Six things I won’t miss about working for a corporate agency – by independent’s new recruit

When a new recruit started this month at a small independent, he found it completely different from his previous experiences working for larger firms.

James Liggins has previously worked for Dexters and Kinleigh Folkard & Hayward, both in London, and also has his own property investment firm which operates in the north of England.

But such is his enthusiasm at joining a two-office independent west London agent Horton and Garton, that Liggins has penned a blog.

This is a shortened, exclusive version of what will go up on Horton and Garton’s website later today.

And no, we’re not sure what Dexters and KFH will make of it either!

Six Things I Won’t Miss About Working For A Corporate Agency

by James Liggins, Associate Director, Horton and Garton Chiswick

My career in agency thus far has been spent working for corporates, and the experience I’ve gained has been invaluable in terms of learning what to do and, more to the point, what not to do.

At Horton and Garton we can do things better and work differently to the London-wide chains.

At a corporate, their company-wide policies and procedures means, as a negotiator, you frequently can’t take decisions that fully benefit the client.

As we don’t need to please our manager’s area director’s CEO, the whole team is fully client focused, working for them instead of the company’s self-centred interests.

It’s a incredible feeling – I feel like a new man!

Reflecting on my first week in independent agency, here’s what I won’t miss about the corporate world…

– Joyless, bland property descriptions. In corporate agency, I had zero flexibility when it came to writing property descriptions and would often have my sellers calling me to say, “Can you add in our favourite local pub that’s just a three minute walk? We think it’s a real selling point.” I had to tell them I wasn’t allowed as it didn’t fit in with the standardised description! Utter lunacy.

– Politics. Politicking was part of every day corporate agency life. Ego-stroking and keeping the peace between negotiators was exhausting. I’ve witnessed clients suffer due to the dark art of office politics. Selling property should be about the client, not inflated egos!

– Up to 50 live listings. I’ve always believed too many listings is a recipe for failure. You might sell a few of them, but what happens to the rest? If you’re considering an agent with 50-odd live sales listings, you should also be considering how many minutes of their day the experienced team members will have to spend on your property. It’s just basic maths.

– “Smashing the phones.” If I never hear this phrase again it will be too soon! The utter inflexibility of working for a corporate agency meant cold calling was part of my routine. I absolutely hated it as I knew the buyers I was ringing hated it too. People in west London detest cold calls. They might be received happily in other areas of London or the UK – who knows? – but they don’t wash here.

– Leafleting and door knocking. It’s still common practice but thankfully not at Horton and Garton. We’re good enough at our jobs that we don’t need to employ these outdated (and desperate) tactics. In fact, we run a paperless office in Chiswick so printing thousands of leaflets would go against the ethos.

– Ties. Bad ties, silk ties, ties in general. This one speaks for itself – never again!

Below, a (tieless) James Liggins. The firm tells us that it operates a ‘noose-free’ dress code.

His full blog will be found later today at 

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  1. ArthurHouse02

    Its amazing how many people the minute they change environment choose to slag of the previous one. No doubt when he was earning good money from corporate agency he enjoyed the benefits….and one thing…Do Horton and Garton not use the telephone, he hated ringing buyers, so how does he go about “selling”? They dont do canvassing and now he states they dont call people he must twiddle his thumbs like a pro.

    1. J1

      Never been to a professional thumb twiddling competition myself, but am pretty good at “1,2,3,4 I declare a thumb war” with my kids.

    2. Property Poke In The Eye

      Doesn’t like phoning, doesn’t like canvassing, doesn’t like olives on the pizza…..All I have to say is Good Luck at your New job chap…lol

      Seems like a lazy b……

      He probably got sacked, now he is slagging off the hand that fed him.

  2. TB

    What a truly incredible rant.  I would have thought you would have rendered yourself virtually unemployable by explaining that you aren’t prepared to call potential buyers for your client’s homes.  Much as I detest the likes of Purplebricks given your lack of seemingly doing anything other than relying on the internet to sell your client’s homes then in your area I’m sadly sure they will take your business. I also question your ethics of taking a salary for years and upon leaving showing such a lack of respect and loyalty to the companies who paid and trained you.  Perhaps you are just bitter and adverse to actually doing any hard work.

