Agent opts to ‘strike’ back against Spicerhaart CEO’s ‘factual inaccuracies’

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.”

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25 Comments

  1. AlwaysAnAgent

    Only one way to solve this. Handbags at dawn.

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    1. mmmm

      Alternatively, PIE could stop providing Paul Smith with a platform to peddle his self promoting drivel!

      Its not as though his articles get a good reception…

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    2. The Jockey

      Hardly surprising with this lot. Earlier in the year Szabo – the Barry from Eastenders lookalike Director for Felicity J Lord was encouraging Countrywide staff on linked in to join his business, as it was stable. 1 week latter his business released 100s of staff via a telephone call.  Well done.  The same guy only last week posted another pointless message on his linked in, this time displaying a picture of somebody holding a gun. Like seriously.

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  2. HGB

    I know that the media need clickbait to sell news and advertising, but surely all these puff pieces by Paul Smith et al are unnecessary?

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  3. The Godfather

    ….. don’t worry Sam, very few of us bothered reading it ….

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  4. iainwhite87

    I am not sure why PIE allow Paul Smith a platform at all anymore , we would all love to hear his honest views on the market etc as he obviously has bags of experience and knowledge to share . However every piece is simply a platform to promote an agenda that suits him or his current business model or to poke at obvious competitors . If I was a successful estate agent minded to look at The various opportunities  open to me then based on Mr smiths recent track record with caring for his team when Covid forced a lockdown frankly I would be very wary if not dismissive of the pitch and the offering being made by him.

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  5. bestandfinal51

    Paul Smith pipes up to be heard and attempt to justify his organisations treatment of staff earlier in the year.

    Sam Mitchell is upset as his agency has been outed by Mr Smith claiming agencies like Strike are living on borrowed time. Whilst I find Mr Smiths comments yesterday are best placed on chip wrappers, does he not have a point in regard to Strike in particular?

    Strike sell houses for free. And then make their revenue on upsells to legals, mortgages, removals etc. Does this not illustrate that the model does not work when seeking to make money from, well, selling houses? In the very least Strike can not call themselves an estate agent, simply a listings service, who will look to charge you for other associated moving liabilities. The likes of Strike and others of a similar model are responsible for dumbing down the agency world. Indeed they have gone several steps further than Purple Bricks even attempted. At least Purple Bricks did claim an estate agency fee. All be it the low level fee charged ultimately leading to their struggles.

    With this in mind, Mr Smith could be vindicated for his comments, if we are considering Mr Mitchells agency in particular.

    But, then Mr Smith has decided that his agency with all its staff, branches, little white Audi’s cannot survive on its current plain, so,  screw it! You want a race? I’ll give you a race. See you at the bottom!

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  6. Jamie Church

    Strike has lost tens of millions of pounds and can hardly be called a business. It’s a cash giveaway which any idiot could oversee. Mitchell hasn’t made a penny of profit, ever, and he still thinks he has a right to occupy the moral high ground. You couldn’t make it up.

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  7. Jockey

    This is typed above the space allocated for making comments:
     
    Your comment must not defame any individual or entity. It must not promote a business or contain hyperlinks to other websites. Your User name must not name or promote a business.
     
    Does that not apply for articles?
     
    We have previously had Mr Simth advise self employed on PIE not to go onto social media and advertise the fact they have sold property as HMRC may be watching. That is defamation.
     
    His articles are all about the 1,500 a week applications he is receiving. So that is 6,000 a month and as there are about 24,000 EA branches in the UK, over a 4 month period one person per branch has applied to join Spicerhaart.
     
    Really?
     
    Is this also not business promotion when constantly harping on about his new partner model?
     
    The exodus is top agents leaving SH to go their own way and that is down to the shocking treatment they observed regarding friends and colleagues on ‘that call’ in March.
     
    Values, standards and ‘family’ are there as reference points in bad times to define behaviour. That one act in March showed how worthless they are at the higher echelons there.
     
    And why would you tell people how to run a business when recently posted accounts give a £1.8Million loss?  

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  8. NeighSlayer

    So that’s three strikes and you’re out?  
     
    I’ll get my coat.  
     
    Others will be needing theirs too.

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  9. padymagic

    Been away for a bit (not inside !)

    A: Why has housesimple changed it’s name?

    B: Why do hybrid agents think they can win out when there still isn’t any evidence ?

    C: Why do people read Paul Smith articles?

    D: Why am I here? Oh ! That one I know. Cos I’m back 🙂

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  10. haveathink

    Why is Sam Mitchell given a platform on a trade website for estate agents.   His company doesn’t charge a fee to sell yet deals in ‘data’ and referrals so should this be even be classed as an estate agent? I personally don’t think so.

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  11. 0racle

    So… PIE have allegedly published an article without checking that the content was factually correct….

    …presumably then they haven’t checked the retort….

    So does that mean we can all submit an article without worrying that the facts will be checked? I am gonna start working on mine right now…. I am sure I will get loads of column inches to describe how I sold 32,000 houses last week using a new piece of software that my elderly mum designed, which has enabled me to put a bud in to buy a rival agency.. you know the one… they have purple boards…

    …come on PIE, you used to be better than this.. can we see some real journalism… please?

