Agent criticised for sending staff to work shuts all 100 offices and puts 1,000 employees on leave

Dexters, the large agency taken to task over keeping offices open, has now closed the doors of all its branches and put about 1,000 of its staff on temporary leave.

Chairman Jeff Doble said last night that the business is now in “sleep mode”, but that he hopes it will emerge stronger when the coronavirus crisis is over.

Dexters had received a battering in the media after staff went to their offices to work on Tuesday after Boris Johnson’s ‘stay at home’ speech on Monday night.

However, Doble yesterday emphasised that despite all the criticism, there had been no official instructions to say that estate and letting agency offices had to close.

He also said that with 60,000 tenants in landlords’ properties, there was a considerable amount of work to be done, including getting gas safety certificates.

He said that the firm also has several hundred moves pending.

Doble said of the media criticism that the work of agents is not properly understood. He said that agents managing rental properties where tenants’ safety is a priority should be classified as essential workers: “If we were property managers in a housing association continuing to work, no one would bat an eyelid.”

Out of a total of 1,500 staff, 95% of the front office staff are now on leave until the end of May.

He said: “No one knows how long this crisis will last, but I pray that will be long enough.”

Staff being kept on, including directors and those in back office roles, will keep the business running.

Those put on leave may be furloughed, Doble said, and the scheme is being closely studied.

He told EYE yesterday evening: “We are following government guidelines absolutely to the letter, as we have done over the past few weeks. All of our offices closed their doors yesterday, and we will by tonight have wrapped up all work in progress and asked 95% of our office based colleagues to take temporary leave.

“We paid everyone in full for March on Monday and made arrangements for April.

“Whilst inevitably it takes some time and an enormous amount of effort to close down 100 offices and have conversations with 1,500 people, we are pleased to have achieved that in just 48 hours.

“We have a skeleton back room staff continuing to offer a telephone based service, dealing with the sort of sales, tenancy, rent and related safety issues that you would expect from the tens of thousands of customers that we have across London.

“Having battened down the hatches, we expect to weather the storm, during which we will be caring for both our colleagues and clientele.”

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24 Comments

  1. Mmmmmmmm

    We have a skeleton back room staff continuing to offer a telephone based service, dealing with the sort of sales, tenancy, rent and related safety issues that you would expect from the tens of thousands of customers that we have across London

    Roughly translates as every office still has staff going in daily (albeit less staff) as drove past 2 Dexters offices today and they are manned!  Still risking travel against advice!!!   #Dexters

     

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    1. Bless You

      So who would stressed tenants call if they all went home???

      Lettings should be key worker end of.

       

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  2. David2

    I hear today Connells Group are laying off ALL staff and will pay them full salary for just one month .On LinkedIn staff a few days ago were slating companies like the Spicerhaart Group-how embarrassing. Senior management had a few days ago assured us we were not going to be affected.Never trust anyone in these difficult time.

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    1. Homestead38

      What a load of rubbish I know that this is categorically untrue as my partner works for them and their management are fully supporting the staff paying them in full for the next month and giving them hope for the future – not sure that others are doing that at the moment.

      They received a reassuring note from their CEO last night restating the commitment to getting their staff and business through this. There is enough anxiety around at the moment so poor show at trying to start irresponsible gossip.

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    2. chiponshoulder

      Shockingly inaccurate post David2!   You might want to get your facts straight and then post a retraction, although I’m sure you won’t bother reversing your decision to undertake a bit of scaremongering!  Connells have been incredibly supportive to their staff and a quick glance at LinkedIn posts from hundreds of their people will tell you everything you really need to know about how caring and compassionate they’ve been throughout this crisis.

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    3. Kyran

      Really David2?
      Pathetic response – sounds like an embittered Spicer Haart employee trying to diss the opposition which is really not appropriate at this time.
      Surely we should all be pulling together.
      Come clean and reveal who you really are.  

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    4. Top Half

      Really…! We work in a ‘people’s industry’…yet we have individuals supposedly in the know that post with such a lack of class. Trust is the word used…I hope we all trust ourselves to ignore posts from David2.

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    5. MatthewA79

      David/ Tim, you clearly don’t work at Connells do you?? Rather than post clearly inaccurate posts about a fantastic business (Yes I do work for Connells and am incredibly grateful and humble for that), why don’t you stop posting “family as normal” posts and show some respect for the people your company fired with no notice. You could also have a look in the mirror about the type of person that is still trying to defend the in-defendable.

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    6. EASPORTS84

      Hey this is true been furloughed with commission for March and April, all these posts on LinkedIn saying we are being so looked after blah blah blah is just trying not to fall foul like spicer did. Haart beat them to it that’s all

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      1. chiponshoulder

        Can I just clarify.   You’ve been placed on furlough on full pay (i.e. 100% of basic and commission) with your job remaining open when all this is over.   So, you don’t have to work, but you get full pay … and you’re complaining?    You may be confused about what happened to hundreds of Haart staff (i.e. lost their jobs with no notice) and the treatment you’ve had.

