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The 2013 Judges’ Report


THANK YOU | To the Judges The Estate Agency Events team would like to extend a huge thank you to this year’s judging panel:

Chairman of the Judging Panel: Christopher Hamer, The Property Ombudsman

The Judging Panel: Rupert Bates, Whathouse.co.uk and Show House magazine Clare Bettelley, Freelance Journalist Chris Brown, Property Consultant Guy Charrison, FRICS FNAVA FNAEA FARLA FRSA, Immediate Past President of NAVA James Dearsley, The Digital Marketing Bureau Ian Fletcher, MovewithUs Clare Fletcher-Yates, Lifetime Legal Jaunita Gobby, Legal Eye Dorian Gonsalves, Belvoir Ben Harris, TM Group Sarah Kemp, Ravensworth Ben Quiney, audioagent.com Ben Ridgway, iam-sold Bethany Rudolf, Legal Services Consultant Gareth Samples, BriefYourMarket Miles Shipside, Rightmove Joanna Swash, Moneypenny Glyn Trott, LetMC Frank Webster, Finders Keepers Neil Young, Young Group We would also like to thank Martyn Baum, Vice President, NAEA, who kindly acted as Arbiter during the judging process.


Contents A Message from the Chairman of the Judging Panel

1

A Message from the Organisers

1

Estate Agency of the Year 2013

2

Best Large Agency

3

Best Northern Ireland Agency

5

Best Scotland Agency

6

Best Wales Agency

7

Best Medium Agency

11

Best Small Agency

11

Best Single Office Agency

11

Best London Agency

13

Best East of England Agency

15

Best Midlands Agency

17

Best Northern Agency

19

Best South East Agency

21

Best South West Agency

23

Best Innovation

25

Best Marketing

27

Best Customer Service

29

Best Website

33

Best Social Media

35

Best Training & Development

37

Best Newcomer

39

Best Auction Agency

41

Best Buying Agent

43

Best Franchise

45

Best Prestige

47

Best New Homes

49

Best Financial Service

51

Conveyancer of the Year

53

Best Large & Small Conveyancer

55

Individual Negotiator

57

Individual Valuer

58

Individual Conveyancer

59

Individual Manager

61

EAE Award for Outstanding Contribution to Estate Agency

63

The Cecil Jackson-Cole Award for Corporate Social Responsibility

65

of the Year

67

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A Message from the Organisers Every year I emphasise that I have nothing whatsoever to do with the judging process and this year is no exception. However I have spoken with the author of this judges’ report who tells me that the gap between winning a bronze and coming fourth or fifth can be wafer thin, and an agency winning bronze this year might have won gold a few years ago. The standards just get higher and higher as does the number of entries and agencies taking part - in total agencies with over 5,000 offices have entered this year. I’m really excited for all the winners but I also have a message for those who unfortunately haven’t won. My experience is that you can be divided into two categories - those who say something along the lines of “well I won’t bother again” and those who instead say “right, let’s re-double our efforts and have an even bigger go next year”. I’m told a number of the winners are agencies that have entered previously and not won so well done you for taking the winning option. Peter Knight Chairman, Estate Agent Events

A Message from the Chairman of the Judges In assessing the entries for the awards individual judges are allocated specific categories to review, to discuss the entry with a representative of the firm and to score the submission against set criteria. The judge then has to present proposals and recommendations to the entire judging panel for consideration.

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If a firm stands out clearly from the rest in any category then the panel’s decision can be easy but in many instances there are several entrants very close together in terms of scoring and the panel will then look in detail at the individual judge’s assessment, challenge the thinking and only after robust discussion are the gold, silver and bronze (where that is being awarded) winners determined.

that every member of the panel can have their say. All the judges are well experienced in the property sector and well able to contribute strongly to the discussions. It is an enjoyable, if full on, day!

My role as Chairman of the Judging Panel is to keep the discussions on track, ensure consistency of approach and ensure

Christopher J Hamer Chairman of Judges

I take this opportunity to thank the panel and congratulate all the winners.


Best Estate Agency 2013 OVERALL WINNER

LL WINN ERA ER V O

estate agency

McEwan Fraser Legal This is an agency which could and should teach the industry about commitment. As a relatively new business of only four years standing, Ken McEwan set out by firstly taking an intense look at what other agencies were not offering and used this information as a starting point for his business plan and vision. The result of this insight is a stand out company that delivers exactly what it says it will, and more.

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From the outset, this agency has been constructed around this vision. The culture is one of collaboration and the team absolutely lives and breathes the McEwan Fraser way. The breadth of services is exemplary and the judges found these to be offered at a consistent high service across the board. The extensive opening hours have been well received and reflect the desire of this agency to go the extra mile for clients. Having analysed online data which clearly shows property searches occurring 24/7, they have taken this on board and sought to match up their opening hours with clients’ modern day expectations. Offices are open until midnight in the week and 10 pm at weekends with linguists and solicitors available alongside agents. A significant proportion of their business comes from abroad so a number of translators have been recruited, covering 12 languages between them. The long opening hours also offer the added advantage of allowing staff to work flexibly, as they can choose to work evenings and weekends around family commitments. Technology is state of the art and the company has looked beyond simply using SEO to improve traffic and Google rankings; instead it favours pay-per-click advertising to attract digital traffic. Dedicated PPC professionals have been employed and as experts in their field, use cutting edge techniques to push past competitors. With over 5,000 unique landing pages the website is tailored to the specific areas of interest for each client. The marketing is polished and utterly in line with the brand values, which in turn cascade down from the management team. The culture is such that the entire team has a keen understanding of what the brand stands for and undertakes to support this through word and action. Its many USPs are well communicated across a variety of media in a consistent manner and the design is creative and alternative. The standard of the photography is excellent and the particulars include video tours of the local area and amenities; as the area is often of more significance than the property itself, these also include lifestyle aspects in order that a location appears aspirational. McEwan Fraser understands that this emotional buy-in is key. A head start is gained on the competition from the minute the valuer arrives at the property; they come loaded with an abundance of tools such as damp meters, ladders and compasses as well as the more traditional tools. They spend considerable time at the property to ensure the valuation is absolutely spot on and the information gathered is precise and thorough. They start as they mean to go on and this attention to detail ensures the relationship is started on the right foot. Clients can feel confident from the outset that they are in safe hands. Training is extensive and staff enjoy great perks and an array of rewards and bonuses. The turnover and profit is strong, with growth due to continue into the future. The financial success of this agency can be directly ascribed to the service standards and expertise demonstrated across the business. McEwan Fraser is a progressive and determined company which shines like a beacon north of the border and the judges believe it to be a fine example of agency work done properly and conscientiously.

