, and they’re more of a dicky boss than a dicky boss. And that’s yourself.
Matt Nally 15:38
Did you find that a self-employed agent is more motivated?
Perry Power 15:43
Not necessarily, I don’t think. Motivation is an inside job; I can’t motivate anyone. I can just inspire people to do better. Like, if I’m looking at two and a half million pounds in sales off-market, then that’d be a nice indicator that they can do it too. But they need to do it. Whether you’re employed or self-employed, in my opinion, there’s no difference. To me, this whole self-employment thing in the estate agency industry got off to a great start because everyone was like, Oh my god, yeah, I can get rid of the boss, but then they realized that being self-employed is a blessing and a curse all in one. And what I think is that if they’re not disciplined, the employment structure should give them discipline. When they removed that, they were actually not that disciplined. And it’s better served for those people to stay in employment, keeping them confined. Just find a good boss who doesn’t care what you do or when you do it, as long as you do it. Rather than eight o’clock meetings every morning about a meeting happening next week, try and cut away all the crap stuff about employment, remoteness, freedom of location, and I don’t care what time you start or finish, like, we’re sales. I don’t like that term for our industry. But we are a sales industry. And if, in two or three months, you’re not hitting target, then whose fault is that? I’m here to help and advice, but you’ve got to come to me; I am not going to knock on your door and say, Look, you underperformed last month; you should know that. So, come to me and say, I underperformed last month; what do I need to change? That’s the same if you’re employed or self-employed.
Matt Nally 17:41
The other things I’ve looked at a lot with what you do, and I think we’ve discussed them before, are your sort of content and the fact that you put a lot of social content out. Whether that’s about the 11-point plan or whether it’s just more general stuff in terms of market updates, why do you do it? Does it bring you a lot of business overtime? I imagine it’s not like an immediate silver bullet. You put one thing out, and something comes in, but have you found that over time, it’s helped get your name out?
Perry Power 18:16
So, I’m about to take on a one and a half million-pound house next week from somebody that I’ve never met in my life, even though I’m friends with her on Facebook. But a friend of hers is struggling to sell their house. And so she messaged me, and she was like, I’m sure you guys can sell it. The thing about social media for me is that when you’re looking at what to do on social media, you’ve got to ask yourself, hold on, what do I want to put out there? And do you want to put out their stupid videos? Have you ever been like humorous content? Or do you want to put out their properties that you’re selling? Or do you want to put out their help and advice for people? So, mine has always been to give people advice.
Matt Nally 19:05
I imagine that engages people more because they can relate to that.
Perry Power 19:08
The trouble is, 99% of the world isn’t interested in property right now. So, unless you’re in the industry trying to move in or thinking about moving in, they’re not interested in my advice on what day to launch a house on the market that has flipped past it. But in my content creation, we need to start doing a bit more topical stuff, and I get it, but I don’t really want to do a video on Miley Cyrus, particularly to keep up with trends and stuff that’s going viral. So, I don’t want to be a views-and-likes chaser. I’m not chasing that. As long as the content is quality for somebody that’s in that position right now then I’ll put it out. And it’s a real slow burner. But for me, it’s all about visibility. And keep peppering those people’s subconscious minds; they won’t know it, but by the time they need something for their property, they’re going to come from the subconscious to the forefront of their mind and drop your message. And it just produces so much content for prospecting, as well as when a client rings me stuck on the market, I’ll flick him a link to a YouTube video or an advice video that will help them, help my time management, and help with so many things.
Matt Nally 20:29
That’s part of what you can then send out when you first engage with someone, as well as what you can put into that content. So, they have questions about certain things. There’s a whole library of stuff to refer to.
Perry Power 20:40
I’ve got 11 videos on YouTube breaking down each step; that 11-step process is a playlist. If someone wants to sit and watch the whole 11, they are welcome to. If someone brings me into their situation of being stuck on the market and got any ideas, I’ll obviously help them, but I’ll send them a link to step six of the 11-step plan on what to do when something stagnates on the market. So, it’s rich content, and video hasn’t got to be video. But for me, it’s quicker and easier. I spend two hours a week doing video and then do nothing else. So, I’ll send it off to my editor. He edits it, posts it, reads it, hashes it, and repurposes it. So, it takes me two hours to write an article because I’m terrible at writing.
