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Sean Newman: Why I brought in a former Purplebricks player to help run my business

The industry figure tells The Negotiator about the plans for his two estate agencies and a big announcement in the pipeline.

Nigel Lewis

sean newman

Sean Newman is one of the best-known faces in the industry both as the owner of a 16-branch Fine & Country franchise but also his own burgeoning and eponymous chain, Newman Property Experts.

jim harrisAnd this week he announced a new Managing Director to help him run his business, Jim Harris (left), who is Purplebricks’ former Head of Territory Development.

The Negotiator caught up with Newman to find out why he’s relinquished some of the day-to-day running of his business to Harris and what plans he has for his two agencies.

Why bring in Harris?

“We really needed someone full-time to coordinate the Fine & Country offices and share best practice – you can have one office doing incredibly well but another not doing so well so we need to concentrate on that.

“Also, I wanted someone who could give more support to our agents, who are all self-employed, with expertise in training and marketing and whatever other tools they need to be successful.

“Until now I’ve been stretched because as well as running the Fine & Country offices there’s also our Mortgage Advice Bureau operation with 30 advisers that we want to grow to 60 by the end of this year and 100 by the end of 2021.

“But the other big growth area is going to be within Newman Property Experts. It’s a small business now but that’s where the potential is because it’s not geographically restricted.”

What do you say to people who are sceptical of the self-employed model?

“I think there’s significant hunger for the self-employed model among agents today who see it as a natural career choice because setting up your own business is an absolute nightmare.

“If you don’t want to work for a big corporate then joining a network of self-employed people is a logical choice. I wish it had been around when I was starting out after leaving Taylors all those years ago.

“I think it’s the future of estate agency and will raise industry standards because the self employed model helps retain talent with higher take-home pay.

“I talked to a corporate area manager recently who said he’s been recruiting agents with a basic of £14,000 a year. You’re not going to attract brilliant people with that sort of money.”

Why should an agent work for your rather than Keller Williams or eXp for example, who have similar models?

“When you start looking into the packages that the companies offer then you realise they can be very different and are designed to appeal to a variety of agents and needs. I’m a big fan of KW and eXp but it’s all about how experienced and in need of support and agent is.

“It’s a trade-off between the commission cut and the support you get – if you earn 70% of the fee then there’s less money for the company to support you

“If you’re earning 50% then there’s a greater balance. The first job that Jim will be undertaking now is to review our Newman’s proposition and make it irresistible for the agent.

“I’ve spoken to Keller Williams agents and they’re getting 70% of an average commission of 1% whereas at our Fine & Country franchise we’re offering 40% of an average fee of 2.25%.

“We’re looking to improve this for our F&C agents by the end of the year, while at Newman’s we’re hoping to make an announcement in the next seven days that will hugely attractive. Watch this space!”.

June 2, 2020

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