  3. David M

    The fact that he calls picking up the phone “cold calling” indicates he simply doesn’t understand that you pick up the phone to understand the needs of wants of the market place, wither it be potential vendors, or active buyers ; which converts into building up a rapport and trust and they are eager to take your call  – this is not cold calling.

    Don’t get me started on the rest……

    Good luck in your agency career…..I have a feeling it will be a short one…

    1. LondonGirl30

      Pretty sure he doesn’t say he won’t pick up the phone… anyone who’s spent a day in agency knows the ‘how many can you call in an hour’ competitions and the like that just end up aggravating people. When you pick up the phone to call someone about something they don’t want to hear about, it’s cold calling.

      1. smile please

        Cold calling is from a purchased database or phonebook.
        You have a database of people who have shown an interest in your business / product / service.
        You have not previously closed an MA viewing or fs with them. 
        Your job as a salesperson is to close.
        If you don’t close them somebody else will.
        A focused hour or afternoon on the phones to generate business is part the job.
        I would suggest both you and the author of the blog are in the wrong job. 

  4. J1

    Looks like he’s logged on and down-thumbing his detractors

  5. smile please

    Is he a salesman? No.

    Is he an order processor? Yes.

    Let’s just say if he ever feels the need to leave he current role, he would find it difficult getting an interview with me.

    Is this what a millennial is?

    1. Property Ear

      Salesman suck smile please.

      James has got it right – so he’d get an interview with me!

      Joe Public hates the corporate xxxp this guy’s had to dish up in the past – this boy’s seen the light – good on him!

      1. smile please

        You are welcome to him 😉


        We all know its not rosey working for a corporate, but the things he is moaning about are the things that make a good employee.


        I want a member of staff focused on their job. If you are not “smashing the phones” not canvassing or door knocking. And do not want more than a couple of dozen properties for sale.


        What does he want to do?


        He is a glorified viewings assistant who answers the phone.

    2. Property Poke In The Eye

      Doesn’t like phoning, doesn’t like canvassing, doesn’t like olives on the pizza…..All I have to say is Good Luck at your New job chap…lol

  6. Daremeister81

    Don’t take too many properties on the market. Don’t pick up the phone and avoid any canvassing. Customers are happy to talk if every call is meaningful with something new to talk about. The blog should be entitled “How to go bankrupt in a difficult market”. I hope view from his office is nice as most of his time will be spent looking out of the window waiting for something to happen.

  7. whatdoiknow58

    Didn’t like my old job because they told me what to do all the time….. This ones much better i can do what i like and don’t have to wear a tie… zzzzzzzz

  8. Jrsteeve

    Going to be a little awkward if his beloved independent sells out to a corporate.

  9. surrey1

    I think he makes some valid points. I’ve spent the lion’s share of my twenty years in the business in independents, but have done a fair stint in corporate. There was plenty of politics, promotions usually going to those who played 5-a-side with the area manager. Querying any of the madder strategies suggested you weren’t a team player. “Focus days” comes to mind; do nothing all week so your figures on an arbitrary day are ok followed by lots of back slapping for another successful event. God forbid you’d find an end of month ra-ra with cheap fizz for a top performer toe curling.

    The relentless pressure of figure reporting seems to be the driver behind corporate’s listing properties that have no earthly business being on the market, people with little or no motivation to move, asking ridiculous prices and being charged a silly fee, but hey, it’s stock. Client management is non existent because you’re too busy churning out badly written letters to everyone else’s clients or door knocking, truly the ambulance chasing of our industry. I don’t recall bad ties being obligatory, but a few shockingly big knots often a good measure of the man. A lot of what is despised of our industry stems from the culture of these firms and the pressure the staff come under in my view.



    1. LondonGirl30

      Big knots… fact!!! Brilliant! Couldn’t stop laughing!

