It started out as a single branch in Twickenham 25 years ago.
Eight years ago it had 16 offices, and now it has almost 90, growing at an annual rate of 26%.
We are talking about Dexters, now one of London’s largest estate agents – and still an independent.
Jeff Doble, boss of Dexters, does not however believe that big is necessarily beautiful.
That said, the firm has 25,000 landlords on its books, conducts 45,000 viewings a month and turned over £75.5m last year. This year, turnover is likely to be £85m.
So, how has Doble done it?
Well, there is no bloated head office.
Indeed, there is no head office at all. Dexters is “not a classic command and control type of organisation”, he says.
Nor does he even faintly subscribe to the idea that all an agent has to do is stick properties on Rightmove: just three out of every 20 viewings come from the portals and print advertising. The rest are generated by Dexters’ own database.
Nor does he seem to believe that everything will be online.
“The tech guys who tell you that estate agents are finished and that it’s all going to be online miss the point,” says Doble.
He says someone still has to drive the cars and “do the hard yards”. People buying or renting want to deal with someone reliable: “The internet has not replaced salesmanship or reduced the importance of human contact.”
A fascinating Management Today interview can be seen here (registration is necessary):