Sam Mitchell, chief executive officer at Strike, has panned Spicerhaart CEO Paul Smith for making what he sees as being several false claims in his latest article.
Mitchell, head of hybrid estate agency Strike, formerly Housesimple, has contacted Property Industry Eye to express his “displeasure” with Smith’s article, which was published yesterday.
The former head of lettings at Rightmove, who has also worked at UK Sotheby’s International Realty, Your Move, and Foxtons, slammed Smith’s article, published by Property Industry Eye, for containing “several factual inaccuracies”.
He said: “This is the first time I have ever felt the need to write to correct an article but this piece went beyond opinion into untruths and that cannot be unchallenged.”
Smith has caused quite a stir with his latest article, in which he claims that a high number of agents who currently work for internet hybrids, many of which he says are “self-employed people”, are leaving their jobs due to a “lack of support from their parent companies”.
Smith said that an “exodus of self-employed people” is “well under way” at the moment, partly because the hybrid model “failed to help them pay their bills” during the coronavirus lockdown.
He went on to describe how “the lack of financial support left them [agents working for hybrid agencies] reeling”, adding that “as we enter the second coronavirus wave and local lockdowns, they don’t want to face that again”.
Consequently, Smith claims, “judging by the number of job applications we’re [at Spicerhaart] getting”, that many agents are now turning their back on the hybrid model and seeking “fully employed job roles” with traditional high street agencies.
He continued: “Despite a plethora of new internet hybrid agencies being launched, snapping at the heels of Purplebricks, Strike and YOPA, we’re seeing serious dissatisfaction among many of their agents and vendors.
“How long can this be sustained? How long will their agents put up with low rewards for a heavy workload and a future of uncertainty?”
Smith added: “How long before we see the hybrids crumble and fail?”
But Strike’s Sam Mitchell has rejected Smith’s claims.
Mitchell commented: “He [Smith] implies that our staff, our agents in the field, are self-employed, but they are not – they are fully employed, we moved to a fully employed model over a year ago.
“He implies that has been an exodus from us. Hardly, we have increased headcount by 25% since pre-lockdown.
“He implies that we have employee dissatisfaction. But our anonymous staff survey conducted post-lockdown had record levels of staff feeling valued with our highest NPS scores ever recorded.
“All [claims] from a man who laid off staff at the start of lockdown pre-furlough when we didn’t make a single redundancy.”
Mitchell added: “Can Paul point to a single member of staff that have left us to join him? We have dozens that have joined us from Spicer over many years.”
He continued: “We believe you are only as good as your people and we have built an exceptional team of hard-working people who really care about changing the industry for the better. There some great traditional agents out there, typically the ones who attend the conferences, win awards, and, engage with the industry forums, but there is also a long tail of companies who are providing terrible service.
“You cannot generalise about how good a firm is based on its business model alone. I don’t believe the business model determines the quality of your product, the respect for your customer, or the admiration and support you show your team. That’s down to the company — its ethos, its values, and its commitment. That’s down to its people.
“It’s been a challenging year for the industry and we’re very proud that we took our entire team through the period of lockdown without making redundancies and have been in the fortunate position to have expanded quite rapidly post lockdown.”