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uk estate agency

2013

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Best UK Hamptons International The judges were pleased to once again recognise and reward Hamptons International with the gold in this category for a second year running. Not only has the team at Hamptons maintained their already high standards but there was also clear evidence that they have actively sought to improve on them throughout 2013. Turnover, profit and margin have all increased, as have staff retention and customer satisfaction rates. This year has seen the launch of the Hamptons Academy, which was set up to attract energetic people of the right calibre from other industries; an approach which has reaped rewards through the sheer number of applicants who want to be a part of the Hamptons team. There is a generous and thoughtful approach to CSR and the events programme attached to this is considered but more importantly, raises money and encourages donations. A clear example of a strong network of people who collaborate to get results.

Andrews Estate Agents

gold

silver

Andrews is a highly regarded, successful and professional company. Currently embarking on a very challenging strategic shift in order to deliver big growth in its charitable dividends, Andrews is led from the top by a longstanding and experienced agent. It was clear to the panel that communication is a key cornerstone of the Andrews ethos as the entire team share and understands the CEO’s vision for the company. It is also apparent that whilst they are embracing new technology and systems, these are not seen as replacements for the excellent customer service and personal touch that Andrews prides itself on. Training and development is second to none, and the bespoke IT systems are the envy of competitors. For an agency as established as this one, it is impressive to see the enthusiasm with which everyone has undertaken the changes, let alone the fact that the directors have sought to reinvent the business in the way that they have. What sets Andrews apart from the competition is its spirit – service, integrity and charity are part of both its history and its future.

Foxtons silver

3

Perpetually successful in this category, Connells strive to not only maintain but to build on the high standards which are set at the top. This is a very good agency with senior directors who recognise the importance of team; they talk about their people a lot and there was clear evidence that they put their money where their mouth is – training, staff retention and compliance are all strong. The area directors place great value on spending time in branch and the team appreciate this visibility. There is unwavering focus on adding to the service suite and any new initiatives are carefully considered so both buyers and vendors can be confident that they are receiving an exemplary and well thought out service.


Large Estate Agency

4


GOLD

northern ireland estate agency

Best Northern Ireland Estate Agency Michael Hannath Property

2013

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Once again, Michael Hannath and his team have proven themselves to be an outstanding agency fully deserving of an award for the third year running. Taking the decision to run his business in a different way, Michael has invested accordingly in continued professional development. He has worked hard with his team to build a collaborative and open business with the result that everyone has enthusiasm and commitment. Time has been spent developing a strategic plan focusing on basics and Michael has restructured his role to allow himself time to work closely with the team as a mentor. This agency enjoys a reputation as a most effective one which will do the job right and with discretion and sensitivity. It was evident that they all have extensive knowledge of property and aren’t afraid to step in and work with conveyancers and surveyors to ensure the process runs as smoothly as possible. In a difficult market, Michael Hannath has grown turnover and staff - no small feat and the panel is pleased to reward this business with the gold.

gold

Pinkerton Murray silver

5

Pinkerton Murray is a young agency which continues to impress. The branding is strong, corporate and fresh and absolutely communicates the ideals behind this business. There has been recent investment in a new website as well as development of the incentive structure for the team – this has been well received and is proving a positive move judging by the increase and growth across all KPIs. The service on offer is bespoke – this agency can command above average fees for the area whilst offering value for money. The high market share is evidence of its excellent reputation. In the two years since opening, staff levels have doubled although it is still a streamlined team so clients can expect communication to be of the highest standard; they can speak to anyone in the office and each team member is fully apprised as to which stage of the sales process they are at. Response times are also extremely quick but at the same time thoughtful and accurate.


GOLD

Best Scotland Estate Agency

scotland estate agency

McEwan Fraser Legal The judging panel was wowed by the scope and commitment to customer service demonstrated by this agency. There is an in-depth customer charter which extends to the team as well; the directors understand that a business is only as good as its people and treats them with the same eye for standards as customers would expect for themselves. Fully committed to improving the reputation of estate agency in Scotland, this is an innovative business which looks to other markets to identify where they do things well. By blending these policies with the cream of Scottish agency legislation and best practice it is able to offer a well-rounded service with key differentiators from others in their location. This has enabled them to finesse and expedite the sales process. This open-minded approach sets them apart from the competition and they deserve the gold for their efforts and execution.

2013

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gold

Clyde Property Clyde Property positions itself as a solid, efficient and genuine business. Its proposition is suited to all types of property and clients via an accessible and onthe-ball service offering. Opening hours are impressive both in terms of hours and days per year. Due to extensive investment in the back office IT and technology and a recruitment drive to attract quality applicants it has taken the lead in areas of operation and practice. This has shown tangible business benefits for key measurables such as market share, bottom line and staff churn and allows for continued investment on improvements to take the business from strength to strength. Training is thorough and geared to developing skills across multidiscipline fields so they can adapt and evolve with a client’s requirements, for example from a let to a sale. Without exception, the entire team has complete understanding of the business vision and direction and they operate with no hesitation, deviation or repetition. The directors are faithful to staff and clients in equal measure with fantastic results.