Matt Nally 21:26
But it is longer because you’ve got to come up with the idea for the article and then figure out what to do for the video.
Perry Power 21:33
So, again, every week, he’ll give me a list of topics that have the highest search terms and are trending at the moment, which is great because then you get a good piece of content out there. Let’s get high search traffic on Google or YouTube. And that just compounds over time. That’s the ever-important thing. Like, I still do prospecting on the phone because I’m an old-school estate agent deep down, but that doesn’t compound over time. You call someone, and you have a conversation. That’s the end of it. The content is out, and it compounds. One of my videos on why you should have a For Sale board when selling your house has gotten like 40,000 views since I posted it, and that number keeps growing.
Matt Nally 22:14
I think it is still working constantly for you. I agree with the video side. When you’re looking at the same content, we could write this whole thing that we’re doing now out rather than put it out as a video, but most people aren’t going to want to read through a massive script of what we’ve said. And I think it’s the same for blog posts, which are great and do have value. But most people are online, and they’re just scrolling through stuff. It’s hard with the noise to move away from other videos that are popping up in your face and then go through to an article and then spend a few minutes on it. So, you get the message across quicker.
Perry Power 22:54
There are three types of content: video, audio, and written. The trouble with a video is that it’s the only one where you can get all three forms of content from one bit of time spent. So, you might as well do a video and have that out there. It doesn’t matter whether you’re good or bad at making videos or whether you like making them or don’t. Then you can get the audio extracted, and then you can get the words into a blog easily enough using a transcription service. If you really don’t want to do video, just do the audio; at least then you can get those made into little voice clips that you can post on social. So, your voice is being heard, but your face isn’t being seen. It’s important that content be put out there. There isn’t an ideal video. But lots of people don’t do content, because they don’t want to do video; in that case, I say it’s fine; just do an audio voice note on your phone and then put that out there.
Matt Nally 23:54
You can always build up to that later, once you start seeing the benefits. Another aspect I wanted to talk to you about, and I think there’s a much more way of segmenting off this last one. But you focus a lot on the customer experience, and there’s a lot of tech that you use behind that. How do you decide when to implement tech? When is it appropriate and when is it not? There’s got to be a balance. There’s a fear sometimes that, when tech is fully automated, you lose all connection with the customer. And actually, that’s not the point for me. It’s about taking time back to be free.
Perry Power 24:33
We can automate anything, I can automate my kettle boiling when a sale moves a sale agreed, it’s almost limitless. But there are two questions. Can we automate it first and foremost? That is normally yes. Then the second one is: Should we automate it? So, there are some things that shouldn’t be automated; I get it. And I’m not a fan of death by form. So, everyone seems to have gone death by form. Let’s trigger that; text them a link to that form. And it’s like, maybe you shouldn’t automate that and have a deep conversation with the client about that thing but automate that thing instead. I was speaking to a colleague of mine, who is in another agency, about post-viewing feedback, and we’ll touch on client experience in a minute because I want to talk a bit more on that quickly, but you’ve got me started now. It is interesting because two businesses automate the same thing, but in completely different ways. So post-viewing feedback, every single morning at 9 a.m. following someone has viewed a house with us, so the following morning, at nine o’clock without fail, they get a text message. So, it’s “Hey Matt, it’s me, Perry from Power Bespoke, just touching base with your final thoughts on 24 Balkan Road yesterday.” So, in view, I love it, and I’m always a fan of your going home, sleeping on it, chewing it over, and having endless chats in the morning. Or they might say I hate it because it’s too busy. But then they might go home and sleep on it. What is a really good size for a flat? That’s automated. It looks like I’m sending it, but I’m not. It’s an automation. People. I’ve had replies at nine o’clock on a Sunday morning saying, “Wow, you’re working on a Sunday.” But I’m not. It’s automated. But the point is, I like conversational automation growing in this other company; send the automation 10 minutes after the viewing. To me, that’s Tuesday. And their automation is: can you please click this link and fill out this form about your feedback? So, you can automate everything, but how interested are you in it? Can you? Should you? And then, how? It is another addition to that matrix to send it through.
