Douglas & Gordon CEO James Evans has made a rare public outing to warn the industry not to ditch branches as a ‘knee jerk’ reaction to falling footfall on the high street, diminishing walk-ins and tech.
Evans, whose estate agency operates 19 branches across the more upmarket areas of central London, has told The Negotiator that agents considering a move away from the high street should be careful.
“To be honest I’m quite split on the topic because there are pros and cons to being on the high street,” he says.
He says like everyone else he’s watched as the need for a physical branch has diminished dramatically while costs have increased and that most people start their home search online now, rather than consulting with an agent first.
Evans promises Douglas & Gordon will not be leaving the high street.
This is because at their most basic offices are free high street advertising that are a “24-7 sales person sitting on the high street and also a billboard”,” he says.
“And it’s an affordable form of marketing compared to say bus advertising.”
Most importantly, he says branches are a key place for teams to create energy, bounce ideas off each other and be competitive, all features that make for a successful estate agency, he claims.
Nevertheless, Evans also says he’s pressing on with a hybrid-style model within Douglas & Gordon which, he says, has a place within the traditional agency structure.
This includes self-employed partners in Streatham, Kensal Rise and Queens Park, and also independent home-working agents working alongside traditional branches in South Kensington and Chelsea.
Read the full interview in the next issue of The Negotiator magazine.