McQueen Legal – shortlisted

silver

6


GOLD

wales estate agency

Best Wales Estate Agency Peter Alan

2013

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This is an agency which keeps coming up with new ideas and implementing them with efficiency. Gold winners in 2012, the judges saw no sign of this team taking its foot off the pedal, and were impressed by the continued enthusiasm and drive for excellence. The past 12 months has seen increased investment in telephony and IT with the desire (and the result) to deliver exceptional customer service and exceed expectation. There has also been heavy expenditure on refurbishing the offices with plans to continue this into 2014. The directors have introduced continual assessment of customer service and focus on measuring the results stringently in order that they can amend or evolve their plans according to the outcome. Team satisfaction is of utmost importance; a quarter of the people have been with Peter Alan for over a decade and the attrition rate is less than half that of the industry average.

gold

silver

FBM The judging panel was delighted to consolidate FBM’s 2012 bronze success with the silver award this year. Clearly the team has not rested on its laurels but rather actively sought ways of improving an already impressive standard of service. The longstanding sales team provides a mature and professional service which is reinforced by a robust training schedule. The director is actively involved in developing his team and there is also considered use of external trainers for both industry specific qualifications as well as more broad development events. The people at FBM demonstrate a diverse blend of marketing know-how with an innovative mix and implementation of ideas. They are not afraid to step away from the familiar to get the job done and think laterally in order to find solutions for difficult transactions. Friendly competition is encouraged amongst the team and they have recently increased the rate of return of client feedback forms to nearly 100% using social media. This is a business with great ideas and slick execution.


uk estate agency

Pygott & Crone medium agency

2013

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Clients using this agency can expect to be wowed through the extensive suite of fully integrated services available to them. Out of hours contact is the norm and the team pride themselves on offering a service that gets as close as possible to 24/7. The judges found numerous examples of excellent customer service, including one touching example of a negotiator searching for and then delivering a wayward cat following a move! The team value innovative agency work but also do the basics well, such as meeting buyers at the office and driving them to view several properties during one appointment. This seems like a simple tactic but is one which is appreciated by clients as it reduces their time and stress levels, vital to starting the relationship on a happy footing. Pygott & Crone has every element of the business thoroughly covered and sets a great example for the industry.

Preston Baker small agency

gold

gold

Preston Baker is a brilliant firm based in Yorkshire and is taking the area by storm. In just five years it has grown from one office to five with high turnover and profit, even after the considerable reinvestment in the business. It is family owned and the directors work in the branches at the grass roots of estate agency. This has fostered a culture whereby the staff feels able to approach the partners and know they are part of something. The owners in turn understand that without the team there is no business so they go out of their way to look after them. Career progression opportunities are extensive across the branches and the development programmes are very good indeed. This exceptional business is growing at a very fast rate. The top quality directors know exactly where they want to take it; they are delivering exceptional standards for their customers and building a culture to take them onto great things. Watch this space.

Ellis & Co, Golders Green single office

gold

11

Ellis & Co, Golders Green is a perpetually successful agency with a lot of energy and focus. Leading from the top, the director is a barrel of energy who communicates with his team and structures bonuses and rewards around their ambitions for both their livelihood and personal life, with a detailed focus on continual professional development. It was clear that innovation plays a big part in the direction of this business, not only in the marketing but also in the management and motivation of the team. There is an overarching belief that a content and happy team will only benefit the client as well. There was a definite balance between the use of technology and the emotion involved in the moving process and without exception the team look beyond the classic aspects of agency to wow clients.


Best UK Estate Agency

12


london estate agency

Marsh & Parsons medium agency This company continues to operate at supremely high levels across all areas of its business. It has maintained its profit margin in the competitive London market, but takes a no compromise route on fees, focusing instead on differentiation through superior customer service. The past 12 months has seen growth in office numbers as well as the launch of a new dedicated training facility. The recruitment process is rigorous to ensure that new employees are the right fit; knowledgeable and efficient but personable and friendly. The marketing strategy and materials continue to be informative and absolutely executed with the London market in mind. A slick operation accompanies each new branch opening (of which there have been three this year), to raise the profile and forge relationships in the locale; incentives have included the distribution of 5,000 branded Oyster cards holders, free doughnuts and a direct mail on record sleeves from the Marylebone office which is on the site of The Beatles Apple store.

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Martyn Gerrard medium agency silver gold

silver gold

silver

Over the past year, this agency has undergone a complete reinvention to freshen up and really show off the standard and the calibre of the business. Its clear that this is a business run by a passionate and knowledgeable agent who works hard to build a transparent and open company across the entire branch network. Communication is second to none and there is a culture of respect and integrity. Staff are trained in assessing leads with prospects graded according to motivation, and interaction is tailored accordingly. The re-brand is paying off – profit, market share and staff retention have all increased and the judges are pleased to reward this agency with a jump from shortlist in 2012 to the silver this year. They look forward to seeing more from this agency in the future.

Felicity J Lord medium agency – shortlisted 13


Best London Estate Agency Haus Properties

Ellis & Co, Golders Green

small agency

single office

In a highly competitive category, Haus Properties stands out. After awarding it the 2012 gold award for Best Newcomer, the judges stated that, “we are delighted to recognise Haus’ first year efforts with the gold award”: they are even more pleased to be able to recognise its efforts for the second year running with a gold in this category. In an extremely active market, Director Jamie Lester has taken a David & Goliath approach and there is clear evidence this small agency is fast gaining on the large corporates. The offices are designed to be casual and relaxing for clients but behind the scenes is a team of sharp, proactive negotiators who are working hard for their customers. Completion levels are extremely high and the panel firmly believe that if you give this agency a property, they will sell it for you.

Director James Ryan stated that he is aiming to build an agency that will make the industry proud and the judges found every reason to believe this is a realistic goal. The entire team is on board with this ideal and without exception understands the importance of communication, even (or especially) when delivering bad news. Customers are well looked after at all points through the moving process as the staff here understand where the flashpoints can occur and seek to minimise potential issues proactively. Social media is well used to encourage two-way conversation through Twitter and Facebook, and to make sure they are covering all bases for less technology-minded customers, James also writes a question and answer column for the local newspaper. This has helped position this agency as an authority so customers are confident they are in safe hands. Silver winners last year, the judges are pleased to be able to award them the gold for 2013.

Anderson Rose single office

Northfields small agency Once again, Northfields has demonstrated its all-round excellence and impressive credentials. The directors understand the importance of remaining relevant and have managed to marry up an established business framework with an innovative and fresh image. The marketing materials are polished and communicated using a range of printed and electronic materials to make sure all customers are contacted irrespective of technical know-how. They know that people do business with people they like so view the team as the single biggest business asset, key to converting opportunities. In order to maintain these standards the training calendar is exemplary; particularly impressive is the budget increase for training, given that it is already an award-winning department. The Be: campaign has been launched this year to encourage the team to look at themselves and identify what and how they want to “Be”. On the back of this, values and agreed behavior have been set to ensure the brand personality is at the forefront of all actions.

