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Attracting clients to your business

Attracting clients to your business

Advertising your services

Make sure that any information you put out publicly about your firm and its services is accurate and honest.

  • Think carefully about any information you provide about fees – is anything excluded or extra that a client might reasonably think would be included?
  • Consider providing a price list for common repetitive services – this can be a powerful tool in helping clients to decide whether to approach your firm.
    RICS strongly advises against advertising using comparisons with other companies or individuals, but if you choose to do so, be very careful – can you prove what you say, and have you treated others with respect?
  • Is the information you use across different digital channels consistent and accurate?
  • If you want to use examples of work you have done before you set up your firm, approach your previous employer and client to check you can do this, and make it clear that the work was done for a previous employer.

Pitching for work

Information you provide to prospective clients about your firm and its services must also be accurate and honest.

  • Does the information give an accurate picture of who will be doing the work? It could be misleading if all the pitching is done by a senior person, but all the work will be done by someone more junior.
  • Have you provided accurate information about likely fees? Is there anything excluded or extra that a client might reasonably think would be included?
  • If you are providing information about previous work you have done, consider client confidentiality.

Online reviews

Online reviews and comments are important tools that prospective clients may use to choose a service provider. These can be difficult to navigate, especially if someone criticises you unfairly. Decisions about whether and how to respond will differ depending on the norms in your area and sector, but it can be a good idea to look at how other businesses you admire handle online comments.

As part of your marketing strategy, you may opt to use review websites where clients can review your services. You can encourage clients to leave a review by sending them a link to your preferred site, but don’t pressure them to do so. If you do opt to use these sites, be mindful of your obligations under Rule 3, and make sure that you inform clients of any referral arrangements you have with the site.

If you receive a negative online review, you may want to respond. Ignoring a negative review may put prospective clients off when deciding whether to use your firm, but an overly defensive or dismissive response may come across as lacking empathy. It is important to strike a balance, even if you feel that the review is unfair.

If you choose to respond to and challenge criticism, there are no RICS rules that prevent you from doing so, but remember to use reasonable and professional language. Don’t apply pressure on the client to remove a bad review (although they may choose to do so if they feel you have responded adequately).

Make sure that, when you respond to any reviews, you do not disclose any:

  • details that could identify your client or
  • data that is personal or confidential.

You may want to put a short reply on the site drawing attention to your complaints-handling procedure and offer to engage more fully with the reviewer offline.

If you receive a review that you think is fake, flag this with the company who runs the website. The actions they take will vary, but they should have a process in place to cover this eventuality, and they may remove the review while they verify whether or not it was left by a legitimate client.