Hurdles of Mid-size Agencies are Real but the Rewards are Sweet Considering that small agencies can't afford to have large teams, it's very important that they have water-tight processes and room for no error
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
You're reading Entrepreneur India, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.
In a highly competitive market space of agencies of every size and specialization, it's very natural for a medium size business owner to feel overwhelmed by each challenge. For us, every challenge feels unique and insurmountable at the beginning.
The time is difficult for agencies irrespective of sizes, clients are becoming increasingly demanding while margins are dwindling. The tech companies are trying their hands in agency business while more brands are preferring in-house set-ups. Real estate scenario is no better than other businesses. In fact, it's harder considering that the industry itself has gone through a hardship recently in the wake of demonetization, RERA and GST.
Though the agency scenario at the background of real estate advertising is diverse and complex, here are a few notable areas of struggle which are loosely based partly on our experience of running an agency business and partly on years of observation.
Creating a unique value proposition
Creating a USP is always difficult for a mid-size agency, however, it is even more challenging when you are catering to a specific industry. Real estate industry cares less about branding and focuses more on active selling. It's an agency's task to create value in branding communication and make the clients see that value over and over again. It's not an easy task! It should be a conscious call, taken after hours of critical evaluation that will cater to real estate brands regardless of their size or stature. The consistent efforts to deliver more value than promised resulted in client satisfaction and retention.
Building client's credibility
Real estate brands aren't among the most trusted ones in the market. They are often be looked at with doubt and it takes longer for a real estate brand to earn credibility. It's an agency's undertaking to build trust through clear, concise and trustworthy communication – throughout the brand's lifecycle. For a mid-size agency, it may look like a humongous task considering the amount of hard work and consistent efforts it has to put to establish the client's brand as a preferred identity in the eyes of its customers.
Finding clients (who pay in time!)
Clients are hard to come by and it's even more, a difficult task to acquire clients that pay well and pay in time. Small or mid-size agencies keep struggling with cash flow, hence it's always a tricky question whether or not to engage in business with a client you aren't sure of. The temptation is high to grab each and every business opportunity that appears, however, it is necessary to always do a background check on the brand that you decide to associate with. The brand's reputation, track record should be evaluated, clearly communicating the payment terms before signing on the dotted line is important as well.
Technology and keeping up with time
This one was tricky. Being technologically able is a costly affair, especially for a new business. There are costs of setting up systems, adapting to new technologies, training the team, the list goes on.
Honestly, there is no shortcut solution to this. Being in the business and succeeding without burdening the working capital much is a matter of assiduousness and consistent effort. Agencies working with real estate brands need to decide which arrays of services they want to specialize on. If an agency decides to offer rendering or 3D modelling services, it's of absolute importance that the right technological supports are put in place. This may include high-end systems and software, high-load servers etc.
"I don't want to work with just real estate brands" – have you ever come across such questions from interviewees? You will, pretty often.
It's any way a difficult task to hire and retain talent in the agency business. Being in the service industry, no matter how much of technology comes to play, an agency will always heavily bank upon its manpower. Who you hire directly affects our business and a poorly constructed team is more than enough to ruin years of hard work and dedication. Perfect mix of Individual talents and strong team chemistry is what that takes our business forward.
Not everyone offers hefty and shining employment benefits which are common with larger corporations. So, you can make your employees a part of your growth. Keep trying to get those employees on board who seek competitive environment and are not weary of challenges.
Processes and structures
I had saved the most important factor for the last.
Bigger agencies afford to employ numbers of means, people and tactics to finish an assigned task in time. Agencies working with Real estate clients often deal with extreme deadlines such as times when a project gets launched or multiple lead-generation campaigns kick-off simultaneously etc. Considering that small agencies can't afford to have large teams, it's very important that they have water-tight processes and room for no error.
The business' success lies in the processes and structures that one manages to put in practice. The team should be trained to adhere to deadlines and deliver impeccable service to the clients.
Subject matter knowledge
Last but not the least, real estate is not just bricks and lands. It's a tremendously interesting field with complex and powerful communication needs. Unless an agency is led by people who are intrinsically attached with the real estate as a subject or at least have a robust interest in the same, it's very difficult to keep delivering profitable and rewarding results.
If you love the intensity and complexity of real estate as a business, if you understand the myriad of emotions that run behind every real estate brand story, you truly are up for a really interesting specialization rewards of which can be very sweet and worthy.
With real estate industry going through unprecedented reforms and an assortment of challenges, it's harder than ever before for the agencies to deliver optimized results within the tighter budget and as per newer communication objectives. We must remember that it's not about just "leads', it's effective communication approach resulting into long-term business gains and augmented brand image.