Archant Hub meets Paul Hubbard from Paul Hubbard Estate Agents in Lowestoft, Suffolk:

Give us some background to your agency…
I had ten years experience in property before taking the plunge and setting up our agency. We started with no clients and no properties but four years later we’ve thriving. We have a full team based in our office which is just a stones throw from the seafront and according to the latest independent data, we have more properties on our books than any other local agent.
What’s the secret to your success?
Obviously the team has worked very hard, but a major factor is our ongoing marketing. I absolutely believe in continuous advertising. Our brand is now well known. It’s also important not to dilute your marketing with too many messages. We’ve gone for a fresh look with straightforward, simple and consistent messaging. People know who we are, where we are and this leads to more instructions.
Do people still rate local estate agents as important now you can sell your home online?
Localness is extremely important. Our office is always busy with people. We get large numbers of window lookers. Customers want local friendly service and good knowledge of the patch.
Advertising locally is crucial. People still expect to see estate agents in the newspaper. It’s that habitual thing. They turn to the property section, even if it’s just for a browse. 
We advertise regularly in the Waveney Advertiser. Because it’s free, I know my advertising is getting straight into the homes of people right across the area every week.
How important is getting a return from your advertising investment?
It’s extremely important. I’m particularly delighted with the response from my weekly ‘Ask The Expert’ newspaper column. People come in and say they saw me in the paper. Plus we get plenty of e-mails with questions so I know there’s strong engagement. This feature has helped promote the real people behind Paul Hubbard and show we’re here to help them - that we’re not just a big corporate chain. That’s hugely important to me. 
Maybe advertisers sometimes forget just how versatile a newspaper is at getting your message across in different ways.
How is today’s digital world changing estate agency?
What’s interesting is how digital has changed the way people consume content – not just online content but in print too. We know people want essential information displayed in a punchy way these days, so at Paul Hubbard we’ve become much more picture led. We’re unique in that we have our own in-house photographer, but for us this investment is a no-brainer because properties need to look beautiful across all platforms - in print, on a PC screen, even on a tiny mobile phone screen.
Where will estate agencies be in ten years time?
Local agents will need to keep investing in new technology to stay relevant and offer great customer service. Successful agents will offer an App, live chat facilities and be able to communicate with customers out of hours. As people increasingly work different hours, they’ll also need to move away from the traditional 9 to 5 and extend their opening times.
Finally, tell us your three key business tips…
Invest in good systems. It saves so much time and hassle. We set up Paul Hubbard with leading specialist software which means our back office is run efficiently and we can communicate with our customers in a seamless way.
Invest in good equipment too. You must take great photos, so a good quality camera is important.
Finally, market your brand continuously. Its how we’ve managed to grow so quickly. Keep it at all the time across as many channels as is relevant to your business. We’re in the paper, on leaflets and on the internet constantly. You can never underestimate the importance of this ‘drip feed’ effect.
You can visit Paul Hubbard’s website here
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