There are approximately 20,000 estate agency branches of which about half offer both sales and lettings services so in total we will be assessing 30,000 individual operations plus all the new models be they hybrid or online only. Our methodology includes a huge data analysis, which our initiative partners Rightmove are assisting with, plus a massive mystery shopping exercise with some branches receiving up to eight separate surveys. And at the heart of this enormous body of work is the customer; sellers, buyers, tenants and landlords – we’re putting them first and foremost, let me explain why.
For fifteen years we ran the most sought after awards in the industry but despite continuous improvement there were flaws we couldn’t address, in particular that two thirds of all estate agents didn’t enter. This issue is the same for all other awards too. Additionally, over the last few years several review sites have opened up, both industry specific and general, in addition to Google’s stars. But in my opinion these all have the same problem as well plus many can be manipulated to one degree or another. For example, I doubt many estate agents incentivise their team to secure poor reviews or even average ones and so when a company boasts of their 90%+ positive rating can the consumer truly rely on that? I don’t think so in many cases.
Our new initiative will provide the consumer with an independent and reliable source for her to be able to identify the best estate agents in her area. It will also provide a platform for these best agents to be able to demonstrate their true service quality and hopefully will also encourage others to improve their service resulting in an overall raising of standards. By putting the customer interests first we believe we will create something of true value for the industry as a whole. And, in my opinion, the same approach is what the very best businesses always do – they know that if they truly focus on the customer, rather than themselves, they will profit in the long term and these will be “good profits”, those where the customer is delighted having spent her money.