After twelve years working for a major corporate agency, Ed Harrison took the plunge and opened Deakin-White in Dunstable with business partner Sam in June 2015. In their first 18 months, Deakin-White’s market share of new listings has risen quickly to around 10% and share of available stock has more than doubled.
Their team has since grown from 3 to 10 and they’re on the verge of moving to a new office. The close-knit team includes both directors’ mums, as well as other family members and long-term friends.
We caught up with Ed to understand the secrets of Deakin White’s success.
Deakin-White have been using the Rightmove Optimiser package since December 2015. On the Rightmove Optimiser package, Deakin-White pay no core membership fee. Instead, all their spend on Rightmove is on advertising products – giving them maximum exposure for their brand across all of a home hunter’s journey.
The Deakin-White brand is seen over 32,000 times every week by people searching in their area on Rightmove.
“We haven’t reinvented the wheel”, says Ed. “We just focus on doing the basics of estate agency really well, then add some small surprising touches. Put simply, we do what people ask us to do, we call them back and we’re honest with them. In a nutshell, most of the things that the bigger corporates don’t do.
Moving house is a very personal thing. The vendor needs to buy into the people who are going to be selling their property. That’s hard to do without meeting in person. You want to know who’s coming out to see you and who you’re talking to.
A lot of agents in our area are just a representative of a faceless corporate brand. On their adverts, you just see their logo and pictures of houses. For us, our brand is our personalities. All our marketing material – whether on Rightmove, in leaflets or on our in-house stuff – features our team. People see us on our adverts and they see the same people out and about in town on appointments. Being personable is what sets us apart.”
“We wanted to hit the ground running, so I knew that Rightmove was a crucial platform for us to get our name out there. It’s the number one property site and it’s where all the buyers and sellers are. Therefore it made complete sense to get our stock and brand advertised on Rightmove in the biggest way possible. I knew the benefits that the various products deliver from my previous role. So, it was a no brainer to go for everything available and be as visible as possible in our area on Rightmove.
The branding tools like Local Home Page and Featured Agent helped us establish ourselves as a new agent in the area and allowed us to get our message across to our local audience about what makes us different to the rest. It’s all about being constantly seen.”
Deakin-White’s Local Home Page advert is seen by around 7,500 users starting a search in their area on Rightmove every week.
Their Featured Agent adverts get exposure to a further 20,000 people browsing the properties available in their area.
“We then use Premium Listings on most of our stock. We don’t sell them as additional products – we offer them as standard as part of our service. It’s a no brainer for us as they just deliver results. The detail views you get from a Premium Listing are much more than a standard listing, especially since the new design of the website where you can see 4 photos instead of 2.”
“We also rotate our Featured Property boxes at the top of the page, so that every property gets that bit more exposure.”
“We’re very visible and genuinely involved in our local community. A big thing we do is sponsor a series of 18 events that Dunstable town council run through the year – from firework displays to carol concerts and an open-air cinema. We also support organisations like the local NCT and I’ve recently become a trustee for the local housing association working with local homeless people. I’m proud to be from the area and it’s great to be able to give something back.
It’s been brilliant, too, to see the local market become one of the fastest growing areas for house prices in the country – with prices increasing by 15-20% in the last year. 15 years ago, Dunstable had a negative reputation and town was full of empty shops. With a huge Amazon warehouse opening recently and new roads being built, it’s an area on the up. People locally are feeling good and are now more confident about moving.
In terms of our other marketing activity, we’re very active on Facebook and Twitter. We’ve never advertised a house in the paper. We have a banner in there just to promote the fact that we’re active locally, but we’ve never had a house in the paper as people just don’t look at it. They now just look online.”
“To compete with the largest agents, we do things a little differently. For instance, on moving day we don’t force people to go out of their way to our office to pick up the keys. We meet them outside the house with a bag full of moving-in-day essentials – like tea, biscuits, milk, takeaway menus and cleaning products.
Moving forwards, we’re thinking about investing in bikes to travel around town on. All our team wear branded jackets and dress a little differently to typical agents anyway. And I’d love for people to see us out and about on branded bikes in between appointments. It’d be a bit silly, but would be a nice visual representation of the fact that we’re not the same as everyone else.
Our approach is basically to avoid being a typical agent in any way possible and it’s working very well for us so far!”
To find out more about how the Rightmove Optimiser package can give you massive exposure in your local area, speak to your Account Manager.