New estate agency hub promises to pay commissions well over industry norm

An estate agency is to set up in a new ‘hub’ to cover the whole of a major city and its surrounding areas. It plans the model to fill the gap between online and traditional agents.

Enfields is opening in a large barn, in a village some six miles from the centre of Portsmouth, from where it will cover a number of PO postcodes.

The picturesque 15th-century barn is already used by Evolve, a firm specialising in estate agency marketing products including EPCs, floor plans and photography.

The building’s spare capacity means it has plenty of space for another business.

Enfields already has eight offices in Southampton, Bournemouth and Pontefract.

Its new Portsmouth ‘hub’, opening in late March, will cover not only the city but sizeable towns such as Fareham and Gosport – altogether, the initial territory will cover postcodes PO1 to PO19.

The ‘hub’ will employ its own agents, covering their own areas, and able to earn commissions described as exceptional.

Evolve and Enfields will keep a distance between their businesses, with founder and managing director David Brierley continuing to run Evolve as before.

Jason Bull, Evolve’s national sales director, will take responsibility as chief operating officer for the new Enfields venture, and says further ‘hub’ launches are planned this year and next.

Simon Thurston, director of Enfields Franchising, said: “Over the past few months we have been carefully watching the developments in both the online and traditional agency models and have concluded that there is a growing gap between the two.

“Whilst undoubtedly there are some excellent offerings from the traditional high street sector, the online model has shown some advantages for consumers who appear to like the less formal approach and greater use of technology to help book viewings and valuations.

“The recent State of the Nation Report issued by Zoopla highlighted the gap between what the majority of agents are offering and what consumers really want.

“Having then spent considerable time looking at what might be appropriate to help fill the gap, I am delighted to announce the arrival of a new addition to the Enfields network, which we believe fulfils the true needs and expectations of the consumer.”

Bull said: “We will be 100% transparent in our fee’s and processes and will provide consumers with the freedom to choose what they want without any hard sell.

“We believe the products and quality and quantity of marketing will speak for themselves.

“There will be no ambiguity on fee, no dodging how much we charge, and all enquiries will be met with clear, concise answers to the age-old question of how much are your fees?

“I have handpicked the team, which consists initially of eight people and all are home owners, so they understand the emotions of buying and selling.

“Each is employed, salaried and will receive personal commission that dwarfs anything seen elsewhere in the employed sector of our industry.

“The environment and tools are truly exceptional, and I am hell bent on putting people first and delivering fantastic experiences for both my people and our customers.”

Bull said that the launch team is envisaged to swell to 14 within three to six months of launch.

He anticipates that most of the recruits will be “disillusioned corporate managers and senior negotiators”.

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37 Comments

  1. GPL

     

    Okay…. How much are your Fees?

     

     

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    1. JasonB29

      Thanks for the question, I wondered when we would attract that & my guess within the first three comments has just won me a fiver!!

      We are not opening the doors for trading until 2nd April & have a board meeting on15th February, where fee structure will be finalised.

      The concept involves three price points.

      1. Traditional – no sale, no fee

      2. Split fee – pay a small part upfront in return for buying a discount from above.

      3. Upfront – equivalent of an online package but with closer personal service.

      All options will be clearly displayed on website & marketing once we have selected the final price point.

      If you want some more details about fee, I will happily share after the board meeting.

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      1. AgencyInsider

        If I asked just how much the personal commission that dwarfs anything seen elsewhere in the employed sector of our industry.’ is going to be, would I too have to wait for an answer until after your board meeting?

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        1. JasonB29

          Happy to answer that, as it has been agreed & seven individuals have accepted job offers on the basis of the following;
          There are two tiers, one for Senior Negotiators & another for existing BM’s.
          Negs start at 10% & raise to 15%, BM’s start at 15% & raise to 25%. All increases are triggered by income thresholds being met.
          Income including that from FS & conveyancing will go into personal pots for individuals to benefit from.

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          1. AgencyInsider

            How refreshing to get a straight answer. Thank you. Good luck with the project.
             

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            1. GPL

               

              Thanks for the response Jason. Remember that you won’t actually enjoy the whole £5 ……after the commission/pot share etc.

              On a serious note, I provided “Fee Options” over 20 Years ago however, maybe it was ahead of its time. What I was aware of was that too many options diminished your USP and left some clients spinning as to why the various options.

              My tuppence worth for today’s market?

              Either an Online Only/Upfront offering or your Full Estate Agency Service ……even then you open up the “I’ll have the full service at the cheaper fee discussion”.

