A healthy bottom line can be the key difference in the success of your agency. Every dollar counts when growing and expanding your business, helping keep things afloat when times get tough.
So what exactly can you do to improve your agency’s earnings and profits? We spoke to several leading agents to find out their expert tips for improving the bottom line.
Cassandra Lantry, Operations Manager at Leah Jay and REINSW Agency Services Chapter Committee Member, recommends automating repetitive administration tasks where possible.
“I would recommend looking to automate in the first instance and if not possible consider off-shore,” Lantry says.
“It is primarily about keeping the core, dollar-productive functions of the business in-house and reducing the cost of all other functions around it.”
Kylie Walsh, General Manager at DiJones, says the use of automated chatbots and artificial intelligence has made a difference to conversion and opportunities thus making a positive effect on the bottom line.
“Our digital assistant responds in a bespoke manner to all online enquiries within four minutes. We coded 138 individually tailored responses to specifically answer a buyer’s exact enquiry,” Walsh says.
Walsh says this automation has provided a better customer experience by solving problems quickly and effectively, and in turn, it has created more leads and sales.
“Over the past 12 months we have made a concerted effort at the agency that if we were continually repeating a task or function, we then built a process or workflow for this. It helps with labour costs, scale and reduces human error. This meant in the second quarter of 2019 we removed seven administrative functions,” says Walsh.
Ewan Morton, Joint Managing Director at Morton and Agency Services Chapter Committee Member, agrees that technology is key to creating efficiencies.
“There are software and technology available to automate documents such as the creation of lease agreements,” Morton says.
Outsourcing tasks to off-shore companies is also a popular strategy among successful agencies, but the key is in working with an off-shore team that specialises in real estate functions and outsourcing the right tasks.
“We have been offshoring for a number of years but over the last 12 months it was really about assessing which roles were most efficient and really saved time. Last year was all about tweaking our offshore functionalities and actioning what was working and making changes quickly to what wasn’t,” Walsh says.
“For us, we found that some of our [property management] offshoring functionalities were not in line with our key benchmarking, such as turnaround time and internal customer experience.” The DiJones team tweaked their workflow processes and adjusted coaching in those areas to achieve a “far better speed to market” and “reduce frustrations and churn”.
Kelly Petrini, General Manager, Property Management at Cobden & Hayson, and REINSW’s Agency Services Chapter Committee Chairperson, says reviewing subscriptions can identify immediate savings.
“Ensure that you are not overpaying for the number of users or paying for features that are not used,” she says.
“For example, review any printer plans to ensure that your average usage doesn’t exceed your monthly plan. Review mobile phone plans to see if better deals are available.”
Petrini says to also review property management subscriptions to make sure you’re not overpaying for the number of users and other functions.
Ewan Morton agrees that a thorough review can turn up software and platforms you may no longer need.
“Things like subscriptions to stock photo websites may cost you $50, and at the time you don’t think much about spending that amount, but things like that can quickly add up,” Morton says.
“It’s also a good idea to look for cloud-based systems and packages that have everything you need built into them. If you pick the right solution it can replace more than one system and be cheaper overall.”
He also says costs for advertising platform and RTA subscriptions should be passed on to the vendors wherever possible.
Bring it in-house
Cameron Nicholls, Principal at Nicholls & Co Estate Agents and Agency Services Chapter Committee Deputy Chairperson, credits leveraging in-house skills and equipment with creating significant savings.
“Our office manager has developed a high level of skill in [graphic design] over the years. We use the online platform Canva to create all our marketing content – social media posts, property brochures, office marketing, everything. We pay around $20 per month for the platform and it’s well worth the investment,” Nicholls says.
“We also have a printing and binding machine in the office, so we don’t have to outsource the printing costs. Our machine prints high quality on 250 gsm paper which we can use for property brochures. As most printers are on a fixed-rate charge we are getting the best out of the printer.”
Nicholls says the agency also draws on in-house marketing expertise to look after their social media and publicity, which they previously paid a PR firm to manage.
Ditch the Landline
Removing desk phones and landlines are other popular cost-savers mentioned.
Ewan Morton’s agency has a 1300 internet-based number that goes to a main reception service. Otherwise, agents use mobiles as their primary means of contact.
When it comes to your bottom line, no detail or expense can be overlooked. What opportunities are there in your agency to save on time and money?
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