Matt Nally 27:08
There’s a very good point that there are many ways of automating the same process, but very different ways of engaging the customer or getting involved with it.
Perry Power 27:18
It’s important to ask yourself a question. Is this guaranteed to get done on time by a human every time? And if the answer is no, you should automate it. So, I’m really deep on our net promoter score. So, it’s a really good metric for any business. There are some people who love it and some who hate it, but we’ve got, like, six touch points on the client journey. We did a kind of survey—you can call it the net promoter score—at that time. And you can see it fluctuates; just after launch on the market, it’s really high because they’re like, “The photographs are amazing. Blah, blah…” Eight weeks later, it might have dropped because they might still be on the market for sale. Or it might have been really high because their offer was over asking price. 12 weeks into a conveyancing process, it might be low because they’re just getting really cheesed off with the time it’s taken. But then, two weeks after completion, they moved all the stresses out of the way. They got the keys and moved in. That’s the one I’m most interested in. And that’s the one that’s constantly high, for which I’m really pleased and proud of our team for having a ridiculous 96 Net Promoter Score, which is huge up there with Apple, and we’re obviously a small business. But before we grow up and start to grow too much, I wanted to get those foundational things in place.
Matt Nally 28:50
For those who don’t know what a net promoter score is. That’s a measure of customer feedback and sentiment.
Perry Power 28:56
Yes, the score is one question. I like simplicity. The question is: “On a scale of one to 10, how likely is it that you recommend Power Bespoke to a friend or colleague?”
Matt Nally 29:07
And then you ask that question multiple times throughout the process. How often do you review the average score? Do you take a look at what the highest ones are and why? What the lowest ones were and why? Are you refining the process?
Perry Power 29:21
Yeah, all the time. Like, it’s amazing because you get your scores, but then you get a comment at the end of that one. If they just click 10, then that’s fine. But most people go a step further and add some notes to the box. As to why they gave that score, that produces a word cloud, which I really love. The most used words are the biggest on this word cloud. But then reoccurring things can be actioned and edited. We did have a post-viewing So in the morning, two days after reviewing, you’ll get asked, how was your viewing experience with us? Not—what do you think of the house? But how did you find out about our viewing team? And some things you don’t change; for example, people really want you to print your brochure, but we’re really hot at the minute on sustainability, not wasting things. And here’s the PDF version; you’re welcome to bring it, but I probably wouldn’t buckle on that, because I just think that if one person in Tempe gives it as feedback, I wouldn’t then roll out printed brochures for all 10 people, because that’s not enough of a drive to weigh the pros and cons.
Matt Nally 30:45
But if nine people were asking for it, then you would actually find that there is a benefit and the need to do it.
Perry Power 30:50
If someone’s like,” I’m 75 and not great with a computer, do you mind sending me the brochure? We’ll print it and send it to them. But the majority of people it’s fine.
Matt Nally 31:01
What are the points you measure in the process? Do you go as far as measuring the feedback on the initial contact when they make an inquiry? Or is it more like once they’ve instructed you, then you measure onwards?
Perry Power 31:14
So, every phone call that comes into the business, I will find this map, right? So, I’m an EE-business customer. I’m not sponsored by EE. I apologize for having mentioned it on the podcast. But I really liked their customer service, which is a good bit of old-fashioned ring a number, it gets answered, and you get the problem dealt with while doing that with Vodafone. But every time I call them, the minute I put the phone down, I get a text on my phone. It’s like, how’s your experience today? Reply one for crap and five for amazing. And I was like, I want to have that at Power Bespoke. I just love the fact that even if people don’t answer it, it just shows that we care about service. So, after research and more research, I changed our whole phone system just to make it happen. And now, every time, five minutes after someone puts the phone down after they’ve called us, they get a text saying, “Hey, can Power Bespoke know what your experience was with our team today?”