              I took a property against Purplebricks last year when the client said she wanted to go with me/my service/valuation at the Purplebricks Fee! I initially said “No Thanks” and then about-turned and said “OK, Yes, I’ll take your circa £1000 Purplebricks Fee upfront now and provide the same service as them and of course, after you have paid me upfront I know I don’t actually need to sell your home to earn my fee!”

              Both the client and I had a good laugh, she came on with me at my Fee and we sold it for £15,000! more than Purplebricks Lister quoted.

              I accept that “Options” may be relevant now however only in the context of Online Only versus Full Service, otherwise if there is negligible difference why would I the vendor pay more?

               

               

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              1. fluter

                We offered a non-refundable, partial up-front option when we opened 15 years ago and had quite a few vendors take us up on it but only when the market was very buoyant and sellers believed they had a great chance of selling. I know times have changed but not sure what the take up would be in today’s market.

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              2. JasonB29

                The fiver is all mine!!
                You make some great points, I’m sure there are going to be plenty of challenges along the way. As a nimble and agile business we have to listen to feedback and if adaptation is required then we can/will.

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          2. Property Poke In The Eye

            So similar to other agencies then.

            If a vendor chooses Option 3. (£995 ish). Will the neg only receive about £100?

            If a hub is being trialled I would stick to Option 1 only.

            Let’s see how it pans out.  Good luck with new structure.

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  2. Property Poke In The Eye

    I am not yet convinced with this Hub thing.  It may work for a few here and there. Not mainstream.

    High Street is still the way forward.  Your office itself is a 24 hour salesmen (salesperson).

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    1. SLF

      A very expensive 24hr salesman!

      It opens at 9am, closes at 6pm, probably doesn’t open Sunday and has a cobwebs across the doorway. As we all know over 75% of buyers start their search after 7pm……and you’re closed.

      If you just want your name in lights 24/7 save the money on an office that nobody walks into and get a billboard.

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      1. JasonB29

        You are spot on!
        Having previously ran the counties of Somerset, Devon & Cornwall for a well known corporate between 2013 & 2018, I saw first hand daily the lack of footfall in branches & High Street in general.
        This new venture of ours is not about the vanity of seeing a brand name on a High Street, it’s about merging excellent, personal service with first class tech to ensure everyone gets a smoother, easier, clearer experience.
        The savings on premises can then be invested in marketing, staff remuneration, which will allow me to retain quality people.

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        1. AgencyInsider

          I hate to say this but, given the way that retail is going I cannot see the High Street as we know it existing much more than another decade. It will be largely converted into residential. Will High St agents still exist at that point? Some. But not nearly so many as now. Sadly.

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      2. Property Poke In The Eye

        Today’s window shopper will become tomorrow’s client.
         

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  3. Trevor Gillham

    I can see this working well, maybe rent a high street shop window from small business to list local properties and promote that way.

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    1. SLF

      Shop window…oh dear, very 1990’s thinking. There’s this thing now called the internet….

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      1. Property Pundit

        Yeah, I mean who walks past windows on the High Street at all times of the day?

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    2. JasonB29

      A very successful independent down in Devon does just that & rents window space in cafes, post offices & newsagents in villages & small towns to expand their local presence.
      They are viewed very favourably by locals for being seen to support other local businesses. Nothing wrong with some old fashioned touches sitting alongside more modern approaches.

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  4. NAL4726

    Jason whilst I of course wish you all the best in your new venture, I think the fact you are offering 3 types of fees will be your downfall. Why go to a restaurant with 3 different menus, why will one service belittle another? Vendors, as proven by many High St agents offering differing packages, just want a clear and concise service with no add-on’s nor take away’s.

    No Sale no Fee with a decent % – Simple’s. Stop trying to please all, if you believe in your service and staff, the fee is completely irrelevant, and that will be your USP. Good Luck.

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    1. JasonB29

      Good point and something we have considered, debated and researched, ultimately we concluded giving consumers a choice is worth the risk.

      On Saturday evening I was dining at Le Bistrot Pierre, who operate a meu giving the choice of fixed price, smaller portions, lighter options or a la carte?, business was incredibly brisk, staff who were scheduled to finish at 8pm worked until gone 11pm due to the volume of diners.

      I hope we experience the Bistrot Pierre effect!

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      1. NAL4726

        I did mean 3 completely different menus and not a choice off one menu, but nonetheless.
        So what is your USP to a vendor, as I fail to see anything different apart from you have a quite pleasent work location?

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  5. Estate_Agent_Memes

    Let’s be honest every agent would love a high street presence, its just many aren’t successful enough to afford one and now they are spinning it by saying you can work from home/from a hub. If you’re paying for premises it is stupid not to have it n the high street /visible where you get 24-hour advertising. Try managing 350 rentals, like we do, without offices – no chance.

