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  • Mal McCallion

The 'Spectrum Strategy': Think like your best competition

Updated: Dec 11, 2023

I've often thought about how differently a great corporate agent comes at a problem - say a dearth of stock - from how a great single-branch firm does.

Wouldn't it be great if you could synthesise the best of both, in order to move your business further forward faster?

Welcome to the 'Spectrum Strategy'.

First - a slight digression. There's a concept in AI called 'Generative Adversarial Networks', or GANs. It essentially pits two AIs against each other to develop a realistic output - one creates it, the other says whether it's any good or not - ie whether it can tell that it's a human or just a collection of random flesh-coloured blobs. Then the first one has to make it better and they keep at this until a human decides that it's the best it can be.

What if we were to apply this idea to our business challenges? With Generative AI, we can.

Let's take an AI national corporate boss and compare him with multi-award-winning independent AI Director of a single-branch firm. Their challenge is the same - lack of quality stock - and you can get ChatGPT (and others, such as Claude, Bard etc) to set up a contrast in approach, before asking the AI to bring the lessons together for your particular circumstance.

Think about differing personas along a spectrum. You could take additional perspectives in-between these two, making three or seven if you like.

Or, you could choose the competing points of view to be from someone outside the industry, a respected, retired trainer or a 7-year old child.

Here's the exchange that I conjured up with just two prompts to ChatGPT-4. Just on its own, it should give you pause for thought.


I want to solve the problem of a lack of property stock to sell for my UK estate agency. I want you to imagine you are two personas. The first is the boss of a corporate estate agency with thousands of branches, billions of pounds in turnover, listed on the stock exchange. The other is an award-winning single-branch estate agent owner, someone exceptional at their local level, whom competitors seek to emulate. Each has this low-stock problem. Please present their analysis of the problems their businesses are facing and position their solutions alongside each other.

### Corporate Estate Agency Boss: Analysis and Solutions

#### Problem Analysis:

1. **Economic Factors**: The property market is influenced by macroeconomic conditions, including interest rates and consumer confidence. A downturn can lead to fewer people selling properties.

2. **Market Saturation**: With thousands of branches, we may be facing internal competition, cannibalizing our own market share.

3. **Digital Competition**: Online platforms and proptech startups are offering low-cost alternatives to traditional estate agency services.

4. **Regulatory Changes**: Stricter regulations around property transactions can deter sellers.

5. **Brand Perception**: Being a large corporate entity, we may be perceived as impersonal or less attentive to individual needs.

#### Solutions:

1. **Acquisitions and Partnerships**: Leverage our financial muscle to acquire smaller, successful agencies or form partnerships to increase property listings.

2. **Technology Integration**: Invest in cutting-edge CRM and AI to better predict when people are likely to sell and to automate marketing to those segments.

3. **Loyalty Programs**: Introduce a loyalty program for repeat customers, offering discounted rates for multiple transactions.

4. **Corporate Social Responsibility**: Engage in community development projects to improve brand image and attract more listings.

5. **Diversification**: Expand into property management, rentals, and other services to maintain revenue streams when sales are low.


### Award-Winning Single-Branch Estate Agent Owner: Analysis and Solutions

#### Problem Analysis:

1. **Local Economic Conditions**: A stagnant local economy can result in fewer people moving or selling.

2. **Community Perception**: Being a single branch, the reputation is everything. Any negative perception can significantly impact listings.

3. **Limited Resources**: Unlike big corporations, resources are limited for marketing and expansion.

4. **High Competition**: Other local and national agencies are competing for the same limited stock.

5. **Technological Constraints**: Limited budget for adopting the latest technology for property listing and customer management.

#### Solutions:

1. **Community Engagement**: Host free property valuation days, local events, or workshops to build trust and attract potential sellers.

2. **Hyper-Local Marketing**: Use local knowledge to create highly targeted social media and direct mail campaigns.

3. **Referral Programs**: Encourage satisfied customers to refer others, possibly offering a small percentage of the commission as a reward.

4. **Collaboration**: Partner with local businesses to offer package deals (e.g., discounted moving services) to attract more sellers.

5. **Personalized Service**: Leverage the small size to offer highly personalized, exceptional service to stand out from larger competitors.


### Comparative Analysis:

- **Scale vs. Personalization**: The corporate agency can leverage scale and financial resources to solve problems, while the single-branch agency relies on community engagement and personalized service.

- **Technology**: The corporate agency can invest heavily in technology, whereas the single-branch agency has to be more selective and focused on high-impact, low-cost solutions.

- **Brand Image**: The corporate agency needs to work on humanizing its brand and improving public perception, while the single-branch agency already has a strong community connection but needs to maintain it diligently.

- **Diversification**: The corporate agency has more room to diversify its services to mitigate the impact of low stock, while the single-branch agency needs to be more creative and community-focused to attract listings.

Both types of agencies have their unique strengths and weaknesses, but by understanding their positions, they can adopt strategies that are well-suited to their scale and capabilities.

I have a three-branch estate agency covering two adjacent towns and the villages around them. Using the comparative analysis above, what is my best strategy to maximise market share of available stock?

Given that you operate a three-branch estate agency covering two adjacent towns and surrounding villages, you're in a unique position to leverage both scale and local expertise. Your size allows you to implement some corporate-level strategies while still maintaining the personal touch of a smaller, local agency. Here's how you can maximize market share of available stock based on the comparative analysis:

### Strategy to Maximize Market Share of Available Stock

#### Leverage Scale and Local Expertise:

1. **Regional Partnerships**: Form partnerships with local businesses, such as moving companies, home improvement stores, or even local cafes, to offer package deals or discounts to clients who list with you. This adds value to your service and can attract more listings.

2. **Centralized Technology**: Invest in a centralized CRM system that can be accessed by all three branches. This will help you keep track of potential sellers across the two towns and villages, allowing for more targeted marketing.

3. **Community Engagement**: Host community events or property seminars that cover both towns and the surrounding villages. Use these events to showcase your local market expertise and to network with potential sellers.

#### Utilize Targeted Marketing:

1. **Hyper-Local Marketing**: Use your local knowledge to create targeted online and offline marketing campaigns. For example, if one of your towns has a booming young family demographic, tailor your marketing to appeal to those looking to upgrade to a larger home.

2. **Referral Programs**: Implement a referral program that incentivizes both past and current clients to refer new sellers to you. Given your three-branch structure, you could even offer additional incentives for referrals that lead to inter-branch transactions.

#### Diversify Offerings:

1. **Property Management and Rentals**: If the sales market is slow, consider diversifying into property management and rentals. This can provide a steady income stream and also puts you in a good position to convert rental listings to sales listings in the future.

2. **Financial Services**: Partner with mortgage advisors or financial planners to offer a more comprehensive service to your clients. This not only adds another revenue stream but also makes you more attractive to potential sellers.

#### Maintain High-Quality Service:

1. **Staff Training**: Regularly train your staff across all branches to offer exceptional customer service. Happy clients are more likely to refer others and come back for future transactions.

2. **Regular Updates**: Keep all branches updated on market trends, successful strategies from each branch, and other relevant information. This ensures that each branch can learn from the others' successes and failures.

By combining elements from both corporate and single-branch strategies, you can create a hybrid approach that leverages your unique position. This will allow you to maximize your market share of available stock in a way that is both scalable and deeply rooted in your local communities.

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