I think with business growth, what I’m learning — and I’m only learning on the job, like I’m no Lord Sugar — but I think you got to pick your battles. And someone actually told me this about parenting. Now that I’ve got four, clearly, I didn’t listen. When I had my first or second child, they were like, Oh, it’s going to get busy for you. My advice is to just pick your battles. And what they meant by that was to pick battles of your kids. And I think it’s really good parenting advice that you don’t come down hard on saying stupid things but do something really important instead. Yeah, similar things happen in business. Now that I’ve got the data, I know where to pick my battles—like, where I really need to focus on rather than worrying about all these different things. We’ve got all the data to say about the front-end phone system and how that’s handled. Everything in my life, personally and professionally, is overarch by the 80/20 rule. 80% Perfect, we could spend probably a load of time and money getting it to 90%. But what’s better for the business is focusing on this over here, because that’s maybe 70%. Good, perfect. And you’re never going to get perfection. So, 80% In the grand scheme of things, I think it’s good enough. And I’ve learned that as well. Because I’m obsessive. I’m a bit of a perfectionist, and it stops me from moving forward at times. Sometimes. Yeah, good is good enough.
Matt Nally 33:52
One question I have on that is not so much about the 80/20 rule. But on that, I agree with you completely; you put your focus on the biggest benefit, and so on. But with this type of feedback, is it something that is only worthwhile if you’re in a company with a number of employees or a number of people working for you, or should you still use it if you’re an individual?
Perry Power 34:17
Yeah, individual. We had all this. So there was nothing obsessive about this kind of stuff, and it was just me and a mobile phone. Because I’m my own biggest critic, I wanted to know if the experience that people were having with me personally was good enough. All these automations go ahead post appraisal, so if you’ve been out to give someone advice, the next day is like Hey, John, you met Steph yesterday, and I am really keen to hear what your thoughts were on the advice you were given. Those go out when I go and see a client as well. Like, it’s not just for the team; it’s for me personally and the brand. But we had all this built when it was just me; it was only that as we grew, we managed to move on to a more sophisticated kind of A tech platform and CRM system, so now it’s completely cool. Back in the day, I had an assistant who manually added people to NPS when they agreed on their house. So yeah, from day one, I believe, get the foundations in what’s important to you and your business metrics and start as you mean to go on, because otherwise, you’re going to get to a size and then use it, it’s going to be so hard to implement.
Matt Nally 35:26
That’s actually a very good point; it’s not only hard to implement in terms of making those decisions, but you’ve got to change a lot of people’s mindsets that haven’t had to do something for ever.
Perry Power 35:35
My business coach or mentor is like, “Change implementation is one of the hardest things for bigger businesses to do.”
Matt Nally 35:43
There’s a lot more to change and knock-on effects and things that link in then.
Perry Power 35:47
And even now, with a team of 12, I’m a bit of a problem because I love change. But I’ve kind of forgotten to remember that many people don’t. And as much as our cultural fit is nimble, innovative, and changes quickly, it still throws people off a little bit. So I’ve had to tone it down a little bit.
Matt Nally 36:12
So, my final question on the customer experience side, before I get to one of the topics that our episode covers, is: what are your times that shouldn’t be automated, and which are the touch points that should definitely be on the phone and speaking to the customer?
Perry Power 36:28
So obviously, when visiting the property of the client in the first instance, the weekly client updates are a part of the 11-step plan, and step seven is the Monday deep client update. We semi-automate that. So what we do on a Monday is send them a nice, five- to six-minute-long video because we can cover more on that than on the phone. And we can show them stuff like how yours is performing way better than this house on the market. So I know viewings have dried up, but don’t worry, let’s give it another week and see what happens. So we send them that, and they say, Look, there’s a quick overview update, where we’re at in terms of performance or marketing. Give us what time you’re free, jump on the call, and we’ll talk it over. Nine times out of 10, they don’t want to talk, but they really appreciate the update.
I’m a geek. But I’m also lucky enough to have started in the industry when there were applicant cards in a box that you had to, like, get your hot box and stuff. So the old school way, and at times they are not so professional. But just at a time when tech was coming through, I really felt like I was in a rare position to be able to mix the two. I’m 35 now. So people coming through in their 20s are probably thinking all about automation. And why would I do that? Well, I can tap a button. People in their 60s probably find it a lot overwhelming, where they’re still very archaic and stuff. So yeah. When not to do this is when we never discuss price over message. We use instant messaging a lot, and our clients love it. But the rules internally are: don’t discuss price over a message. Even if they want it. If they increase their offer, let me give you a call. We’ll have a chat over it. Because things like that need more discussion.