Chase Buchanan small agency – shortlisted

Anderson Rose focuses on its staff, and the decision to ring fence a significant portion of the turnover for team rewards, bonuses and training is inspired. Central to the director’s business model is the decision to spend money on finding, recruiting and keeping the right people rather than extending branch numbers. Managing Director Jon Byers’ ethos is based around the idea of, “one team, one dream” – central to this is having one prime location hub which provides high level service all the time via experienced and enthusiastic people. In 2012, Anderson Rose was awarded for Best Newcomer with the judges commenting that, “their plan is to expand significantly over the next 3 – 4 years and there is every indication that they will achieve this if they continue as they have started” – the panel stated this year that they believe this agency has continued to do what it set out to. All staff demonstrated a good balance between living and delivering their values, innovating within their means and broadening a classic business model.

Paramount Properties single office In the judges’ words Paramount is a pioneering agency that shines. The entire team has created a very clear approach to their product offerings and services. They have taken a detailed look at existing standard practices and sought ways in which to improve and streamline them for the good of all parties. A recently introduced idea is that of a “lockout clause” whereby buyers and sellers pay a small deposit to show commitment and seal the deal – this has reduced failures significantly. The directors focus on education which is formal and regulatory as well as holistic so the team spend time with a diverse range of speakers from lawyers to life coaches. This methodology coupled with big ideas around charity and community engenders a sense of unity and staff attrition is low.

Farrar single office – shortlisted 14


east of england estate agency

Urban & Rural medium agency Silver winners last year, the directors and team have made a concerted effort in 2013 in order to evolve to a gold standard agency. Following a detailed appraisal of the business, the last 12 months has seen the implementation of some great initiatives, which in turn have resulted in great achievements. The extensive network of offices is built on a defined and established franchise model yet this year the directors have looked to reinvent the offering to take the business from great to excellent. The quality marketing and digital presence is reinforced by the use of technology to improve the customer experience: online assistance, live chat, engage-on-the-go marketing and call answering services all feature. Staff retention is high with great progression opportunities including an emphasis on migrating people from employee to franchisee. Urban & Rural is a reputable and well-respected business built on the back of strong branding and ethics.

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silver

Thomas Morris medium agency

gold

silver

gold

silver

The judges were delighted with the sheer volume of innovative ideas implemented by this agency; the change to using social media as the key route for marketing and communication was the big thing. The directors spent time with experts prior to implementation to gain a full understanding as how to use it effectively, with the result that it is very well received with quantifiable results. As one would expect from an agency with a training-specific sister company, the development programme is outstanding and the team can expect regular and thorough training events covering a variety of topics. Staff churn is low and a number of the team have been with the company for over 20 years. They understand that consistency is one of the most difficult aspects of business so this is a key focus area for this disciplined team, and there was clear evidence that they manage to achieve a good level. The passion of the team was exciting to see: they get results.

Beresfords 15

medium agency – shortlisted


Best East of England Estate Agency Sewell & Gardner

Zoe Napier Residential

small agency

single office

Sewell & Gardner is an agency doing the basics right and keeping it simple. Central to the company’s culture is service, which it believes to be the main tactic to differentiate. As a small business the directors focus heavily on processes understanding that strength “behind the scenes” directly impacts the bottom line. They have implemented a strong foundation on which to build. Sales progression is excellent with recent fee increase showing no negative impact on the business. Aftercare is second to none and customers can be assured of a remarkable experience with honesty and integrity central to proceedings. Longevity of service is prized by the management team and they seek ways to make the team feel valued. Everyone is given a career map so they can see the progression they can make and there is a lot of trust. Community is important and they work hard at building neighbourly relationships in their area of operation; this approach ensures excellent knowledge of locations and also aids with the high level of recommendation this agency enjoys.

The judges were pleased to award the gold for a second year to this standout agency. Zoe and her team have spent time investing in last year’s win and seeking ways in which they can build on that success to continually improve their offering. One interesting initiative is the collaboration with last year’s winner of the Best Small Conveyancer award to ensure clients are confident in a full complement of gold standard services. Alongside this, a Head of Customer Service position was created, with the individual in question implementing clear and precise strategies to effect change and develop the already high standards even further. Each new customer is given a “lifestyle hamper” which is personally tailored to the individual and has included everything from hay and horse treats to live chickens – a great fit for those seeking a warm welcome into rural life and a good example of the extra touches this agency prides itself on.

Chilterns small agency Chilterns is a forward thinking and progressive company with a business model that is results but not target driven. It has a reputation as a proprietor-led business; the director has struck the right balance between a hands-on approach and autonomy for the team; this strategy breeds success for both the individuals and the agency. Long established, the team do not rest on their laurels; the last 12 months has been spent overhauling the systems and bringing them bang up to date. Use of social media is excellent with the result that consumer engagement has increased, especially amongst first time buyers who view this business as an authority. All customers however can rest assured they are in safe hands as the majority of the Chilterns team has been with them for over a decade. Service is consistent but bespoke; everyone is treated with sensitivity and according to their own situation. New business opportunities are secured through a thorough and focused approach encompassing all forms of social media, training, canvassing and branch awareness. Chilterns works smart and hard for its clientele; they will always go the extra mile.

David Lee Estates small agency David Lee’s fantastic branding is bold, different and proven at attracting customers through the door. Once a client is on board, David Lee and his team are able to back this up with smart service, knowledge and skill. The excellent reward structure ensures staff retention and there is a culture of transparency so the team is fully involved in every aspect of the business, including the financial performance which is regularly shared, and all attend the annual AGM. There is focused dedication to training which is regular and well received. It is a well-known agency in its area due to the strong board presence and longstanding support and involvement of local charities and events. The fact that they also regularly hold engaging information sessions for customers is the icing on the cake. Due to open a third office soon, the profit and margins keep growing, which allows heavy reinvestment back in the business. David Lee is an example of an agency offering end-to-end great service and the team should be recognised for what they do.

