Follow-up webinar Q&A
Here are some of the answers to questions we didn't weren't able to answer on the webinar due to running out of time!
1. Rob, aren’t you a hypocrite having not left RM yourself?
Rob Sargent: Our campaign revolves around saying no to the parts of RMs proposition you don’t accept. We achieved a 75% discount in tariff for a 4 month period. The ball is in RMs court to retain Acorn as their customer alongside the other agents SNTRM represents.
2. How long do you think it will take for you to change the public behaviour on not using Rightmove? Do you think businesses will suffer short term?
Iain White: This depends on how many agents come off RM, how good your plan is and how well you market and sell it in your marketplace. It’s very hard to answer this as a general question, it’s possible if done well you could gain by being ahead of the curve and being different from the others, however it’s just as possible you will lose ground if your plan is weak and poorly executed.
3. I run a small one office estate agency. You have a 40 office business with a huge brand – I have more to lose by leaving RM, what is your advice?
Rob Sargent: I actually think the larger agents have most at stake. As a one office firm you can quickly flex your model. I would look at strengthening your offering, engage new tech and look at alternative portals and platforms. Be 100% sure where your new instruction opportunities buyers and tenants really emanate from. If RM do not extend terms that are acceptable to you keep contract flexibility, that allows you to step away as soon as you are confident you can deliver an offering that will allow you to continue to win business. A lot of potential clients will be interested to learn about more diverse marketing strategies. Anyone can list on RM...?
4. Iain discussed the use of social media during the webinar. I rarely use social media, and have doubts that the average person who wants to buy a house will turn to social media to find it?
Iain White: They won’t turn to social media to find property and this is crucial, social media is a way of finding them at a time they are looking on social media , far more powerful that RM where a conscious decision to look has been made.
5. How do I justify my fees if I’m no longer advertising on RM?
Rob Sargent: See question 2 build an offering that is unique and easily understood. Also get really good at explaining your strategy to potential clients.
6. Many of us maybe in a Rightmove contract. Ours is for three years as this allowed us to cope with the uplift they were asking for to be spread in a way we could afford to pay. We are just over half way through the contract. Do you have any experience of whether these contracts can be cancelled and if so what is the cost of cancellation?
Rob Sargent: Without reviewing your contract terms specifically it’s hard for me to comment. There is nothing, to stop you tendering your notice now. This will define your position with RM, meanwhile build your new build index plan. Maybe RM will use the balance of your contract to address what they need to retain you as a customer?
7. RM is the no. 1 producer of buyers and vendors to my business - What is your advice to agents who worry that by leaving RM, they lose their biggest source of leads? Should they then consider using Zoopla or OTM if they don’t already?
Iain White: Definitely if you come off RM you must be on Zoopla (for now) plus all the decent free ones as an aside RM do NOT produce buyer leads the listing produces the leads RM is a vehicle that connects you to the buyers, but they exist whether you’re on RM or not. Investigate the new social media tools and platforms they will connect with you a lot more buyers than RM because more people use social media than the portals.
8. For those in a contract, would you advocate that they hand in their notice and ask RM to acknowledge in writing? I ask as it was a huge battle to get them to acknowledge my forward notice.
Iain White: YES but observe your contract just give notice saying when you will be coming off and from which date your DD will be cancelled.
9. How do I combat a loss of confidence from my staff when we no longer have RM?
Rob Sargent: It’s a training issue. If RM is the only reason a potential vendor will chose your business then your offering and it’s delivery needs adjusting and training brought in.
10. If I were a home seller in the role play scenario played out I would have asked "so what property portal do you think my property should be on - we need to be seen on one of them surely" what would Ian's answer be?
Iain White: Assuming in your plan you are staying on some portals and or signing up to new ones I would present these as the portal offering, personally I would be on Zoopla (for now) if coming of RM for this very reason.
11. Do we know what percentage of the people in Say No to Rightmove (SNTR) joined OnTheMarket when they had the chance?
Rob Sargent: It’s hard to do that data analysis, but well over half of our supporters are OTM members or listers.
12. Iain advocated that RM will only negotiate with you to come back, so is he saying that everyone should leave if they can?
Iain White: No I did not say this or advocate it, I have said if you come off have a plan and if you want lower prices you will have to come off 1st and force them to negotiate with you to return as it’s a much stronger position to negotiate from.
13. The focus seems to be on replacing Rightmove with social media advertising. I agree up to a point, but social media adverts tend to be quite localised. Because we operate in a holiday/retirement area, we want to attract leads from across the country. What would you recommend for us?
Iain White: Get the right social media and digital marketing experts to help you capture the audiences you seek.
14. Regarding the point about focussing on social media rather than on property portals, do you think that would work equally well for the lettings market?
Iain White: Yes, possibly better in fact.
15. Rob has the fact that you have had to spend so much of your time to build a campaign against a supplier been worth it and if you are not leaving RM now why not?
Rob Sargent: The threat to leave remains. We spent 500k with RM in 2019 this was a corporate argument or negotiation that our business had to address. The industries support and empathy demonstrates UK Estate Agents broadly share similar views of RM. So yes it’s worth the effort and spend to try and improve value and service in the portal sector.
16. Is there anything you can do to leave RM now if you are locked into a contract with nearly 10 months still to run?
Rob Sargent: See question 6. Use the time on the remainder of your contract wisely.
17. Why do you just accept that RM is the obvious lead source? We get more enquiries AND sales from OnTheMarket than we do with RM. People just assume that RM is the dogs and from our experience it isn't.
Iain White: Agreed
18. We are a small family estate agents just 2 sisters. We will have to come off Rightmove because we just don't have the money at the usual rates but how do we get our name and properties out there? This is all foreign to us we just deliver an excellent service.
Iain White: Personal branding. Reach out to me direct and I can help you.
19. Rob, with regards to your SNTR campaign, what does a more ‘radical’ approach entail?
Rob Sargent: In the end if you cannot negotiate mutually acceptable terms with any supplier to your business the only option is to amicably part company. That’s the last resort but is about as radical as you can go.
20. When you say portals to social media what do you mean? What social media?
Iain White: Facebook and Instagram primarily and email marketing.
21. I have a market which is predominantly retirement. Many of our vendors don't have email let alone know what social media is. Many of them haven't heard of Zoopla or OTM but they have heard of RM. Do you have any advice for me in such a market?
Iain White: If they are not tech savvy, how are they accessing RM?
22. Do you know what the corporates and online agents pay to advertise on RM?
Rob Sargent: No, but the corporates and large groups generally pay the least and the one office firms on average the most on a per branch basis.
23. Why do you think there has been such a low response in Scotland?
Rob Sargent: It’s very hard to judge, there has been significant interest in our campaign and we suspect agents are watching each other’s moves very carefully. I also expect greater reaction from Scotland as an area in the event RM return to full tariff.
24. In Lincolnshire, Rightmove is the dominant portal, nearly all agents are on it. Zoopla and OTM are not as strong. If we were the only ones to come off Rightmove, we would be targeted by other agents as at a disadvantage for the clients – how do I combat this?
Iain White: As per the video make it a USP push back and go on the attack about portal based marketing being yesterday’s news, for this to be effective you must have a good plan and execute it well.
25. How should agents handle vendors who say they won’t put their property on with them as they are not with RM? Some people might say RM do so much TV and Radio advertising, why wouldn't you use them?
Iain White: I don’t think this is actually what clients say, I think this is what you fear being said, but as per the video, I would use it as positive as in the old way is to list on a portal and hope to get an enquiry the new way is to xyz depending on your new marketing plan.
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