  10. Rickman2154

    Well put James and now you have seen the light!! Although I fully understand and agree on your points, the companies that you worked for previously are extremely successful!! like you, i could not work in that environment either, but you have to ask yourself, if those ‘tricks of the trade’ are so bad, why are they so successful???

  11. ARC

    Wearing a tie will not win me an instruction but not wearing one might lose me one (probably without me ever knowing it either) so always wear a tie.

    1. J1

      I don’t agree with that.

      The world is modernising and people’s attitudes are more aligned with how they are treated and respected.

      Not wearing a tie, and wearing a very smart suit and crisp white shirt can be just as smart with a hint of less formality – helping the MA to be less like an interview or interrogation.

  12. Property Ear

    As a happy and solvent one office independent agent, I agree with most of what James Liggins says.

    He will be well rid of the cold calling, door knocking, bland property describing tactics on behalf of often bullying and pressurising area directors.

    If in your new found freedom James you are honest, serve your clients well and provide effective, carefully presented marketing material you will do well.

    It’s you pressurising, cold calling, touting, number crunching corporates who have it wrong – not our James!

  13. NotAdoctor32

    If I’m reading it correctly he just announced to everyone that he is against proactivity and growing a business.

    Maybe by being proactive you can grow the stock level then use your recruitment and managerial skills to recruit well and manage the staff so that your vendors are happy and so are your staff.

    Property descriptions – he has a point.

    Ties – I sometimes wear one depending on the size of the meeting or the age of the vendor.

    1.5 / 6



  14. Number1EA82

    Who is he?

    looks like he should go back to Mummy as he has no clue!

  15. calleb

    What an interesting miixtue of responses! I can only assume that there are two camps, those that have only worked In the corporate sector, and those who have escaped.

    I have done both, corporate first and then my own independent. I can recall being seriously bollocked for refusing to send female staff door knocking in winter in the dark! Really?

    Of course there are successful firms who are morally inept and many of their required practices leave a lot to be desired!

    Much of what the guy says makes sense – there are many ways of making your business successful that don’t involve some of the corporate methods.

    There is an old saying  ‘ keep weighing the cow don’t make it heavier” The same is worth applying to our business. Use your skills in the most productive ethical and customer focused way rather than waste you time counting…

    1. smile please

      I don’t think any good employer would want to send a lone female out in the dark door knocking.

      But i do think canvassing, door knocking and making proactive calls is part of the job.

      You should also strive for as much stock as possible if you want to survive, this does not mean a watering down of service, you just need to employ more quality staff to service your clients.

      I too have a corporate background and now own and independent firm.

      I may be reading it wrong but to be honest he looks work shy.

      You must have had it yourself in the past either where you are now or back in the corporate days, you take on a member of staff they are really good for a few months / years then they start getting lazy as they think they are better than having to generate business, they wait for the phones to ring.

      The industry is littered with these types and the author seems to have fallen into that camp. And most of these types are recruited by the online only firms. i can name half a dozen that work for them. They may have the experience but they are lazy.

      1. Quags

        Completely disagree with door knocking.  Quite a vile practice.  In the area I work, I know of no vendor who has ever responded to that, it is very frowned upon.

        Calling existing applicants to introduce a new instruction, or contacting them to see if they are still on the hunt, or indeed previous valuations is of course part of it.  Thankfully GDPR should stop these corporates from buying peoples data and cold calling them.

        High pressure sales tactics do not work, we outsell our competition without the need for pushing people to buy something they will just pull out of a month later.

        1. smile please

          Depends how you do door knocking, if you knock on their door and ask if you can sell it be prepaired for a lot of slammed doors.

          If you knock on a door to take their details so you can find them the next property 9/10 are happy with it.

          Not sure anywhere mentioned in the above piece is there high pressure sales tactics,

          As for agents buying data not aware of an doing that, is that a thing?

          1. Quags

            “If you knock on a door to take their details so you can find them the next property 9/10 are happy with it.”

            Not sure where you are getting that stat from, but i’d dispute that, certainly here at least.

            No, but it is a known fact that a lot of corporate firms will use high pressure sales tactics.  For viewings, FS services and the like.

            And yes, certain agents do buy data.  Or at least they did.


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