by Bob Scarff

Do you class yourself as a ‘traditional estate agent’? If you do, then you’re in trouble!

You don’t have a website, you only have one desktop PC. You do all of your advertising in magazines and local newspapers and your filing cabinets are bulging with faxes and flimsy copies of letters sent out by post. Your waste bin is full of pull off slips from your colour photos and you only know your market share by driving up every street in your patch, counting the boards!

But that’s not how your business looks, is it? No agent around today has survived without a website – in fact, every agent in the country over the last 15 years has been ‘online’. It’s as basic a requirement as a phone and a camera if you want to keep going in business. You’re an agent that embraces technology and places it at the heart of everything you do.

So, if ‘traditional’ is dead, what of ‘online-only’?

It’s at least ten years since I first spotted someone touting themselves as an ‘online-only’ agent. None of that breed survived. The latest crop of ‘no frills’ entrants to the market has moved along the spectrum towards full-service agency by employing a number of local experts and extolling the importance of local knowledge and personal contact. They accept that ’online-only’ is also dead - in fact it was never really born.

The converging landscape

As a result of all of this, I have stopped thinking in binary terms of ‘traditional’ and ‘online’ agents and prefer to think instead about ‘self-service’ and ‘full-service’.

If you drew a straight line and put these terms at either end, where on the continuum would your business sit? Many agents with High Street offices are moving towards the centre from one end. Many agents without offices are moving to the centre from the other, both converging towards the market as it will be in the next decade.

In the future, the likes of you and I will not define agency types by spurious situational notions of ‘online’ or ‘High Street’. The market of the next 10 years will be defined by service levels, judged by the customer. That’s why you have to take the time now to decide where you want your agency to be on the scale – more towards ‘self-service’ or ‘full-service’ – or can you back yourself to offer both?

In my next newsletter, I’ll share some ideas that will help you zero-in on your service proposition. I’ll also show you my simple three-point plan that can ensure you’ll be well-positioned to thrive, whatever the macro-economic headwinds – in essence, help ensure that your business does not become a casualty of the comprehensive market changes that are already upon us.

Service differentiator – Callwell

You may know that I’ve created a new venture, with Rob Wellstead and Mal McCallion, to bring market-leading technologies to the property industry. Called PropTech Solutions, I want to help great agents to stand out from their competition, using their demonstrable service quality to win new business at strong fee rates.

The first product off our production line is Callwell, which we’re re-launching in September. Already used by the likes of Martyn Gerrard, Butters John Bee, Intercounty and Northfields, it deploys unique, cutting-edge telephone technology to give you complete control over your leads. There’s a limit on the number of agencies that we’re working with in the initial phase – just 24 companies across the UK in September – and I wanted to give you the opportunity of pre-registering if you’d like to find out more.

Spaces will be allocated on a strict first-come, first-served basis, with 2 available in each of 12 regions - Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales, North West, North East, Yorkshire and the Humber, West Midlands, East Midlands, East of England, South West, South East and London.

Email me on if you’re interested in finding out more.

Bob Scarff

Written by
Bob Scarff

Bob Scarff ran the UK’s largest and most successful firm of estate agents, having worked his way up from a trainee negotiator in 1978. Now bringing his passion for customer service and organisational discipline to other companies and sectors, he saw quickly the benefits that Callwell can provide and co-founded PropTech Solutions in 2016 to relaunch it into the market.


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