16


midlands estate agency

Pygott & Crone medium agency Pygott and Crone is a highly impressive agency that starts as it means to go on. The directors embrace technology with the aim of achieving a paperless office: a lot of the work is done via tablets in real-time to ensure quick turnaround of information and also to help the environment. The training programme is diverse with a thorough initiation to fully immerse new starters into the company’s culture and give them a comprehensive understanding of the systems and processes. Their aim is to ensure their team never want to work anywhere else, and it appears they are achieving this given the high staff retention figures. A large proportion of business is via recommendation and repeat customers; this is an agency which is both well liked and well respected. In the feedback, the qualities most frequently cited by clients is Pygott and Crone’s professionalism and integrity; the judges have to agree. Well done.

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silver

Goodchilds medium agency

17

gold

silver

gold

silver

This is an enthusiastic agency focusing closely on customer service feedback, to the extent that it has streamlined the response mechanisms for ease of measuring reactions and implementing improvements. The clear and defined KPIs help the team with responsibility as everyone knows their role and what is expected of them. The inclusive culture is based around family values and this is imparted to customers as well. Training is bespoke and tailored to an individual so any weaker areas can be addressed and remedied immediately. The back office systems are strong and keep the directors fully aware of everything, with automated emails sent according to the customer’s file and status being updated as it should be i.e. following viewing feedback. The directors want their business to be exceptional, and without exception the entire team is excellent at listening and communicating with clients.


Best Midlands Estate Agency Lex Allan Group

Jon Mellor & Company

small agency

single office

This business is absolutely a sum of its parts. It is evident that all aspects of this agency have been analysed and pulled together to create a cohesive and methodical proposition and service. The judges felt it had everything working together and there was a sense of it being a well oiled machine; from the directors to the junior negotiators, everyone is incredibly enthusiastic and knowledgeable. Lex Allan is a long established agency but the MD is always looking for ways to keep it evolving and moving forward. The desire to exceed expectation is at the forefront of everything they do; the marketing is outstanding as is the community involvement and focus on continual professional development. The customer service levels are exemplary and anyone using this agency can rest assured they will be given access to some brilliant and skilled agents through Lex Allan and his team.

For a young agency, Jon Mellor & Co. is an extremely robust and proven business. The director has managed to strike the balance between being hands-on whilst giving his team autonomy and responsibility – an approach which has resulted in excellent staff retention and a committed and loyal team. This enthusiasm for the industry and dedication to above-and-beyond service has enabled them to keep fees high and led to repeat business with very good stock levels, impressive market share and an exemplary listing-tosales ratio. Without exception the team’s attitude is that with each transaction their reputation is on the line, and they go the extra mile time and again to maintain local standing. Jon Mellor & Co is a really strong company that focuses totally on its customers to ensure it offers the best service. The opening hours, marketing materials and flexibility would be impressive in a large agency so is even more so for a single office operation. A market leading estate agency which is highly focused on customer care.

Hartleys

Mark Webster & Co

small agency

single office

Jayman is a family run business which really engages with the customer service side of agency. The aftercare service is extremely thorough - there is a definite emphasis on customer follow up as the team believes that through listening to feedback they can refine the systems and processes to directly impact customer care immediately. This quick implementation of improvements has reaped tangible benefits with an increase in recommendations and higher conversion rates. They are happy to have candid conversations with both buyers and vendors in order to correctly manage expectations and avoid difficulties where possible down the line. A new learning module has broken down elements of the sales process into manageable chunks and new staff are taken through these in a logical manner, ensuring that they feel confident at every step of the process. Property particulars are good and the marketing budget is considerable for an agency of this size.

This business is built on a reputation of being discreet, reliable and trustworthy. The majority of the highly experienced team have been on board for years, and this longevity is due in no small part to the heavy emphasis Mark places on training and developing his team. Close scrutiny on the figures ensures minimal wastage and maximum profits and there is also great focus on processes for the front and back office. This agency enjoys great presence in its area and the judges found it to be well respected by the public. The director takes an entrepreneurial approach to business and shares this methodology with the staff who are encouraged to share ideas and initiatives, and think outside the box to proactively solve problems and develop systems in a calm and considered manner. Mark Webster and his staff are a great example of passionate and honest agents.

James Du Pavey small agency – shortlisted

18


northern estate agency

Manning Stainton medium agency This is a great agency continuing to succeed every year. The directors and team spent considerable time through 2013 investigating all areas of the business to see where they can improve to make the business really soar. The emphasis on CSR is heartwarming and a recently introduced scheme called “Moments of Wow” intertwines staff performance with charitable donations – good feedback results in a donation to charity. Evidence shows this a business built on trust with impressive levels of recommendation. All the agents are calm, knowledgeable and controlled, with many examples of above and beyond service. Their understanding of the moving process enables them to spot potential issues and minimise or eradicate them proactively. The drive to raise the bar even higher in a competitive market can only bring great things for this business and the consumer.

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gold

silver

Preston Baker small agency

19

gold

silver

gold

silver

So high was the level of competition in this category, Preston Baker must be congratulated on winning the overall in this region. Clearly a leader in their marketplace this firm has a team of very knowledgeable staff always looking to deliver exceptional service for their customers. They never take anything for granted. The director is an exceptional communicator who has a clear vision of where he wants to take the business and how he is going to achieve this. One particularly valuable idea is that of the sellers DVD – this is hand delivered 48 hours prior to valuation with a plea to watch it(!), and is followed up by an email survey. This has increased the level of questions and communication at the valuation appointment as sellers feel more knowledgeable about the process. The conversion rate and fees have grown since this was introduced. 2013 has been another excellent year for this business and we anticipate more of the same through 2014. Outstanding!


