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Rigid office hours and branches are NOT the future of estate agency

Two high street agents who recently started up a hybrid agency have also claimed that vendors and landlords' busy lives mean the traditional model is obsolete.

Nigel Lewis

estate agency

Two former John D Wood employees who set up a hybrid estate agency specialising in prime London property have claimed that high street branches are ‘dead’ and that the industry will eventually have to embrace more flexible working patterns.

Rollo Miles and Bob Crowley (pictured, above) co-founded Agent & Homes last year and in January said the Notting Hill based business was growing quickly and had 18 staff.

They now claim that London vendors, buyers, landlords and tenants lead such busy and time-pressured lives that most are only available during the evenings or weekends.

“It therefore makes logical sense for agents to make themselves available at these times, rather than being chained to rigid traditional office hours,” says Crowley.

Consequently the traditional estate agency branch and it’s 8.30am to 6.30pm hours is no longer relevant to many potential clients, he claims.

“We believe there is no point in agents sitting around in dead high street offices all day when they could be providing a more pro-active, hands-on, efficient service at the times that suit their clients.”

More motivated

Fellow co-founder Rollo Miles says this approach also has benefits for estate agency employees because allowing staff to work more autonomously and to their own targets makes them more motivated.

“These days, it’s increasingly recognised that it’s important for people to have a good work/life balance with the opportunity to take holidays and time off,” he says.

“In order to remain profitable and meet the changing needs of modern consumers, agents need to embrace the flexible working structures adopted by many other sectors.

“Providing a professional and expert service which isn’t constrained by a high street office or traditional working hours really is the future of estate agency in this country.”

 

 

October 9, 2019

2 comments

  1. I suppose it differs from area to area. Central London is a very different market.

    In the suburb of London we have found that people are viewing properties during working hours in the week, taking time out from work to secure that property if they are serious. Saturdays viewing demand is usually into the morning because it would seem people want to balance their own work and personal life commitments.

    Agree it’s important to offer flexible working hours to accommodate the modern demands of a buyer or tenant and your team, but if you have a lettings and property management department those services are carried out during the day. There is a lot of administration necessary and liaison with other companies can only be done during office hours. Certainly my sales team are not sitting around doing nothing between usual office hours. Solicitor firms do not work outside of office hours.

    As the time passes most certainly a flexible approach to staff hours and the needs of the customer need to be met, but businesses that provide a range of services, not just residential sales will be the reason why a branch will always be necessary.

  2. The way people work is changing in all industries and professions, and the explosion of Proptech is certainly changing the role of estate agents.

    But, from my experience having clients outside the London bubble, many of them ‘traditional’ style agencies who return profits of £400,000 per office year after year, this outcome always seems to be based on a solid team of property professionals with 10 or more years experience, working a 8.30 to 6.0 pm working pattern.

    The ‘dead time’ – which I assume Rollo and Bob allude to is the non-reactive time when there are no viewers or tenants around to physically service, but, standout agents I have found use the ‘dead time’ to be pro-active, develop their marketing strategy and push forward the fortunes of their agency.

    With clients able to access their ‘agent’ 24-7 via numerous avenues of contact, in some ways agents are far more accessible and so have a need to be more attentive than back when I started, when you put the office answer phone on and came in the next day to deal with things, now at the ping of a button.

    We are all super connected, and if making substantial profit is your aim, then utilising the ‘dead time’ should perhaps be the focus point, which of course negates the concept of putting your feet up and enjoying more time off.

    If anything with the rise of the millennials – to stay ahead of the pack – more customer contact is the new watchword, involving more hours at the office – be it the office in the high street, in your car, or the coffee shop, or the hotel foyer, or the study or the bedroom that you trade out of.

    Only 4% of clients may be walking into offices, but 100% of them want service and unfortunately from my experience they can connect at any time, not just from 4pm onwards and at week ends.

    Thoughts anyone?

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