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Wednesday, 2 July 2014

SHRINKING OF THE ECONOMY AND THOUGHTS ON HOW TO REJUVENATE ESTATE AGENCY SALES IN ZIMBABWE




If property sales are low, they can be increased through expanding the addressable market

The Zimbabwean economy is shrinking and businesses are suffering with it. Estate agents are not spared the pain as industry players can testify that regular sales are now difficult to come by. Over  the years millions of talented entrepreneurs and professionals have chosen to leave the homeland for South Africa, Europe, America or some perceived greener pasture as a solution. But terrible catastrophes in the hosts like terrorist attacks on the twin towers (USA), Marikana killings (SA),  2008 financial crisis (entire western world) in the host countries have shown everyone that no place is a paradise and that all countries have their own problems that differ from each other only in timing, size and cause. If you think that problems the property market (and business in general) in Zimbabwe have are insurmountable what would a person in northern Nigeria say in the face of Boko Haram that kills at will.


Indeed, since the turn of the 21st century the world has never been a better place and only those who have perseverance and ingenuity can pull through. To this end this article is meant for sharing some practical thoughts on how to rejuvenate estate agency sales in these challenging times. How can we identify some positive things  at our disposal and capitalize on them ? Indeed, despite pests like the liquidity crunch there are positive things that have impacted our lives and business ecosystem. The collective name for these things or phenomenon is Information and Communication Technology (ICT).

The explosive growth of ICTs is something that we all have seen and even the state itself has struggled to show relevance as a regulator through legislation of things like mobile money. Its power can not be ignored and its influence through endless forms like social networks, mobile applications, emails, instant messaging (IM), SMS, MMS, GPS, can be harnessed by estate agents to increase sales.

The advertising industry is a critical element of an agency’s ecosystem and yet most of the models being used are archaic by internet standards. ICT dynamics have brought about new technologies and circumstances like the ubiquity of cell phones, increased computing power of smart phones that can be leveraged  in order to expand an industry’s addressable market, improve the conversion rate of advertising campaigns, give convenience to the property viewing experience through integration of location technologies like GPS.

If property sales are low, they can be increased through expanding the addressable market. The ubiquity of cell phones, the fact that they are always on 24/7, the fact that they are personal ( one cell phone per person), can be leveraged upon to create adverts that are effectively targeted and reaches more people than traditional approaches on PC and the print media.

As the smart phone takes Zimbabwe by storm its increased computing power can be capitalized upon to unleash mobile applications that are integrated with location technologies like GPS. GPS – Global Positioning System – can transform the property viewing experience into an enjoyable one as opposed to a roaming nightmare haunted by the wastage of fuel and time as the prospect struggles to locate property. GPS has clear turn-by-turn directions that are better than verbal or written ones that are often limited by  legibility, language barrier, network interruptions  etc. All these are critical because they are influential as the prospect makes a decision to buy or not to.

Finally, a paradigm shift is needed as we use vehicles like emails and SMS for direct  advertising. Ethical advertising should use permission based approaches rather than bombard subscribers with an avalanche of unsolicited messages called spam. Spam is an invasion of privacy and is ignored. PC and website operators should also invest in search capabilities because the world wide web is a jungle and prospects may lack the guts to go through it.

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