Matt Nally 38:27
And that’s a very key point. It was mentioned as a very key role to play. I think in terms of not automating certain parts, then you aren’t free to have those calls. Or you haven’t because you’re delayed in doing it.
Perry Power 38:41
I’ve always positioned it in my mind that the text is there to enable the expert, not to replace the expert. And a lot of companies get that wrong. There are big brands out there that have spent millions building the most self-service platform out there. But they just haven’t gained traction because people actually want someone who has the answers, or at least a few options for answers, to help them and guide them. When you need a tooth pulled, you don’t get the pliers and pull it out. You go to the dentist. When you need the best price for your house, you could get pliers and yank out your own tooth, but you’re probably unlikely to because you want the dentists to do it properly. Same with selling your house when you want it for the best price possible; have somebody there to help and advice as surveyors. They could send, and we have this a lot, your stepdad around, who’s built a wall once in his life. And it all goes wrong. So, get an expert.
Matt Nally 39:54
That brings me nicely to the last topic I wanted to go over, which was surveyors and agents and how they work together. I always had a real mix. There are some agents that love to refer surveyors and work with them because the potential benefit is getting the sale over the line because the buyer is happy that the property is fine. But then either here or sometimes maybe say that it’s like a turkey waiting for Christmas; what’s your experience of it in terms of that? Do you find that there is a benefit to the spare being there? I think that when it comes on, maybe a minute will sort of happen. Surveyors and agents work best together; perhaps what makes a gift is to bear what we spend in terms of that engagement?
Perry Power 40:38
I advise all buyers, whether the sellers like it or not, to have a survey done. But I advise them to get it done, say, in the next five days or the next 10 days. Get it ordered now. Don’t crop up in six weeks. And make a pop-up suggestion, you should probably get a survey. And we’re all about to exchange. And now you’re having a survey done. So, my advice to buyers is, “Get one done.” I think that there could be a lot more collaboration between agents and surveyors. I’m a big fan of selling houses like warts and all. That’s how I call it: you am not going to hide; nothing is going to come up in the end. I’ve had sellers before; can we just not disclose that? And I’m like, Nah, because I am not going to waste my time waiting for it to come up for four months. So, let’s just handle it head-on. And so, I think collaboration could be better, like having a quick call prior. Anything you’ve noticed there? The surveyor will be ringing up and giving a note; there was a little crack, but I think it’s a hairline crack. I don’t know about you, but I have a good look. I think most agents are scared. They’re like, Oh my God, here we go. You’re going to have a house; he’s folding it down. But I also think survey reports could be broken down into a bit more plain English for the buyer.
Matt Nally 42:02
So, what bits do you think aren’t penny? Because I see a lot of surveyors say, “We write reports in plain English, so no jargon and so on.” But I think there is a challenge when you use certain terms every day and you’re writing reports all the time to sort of potentially be objective. What are the bits that you’re seeing that could potentially confuse or cause issues?
Perry Power 42:29
Some recent stuff, like the traffic light signals on the reports. When the surveyor is not qualified or able to comment, it goes into like a big red flag: electrics, plumbing, gas, can’t comment, looks old, probably some problems. But I think that can be communicated more effectively through surveys. really sorry, but all the gas and electrics are all red; they will need replacing, and the answer is: “No, it doesn’t.” You’ve been advised to get specialist reports because they’re not qualified to come in. And just kind of stuff like that.
Matt Nally 43:04
So that’s one thing potentially in the report that could be adjusted in terms of how it’s presented. So, it isn’t that it is written off. It’s actually advised to get a further check. Is that something that potentially surveyors could, as well as in the report, bring up with the customer before they read it?
