Exodus from EweMove revealed after franchisees ‘feel sold down the river’

An exodus of franchisees from EweMove has been revealed.

Ian Wilson, CEO of the Property Franchise Group which acquired the business last year, told EYE that around 20 have either left the network or are in the process of leaving.

He said: “When we bought the business, they felt they had been sold down the river.

“They believed EweMove stood for everything that was not corporate, and they did not like it that the founders should have sold out to a plc, while pocketing millions.”

EweMove, bought for £9m last September, lost £300,000 on revenues of just £900,000 in the first half of this year, while the two founders left in June.

It is now forecast by broker James Fletcher at Cenkos that the loss will be cut to £100,000 on revenues of £1.8m in the second half of this year.

Is this in line with Wilson’s own expectations when he bought EweMove? “We had expected it to grow faster, and the churn has certainly been more than we expected.”

He said that because of the disillusionment, it had been important to try and recruit a new managing director ‘from the flock’.

Wilson said that Nick Neill, the York franchisee, had been the best performing ‘shepherd’. He had also stood up to exacting selection procedures at a time when Wilson was also recruiting managing directors for Martin & Co and Xperience.

Wilson said: “We had 120 candidates for the three roles, and I did 26 back-to-back interviews over four days.

“The applicants included four ex-directors of Countrywide, and others so high profile that they said they could not be seen coming into the London hotel where I did most of the interviews because they did not want to be recognised.”

An immediate goal is to reverse the exodus from EweMove – which Wilson said had had the benefit of leaving the best-performing franchisees.

Wilson said: “One of the glaring problems has been a total lack of support for new franchisees. That is totally unacceptable. We are implementing programmes of training, which will include going back to existing sheep and doing refresher training.”

He said that previous owners David Laycock and Glenn Ackroyd had burned through £200,000 in about four months on a recruitment drive – but this had not yielded results. Wilson said he felt this was because the pair had not really wanted to depart from their original vision of recruiting people from a non-agency background.

Traditionally, Wilson said, the mix of franchisees has been 95:5 in favour of people with no agency experience. He wants to get this to 50:50 as soon as possible, and eventually to 25:75.

There will, be says, be a major recruitment campaign “which will fish where the agents are”.

He added: “We are also aware of a churn of Local Property Experts from Purplebricks. We are specifically targeting them, using social media with messages such as ‘We’re sorry it didn’t work out’, and asking them to consider us.”

Wilson said: “It has become very difficult to sell a high street franchise, and easier to sell an online or hybrid.

“However, one of the problems in today’s market is the length of time it takes to sell houses, which means that for a new franchisee, it is likely to be six months before they start generating revenue.

“We are therefore paying new EweMove franchisees on listings, at £250 each.”

Wilson believes that in terms of listings, the online/hybrid sector has 7% market share: “It is less clear when it comes to sales because of lack of data, but we think it is about 6-7%.”

He believes the future landscape will pan out to two big players, plus a main ‘challenger’ and then a tail.

He also believes the big two could be Purplebricks and EweMove, but adds: “The real disruptor will be the online agent that offers a refund if they don’t sell your house.

“That will be the game changer.

“EweMove of course don’t need to do it, because it operates on a no sale, no fee basis.”

Does he regret buying EweMove? No.

Will he change its name? No.

Was his due diligence at fault? “No. We were aware of problems.

“For example, Glenn and David dealt with under-performance by cutting the amount of money that the franchisee had to pay.

“We deal with under-performance by turning it around into performance.”

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39 Comments

  1. smile please

    Not one to say I told you So, BUT I think I called this about 18 – 24 months ago.

    Maybe the ex-Shepherd is reading this and would like to now agree with me.

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  2. Hillofwad71

    My experience with their  call centre was less than  impresssive living in rural Wales where there  are plenty of sheep I asked them how many live instructions they had . The front  of house   didnt know

     

    The search engine  is geared to  a max of 30 miles +from a specific town Ok for an urban area but where I  live  many owners work  over 30 miles from their jobs  so the village would  be difficult  to find for those seeking a property

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    1. FlyingSheep54

      Not a very good area for a property franchise then?

