As we have reported today, Michael Bruce has launched an industry foundation backed with £1 million of his own money and a team of high profile estate agency figures.
But despite its admirable aim of helping estate agents improve their mental health and businesses via a mentoring programme, there will be some who won’t like the co-founder of Purplebricks attempting to ‘give something back’ given the market share Purplebricks has taken from them, and in particular the ‘commisery’ adverts.
The Negotiator talked to two of the industry figures backing the foundation, Michael Day and Chris Watkins, to find out why they’ve decided to back Bruce.
Watkin got a call from Bruce a few days after Covid hit the UK.
“I took the call from Michael out of curiosity but after talking to him I was persuaded by his genuine desire to make a difference and his personal backing of £1 million for the project,” he says.
Watkin says he realises the project and its supporters will receive flack for its association with Bruce.
“If someone wants to give a million quid away to help estate agents then yes, I’m sure he will get positive feedback for that,” he says.
“But equally there are people in the industry who hate him and Agents Together won’t change that – so I guess they’re damned if they do and damned if they don’t.
“I’m not being paid a penny for this, but if we can make a difference to just one agent and improve their lives and businesses then I’ll be happy with that.”
“There is no question that the industry has a mental health problem following the Coronavirus crisis, and particularly small business owners for whom there is no help during these tough times,” he says.
Day says he was also phoned by Bruce at the beginning of the Coronavirus crisis and was drawn to the project because he feels the industry has served him well during his 45-year career and that Agents Together gives him an opportunity to, like Bruce, ‘give something back’.
“If I can help raise the profile of Agents Together and persuade people to give their time as mentors to help agents improve their businesses and mental health, then it’s something I’m happy to get involved with,” he says, “particularly if we can make a difference in the short term to those who are struggling at the moment.”