Perry Power 43:26
There are a lot of surveyors that I’ve dealt with who don’t want to have a post-visit conversation with the buyer. As in, wait for my report; it’ll be out in five days. And if the buyer just wants a quick green light, yes, there are a couple of little niggles, nothing major, but it’s structurally sound. There are no massive red flags, and I don’t think many surveyors that I’ve come across do that.
Matt Nally 43:55
I think there’s a fear at the moment of claims, and so potentially saying one thing, it all looks okay, from initial looks; we’ll come back to you obviously with a report, and the fear that maybe something gets picked up later, but the buyers committed something, so they do something in the meantime, based on that phone advice, and I think there’s a real hesitancy around claims. I’m sure there are other reasons as well, but what would be the benefit if surveyors were to give that initial call? What do you think is causing an issue there in terms of that weight?
Perry Power 44:30
Speed and transactions are always the slowest. Now I’m not at five months or more for accepted completion. I’m not for a second than that down to surveyors. But we’re seeing with some surveying firms, it takes a two- to three-week lead time to get someone in. And then, if there’s a five-day lead time to get the report out to them and that survey done, because the buyers decided at the last minute to get it done. There’s then all the pressure going on the surveyor when he’s got nothing to do with them. It’s just that they weren’t instructed soon enough. But that could help speed things up a little bit. Maybe this is my initial thought. Don’t record the call, because he am not like to be relied upon, and I’m going to go and write my report and send it to you. That can be quite beneficial.
Matt Nally 45:19
What, for you, makes a great experience with a surveyor from an agent’s perspective? Because there are lots of touch points beyond the report in terms of the call about arranging the appointment or collecting keys, whatever it might be, are there things that have made some surveyors stand out over others in terms of the experience you have with them?
Perry Power 45:44
Yeah, just decent channels of communication, like wanting to communicate or even a little post-call to the agent, would be nice. I know the agent is not the client. But to build the relationship, how has it been there? Quick heads up, mate. I think there’s a big problem with this as well. And I’ll be feeding that back to the buyer. Just want to give you a heads up. But on the whole, we get along quite well, and with surveyors, we appreciate that there is an act for the buyer. I think most estate agents worry they’re going to open a can of worms, and it’s all going to be really difficult to renegotiate units in the fall fruit. But if a house has got problems, then the house has got problems.
Matt Nally 46:22
The buyer is going to find out about that eventually. I suppose from an agent perspective, though, that those types of agents that are worried about that potentially want to avoid that till after the sale, because then at least the sale went through and there’s a commission, but I suppose from a reputational perspective, you’ll do better as an agent longer term by being seen as the honest upfront. Then someone tries to sort of know something through.
Perry Power 46:49
Estate agency is the weirdest industry in the world that we’re allowed to actually, semi-represent both parties. Obviously, the seller pays us, and when they’re the client, you’ve got a duty of care, and you got to be honest and have all this legislation on us to be like, you’ve got to act for the seller. But you have to disclose material information to the buyer. It’s like, I get all that, but it’s a real conflicting, it’s not having the same divorce lawyer represent husband and wife. We need to go a bit more with an agency selling agencies and each person. I’m a massive advocate that every buyer should have an agent as well, because every seller has.
Matt Nally 47:27
You do move into the buyer’s side in terms of what you’re doing for your seller. So, when that happens, you can help negotiate.
Perry Power 47:37
A bunch of clients sign now, or I’m just acting as their buying agent. Because everything that I’ve learned over the past 20 years is just as relevant to a buyer as it is to a seller. Obviously, you can’t act on both sides of the transaction. But I’ve got buyers who are looking to buy a 700 grand house in Brighton. We’re going to help them find something, negotiate it, and help them with the right survey recommendation, solicitors, and post-serve a potential renegotiation if needed, and that kind of stuff.
Matt Nally 48:07
So it’s an opportunity, then, for surveyors to try and find a buying agent in that respect. I know it’s not a massive thing in the UK, like it might be in the US, but there’s potentially an opportunity to work together there on the same side there and what you’re trying to achieve. Anything else you want to wrap up with? Or I think we’ve covered all of it?
Perry Power 48:27
Yeah, I think I’ve waffled long enough.
Matt Nally 48:31
But yeah, thanks very much. I look forward to speaking again soon. Cheers.