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      1. PeeBee

        Oh – I dunno.

        You’d obviously blend in well…

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      2. Hillofwad71

        Doesnt sound like it does it  Sheepy Why the 30 mile radius of a town  for a search Why not 50?  My question was how many instructions did they have  nationwide Sort of basic  question one would ask if considering ask and the guy didnt know?

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        1. FlyingSheep54

          Who on earth would search with a 50 mile radius? What a load of nonsense.

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          1. Hillofwad71

            Well me for example I needed  to be within 50 mile radius of Birmingham which gave me a huge  amount of properties to consider My property is 47 miles I am sure retirees who  also might have  a wide search area   So to try and conduct that search on Ewemove is a laboured process

             

            It really doesnt sit well either rubbishing a legitimate  point Its clear that you arent prepared to listen which could possibly   explain why your flock is disappearing over a cliff aka Far from the Madding Crowd

            Neither  you or the head shepherd have answered my question How many properties are currently listed on Ewemove or are you trying to hide some?

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      3. Hillofwad71

        Seems that there are quite a few areas which are unsuitable for a franchise . Over 50  of your franchisees  according to Zoopla are listing 10 instructions or less some with a big fat zero  You seem to have  attracted a higher proportion of black  sheep to your flock!

         

        No wonder the lads upped sticks at  the soonest opportunity and took the money and run Maybe the multi millions  purchase price could have  been better spent by TPFG on upgrading their own offer

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  3. J1

    Baaaaaamy

     

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  4. PeeBee

    “Not a very good area for a property franchise then?”

    I sincerely hope that Mr Wilson is reading this and picks up on this single comment.

    And the quicker he addresses the balance of ESTATE AGENTS vs “entrepreneurs” the bl00dy better – both for the sake of his own business BUT MORE IMPORTANTLY for the sake of our public-serving industry.

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    1. FlyingSheep54

      There are some very successful franchisees who have no previous property experience but are fantastic at giving a great service. There are also some that, no matter how many times they are told otherwise, think they are buying a business in a box that requires no hard work. These are the ones falling by the wayside.

      The ones that get stuck and graft will be successful. I agree that the split between experienced agents and not should be more even but it’s not be all and end all.

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      1. PeeBee

        “These are the ones falling by the wayside.”

        So the question to be asked is

        ‘did those “falling by the wayside” still rate eweMove 5-stars even though they were unhappy and looking for the near3est exit from the pen (which would be highly disingenuous of them); or did they refrain from voting in order to not rock the boat (which would have been slightly less of a ‘sweeping reality under the carpet’ job)?’

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        1. FlyingSheep54

          No idea, I only know what my answers to the survey were. By the way I didn’t simply give top marks across the board, rather pointed out areas where I could see improvements could be made. The great thing is that Ewemove actually listen to the franchisees. My previous experience of franchising was a world away from that level of engagement.

          The fact is that anyone walking away from this business has to take a long look at themselves before blaming the franchisor.

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          1. PeeBee

            “The fact is that anyone walking away from this business has to take a long look at themselves before blaming the franchisor.”

            I would suggest that as the street is a two-way one then the franchisor needs to look themselves at the potential reasons for failure just as closely as the franchisee.

            “The great thing is that Ewemove actually listen to the franchisees.”

            Which is fine IF

            a) the franchisees actually tell eweMove it ‘as it is’ and don’t do the usual thing of biting the tongue and pretending the garden is rosy

            and

            b) eweMove then actually act on what has been said to them; provide additional support, coaching – whatever is necessary to avoid failure before it is too late.  It’s no good slamming the pen door shut when the sheep have flocked off.

             

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  5. RealAgent

    My dad always used to say; you can either keep you mouth closed and let people think you are stupid or open it for them to know you are.

    This honestly reads like the script for American Hussle, three men meet, probably in the same hotel Ian says he held interviews, leave with a cheque for millions, sprint to the bank and put it on express clearance.

    As for: “others so high profile that they said they could not be seen coming into the London hotel where I did most of the interviews because they did not want to be recognised.” 

    You seriously STILL interviewed him?? and I say him because lets be frank I would put my house on that being Robert Ellice.