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  12. Head_Shepherd#2

    It’s interesting that the article published a few days ago here on PIE “almost-a-quarter-of-countrywide-branches-have-closed-over-four-years” reports that not all traditional model businesses are doing very well at the moment, so the challenge of job security and satisfaction isn’t necessarily going to be found in the traditional High Street Model.

    However, many traditional model businesses are doing really well, providing job security and a great service to their customers, just have a look at the Best Estate Agency Guide Awards published earlier in October to see how brilliant some of those businesses are. Many of which operate under a franchised business model.

    But so too are some newer model businesses, who can offer business ownership, self-employment, or employment options within those models, depending on what best suits the individual.

    For example at EweMove, you can buy a franchise and be a business owner from day 1 and grow your business with the support of a team, which may include employing staff on the payroll (quite traditional in fact!), or working with Associates who tend to work on 100% commission or a mixture of base pay and bonuses.  On top of that, there’s the support available centrally from our Head Office which manages all client accounting and 24/7 call support among many other aspects required to run a successful business.

    Clearly, the business ownership models and associate options tend to provide capable agents the chance to earn in excess of £100k pa, compared to perhaps £40k in a traditionally employed role, hence we find we attract and retain good agents (and non-agents in fact) into our business. And they stay in our business.

    With some of our franchisees turning over £1m+ and many many more now above £500k pa, working on their own or with just another associate or business partner, the future looks very bright and positive for EweMove franchisees, associates and employees alike. And with September sales listings +76.5% higher in 2020 than we saw in 2019, we’re continuing to win market share successfully.

    So, self-employment is not the problem, it’s the contractual relationship that people enter into that can be a problem.  Those that want to be self-employed or build their own business, need to ensure they secure their patch/territory so that when they build and develop that patch into a highly functioning, revenue-generating area, they don’t then lose it.

    Hence, EweMove offers (and always has) secure territories on an exclusive basis, for those that take them under a franchise agreement, fixed for 5-15 years.  (5-year agreement with 2 further automatic renewal options).

    I see more and more people wanting to go it alone, having lost faith and confidence in their corporate employers in recent years (exacerbated by COVID) so I experience the exact opposite of the views put forward by Paul Smith!

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    1. Jamie Church

      Can you explain why the number of Ewemoves has been the same for several years. How many are you losing each year and what is your rate of failure, or churn. 50 – 60%? Higher?

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      1. Hillofwad71

        Things certainly  have improved at Ewemove .
        A number of branches at death door  have emerged from  lockdown with a renewed  vigour and also  a number of new franchisees have kicked off with a decent sales inventory.
         
           The casualty rate has dwindled  
         
        However  there are very few  individuals  earning £100k pa  and after all the carnage. they need to amend this strapline.
         
           You can only  be impressed  though with Ewemove Basingstoke who have  a £300k sales inventory .
          There are also some franchisees carrying a six figure debt on their books  which is unsustainable                

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        1. Jamie Church

          It’s reassuring that things have improved but that wasn’t my question. Totally agree about the strapline. 

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          1. Hillofwad71

            Unlikely to get that question  answered by Head Shepherd  has always been in denial

            Not exhaustive

             

            This  year we have seen the following disappear

            Recent  loss-Bracknell

            Macclesfield

            Edinburgh West

            Hull West

            West Grimsby

            Watford North

            Pudsey

            Harrogate

            Gloucester

             

            Reading -not to be confused with the operating franchisee  Reading East

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            1. Jamie Church

              Risky stuff! With furlough money and loans being thrown at small businesses this really surprises me and imagine what might happen next year

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  13. Woodentop

    PS article highlights during Covid and many other time for that matter is …. ‘self-employed’ are at risk, while ’employed’ has many benefits for the employee with some security. Business’s who only employ self-employed often do it for one very good reason….. not prepared to stand up and be counted and take responsibility as  viable business’s and when it goes pear shaped in difficult times they can walk away.

     

    If anyone wishes to make claims and name a business, they should get their facts right.

     

    If PS is wrong, just like any person with an ounce of decency, should step up and admit they were wrong and apologise.

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    1. 0racle

      This gets the ‘choke on my coffee’ award today…. PS apologise? Looooooooool

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      1. Woodentop

        Hope you recovered and wiped down your desk and screen, Lol.

         

        ‘the stubborn defence of stupidity is unforgivable’. There are many reason for admitting our mistakes. It makes us a better person and people respect those who can admit mistakes.

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  14. Penpusher

    Mr Smith really needs to take a look at himself and his Company. His track record on dealing with staff leaves a lot to be desired. He is not the font of all knowledge and really should reframe from making comments unless he has his facts correct. Would be interesting if a poll was taken on what his staff think of his company!

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  15. Mokhan

    My sister in law got sacked with over 300 people on conference calls by spicer haart on day of lock down just before furlough.

    Only a few weeks later they got the worm catcher bloke that runs their city offices on this site saying how much money they were making in the lock down! Should be banned from here, no shame

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  16. pmcook1970@gmail.com

    Estate agency is going to become a home based local agent/valuer supported by home based/hub administration added to a next generation property portal facing the clients. How the agent is paid, self employed/ employed, zero hours plus bonus is not the point. Its the evolution of a trade that is at present incorrectly structured and no longer operates as consumers require.

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