Why letting agents should think like a retailer

Property Reporter
19th February 2021
To Let 690

Balancing the current climate with continued success is a challenge faced by every type of business – not least the property industry.

Successful agents would do well at this turbulent time, to look at retail models of success in their continued pursuit of delivering profitable growth and managing uncertainty. The fast-paced nature of retail, along with a strong customer focus, mean retailers bring key skills that are highly relevant to other organisations.

There are five fundamental skills that strong retail leaders possess, creating success for customers and employees alike. Tenant rewards platform, Vaboo, share their insight on how retail leaders are driving change in their business and how agents can benefit from 'thinking like a retailer'.

1: The customer experience is your brand

Great retailers get it; the customer really is king. The best brands know what is important to their customers and work relentlessly to deliver it, day in day out, across every channel. Brands are no longer just visual, and we need to invest in what the customer experiences and how they feel. This relentless focus on the customer experience and the drive for consistency is not easy but for any successful agency – but it must be part of the day job.

2: Give your people purpose

Delivering a great customer experience is not easy to do, and requires a clear purpose, simple brand values, and more importantly, the leadership to live and breathe them throughout the organisation. Training and enforcing rules can be a challenge, but embracing a clear set of principles and values which place your customers at the centre of the transaction is much simpler. This comes naturally to the strongest retail leaders, creating consistency and expectation - from the shop floor to the warehouse. And of course, the key is hiring and developing like-minded talent who are proud of where they work.

3: Embrace digital

Retail leaders have been quick to embrace emerging technology - not just as a sales channel, but increasingly a service opportunity to engage with customers and deliver ever more complex customer interactions simply and effectively. The new generation of retail leaders are growing-up digital, bringing valuable skills to stay relevant to ever more demanding consumers, and shareholders. Letting agencies have proven time and time again that they can adapt to a constantly changing environment – from the adoption of new technology to the ever-changing legislation landscape. Now they will need to adapt faster, and smarter, than ever before.

4: Innovate and fail fast

One thing retailers have always done is focus on innovation, bringing new products and services to market quickly and efficiently. If it works, do more of it, and if it fails, learn and move on. This approach means retailers are able to stay relevant to their loyal consumers, and constantly strive for new ones. By adopting this fail-fast mentality, retail leaders are prepared to take calculated risks, ensuring they learn, and act quickly on the insight from their customers and employees.

The property industry is slowly coming round to this way of thinking, and smart agents are already gathering this data and acting upon it. By becoming experts, utilising data and insights - such as those gathered by Vaboo into their tenants’ expectations, wants and needs - agents can shift the balance in favour of retention over churn.

5: A good storyteller with a commercial focus

And finally, when it comes to the numbers, retail leaders never lack information or data. The skill is in asking the right questions, knowing where to look, linking quantitative and qualitative data and then developing a story. This ability to assimilate information quickly, pick out key metrics, identify trends and turn it into a credible story is part of what makes retail fun.

The answer is there, even amongst the seasonal distortions and conflicting noise in the market. Strong retail leaders know what will make a difference, understand cause and effect, and then take swift action, following through on commitments to customer care. It is these ‘insights’ or key information about customers that agents can use to shape their service offer and gain competitive advantage - whatever channels they sell-through.


The PRS, like retail, will continue to go through rapid change, and the most successful will look to these five fundamentals to succeed in the next level of performance and engagement. To build a robust business, add value and continued growth, the most forward-thinking agents are constantly learning – identifying ways in which they can stand out from their competition and cement positive customer experience into their existing services.

If agents want to stay in the game, build trust and loyalty, and win customers, they must incorporate a retail-inspired data-driven culture so they can personalise experiences and capture a larger audience. How agents sell matters. Quick, easy and efficient processes matter. But how tenants feel when they engage with their agent matters more.

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