Is Accommodation the next Purplebricks… for lettings?

The platform's newly-arrived recruitment chief Michael Booth tells The Negotiator why he thinks it could clean up where others have failed. But is he right?

Accommodation.co.uk started out as an online lettings platform that many within the industry predicted would go the way of its multiple predecessors who have failed to gain significant traction nationally.

But a few months ago, as The Negotiator reported, it ‘pivoted’ its business model and embraced a hybrid Purplebricks-style franchise approach and has since attracted significant investment and, most recently, its first big names.

The most significant of these hires was announced today and he is Michael Booth, who until recently was the director of Purplebricks’ training academy.

The Negotiator sat down with him to find out why he’s joined, whether Accommodation.co.uk can succeed where Purplebricks and other hybrids have struggled and why he thinks the time is ripe for ‘disruption’ in the rental sector.

Why did you join Accommodation?

“With my experience of being at Purplebricks during the early days I saw how being disruptive can change the industry.

“It didn’t do that much different – it was still a sales estate agent – but with the branding and the way they operated in the field, for example, they changed how the UK property industry operates.

“But Purplebricks is mainly focussed on sales and no one else has focussed on the lettings industry.

“I think Accommodation is at the forefront of doing that because of their two years of development and their brand and tech. It was a no-brainer for me.

“I don’t think we’re going to change the basics of how lettings work, we are a lettings agent. What we are doing is making sure that the people who are out there meeting landlords on a daily basis are getting paid what they are worth, are allowed to build their own business via a franchise set up, and are freed to live the life that they want, and spend more time building their relationships with landlords.”

How will you ensure the quality of your local agents?

“My role is head of recruitment because of my training background at PB. But it’s more process training, because the people we are hiring will be experienced in the lettings sector and already have the knowledge and landlord relationships, and ideally br ARLA qualified within three months of joining. We want experience people.  It’s business logic at the end of the day.”

Why are you launching during a property market recession?

“Timing is very important when you’re launching a new business and Brexit, the wobbly estate agency market in general, the problems at Countrywide, the changes at Purplebricks, are all driving more agents towards us.
“We resonate with them because people who have been involved in lettings for however long have always been looked at as the ‘little brother’ of sales.

“But when you break it down this doesn’t make any sense because lettings and property management are really the bread winners.

“It’s a perfect time and place because no one else in the UK is doing a model in this format that we’re aware of at all.
“It’s allowing people to come over from the likes of Purplebricks or high street agents, and we’re also open to established independents bringing their portfolios over to us.”

Are you operating a territory system like other franchises?

“Territories work in sales but not in lettings so we’re not doing it because it’s a relationship game. Our agents will have a base area but they can build relationships with landlords wherever they want.”

 

 


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