What are you really good at?
It was a question which struck fear into the heart of this very British introvert. I looked at my shoes. I ummed and ahhed a bit. It was a little awkward.
And then something else, quite unrelated, happened. On social media of all places. I congratulated someone for a really impressive business achievement. Their response wasn’t intended to be anything other than a bit of fun.
“Thanks Simon - now back to your writing/selling! (not sure which order!?!)”
Which did in fact highlight an issue, at least in my mind. One which I’m going to have to take complete responsibility for, and should probably address.
For some reason whilst I have absolutely no issue in encouraging people to read my blog, self promotion in other areas of my life does not come easily. Possibly because I’ve never really been any better than average at an incredibly wide variety of different things.
For context, I went to six different schools, tried to learn at least two musical instruments, and despite near herculean effort, was horrible at nearly every sport under the sun. Much to the frustration of both my parents and teachers.
It wasn’t until I’d finished University and entered the world of work that I finally found my niche.
So now, instead of refusing to practice the violin, I’m helping people achieve their goals. It’s exceptionally rewarding and you know what? I’m really good at it.
There, I said it. Can I go now?
Well, you probably shouldn’t. Seeing as you can’t unsay it, you may as well elaborate.
Ok. I’ve worked across lettings, sales and new homes. Actually, I established and then ran the new homes department at my old firm. And, my goodness, I learned a huge amount.
Mostly that companies who are in the business of building, marketing and selling new homes take the latter parts of that process very seriously. In a way which most estate agents really don’t.
Because building homes that people want to live in is only half of the battle. You then have to persuade would-be buyers that what you’ve created is perfect for someone like them.
But also, that you’ve thought about the wider environment, by building in locations they want to live in, and communities that they want to be connected with.
And most developers, big and small, understand the immense power of both placemaking, and marketing.
I was talking to a friend last week who runs a PropTech company. We were discussing his new offices in Kings Cross.
“The thing about Kings Cross, is that everyone there seems cooler than me”.
That, in a nutshell, is what happens when you do a really great job at placemaking.
But when it comes to you, selling your home, it’s oh so different.
I could go on for days, but I won’t. It boils down to this. Your property is unique, as is your experience living there. You know it better than anyone else, and it’s what we should be talking about in our marketing material.
An estate agent’s job is one of discovery. And creation. And utilisation.
Discovering unique selling points. Creating interesting and engaging marketing material around it. Utilising specific, targeted marketing practices in order to attract buyers.
And then being totally relentless in the pursuit of the goal.
When I was a young lettings agent, I rented a home to someone who worked for McKinsey & Company. As is the case in my industry, we spent a lot of time together over a short period.
Like with so many clients I’ve worked with over the years, he left a lasting impression on me. Not least because of the amount he was being paid for his ability to advise his clients.
The services that companies like McKinsey offer is where, in my opinion at least, Estate Agency should be heading.
Independent, thoughtful, structured advice based on one overarching, and very straightforward principle. One which is sadly overlooked a lot of the time.
It’s all about the client, and the outcomes they desire.
My job? Using my experience, skills and strategic thinking to ensure the job gets done. By whatever means necessary.
It’s what I’m busy doing now.
On the surface this graph from my friends at Knight Frank demonstrates how the London market is still being affected by constricted supply.
However what it also shows is how close the property market runs to general sentiment. Since the 2007/8 financial crisis we’ve had four general elections, a Brexit referendum and a pandemic.
It’s little wonder that both buyers and sellers are finding it increasingly hard to navigate the uncertain terrain.
Things I’ve been inspired by this week
I celebrated my ten year wedding anniversary on Monday.
For me, the past decade is brilliantly encapsulated by this quote from Brianna Wiest’s book, 101 Essays That Will Change The Way You Think.
“Happiness is a byproduct of doing things that are challenging, meaningful, beautiful, and worthwhile”