Your Secret Shopper Exercise
What is your agent really doing as opposed to what are they ‘telling you’…
Why did we undertake this? Because the team at AgentChoice.org suspected the standards of real estate agents and their skills were not up to scratch we decided to see for ourselves. The results surprised even us.
We surveyed real estate agents chosen at random….
(please note : our intention here was research with a view to improving the skills of the teams who are performing their duties brilliantly, and not to denigrate any particular agents or agencies.)
On this basis, we wanted a more diligent set of results, so we set out the criteria we would like to see and sent in the secret shopping team.
The criteria we analysed are discussed here. Keep in mind, these aren’t the rules, these are just some of the criteria we feel are important, and of course some are more critical than others.
– Follow up sequence. This is the most important criteria we were looking for. Full marks would have been a follow up phone call by the end of Saturday, half marks a contact by the end of Monday, and anything later than that is not good enough.
– Likeable and Friendly. You’d think this would be a pre-requisite, but essentially, full marks if they built rapport adequately, and our secret shopper in this instance is very friendly and likeable so we thought they’d all tick this box. Half marks if they were ok, nice enough but not necessarily the greatest at building a business relationship. And no marks if they were arrogant and made our secret shopper feel like she shouldn’t have been there.
– Asked for the details of the guest. Again, we thought this one would be a 100% no brainer, and the secret shopper was asked to give any and all details she was asked for. Full marks if they asked for mobile phone or email minimum, and no marks if they didn’t ask for any contact details.
And we hoped that many of the agents would personally be asking the details of the guest personally, but they ALL broke the Federal Privacy Act by sending her to simply fill in a form with all the other guests names and details on the form, so she simply put the minimum it asked for. Which was name and phone number. In reality, none of the agents gave her any direction in what details she gave.
– Gave a business card. Very few of the surveyed agents gave a business card. That being said, they all had their contact details on their flyers, so this is forgivable.
– Personally escorted around the property. In looking after the sellers’ property, many top real estate trainers, our own Glenn Twiddle included, suggest that Open Houses should be personally escorted around the property where possible. Not being intrusive on the buyers, but just being nearby if they have any questions or comments that are relevant.
– Quality of the ‘take home’ materials / flyers etc. Full marks would have been given to something in booklet format, gloss printing, bound materials etc. Half marks for colour printing, but still a4 pieces of normal paper, that was obviously printed on a colour photocopier on normal copy paper, and no marks for no handouts or black and white photocopied rubbish destined for the bin or the back seat of the car.
– Only promoting the property of the owner at the open house. AgentChoice.org was getting some feedback that some sellers were frustrated at agents selling other people’s homes off their advertising budget. So we measured this criteria for those sellers.
– Any extras. In this criteria we were looking for anything above and beyond. Like powerpoint displays, custom DVD’s playing, barbeques cooking a sausage sizzle, models serving hors d’oeuvres, even an esky full of ice water or a cupa chup for the kids, anything above and beyond the norm.
– External presentation. We weren’t looking for the house to be presented here, because that may have been out of the agents’ control, but we were looking for evidence of great presentation, like bunting, flags, sign written cars out front, anything that lets the passers by know that something massive is going on, and possibly stop in for a look.
– Were there other guests there? Now this one is partially out of the agents’ control. We say partially because AgentChoice.org approved agents always find a way to get people to come and have a look. But full marks were given if there was someone else there at the time of our secret shopper. (the reason this is a good idea for negotiation is covered in the ‘Seven Mistakes’ section of this Guide.)
– Did the agency have two or more people at the open? This is a sign of a great agency. So there is one person to greet the guests, take the names in a manner compliant with the Federal Privacy Act and direct the buyers to the take home material, DVD show etc, while the other agent, either in groups or one at a time, escorts the guests around the open home.
(note here – if you do a secret shop and are kept waiting at the entrance with the first person and asked to wait, so long as they have something for you to read, peruse or watch like a DVD or powerpoint, or have a chat to you and are friendly and enthusiastic, don’t think the agents are doing the wrong thing there. In fact, this is a phenomenal negotiating tool for YOU as a seller, so rejoice, because you’re very close to finding your agent. We would suggest no more than a 4 minute wait though, any more would be too much)
– Did they ask if you wanted to buy the property? When noted Author, Glenn Twiddle, Australia’s Number One Real Estate Trainer was interviewed on Radio 4BC’s Real Estate Talk by Kevin Turner, who himself is a phenomenal resource of knowledge and skill in our industry, Glenn attempted to explain that possibly the agents, through their questioning, found that the buyer wasn’t ready to purchase and hence the question to buy might have been a little premature, and Kevin is quoted as saying ‘Glenn, in this market, where sales are a little harder to come by, I think you’re being a little kind)
So here’s the results in table format. It was an even mix of the biggest name brands in the country and a few independent agencies chosen completely at random.
So as you can see there’s a lot to improve here. I would suggest that no matter what you do with this pack and with AgentChoice.org, that you secret shop the agents you are considering listing with and if they are anything like these described here, you need to immediately contact AgentChoice.org because you are a statistic waiting to happen.
We hate to sound negative and ‘doom sayer’ here, but simply put, we have had enough of the reports on the Current Affairs shows and in the paper because agents aren’t trained to do their job correctly, and you, the sellers, are the victims of their mediocrity. AgentChoice.org is here to help prevent that.
An AgentChoice.org approved professional are guaranteed to contact ALL guests at an Open House at least twice, but most will far exceed these minimum standards.
Test your agent and see for yourself !!
In fact in the unlikely event that your AgentChoice.org professional agent doesn’t tick 90% of the important boxes outlined here, AgentChoice.org will immediately either rectify the problem at our expense, or find you another agent completely free of charge.