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  3. International

    In times like this, both Dexters, Connells and indeed ourselves have had no choice but to take this action. I hope Dexters and Connels will also cancel their Rightmove subscriptions, as this is the time to do so. Whoever “David 2” is, he need to understand that it is better to protect a business into which he will again have a career, the alternative is for all of us to “bleed to death” and become insolvent.  We are all in a crisis and survival mode. Regrettably landlords are not seeing the light either, with most saying that they are unwilling to take a rental holiday which will also be needed. Management staff NEED to be retained to servive their landlords and fortunately for them, the fees will cover their salaries.  

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    1. chiponshoulder

      Just to be clear about Connells ….. they have confirmed that those of their people who are to be furloughed will receive 100% of their salary in April, which is an amazing level of support at a time of real anxiety for everyone.   Unfortunately David2 not only has his facts wrong but should reflect on the effect his post could have on those Connells staff who, at a time when some are struggling to receive comms while at home, may read his post and worry that they’ve been ‘layed off’.   At a time of real anxiety this is very irresponsible and the post should be deleted or retracted.   Have a look at Linkedin for posts from Connells people and this will tell you everything you need to know about Connells – please ignore David2 

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  4. bridget

    Does any one have any idea what the correct procedure for furloughing staff is so that we will be in a position to reclaim the 80% of salary (hopefully top up ourselves) and be able to keep all staff on for when this is over. The government website says about registering them, but no idea where or how and what documentation we need to give to them. It may be that the procedure is not yet in place, but large companies seem to be doing different methods such as taking leave (in the story above) or laying off. I don’t want to do something wrong and then not be able to claim later.  We are a small independent with no dedicated HR and not sure who to ask.

     

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    1. revilo

      Keep checking gov website – there’s some info there but the systems to process are not ‘live’ yet.

       

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    2. Mothers Ruin

      The safest thing to do at the moment if you don’t have a lay off clause in your contract is to obtain their consent. The Govt website has a lot of info and the website to apply through isn’t up and running yet but the criteria is on their website and is frequently updated.

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  5. gingerninja

    I personally think that people are being a bit harsh on Dexters here – the announcement to stay at home was made at approx. 8:30pm on Monday night. They have roughly 1000 employees so it wasn’t a simple case of calling 3 or 4 people and telling them not to come in like it would be in a small indepependent. They would’ve had to get a plan of action out to their employees, loose ends tied up and systems sorted before closing the doors. This would’ve meant staff going into the offices to get the message delivered to them so they knew what they were doing and what the plan was. It was no different at the agent I work for, we went in on Tuesday morning as normal whilst we waited for the official word from the directors who needed to have a meeting/call between themselves to agree the next steps. We were sent home mid morning and are now working from home.

     

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    1. MarkJ

      Completely agree ….Ive just been doing the same for a small chain and that was a nightmare.

      Just because Boris says something at 8:30pm Monday ….doesnt impliment it. Only people do that ….and I dont see that as a problem if done properly with precautions.

      i was probably breaking the law over the past few days with the EU Lone Working Directive but I wont tell if you dont.

      **** happens at times like these.

       

       

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  6. majortom1

    It is a shame that there is a lot of bad press but one cant be surprised if one company takes a swipe at another after they were pulled up so aggressively for making difficult decision-only for that company to go down a similar route having said they wouldn’t .

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    1. chiponshoulder

      majortim – Might be an idea to take the rest of the day off of posting comments?   I think you are suggesting that Connells have done something similar to Haart.   Nothing could be further from the truth.   I urge you to check the facts and what will emerge is that one business (Haart) has virtually thrown hundreds of their employees ‘out onto the streets’ in the middle of this crisis, by laying them off by conference call – with no notice and no ability to ask questions, whilst the other business (Connells) has shown care and empathy to their people, which includes (but not limited to) paying their full basic salary (not just the top up from 80% to 100% of the £2,500 but their full basic salary and variable earnings) to those people that are understandably placed on furlough.    Might be an idea to spend the rest of the day on linkedin and comparing the posts by Connells staff with those of Haart staff – maybe that’ll help you and your friend Dave2 make your mind(s) up!

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      1. majortom1

        so time will tell then Mr Chips.I will cetianly be keeping a very keen eye on this story in tmers of what happens next. In the emantime I wish all at Connells Dexters SHG etc etc the very best.Ta rah

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  7. Tornado

    It’s a real shame to read so many of these posts. Businesses like Spicerhaart, Connells and Dexters have not survived and performed over the years being lead by poor leaders. Each one will take a measured view on the circumstances and decide how to act. Knowing senior people in all three operations I can say objectively that all of these firms have leaders that are well respected. This is a tough time for our industry as it is for the world and I would like to think that we would all respect each business to make the decisions they need to make for survival and be supportive of each other.

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  8. forwardthinker

    Anyone seen David2?

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    1. chiponshoulder

      He seems to have morphed into majortom1 – probably because David2 made such a howler with his first post of the day.   Anyway, both Dave2 and majortim1 seem to have gone quiet now, probably taken himself off for spelling lessons, followed by a haircut and then hopefully to re-check his facts about Connells support of their people and how that contrasts with Haart’s!

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      1. majortom1

        Well if that is aimed at me,majortom1,(who is David 2 ?)then I am eternally grateful for your very personal remarks about me having some hair -spelling never my strong point-time for some home schooling -As you will know Chippy (unless you are out of touch as  you no longer need to frequent the barbers),all hairdressers are shut for the foreseeable ! Gulp.    

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