10 questions to ask (and the answers you should be looking for) before signing with a location agent

If you’re looking to make some extra income by hiring out your home as a film and photo shoot location, you must choose the right agency and location agent to represent it.

With some agencies, you’re unlikely to hear from them, let alone get bookings. Whereas others go out of their way to get you work.

Ask these 10 essential questions before signing any contracts, and you can be confident that you’re signing up with the right agency.

How many locations are in their library – and how many new locations do they add each month?
Suppose the location agent boasts thousands of locations or allows you to register your property without first vetting it, getting to know you or asking you to sign an ‘agreement for representation’. In that case, you can be sure you’re just being added to an enormous database, which hugely reduces the chances of them matching your location with a client’s brief. In our experience, around 300 is the magic number – and there’s no point in adding locations that clients aren’t asking for.

How will they represent your property on their website?
Take a look – the answer’s right there. Do they use professional photos or ones sent in by the owner? Do they highlight key features of your home to make it a more enticing prospect? Do they offer 360 virtual tours of each location? Is the website easy to navigate? If it doesn’t look good to you, it won’t look good to a client…

What do they provide locations for? Brand shoots? TV shows? Events?
The answer to this question will give you a sense of the value of the work they tend to attract. Brand shoots, for example, tend to be shorter, but more frequent – which generally means lower payments, but more of them. TV dramas, on the other hand, have a longer turnaround and involve more disruption, but the financial reward is much (much) higher. Events can be lucrative too – but it’s important to ask yourself what you’re comfortable with allowing in your home.

How many enquiries do they get each month – and, importantly, how many do they convert into sales (i.e. bookings)?
Their response to this will reveal two things: 1) The volume of work they secure (which you should consider alongside their answer to Q1), and 2) How good they are at their job! According to industry statistics, 2.3% is the average for our industry, so anything above that could be seen as ‘good’. But if you want a benchmark, our monthly average is 43% – why not get in touch with us today?

How many of their clients are return clients?
If they can’t tell you, or it’s not many (below 60%), you can be sure the agency either isn’t picking the kind of locations that are in demand or that they’re not providing their clients with a very good service. Sometimes both. Choose a location agency with a higher conversion rate and you’ll know it’s an agency with a good industry reputation.

How is their team set up? Are there specialist departments?
It’s possible for a single person to provide a location agency service and to do it well. However the scope and scale of their work is inherently limited. A location agency with separate departments for acquisitions, sales and marketing, will be able to deliver a lot more to both you and their clients.

What marketing do they do on behalf of their locations?
Their answer to the previous question will give you an indication of this; clearly, an agency with a dedicated marketing department is going to find time to do a lot more marketing than one without. But it’s important to ask what marketing they do too – i.e. is it strategic, or are they just ‘putting it out there’ and hoping the right people will see it?

What’s in their contracts? What are you covered for? What’s expected of you?
The location agent or agency representing you and your property should be in your corner as much as (if not more than) their clients, so look for sections on what happens if something gets broken during a shoot, and what accommodation provision you’re entitled to if your property is booked for a prolonged period. Equally, check what your obligations are once a shoot has been booked – does it sound reasonable?

What’s their payment policy?
Most agencies will pay you when they get paid, especially the smaller ones, where cash flow can be an issue. This often results in location owners being paid up to 3 months after the shoot has happened. Of course, this might not be an issue for you, but if it is, look for one of the (few) agencies that promise to pay you within 30 days of a shoot, even if the client hasn’t yet paid them for it.

What’s their growth strategy for the business?
A solid business growth strategy generally means that the likelihood of you getting bookings will only increase. It also suggests that the agency knows the industry well enough to anticipate its future needs (and in turn, stay in business). Size doesn’t really matter in this instance – if it’s a small agency with big (and realistic) plans, you could be in for a very exciting journey!

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