One of the biggest changes seen in the property market over the last decade is technology growth.
With the likes of Rightmove and Zoopla, the role of the high street estate agency has changed and it’s not only how we work, but it’s where we work that is evolving.
It’s clear that having a presence on the high street has served the industry well, but with footfall reducing dramatically, and the increasing demand for a 24/7 service, there has been a shift in the way estate agencies are operating.
The decision for estate agents now is to move with the times, or risk getting left behind!
My name is Steven Wayne, managing director of Benjamin Stevens Estate Agents. I launched the business in January 2004. I was aged just 22 at the time.
In January 2019, my company and team celebrated our 15-year anniversary. From experience, I’ve seen how the industry is changing and believe that the future lies in larger branches, and the need for offices every two miles is a thing of the past.
While this may sound radical, I’m not talking about getting rid of ‘an office’ as estate agencies will never be a work from home industry.
The client still needs a tangible office to come to and speak face-to-face with a member of staff. In particular, with lettings, people feel very uneasy when handing over money to a company with no base.
My head office is based in North-West London, with additional branches in Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire. In all of these areas you see some well-known agency names with multiple branches located close together.
I wanted to try a different route while at the same time offer experienced estate agents the opportunity of coming into the business as partners and giving them the prospect of making the money they deserve.
Agents also deserve independence, flexibility and in essence, the opportunity of being self-sufficient. This will give brilliant agents life-changing opportunities both financially and with regards to work-life balance.
The average ‘good’ estate agency makes between 10-15% profit in turnover. ‘Brilliant’ estate agencies may move toward 25-30%. With the ‘hub model’ that I’ve adopted, partners will be able to start earning 50% profit.
People are often confused by hubs and what they mean. This is not a franchise. With our hub model, there are no set up costs or monthly fees for agents to find. Rather, an opportunity to run a business within an already established, experienced brand.
Agents need to have access to all IT systems, admin support, marketing facilities, training, and most importantly direct access to someone like myself, who’s made many mistakes when running a business and has learnt from them all, back from when there were no estate agency ‘trainers and gurus’.
The key is to attract the best negotiators, who do not have the access to branch out alone, and give them the opportunity to build something that gives them flexibility and the potential to earn more than any traditional model.
I’ve cold-started four offices and breaking into a new area is certainly not an easy task. However, with agents who are hardworking, have excellent customer service skills, can follow a strategic plan and, understand that patience is going to be key to success, they can start to see the fruits of their labour within the first two months of coming on board.
One of the things we had to take into consideration when building the model is having first-class tech systems in place so that our agents could enjoy a work-life balance.
All our systems are totally cloud-based and if you’re good enough, you too could be sitting on a beach, enjoying a cocktail, and selling property...or just be available to do the school pick up!
By ensuring you are an expert in the areas you cover, by giving clients a personal service, something that has partly been lost over the years within the industry, and never losing sight of the ethos for integrity and professionalism, you cannot go wrong, whatever state the market is in!
I do, genuinely, believe that as the industry evolves, this hub model is going to be the future of estate agency.
Steven Wayne is managing director of Benjamin Stevens Estate Agents. Check out Steven Wayne’s LinkedIn profile to find out more about the man behind the brand.