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Changing Rooms

Marc Da Silva asks some of the UK’s top shopfitters how they would approach a refit of an estate or letting agent’s office.


estate_agent_windowsEveryone is at it these days. Bombarded by endless home improvement television shows, many homes have become ambitious experiments in modern décor with imaginative use of colour and furnishings – testament to the power of the likes of Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen. It’s amateur interior design at its best and worst. But it means that whoever walks into an agent’s office has expectations of the kind of company who will sell their home or find one for them. They have to feel comfortable and confident the moment they step off the street. “Estate agents are not just selling or letting properties, they are trying to offer a lifestyle,” said Jared Saggers, Managing Director of Kraft Design, “It is important to follow what people in their homes, to live up to the aspirations of your clients.”

Estate agents who don’t move with the times, by upgrading their office to offer a more contemporary feel, may find that it is not just their office décor that quickly becomes history, as more dynamic competitors move to win greater local market share, by providing a more effective, modern service, in accordance with vendors and landlords expectations.

Saggers added, “Trends and designs are always shifting and an agent’s office and wider appearance needs to reflect that fact. Therefore every agency should think about renewing their office every three to five years, in accordance with changing styles and trends to feature things that are in fashion.”

Changing trends

estate_agent_office_interioWhether decorating a home or an estate agency office, some would argue that old fashioned is the new fashion, especially as far as classics are concerned. But few would disagree that certain styles, such as 1970s wallpaper featuring psychedelic orange flowers and chocolate leaves or an avocado bath, have seen better days, and belong in the past, along with paper applicant cards and typewriters. “Styles and fashions are always changing and evolving,” said Harry Simons, Partner at MPL Interiors. “We have seen a shift from very contemporary, modern, minimalist agencies to a more homely approach, including softer furnishings, wallpaper, sofas and coffee tables.”

External appearance

While it is all very well renovating the office interior, arguably the most important thing in attracting customers to your shop is the shop front. First impressions are crucial. Exterior signage and window displays can be vital in ensuring that your company stands out, and are often the key features of the front of an estate or letting agency business.

When it comes to office fascia signs, there are always new styles and products that come available. This can be in the form of a new style of lighting or lettering, among other features and so it is very important that these are considered by agents, according to Gary Gosney, Sales & Marketing Manager at Kremer Signs. “Something that you may consider as small as an office sign, could be the difference between someone on the high street choosing to enter your office over the competition,” he said.

An elegant modern window display will attract sellers who want to deal with professionals.” Janice Fairfield Fairfield Displays

janice_fairfield_fairfield_A window display can also help an agency stand out and make your office look more professional than the competition. “An elegant modern window display will attract sellers, as they want to deal with a professional and reliable company,” said Janice Fairfield of Fairfield Displays. Fairfield said that many agents who had opted for a new window display had informed her that their brand image was suddenly “so much stronger”, helping them to “attract higher priced properties to sell”.

We are open

The design or redesign of an office can form a crucial part of creating or reinventing a firm’s brand identity, stimulate environments that welcome customers, inspire staff and increase productivity, as well as send out the message that an agency is very much open for business.

Andrew Tomlinson, Creative Director at Crucial Projects, commented, “In ever challenging markets agents are becoming even more aware that offices are literally the ‘shop window’ to their businesses and that presentation is critical, not only to increase property portals and the competition on the high street. An increase in refurbishment activity is a sign that agents are feeling more
confident about the market for the future.”

Next month, The Negotiator will take a closer look at some of latest styles and techniques being adopted by agents and the benefits that refurbishing an office can have. But in the meantime, here is an introduction to some of the leading firms that provide specialist office fit-out and refurbishment services for estate and letting agents.

Who to contact

Mid West Displays
With a state-of-the-art factory in Shrewsbury, Mid West Displays specialise in shipping a wide range of cable and rod display systems, sign supports, lighting, freestanding displays and rotating displays to customers worldwide.

As a major supplier in the display industry, with a vast selection of products available, the company has expanded significantly in the past decade, a fact that it attributes to quality products at competitive prices, excellent customer service, short lead times and next day delivery. The company says that its main aim is to deliver a professional, organised, user friendly service to suit any budget or displays requirement. www.midwestdisplays.co.uk

Increased activity in refurbishment is a sign that agents are feeling a little more confident.” Andrew Tomlinson Crucial Projects

andrew-tomlinson-crucial-projects-value-of-printCrucial Projects
Crucial Projects is a design and brand creation agency which provides marketing and communication solutions for residential and commercial estate agencies, and new homes developers across London and the south-east. It offers a wide range of services including brand design and management, advertising, marketing campaigns, office interior design and refurbishment, signage, property display and corporate literature printing.crucial_projects_window

Renowned for its understated creative design and attentive and approachable service, Crucial Projects offers clients one source for their design and marketing requirements and takes a holistic approach to bringing clients closer to their customers helping their businesses to stand out in highly competitive markets.

Crucial Projects’ estate agency clients include Prospect, Waterfords, Aston Mead, Andrew Scott Robertson, Jones Robinson, Park & Bailey and Home House Estates.

Kremer Signs
Kremer Signs cater for all sectors within the property industry, including residential, commercial, land and new homes sectors.

Established in 1985, the firm trades from three locations within the UK giving it a total production capacity in excess of 40,000 sq ft.

kremer_signsKremer Signs are renowned for supplying high quality and durable estate agent signs to a wide variety of clients throughout the property marketplace, with a full design and production facility available that can accommodate almost any request for colour and shape, with ‘For Sale’ and ‘To Let’ boards including full photographic content if required. Kremer Signs also design, manufacture and install high quality fascia signage throughout the UK. From simple sign trays to LED illuminated office signs, with an option of various Window Displays and Pavement Signs to ensure brand consistency across all signage requirements.

MPL Interiors
MPL Interiors is a design and build company which offers packages of all sizes designed to your specific needs and budget, with a specialism within the estate agency refurbishment sector. The company undertakes agency design, supply of fixtures and fittings, such as displays, signage, furniture, among other facts, as well as undertake full refurbishment works, with a proven track record in completing to quality commercial fit outs on time and within budget. MPL Interiors is well known for creativity, producing unique designs and working closely with clients to meet their budget expectations.

Fairfield Displays
Fairfield Displays provide a local service on a national basis, with a team of highly trained company employed consultants, who visit the agents and offer them free advice before undertaking a new project. Clients will get free full colour 3D visuals which really help the clients to get an idea what the windows and interiors will look like, while all installations are fully guaranteed and carried out by highly trained staff. As a lot of equipment is manufactured in the UK it is easy for Fairfield to create customised designs.

Kraft Design
Kraft is the one-stop refurbishment solution for estate agents. With many years of experience, the company is able to provide tailor made designs to suit your requirements and budget. Kraft can carry out a wide range of projects, from major refurbishments through to one off displays. Their services include design, planning, refurbishment and building works, data cabling, display, signage, desking, task and reception seating, storage solutions, along with anything else needed to equip modern estate agents.

The firm, which will soon be celebrating its 14th year of trading, has worked with a number of estate agents, including Countrywide plc, Arun Estates, Romans, Andrews, Dexters, among others.

The company’s focus is on providing a personal and holistic approach to the design stage. Once an agreed design is in place, Kraft Design prides itself in a commitment to ensuring their projects finish on time and to budget, and to a standard that the firm can all be proud of.

September 20, 2013

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