What Estate Agents Can Learn from the Best Run Premier League Club

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Hi Folks,

We rarely witness history.

But that’s precisely what my family were privileged enough to do on Sunday.

We watched Brighton & Hove Albion beat Southampton 3-1 and secure their place in European competition next season for the first in their 122-year history.

So, I thought it worth re-running this blog, originally published in June last year.

Paul Barber, Brighton’s award-winning Chief Executive and all round nice bloke, features heavily in it.

He’s the star of the latest High-Performance podcast and appeared on stage with me at an exclusive Q&A for our members in February.

If you’d like a link to view that interview, where he even talks about what he’d do if he were to set up an estate agency, send me a reply to this email – subject line- Up the Albion!

It’s fascinating, even if you hate football, because Paul talks about vision, culture, and customer service and barely mentions the beautiful game.

Here’s the article again in full. Enjoy.

How do you get someone to go from a free Zoom call that talked about books to make a purchase of more than £19,000?

And why does it matter to agency owners serious about growing their business over the long term?

Well, keep reading, and you’ll find out.

Let’s begin.

My family moved from London to a place called Seaford on the East Sussex coast back in 2015.

Not many people have heard of Seaford, so I always add, ‘It’s about 20 minutes from Brighton.’

And for a big football fan like me, it’s handily only a short drive to Brighton & Hove Albion FC’s (BHAFC) Amex Stadium.

I need to clarify that I’m not a Brighton fan – but I have become a supporter of the club and how it does things on and off the pitch.

They seem to have what I call a Pangaea approach (I use it with our content strategy, which means everything is joined up to create the big picture).

There is a great line in the brilliant TV series The Wire. Detective Lester Freamon tells a junior officer about the importance of small details when putting together a case against criminals: “We’re building something here, detective. We’re building it from scratch. All the pieces matter.”

And if you’re an agency looking to build a business that regularly generates new leads, provides exceptional client service and is constantly future-proofing itself, all the pieces really do matter.

BHAFC provides a set of brilliant examples of how to do that.

They delivered an outstanding customer journey across five touchpoints I want to share.

Point 1 – 2017 – An Everton-supporting mate of mine took me, my then five-year-old daughter and Mrs L to watch them play Brighton at the Amex. It was the first match I’d been to watch at the ground.

The game was pretty forgettable, but what stuck in my head was how the Brighton stewards treated the away fans.

They were helpful, friendly and welcoming, and even wished us a safe journey home. I didn’t have the heart to tell her we were hopping on a 20-minute train ride back home.

The key point here is the most obvious of the five: how your team treats clients/customers matters.

PLUS – I emailed the club’s chief executive, Paul Barber, to say we’d had a good experience. I wasn’t expecting a reply; I believe in giving credit where it’s due.

Mr Barber replied with a thoughtful response. If the boss of one of the top teams in the world (the EPL is THE top league in the world, and BHAFC is part of that) can respond personally to clients, why can’t agency owners? Too often, I hear about owners passing on the job of replying to direct mail/communication from clients to junior members of their team.

Point 2 – June 2020

During the first miserable lockdown, my eight-year-old daughter jumped on an hour-long Zoom call organised by BHAFC.

It was held to mark World Book Day and featured a quiz, the men’s team’s top striker talking about his love of reading, and a couple of drawing and writing competitions.

My daughter loved it because she got to speak with one of the players from the women’s team.

She then insisted that we ‘must’ go and watch BHAFC’s women’s team play once lockdown ended.

Here’s where it got interesting, though.

My wife sat in earshot of the Zoom call and, when it finished, burst into the spare room where I was working like she was in the drug squad, declaring: “That Zoom thing they did was brilliant, and they do a lot for the local community. It’s not just about football, you know. We should all support Brighton now.”

Mrs L doesn’t understand how football allegiances work. For the record, I’m an Arsenal fan.

But what Brighton’s football in the community scheme did is very clever—AND created three new fans.

I’m betting a similar conversation played out in several other households where kids had attended that session.

What you do within your community matters.

The one thing that ALL the elite agents I work with have in common is that they all get involved in supporting local projects and are committed to community projects.

Point 3 – November 2021

My daughter is nothing if not determined, and she reminded us that we had promised to take her to a BHAFC women’s match when the opportunity arose.

And it did. The club held a match at the Amex (usually, the women play at Crawley FC’s ground).

This was obviously a loss leader for the club, given the low ticket prices and the costs of opening a stadium of that size for any event.

But it was a wise investment and part of a longer-term Pangaea approach. Why?

Along with a few thousand others, we were treated to a great day out.

The kids were given freebies like flags and face paints, and the family-friendly vibe we enjoyed will help women’s football grow enormously in the future (just my opinion, but I would invest in it if the chance arose).

It’s a double whammy of learning points for estate agents here. First, think longer term – what are you doing to attract the clients of 2024/25 and beyond? And second, remember the Sir Richard Branson airline adage: ‘When you look after the kids, you win the hearts of the parents.’

We’re now season ticket holders for the women’s team.

There are plenty of ways your agency can make a fuss of kids and create an extra layer of goodwill that paves the way to more new leads and instructions.

Point 4 – January 2022

This next point is another potential loss leader, and I know some of you will think it’s ok for wealthy Premier League clubs to take financial hits.

But any marketing you carry out is a potential financial risk. There’s only one guarantee in marketing: if you don’t do any, your return on investment will be zero.

The following example of BHAFC’s ‘all the pieces matter’ thinking highlights the benefits of targeting niches with your marketing.

My now football-mad daughter attends a girls-only weekly training session that BHAFC puts on.

My wife spotted this while browsing on Facebook. So obviously, the algorithm played its part.

A key point is don’t market to your potential clients en masse.

The reasons people look to sell, or landlords look to change agencies are varied. So, create marketing that appeals to those niches’ interests, ambitions and pain points.

Point 5 – April 2022

All my family’s experiences with BHAFC have been positive ones up to this date.

So, in April, I treated a couple of friends and us to a hospitality table for the match against Southampton.

This was a dress rehearsal because I had one eye on booking a table of five for all home Premier League matches for this upcoming new season, 2022/23.

Despite a couple of hitches with parking not being allocated for us as agreed (although the steward did have the sense to see it was an admin oversight) and an overzealous security guard who was obsessed with collars (again, common sense prevailed), we had a very enjoyable and memorable day out.

I’ve since taken the plunge and spent more than £19,000 on a table for next season.

Would I have booked it in isolation based on the matchday experience alone? Possibly. But not definitely.

It was all the other pieces/touchpoints I’d had along the way that this was a business/club worth spending our hard-earned dosh with.

In summary

There are plenty of lessons here for estate agents. Here’s the 10-second summary:

  1. Train your team to deliver excellent client service.
  2. Support your local community.
  3. Play the long game.
  4. Target niches, not mass markets.
  5. Make sure that all the pieces matter along the journey you guide clients.

Thanks for reading.


PS: Don’t forget to reply if you want access to my exclusive interview with Paul Barber OBE.