    To PFG I have two words of advice for next time Due and Diligence

     

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    1. Philosopher2467

      Ewemove the movie perhaps? Secrecy, intrigue, lots of money, propaganda; it has it all!

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    2. Fair point

      shame more people don’t follow your Dads advice.

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    3. JimmyDimmy49

      Was it Daniel Craig…? Seriously, ‘couldn’t be seen for the fear of being recognised’ – are these people for real?

       

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  6. Head_Shepherd#2

    Some interesting comments from readers on Ewemove stories over the last few days, most of which reveal a lack of understanding about our business and the model under which we operate with our franchisees.

    Ewemove is a brand which broke the mould when it launched and will continue to be a disruptor, as we retain our focus on delivering an exceptional service to our buyers and sellers, tenants and landlords, as we have always set out to do. And it’s working. Just look at our reviews.

    We’ve seen other business results being posted in recent days that talk about a reduction in expected profits, including Ewemove, yet others where we see good news, such as the broader PFG group results yesterday.

    The great part for Ewemove is that we have a very clear plan about what we need to do and what we’re going to do.  Growth – Yes. Profitability – Yes, but just as importantly, we’re going to retain the fantastic ethos of our business that is shared by every one of our Ewemove franchisees, right across our growing network.

    The ones that you read about leaving are for a variety of reasons and have come about due to a mix of personal circumstances and of course in a very small number of cases, a reaction to the changes we’ve seen at Ewemove in the first half of this year.

    In H2 we expect to be back to normal, with minimal franchise loss and larger net growth of our network.

    I’d be delighted to welcome anyone who wants to find out more about a franchise to come and see us at our Sheep Pen.

    I see more and more local high street agents trying to copy what we do (but not always getting it right), our marketing, our messages our approach to exceptional service standards, which is very flattering, and it’s this behaviour that confirms to me that we have something the market wants.

    Ewemove is and will continue to be a great brand and company to be part of. We are in fact the only Estate Agency Franchise to be rated a 5 Star Franchise, as rated by our franchisees of course, in a Smith + Henderson survey!

    Just keep watching this space…….

     

     

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    1. Hillofwad71

      So please explain why your front of house was completely  unaware of the  total  number of instructions Anybody conducting a beauty parade  would want to know that figure as it  would give them an idea of how much  market penetration

       

      According to Zoopla its 106 Is that  correct  ?  It looks  obvious to  an investor who rammed home the  better part of the deal and why franchisees are calling it a day

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      1. Head_Shepherd#2

        106?  Not quite.  A large majority of our franchisees have over 50 properties available for sale or sold STC.  The highest is around 100! Much higher than the Rightmove average of 32 per branch.

        Our Rightmove and Zoopla accounts are not central.  Perhaps you were looking at the number of offices?

         

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        1. PeeBee

          “A large majority of our franchisees have over 50 properties available for sale or sold STC.”

          SIX out of 106 have more than the half-ton of stock, according to Zoopla:

          https://www.zoopla.co.uk/find-agents/estate-agents/company/ewemove-sales-and-lettings-14493/?page_size=100

          “The highest is around 100!”

          SIXTY SIX – again according to your friends at Zoopla.

          If the actual figures are different – then ewe need to be having a word in their shell-likes.

          Unless of course someone’s trying to pull the wool over the eyes of others…

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    2. mrtickle

      “Just look at our reviews.”

       

      Well… just look at your performance… EweMove is essentially a shiny estate agent. Cool branding and fun loving attitude, but there is clearly a major issue with business generation and sales completion. That’s usually the best mark of an agent, not their online rating.

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      1. Head_Shepherd#2

        Why the concern re business generation and sales completion?  Our sales completion rate is higher than the UK average.

        As we do not work on a % MSF charge basis with our franchisees, you cannot reverse engineer franchise performance from our own numbers.  Don’t forget, we still a young business making big investments so much more it yet to come.

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        1. Hillofwad71

          So to answer my original question how many properties do Ewemove  currently have listed  as available and more importantly  why  was your front of house unaware of it

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    3. Philosopher2467

      Propaganda to motivate the masses! Keep up the good work and the best of luck leading the ‘sheep’ for £250 an instruction!!!

