When I started in business the lines were clearer. You knew what a dentist, estate agent or grocer did. There were few if any surprises, each sector was defined and knew its boundaries. But in the last 30 years this is no longer the case, indeed the labels we give ourselves and others are now actually unhelpful in many instances.
Take dentistry: once a necessity that many feared, there are now practices offering the equivalent of “spa days” where groups of people go and have “pamper packages” including treatments such as botox, permanent make up as well as their teeth whitened (and remedial work too if necessary). One firm I’ve met, Sexy Dentistry in Liverpool, told me they make far more from cosmetic treatments, including facials and other skincare treatments than they do from traditional dentistry. The same is true for estate agency.
When I started as a trainee negotiator in 1979 we didn’t offer lettings or property management, nor mortgages or conveyancing, although we did refer to brokers and lawyers but in the hope of getting reciprocal business rather than any formal introduction arrangement. Insurances, utilities and other products weren’t even thought about although we did flirt with overseas sales, (badly) and had several attempts at removals, again with little success: in the main we stuck to just listing and selling established properties.
Now I’m seeing successful partnerships everywhere. Nearly every leading estate agency has an arrangement with a conveyancing partner, another with a mortgage broker and this often extends to insurances as well. Property Management has been transformed with products like fixflo.com and hardly any letting agents carry out their own tenant referencing and instead have mutually beneficial arrangements with specialist providers. But one area has been late to the party – Land & New Homes. For years this has mostly been left to a small number of specialists and the major corporates and it’s incredible how long it’s taken leading independent EA’s to realise just how big an opportunity they’ve been missing.
However, Kevin Ellis (former New Homes MD at Romans) and Ian Stratford (formerly with Relocation Agent Network) have set up the Land & New Homes Network – lnhnetwork.co.uk – and in just 3 months have brought together 116 offices with a similar number waiting to join ASAP and through a clever partnership model are transforming this part of the industry. For example, over the summer, a major house builder was going to instruct a corporate agent to sell 47 new homes in Kent but instead chose two EA’s from the Land & New Homes Network who are now working in concert where previously they had no commercial partnership at all. I’m so impressed I’ve invested in the business.
On my recent trip to Australia I saw how many of the leading EA’s have true partnerships with local service providers – everything from coffee shops to dry cleaners and in London this concept is being brilliantly applied by Portico with their “Portico Places” service – see https://www.portico.com/places/. My sense is partnerships like these and with fixflo and the Land & New Homes Network are just the beginning and the future of the full service provider is about developing products, services and relationships that go way beyond the traditional transactional.