As we see more and more businesses move away from the high street, the question keeps popping up ‘Do Estate Agents need a high street office?’. A new study commissioned by online property portal, WiggyWam, claims that over half of homebuyers don’t think estate agency branches are important with 54% if respondents thinking they’re unimportant, and 46% thinking they are.
As a digital marketing agency, you might be expecting us to launch into why agents should ditch their high street premises, but we’re not just a digital marketing agency, so we aren’t going to do that.
There are so many arguments for keeping physical office spaces as evidenced by the passionate comments thread on the original article, and these figures will also undoubtedly be skewed by the fact that we’re mid-pandemic and for large chunks of the last year people have been unable to visit offices to window shop. What it does really highlight, is that when it comes to marketing, a robust digital marketing strategy for estate agents isn’t just a nice thing to have: it’s essential but as an ‘and’ not an ‘or’.
Relying on a shop window and boards to attract new valuations, sales instructions, or landlord enquiries won’t help you do so with any degree of consistency as more and more people are staying away from the high street for their ‘other shopping’ and doing so online.
With what we do, we’re not just about putting pretty images out on social media and giving ourselves a pat on the back. (Although Jane, Lydia, Jo and Charlie do excellent stuff with imagery, too). Jane’s expertise comes in helping agents work out what it is they actually need. We don’t barrel in, all guns blazing, suggesting that every agent needs to be on every single platform and firing off 10 newsletter emails to their database a week, that would be daft.
For our clients, we take a look at how they work, what business they’re already generating, and we work with them to design a digital strategy that suits them right down to the ground, complimenting the work they do in branch and with their boards. It’s never as simple as an either or, and if most agents were to go entirely online, homebuyers would miss the opportunity to visit the branch to talk things through.
Ultimately, the high street is changing and agents, just like any other high street business, will need to adapt to whatever the future holds. Our role in it, is to help estate agents make sure that their online presence is as strong as possible, not just to help them weather the next storm, but to help them thrive despite it.
Jane Gardner adds to this article:
“Back in 2004 my lettings business ‘Sewell & Gardner‘ – formerly ‘Parkheath Estates’ at that time – in Rickmansworth, was really expanding and I was keen to move out of the joint premises in Station Road, shared with our Sales Department, and set up in our own office. Well it was a necessity if we didn’t all want to be sharing chairs! We found a perfect office just a few minutes around the corner into the High Street, an old Lunn Poly travel agency, that had a great shop front and was the perfect size for our team of 6 at that time. Sadly just before we were due to move, the deal fell through and the office went to (you’ve guessed it) the zillionth Charity Shop in town! What could we do?”
“Back searching for premises, the only office available was upstairs above D&A Opticians, no shop front but a really good size of accommodation and newly refurbished. Such a dilemma, how could our business thrive in an upstairs office, without a lovely big window display? This was 2005 remember, nothing was really online back then! Ok, we had no choice, and off we all moved into 103a High Street, Rickmansworth. A quick change of front door, and we had our new ‘shop front’ with our property display (albeit pretty small). Do you know what, I never looked back, that office propelled our agency to the number one spot, winning award after award and building a fabulous portfolio of managed properties. Whilst we did move once more, to join again with our sales & new homes team, all together under one roof, I can honestly say that being upstairs in a more administrative location, had zero baring on our business. If we could do that back in 2005, there is a good argument for having your office away from a High Street, if that is going to be more cost efficient for the business!”