After 20 years in the property industry working for independent and corporate agents, Victoria Lang-Whiston took the plunge and opened her own agency aged 45 in Shaw, near Oldham.
Now one of the leading agents in the area, Lang-Whiston cover the whole of Oldham and Saddleworth from their branch in Shaw. We caught up with Victoria to understand her journey from start up to successful agent and how being on the Rightmove Optimiser package has helped.
With the Rightmove Optimiser package, Lang-Whiston pay no core membership fee. Instead, all of their spend on Rightmove is on advertising products – giving them maximum exposure for their brand across all of a home hunter’s journey.
“I used to specialise in opening new branches and turning around failing ones, and it was always my dream to have my own agency. It was tough for the first 18 months, where I ran my business from under the stairs at home. I couldn’t afford to go on Rightmove at the start so needed to grow slowly to get to that level. But since we’ve been on Rightmove, things have really taken off”, says Victoria.
“The local market is getting increasingly competitive with agents coming in offering lower fees. We offer a fixed fee service, but it’s not the cheapest and so we have to work hard to justify that fee. We have to find ways to do things differently and offer a more personal touch. For instance, there aren’t any properties on the walls of our office. Instead, we’ve got a TV screen showing every single property. Every viewing we do is accompanied – whether the vendor is living there or not. That isn’t the norm around here.
My approach is all about honesty. Because I’ve got so much experience in the industry, I go out and value realistically. It’s easy to see straight away if a property has been over valued and so I can have an honest conversation with my clients. I use Rightmove’s Best Price Guide to back up my instincts and talk through what’s sold in the area and other properties on the market that might be competing for attention at that time. I use this to have a conversation around whether they want to sit there at a higher price, getting no interest and end up getting less, or go on at the right price and achieve it earlier.
Rightmove’s tools and leads are really important to us. The Rightmove stats support all of our vendor courtesy calls, where we run through all the enquiries and phone calls we’ve received, and feedback from any viewings.
We’re on another property portal but joining them was a bad decision, as we just haven’t had the leads. We haven’t missed the poor quality leads we had from other portals we’ve used in the past either.”
“We use Featured Property and Premium Listings to give our listings more exposure on Rightmove once they’ve been on for a few weeks. The first couple of weeks generates a lot of viewings just by being new, so we introduce Featured Properties and Premium Listings after that to keep the properties visible and a steady flow of viewings coming in.”
Lang-Whiston rotate their Featured Properties through selected properties every 3 days. On average, their properties that are featured get over 300 detail views more per week than their standard listings. Below, their Featured Property appears first out of 1,195 properties in the search results for Oldham.
“Local Home Page and Featured Agent are all about getting our brand out there. Every valuation we get, we ask where they heard of us. They usually say Rightmove, so that proves that they’re working well for us. If you look at the amount of exposure we get compared to competitors, it backs that up.”
Lang-Whiston’s brand is seen by at least 5,000 more visitors per week than their nearest competitor, and at least 20,000 more than all others in their patch. This helps keep them “front of mind” when sellers are looking to instruct an agent in their area.
“Outside of Rightmove, we’ve been trying to grow our social media presence across our blog, Facebook and Twitter. It’s a great way for us to show our personality and try new things. We run a ‘Where is Lang-Whiston Leanne?’ competition on Facebook, where our local following have to guess the street that she’s standing on to win a branded goodie bag. It’s all good fun, but does get people to engage with us and supports the fact that we are active and experts in the local area.
One of my main bugbears is that there’s still a bad perception of agents out there – with a lack of trust and people thinking we’re out and out liars. My goal is to try and change that. I go to houses as a normal lady in her forties and they’re shocked to meet someone normal, who is giving them honest advice. Sometimes, the best approach for the customer is to advise that they stay put and wait for a year to sell. They appreciate that honesty and will always come back down the line when the market has picked up. We’re people with a good sense of humour who are doing something different.”
“In the next year, I want to build up the lettings side of our business. We’ve got a member of staff leaving to go back to university as a mature student, so that’s given me the opportunity to hire someone to put more focus on lettings.
We’re going to be using Local Home Page and Featured Agent to raise awareness of us doing lettings. That’ll help us get in front of our audience especially whilst we’re building up our lettings stock.”
To find out more about how the Rightmove Optimiser package can give you massive exposure, speak to your Account Manager.