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    4. Baggiefan

      What advertising is done to promote Ewemove to the public by Ewemove itself … None.

      Franchisee’s with no experience are budgeted to lose £50k year 1, make gross profit of £20k year 2, £50k gross profit year 3, don’t need to be an expert to see why they fail.

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      1. PeeBee

        THREE YEARS to gross £20k?

        Where do I sign?

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    5. PeeBee

      “We are in fact the only Estate Agency Franchise to be rated a 5 Star Franchise, as rated by our franchisees of course, in a Smith + Henderson survey!”

      You might want to shepherd us through that factoid, Sir – on the basis alone that some 20% or thereabouts of the contents of your pen have already (or are in the process of) flocked off!

      I can’t wait…

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  7. JAM01

    The real disruptor will be when upfront fees are repaid when the property does not sell.

    Too true…and even bigger losses than currently posted.

    They are already being subsidised £250 a listing..encourages over pricing and no chance of a sale.

    Martin and Co have purchased a pup, or is that a lamb. Head Shepherd looks great on a CV, don’t you think?

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    1. Baggiefan

      if you have to loan a franchisee £250 to list a property doesn’t that mean the franchisee is struggling

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  8. Estate_Agent_Memes

     “bought for £9m last September, lost £300,000 on revenues of just £900,000”

    …is it just me…?

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    1. Fair point

      There is usually more than one side to a story. The truth will out.

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    2. Philosopher2467

      No it’s not just you. Anyone who is or has run their own business will know that the only people that benefited from ewemove were the chaps that sold it to another PLC with more money (others money that is) than sense.

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  9. Philosopher2467

    If the offering is that good then why an ‘exodus’ of people that are ‘having it away’? Do people that are onto a good thing do that? Or, did they hang around for some incentive from the guys that sold? Or, am I being super cynical?

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    1. PeeBee

      OF COURSE you’re being super cynical.  The guy with the crook & collie is at pains to point out that the grass in the field is lush and inviting when he proudly announces:

      “We are in fact the only Estate Agency Franchise to be rated a 5 Star Franchise, as rated by our franchisees of course, in a Smith + Henderson survey!”

      Its’ condition must be due to all the sheepish!t…

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  10. Highstreetflock63

    Ofcourse, there was also a Smith and Henderson survey of all the High Street franchisee’s as well. It was most definitely not 5 star, in fact I do not think Mr Wilson has even allowed anyone else to see it! Perhaps the shareholders would be interested to see what all of those profitable high street agents think of the franchisor?

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    1. MartinCo40

      The Smith & Henderson survey told us that franchisees in our traditional brand business wanted better marketing support – so we have appointed Kate Toland, ex-Marketing Director at Fitness First. Kate has re-launched the Parkers, Whitegates and Martin & Co websites already this year. Check them out – Whitegates has more than doubled ENQUIRIES meaning more new business opportunities for franchisees.

      The survey also said that the brand groups wanted their own champions. So we have appointed Graham Lock founder of House Network, the very first on-line agent 10-years ago, as the new MD of the “Xperience” group – CJ Hole, Parkers, Ellis & Co and Whitegates. Ellie Hall is the new MD at Martin & Co, leaving her job as northern Lettings Director with LSL.

      Franchisees also described us as “money grabbing” so reduced the cost of training courses from £95 to £35, waived franchise fees on additional territories, offered £10k as a cash gift whenever a franchisee opens a new shop, and pay “cash-back” equivalent to 18-months MSF on the managed portfolio income whenever a franchisee acquires a competitor.

      So we listen to criticism, and we take action.

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  11. VFMagents

    I briefly looked into becoming a ewe move franchisee, I looked at their website from the aspect of being a prospective seller looking to place an instruction. My stumbling block was the complete lack of any costs being on display, which surely cannot ever be a model for success for a national online agent? I appreciate that ewe move leave it up to their individual franchisees to set their own fees, but without transparency on a national level, to compete and compare directly with other online platforms, I just couldn’t take the leap of faith.

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