Best Northern Estate Agency Karl Tatler

Logic Estates

small agency

single office

Yet again Karl Tatler has demonstrated why he has been so successful over the years. His agency is a long established, market leading independent that constantly pushes the boundaries in order to improve. A very adept communicator, Karl is passionate about his business and understands where he needs to focus and evolve so that he can stay ahead of the competition. One recent innovation is the introduction of Personal Property Managers who are assigned to every vendor to guide and advise through the sales process. This close contact makes for a seamless experience. Established long-term relationships with many clients mean they have used this agency two or three times - this is testimony to the standard of service provided by Karl and his team. Indeed, many of the team are also long-standing so in some cases the same customer and agent have worked together more than once. Consumers know that when they instruct this business, they are dealing with innovative professionals who will get the job done.

Logic is run by former Financial Advisors who made the move to sales through their 'Logic model'. They continue to run the business as though Financial Services regulators oversee it, with a strong focus on compliance. They keep their promises and offer outstanding customer service based on the carefully thought out Customer Charter and Best Practice Checklist. Both of these documents are regularly updated and amended to stay ahead of the game and managers carry out random checks to make sure they are followed. Use of software is intelligent which enables the team to respond quickly to all applicant enquiries, and a significant number of new business is from recommendation. The team is rewarded generously and training is thorough and diverse. The directors have big plans for their business and the judges have every confidence they will achieve what they have put their mind to.

Humphreys of Chester single office

Move Residential small agency This is a young, vibrant and determined agency going down well in both Liverpool City Centre and The Wirral. Large offices cover large areas and it has moved quickly from a newbie to a major player in its location. The director understands his markets and has tailored his business to meet these demands. The offices are vibrant, team-oriented environments which are proving attractive to customers; the footfall is impressive. The can-do culture is infectious and both team and clients believe in the ability of this agency to sell effectively. The director understands the importance of arbitration and acts accordingly during difficult sales. A dedicated customer service manager helps to facilitate discussion between buyers and vendors and smooth the way for an effortless move where possible. Move Residential is a real up and coming estate agency firm that has successfully broken into this competitive marketplace and is challenging existing practices – one to watch in the future.

Humphreys of Chester is a long established agency with an outstanding reputation for quality, honest and realistic service. Many of the clients arrive via recommendations and there is a high level of repeat business, which can be attributed to the longstanding team members. The MD prides himself on being able to spot trends and stay at the forefront of market developments and the office holds open evenings for clients on an assortment of relevant topics such as the recent Help to Buy scheme. These are well received and attended and there was clear evidence of business being won on the back of them. Investment in a new IT system has been extensive as has the expenditure on training, with an exemplary spend per head. Recent additions include two new apprentices via the Government Young Apprentice scheme. This is a straightforward agency that wants to make the home moving experience a good one.

Embleys Estate Agents single office – shortlisted 20


south east estate agency

Romans medium agency Romans has once again demonstrated it is a gold standard agency; no mean feat considering the extremely high standards at which it operates. The long-established company has been evolved and amended over the years to become the accomplished customer focused venture it is today. Offering a complete range of property services under one roof ensures continuity of care from instruction to completion so customers can feel confident of receiving a smooth and efficient service with excellent communication between offices. The engagement with other Romans services such as conveyancing, mortgage brokerage and surveying is impressive. The website is aspirational both in terms of content and functionality. The entire team should be congratulated on their efforts and achievements yet again.

SPONSORED BY

gold

silver

Simon Miller & Company medium agency silver gold

silver gold

silver

21

This agency has come back strong following the market downturn and the figures from the last 12 months demonstrate that this is a strong business which enjoys excellent relationships with a steadfast and loyal customer base. The team has worked hard to build long-standing and meaningful relationships with the local community, including considered sponsorship and involvement with charities and causes from schools’ football teams to hospices. The directors invested heavily when the business was struggling in order to retain staff and maintain integrity and since then have worked extremely hard to make the business soar. The last two years have seen it go from strength to strength and this team should be rewarded for their belief in the business and desire to succeed. The judges congratulate them.


Best South East Estate Agency Brand Vaughan

Brock Taylor

small agency

single office

This is an agency which know its stuff. The team takes a progressive approach to the way they do things and have recently expanded into different markets to keep things interesting and positively impact the bottom line. They have had a great year, both financially and in terms of introducing innovations; the directors look at what works and does more of the same whilst adding more items to the portfolio. This encourages recruitment and retention and this year has seen them sell extremely high value properties in Brighton. The market share is impressive in a highly competitive area and this position has been maintained even whilst fees have been increased. Last year they won Gold in the Best Single Office category for this region and the panel was thrilled to see they have maintained their excellent standards across the new office as well.

Brock Taylor is a really impressive estate agency with a wonderful team ethos and total dedication to the industry. The judges were pleased by the examples of customer service they saw and experienced - it is clear that this team manages to combine regular and personal contact with stringent back office technology and systems. The brand and marketing of this agency is fresh, clever and stylish with an element of fun that is ideal for their target demographic and really appeals. Alongside this is the clever and targeted use of social media and technology to meet their customers’ demands. This ability to get feet through the door has ensured their fees remain high and the company is thriving. There is a clear vision for growth and they are expecting to open another branch in the near future. The directors believe in transparency and the business plan, vision and numbers are shared with the entire team ensuring buy-in, loyalty and dedication across the board.

Roberts Newby small agency The attention to detail displayed by this agency is outstanding and the team has sustained service levels to win the silver in this category once more. The listing to sales time is impressive and suggests the team works hard to push completions through. The fact that they have forged relationships with conveyancers has only served to help with this. They are competing with some excellent agents in their location but manage to differentiate themselves through dynamic service and high levels of referred business. The marketing spend is considerable yet considered and effectively conveys that Roberts Newby is an innovative and forward thinking agency. Heavy investment in people has also reaped rewards as the extensive training aids them in focusing on delivering to a very high standard.

ISIS Residential Homes single office

2-Move small agency Over the last 18 months, the directors have reinvested heavily in this company following a thorough review of all systems and procedures. This expenditure has been all encompassing across the entire business: installation of REAPIT technology, new printed materials, a redesign of the website and mobile site, branch refurbishments and a recruitment drive to attract desirable candidates. All of this has served to give the existing team a real boost but more importantly has shown tangible results in the turnover. Customer service is excellent and they offer a high level of accompanied viewings seven days per week. The team understands the importance of controlling the moving process, and is clear about this with buyers and vendors, so from the outset all parties are confident in the level of communication they can expect. 2-Move is a young, independent company showing signs of real differentiation from its competitors.

