In an ever-changing climate and economy, it can be hard to know what to focus on as an independent agency. The pandemic has seen a rise in independent agencies and clients are often choosing to go for a tight-knit feel rather than the big money giant names. However, with this increase in demand comes a stronger need to stand out. Here are some reminders on the advantages of being an independent agency and what to focus on.
Embrace the Local Feel
The focus and singularity of the independent make the job easier. They don’t need multiple branch pages. They can run their contact phone number front and centre in the header. They can run local photography on the homepage. And they can keep the content beautifully simple and focused.
The team will often be closely in touch with their local market. With a bit of attention to decent photography (so key to making a website stand out above the cheaper end sites), a single-brancher can communicate their local team knowledge and connection to the community. They can focus their Twitter and Facebook on local issues, and they don’t have to be everything all at once.
A one-brancher only has to write a few local area guides. The site navigation is likely to be simpler, as there is less complexity and typically fewer departments in the business. Visitors are less likely to suffer usability issues, as there should simply be less to trip over in the websites.
It doesn’t matter how well established your local brand is, if you have any competition in your town, then your ranking in the Google search results WILL be having an impact on how often your phone rings with new valuation enquiries. Of course, there is a proportion of business that had pre-determined they were always going to sell or let through you, that’s great, but at the margin, if you can hunt business and intercept a few calls for customers just wanting to “check the fees of the other agent they were intending on using”, then you’re winning opportunities to convert them to your instruction. If you are an insurgent, this is going to be critical.
As an independent, if your platform has a structural problem from an SEO perspective, you’re wasting your time doing any optimisation on it (ask us, we can check it for you in minutes and explain it). But if you invest in getting that foundation sorted, then accumulate even a few natural backlinks, coupled with doing a bit of social media and content writing, then you’ll quickly rise above the multi-branch agents in your town in Google.
As independents, you must take advantage of the playing field
As an independent, in the increasingly digital world, we live in, it’s simply not adequate to take an out of the box website solution from a second-tier player or a by-product from a non-specialist. Indeed it’s a completely false economy to do so. It’s also very dangerous to invest with a local designer, who has to reinvent the wheel on the whole system – at best that’s a huge risk, and at worst, it’s an incredibly inefficient way to spend money.
But the good news for agents is that a proper platform layer is now emerging which levels the playing field for the independent, and the corporate alike. The emergence of open platforms, like Homeflow, now allows you to work with your own local designer, on top of exactly the same quality of core engine that is used to improve the foundation of a 100+ branch business. Or you can choose from a range of pre-existing themes, which bring costs down to easily within any agency’s reach, yet still affords you the exact same underlying engine and capabilities.