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How to Get to the Top of an Agents Referral List
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How to Get to the Top of an Agents Referral List

Written by Sam | September 21, 2021

I wanted to write something for landlords, letting agents and student accommodation providers who use ‘agents’ to advertise their student accommodations and how to get to the top of the referral list.

When a student comes through the website and they have told me their search criteria I will have a look and see what meets that criteria. I will usually know what brands operate in the area and have the type of rooms the student is after. However, if there are a few rooms that meet the student’s needs, how do you make sure that you get to the top of that list?

For me, it comes to the below:

  • Product
  • Communication
  • Incentives & Commission

Product

Make sure that the product you are offering is of good quality. The extras can and do help because it can offer extra value, however, if the room, the service and the accommodation are kept to a very good standard that puts you at a better advantage.

For me it can also be what’s included in the room, as I mentioned before, it looks on paper that you get better value with a gym, contents insurance, cinema room, socials etc. If it comes included, make sure you let students and agents know.

If you have a student house and you can’t offer a gym, then that’s not an issue. Think about what is included or what could potentially be included. For example, could bills be included? We can help with that part with partners, what about contents insurance etc?

Being able to do their own laundry and not having to pay for it is a big bonus in many houses!

Location is a huge part for many students but nothing that can always be controlled. That’s why having really nice social areas is a reason to brag about them.

Communication

This is banded about a lot by everyone. What do I mean by communication, what is it that we want to know that will help us sell your rooms?

For me, what I care about is:

  • Room availability – keeping up to date is important
  • Any running offers
  • Current marketing – the more you send, the more we can do on social media and the website.
  • Prices – any price changes taking place
  • T&Cs – have they changed at all. I am just including them in my website so students can read them upfront, but the clearer you are, the more objections I can pass earlier on

The more you give agents, the more we can do in return or should be doing in return anyway.

I am in no way saying this is one way, it’s a two-way path and the simpler this path is kept the better. It doesn’t need to be fancy, just something clear, simple and understandable. Technology can help though!

Incentives & Commissions

Incentives and commission, imagine there are multiple spaces that meet the student’s needs and you offer the lowest commission or incentive to the agent, will you get recommended first?

I’m not suggesting offering absurd rates, but creating challenges is a good thing because people will either rise or fall.

For me, I think it’s good to either have a base rate and bonus or some sort of sliding scale or offering your best bookers higher commission. It might work differently, but these are the ways that I find work. I usually try to work off a flat rate or % of the rent.

By doing this, you can creep up the list. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not all about cash there are many factors that come into play but by creating a good mix you can get there.

Response Times

The quicker the better. Sometimes you will lose out to those who answer the question in a fast fashion. It doesn’t have to be a complicated question but if you can get the answer back in a good time, that will get you up that ladder and in the first position.

For me, this is a huge factor. I will steer more towards those who I know will give me an answer. Whether it’s the answer I am looking for, I just need to check first.

This is the same for viewings and bookings, if we can get answers quickly then we can get them booked in!

Integreations

If you and the agent can integrate well, that helps so much. For example, it doesn’t have to include any technology but just something that’s quick, seamless and gets sorted is still an integration.

Something as simple as passing a form over with details on can work really well for letting agents and with the big accommodation providers using their booking system can work as well. As long as the result is quick and simple then it’s fine.

Everyone will have their own process for a reason, but if it’s long-winded then it might mean that agents come to you after using those with easier and faster booking systems.

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