ISIS team’s understanding of the industry is second to none and they are committed to using their business to help transform the public’s perception of estate agents in general. Through the provision of exceptional and transparent service, they are striving to raise the bar in terms of quality estate agency work. The ethos of ISIS centres around selling the area rather than focusing on just the properties. They work closely with local businesses and have been pivotal in collaborating with local councils to twin their town with others in Europe. There is a real sense of family within the team and a profit sharing arrangement is in place alongside pooled commission so the experienced staff works closely with each other resulting in excellent communication and clarity of the sales process and progress. Trust and ownership are central to everything they do.

22


south west estate agency

Ocean Estate Agents medium agency It’s clear that the team at Ocean is fully engaged in ensuring this company succeeds. This attitude filters down from the directors who view their people as their most valuable asset; they are encouraged to air their views and there is an open forum when it comes to feedback. A recent training session on new government legislation was held in direct response to staff requests for this. The fact that they have held Investors in People accreditation for the past five years is proof this approach works. They run regular open evenings for customers to offer transparent advice in a time where the level of legislation, schemes and offers is so extensive as to cause confusion. Expert agents and guest speakers combine in order to clarify all of the above at these well-attended events. Ocean Estate Agents is an agency focusing on customer service, integrity and honesty.

SPONSORED BY

gold

silver

C J Hole medium agency

23

gold

silver

gold

silver

CJ Hole continues to impress. The team’s aim is to alleviate the stress of moving home and constantly seek new ways in which to provide an enhanced service. The directors take an “upside down” method of management whereby staff input directly informs goal setting and business planning stages. This is an agency which enjoys an excellent reputation locally; the judges were delighted with its sponsorship of the “Gromit Unleashed” campaign, part of which involved the staff cycling to 75 Gromits in one day, raising £12,000 for Bristol Children’s Hospital in the process. They recorded their photo at each location and uploaded to Twitter and Facebook so the public could track their progress in real time. This also raised their profile due to the number of people stopping outside the Henleaze office to take their picture with the Gromit stationed there. The passionate and committed team really deserve this award.


Best South West Estate Agency Wilkinson Grant & Co.

Helmores

small agency

single office

It appears that winning the gold last year inspired this agency to up its game even further through 2013 and this energy must be rewarded with the gold once again. Clear understanding of the market has informed the successful business strategy and thorough and defined processes. The directors and staff displayed absolute conviction in the art of communication across the entire sales cycle, which is utterly transparent so clients can expect a fantastic experience when they instruct this agency. The “60 day challenge” which is a fully defined process giving each property the best chance of being sale agreed within 60 days is going great guns - this is coupled with a feedback initiative called “Raving Fans” which has seen positive feedback more than triple. Wilkinson Grant is a leader in its marketplace; it is constantly evolving anf improving and the judges wish to congratulate the team on their success once again. Well done.

The owners take great care of their team with interesting and innovative processes in order to maintain morale and enthusiasm. These range from a gym upstairs in the office to flu jabs! It is crystal clear that the staff is absolutely treated as the most important business asset and is well looked after. For a single office agency, the number of people is impressive and ensures first-rate, committed customer care. There is a strong focus on recruiting competent and efficient admin and support staff as well as having skilled front liners. This business enjoys an excellent local reputation and extensive market share and everyone works hard to develop a relationship with the community. Each buyer has a hamper delivered on the day of completion containing produce from local suppliers which is well received by all parties, and helps new residents feel immediately welcome and at home.

Sawdye & Harris small agency Director Katie Griffin is extremely open minded when it comes to evolving the business in response to market conditions and customer demands, and continually invests in the business and the team. Early adopters of innovative marketing tools, she has recently started to run weekly advertising focusing on the brand and values as opposed to the properties and video testimonials are extremely well received. Adept at customer liaison, especially with the more difficult clients, there are many examples of the team exceeding expectation to complete transactions. Customer service is at the core of all actions and they absolutely enjoy it. The judges said that, “if [I] had a house in this area [I] would want Katie to sell it”. There can be no greater compliment.

Lovett Estate & Letting Agent small agency – shortlisted

Enfields, Bournemouth single office This is very much a family run office with father, son and daughter all at the forefront of this agency. Along with the rest of the team, they are well known and liked locally and there is a real sense that they are part of the community. They do a lot of work with local schools and sponsor good causes close to home - this approach coupled with the marketing materials ensures they have a strong market presence. The owner leads by example by keeping his promises and making sure that clients always feel as though they are being dealt with honestly and fairly. Staff are given all feedback, even if there is an issue so they can pre-empt any potential problems and give customers a positive experience. As you would expect in a business run by three members of the same family, this agency offers a service that feels personal and bespoke.

Robin King estate agents single office – shortlisted

24


innovation estate agency

SPONSORED BY

Best Innovation McEwan Fraser Legal McEwan Fraser’s innovation is a bespoke interactive IT system that supports the sales journey from start to finish. “The PRO’ (Property Progress Organiser) system allows clients to become part of the internal information sharing, but also works with the staff to reinforce their customer service standards via end-to-end tracking. Integrated with both the front and back-end operations it gives full visibility of every aspect of the transaction. Clients are able to log on to identify which stage their transaction is at and with whom it is sitting for action; they can also access all the documents associated with the sale. The tracking board functionality offers a live feed for property particulars and matching. This system was coded by in-house web developers, so can be scaled and amended as required. The directors understand how effective technology can free up the team, enabling them to spend the saved time giving an enhanced personal touch. Size for size McEwan Fraser Legal is fast gaining on the big agencies.

Foxtons

gold

Foxtons prides itself on being a dynamic agency placing innovation at the front and centre of its business; the sheer breadth and quality of what the team implements is extremely impressive. Having completely redesigned the website, with focus on mobile optimisation, there is also now the ability for customers to engage with expert advisors via the Live Chat function, where they can instantly access information and uncover answers to any questions. This has a “double whammy” effect as customers are pleased with the additional service but it also creates further opportunity for lead generation through these conversations. Clients can also access other fantastic services such as automated telephone payments and the Windows 8 phone app. These are coupled with initiatives to build efficiency such as, the 4G upgrade for all company phones, investment in improved accounting software and office refurbishment – the list goes on and on. Foxtons remains on top of cutting-edge technologies in order to maximise the efficiency of the company and empower customers.