    Keep plugging hubs/virtual offices etc and let the proper agents get on with offering a great personal service, where people can call in and chat face to face, without trying to disrupt or re-invent the wheel.

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    1. JasonB29

      No wheel reinvention going on, just adaptation and evolution.
      Spend greater on advertising due to lower cost of premises, pay healthier salaries to attract and retain the best available talent, provide them with a selection of appropriate tools and invest in their ongoing development. 
      Experienced, quality Estate agents will meet and build relationships with local sellers/buyers and communicate in a clear straight forward fashion. PC’s, laptops, mobile’s, phones, desks will be used to speak with clients, create opportunities and deal with enquiries.
      Customers can come and visit, meet the team and do all the things they can with a High Street agent. The only difference is that it will take place in an accesible, conveniently located office with free parking.

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      1. Property Poke In The Eye

        What is the difference in your new secondary location V’s Proper Primary  High Street Location.
         
        As all the rest of the costs will remain similar?

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  6. Bolton Agent

    I think Jason will need a large marketing budget to get his company name and brand out the public. Without a high street premises its going to be difficult unless he is known as a local property expert in his area.

    That aside, good luck Jason.

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    1. JasonB29

      We have a healthy marketing budget as part of the launch (obviously not in the PB league!) and benefit from existing Enfields branches in neighbouring post codes, that create a brand awareness and familiarity.
      Additionally, all staff operate in locations they live and are currently working in, adding to the “local” connection.

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      1. SLF

        Enfields have a good reputation and presence in the Bournemouth area…no reason they shouldn’t make a success of it in their new areas.

        JasonB29   seems to have just the right outlook and attitude to the current (and fast changing) market. There are many on here who should take their heads out of the sand and learn a lesson or two. Best of Luck Jason

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        1. JasonB29

          Thank you.
          I hope 32 years in EA has not blunted  my ability to be open minded enough to consider new ways that can sit alongside great customer service.

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  7. JoshShinerock63

    An Estate Agent sets up in a barn, somewhere near Portsmouth.

    Groundbreaking stuff here

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    1. P-Daddy

      How could you miss out that they are in Pontefract West Yorkshire too! natural choice after the south coast.

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    2. SLF

      …and what groundbreaking tactics are you employing to deal with the current market…..back office, a cup of coffee and Candy Crush is my guess!

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  8. NotLikeTheTrolls86

    Am I missing something here – this is a company [Evolve] who supply services to local agents. How are those agents, and others outside the area, going to feel about having that supplier suddenly being in competition with them?

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    1. JasonB29

      Separate entities, the new company has been incorporated as Enfields Hub Holdings.

      David Brierley, founder & MD of evolve remains in the core business whilst I take the reins of the new venture.

      We happen to share a voluminous building with two separate entrances. Which isn’t that dissimilar to a high street office that may have a lawyer/accountancy business above.

      Aside from a kitchen & car park there will be no crossover between existing/new businesses for the very reasons you mention.

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  9. mrtickle

    Jason, as a copywriter I know that getting people to decide on a choice of options can be an extremely risky proposition – users will get confused, overthink their options and ultimately go somewhere else where they can use the “Don’t Make Me Think” rule of marketing. It relieves stress.

    If you’re building a new website or pricing page, I’d be happy to talk to you and help you get the most bang for your buck from these pricing options.

    I’ve never done this on EYE before, but I like the idea and you’re also operating in my neck of the woods!

    PS. Dislikes are incoming, I know selling one’s wares is against protocol here.

    Best of luck, by the way. Not sure what will happen but who does?

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  10. J1

    Good luck Jason.

    I admire your spirit and have to say you seem to be batting away the critics with aplomb.

    Openjng a brand new brand of agency is really hard; it takes lots of patience and hard work oh and about £150,000.

    Get your marketing right, get your offering right (and distinctive) and you should be okay.  Ps don’t be too cheap either.

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    1. JasonB29

      Thanks for the kind words & sound advice on getting the offering right.

      I have a dozen cold starts under my belt in previous roles but the current lower volumes & general economic uncertainty will present a tough headwind in the short term.

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  11. HIT MAN

    Owner starts selling sweets online with 3 options, pay up front with free delivery or pay half price and half price delivery or pay cash on delivery, don’t know who they are dealing with or where the sweets come from, no interaction with real people and no change given.
    Sweet lovers find local sweet shop with real people who buy local produced sweets try before you buy with free local experience, a cup of tea with a biscuit and a wave from the shop owner the next time the pass by.
    Easy choice for most.

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