Your Move silver

bronze

The directors and the team at Your Move have managed to build an entrepreneurial culture in a corporate structure. It is due to this philosophy that the Investors Club was born. Following a discussion between two staff members which questioned why many landlords choose to let privately rather than through agents, they undertook independent research and found that many agents were unable to provide landlords with up to date industry knowledge. Landlords therefore didn’t feel confident in appointing them. The Investors Club seeks to meet the needs of property investors through a one-stop shop solution covering any requirement from sourcing discounted properties and arranging finance to portfolio reviews, all of which are undertaken by a dedicated portfolio manager. This is a great example of an idea taking root locally and growing into a nationwide initiative. Results are excellent.

Chase Buchanan; Preston Baker – shortlisted 25


marketing estate agency

Best Marketing Greene & Co The “Our Patch” campaign promoted the opening of two new offices. The management team set out clear objectives and spent substantial time planning prior to launch. They understood that to engage with their target audiences in these locations they needed to become part of the community so they built relationships with local schools, cinemas and Residents’ Associations. The campaign was rolled out across all media from online platforms to tube stations and from astroturfed hoardings and cars to “Greene Sunday” cinema events. This last initiative has longevity; it has continued after the launch which is surely the benchmark of any great idea. This campaign is a fantastic example of a great endto-end promotion, with strong objectives, excellent creative, thorough execution and most importantly, it generated results.

SPONSORED BY

Foxtons As one of London’s most recognisable brands, Foxtons has set the bar high but continues to innovate. The objective of this campaign was to create a series of stand out adverts to generate maximum exposure. Foxtons employed influential artist Noma Bar to design intelligent and witty adverts, which were displayed via above and below-the-line campaigns across outdoor, print and digital platforms. Measurement of the campaign was comprehensive; results were assessed for three months prior to the launch then compared to figures during the three month campaign: valuations and registrations all increased significantly as did the number of unique visitors and enquiries. These figures also stayed high for the three months after the campaign ended proving it had a positive long-term effect.

gold

Northfields

silver

silver

Northfields approach was slightly different: it was an internal campaign that ran alongside a training initiative. The directors wanted to strengthen the brand personality and the “Be:” campaign was the result. Based on seven key values, the primary objective was to convey to the team that they have to behave as they would wish to be treated. The overriding belief was that if the internal communication was open, honest and detailed, this is then communicated to clients. After identifying what aspects were central to the internal culture, the directors were able to define these characteristics and attach a value to each of them. The result is a sharp increase in new instructions and turnover. The judges were impressed by this alternative, “inside out” approach. A great overall strategy; well executed with positive results.

Marsh & Parsons bronze

27

Marsh & Parsons’ campaign was designed to launch three new offices. Whilst the team employed some high level generic marketing methods, they also applied carefully considered and exciting ideas specific to each branch. They understand their markets and the expectations of people in these areas. The use of branded hoardings during the office refurbishments enabled them to advertise whilst avoiding the exorbitant costs normally associated with displaying adverts of this size in these areas. Direct marketing ideas were different and experiential; the Marylebone launch used materials printed to look like records as the office is located on the site of The Beatles Apple store; the South Kensington office distributed 5,000 branded Oyster card holders containing the directors contact details, and the Bishops Park office gave away branded fans on the hottest day of the year as part of the “We’re fans of Fulham” aspect. These are great examples of creative concepts which ensure the brand is well liked and well used by vendors and buyers equally.

McEwan Fraser Legal – shortlisted


customer service

Best Customer Service – Large

estate agency

Marsh & Parsons

SPONSORED BY

Marsh & Parsons absolutely sets the benchmark for outstanding customer service with practices that should serve as a “how to” for the industry. From the outset, every process is geared towards excellence on the understanding that great service leads to great results. Recruitment is stringent so only the best people are employed, there is robust investment in well structured, quality and ongoing training and the directors hold monthly meetings to celebrate success. There is a real culture of inclusiveness so all the team feel as though they are directly involved in contributing to the bigger picture. This attention to detail means they do the basics right as well as executing the big ideas that “wow”. From the social dashboard on the website which means directors can be contacted 24/7 to the speedy responses to enquiries, this is an agency which is not afraid to make promises – it knows it can keep them.

Ocean Estate Agents

gold

The underlying ethos of this agency is people, people, people. The central tenet of this philosophy is that the first class team doesn’t merely sell houses – they listen to people’s stories. Without exception, they share common goals and objectives with each understanding exactly how the brand needs to be represented. Use of technology is impressive and they seek to be leaders in this field whilst maintaining their emphasis on the personal touch. Before implementing any new innovation, the question is always, “how will this benefit [our] client?” - if there is no suitable answer then the idea is dropped. A key differentiator is the use of a dedicated Move Manager; both vendors and buyers are assigned one to work with them throughout the process. Each is selected for their empathy and attention to detail and this investment has enabled them to build longstanding relationships with clients who use them time and again.

silver

Peter Alan

bronze

29

The judges were wowed by this agency and believe it is definitely one to watch. The directors have spent a lot of time looking to other market leading brands, both inside and outside the industry, in order to learn from them. They have opened their eyes to the experiences that customers have elsewhere and import these into their business, making them relevant to this industry. The entire team places great importance on the art of listening and work on the basis that the home moving process should be collaborative with all parties fully informed and involved throughout. They employ a continual feedback facility which enables customers to share their experiences in real time. This helps to maintain levels of customer service by identifying areas of best practice and sharing these to encourage the team to aim for these standards.

Gascoigne Halman; Manning Stainton – shortlisted


customer service

Best Customer Service – Small

estate agency

Sewell & Gardner

SPONSORED BY

Bronze winners last year, the team at Sewell & Gardner has gone all out this year to provide a gold standard service and we are pleased to reward their efforts with the gold award. They undertake everything with a view to standing out from the crowd the culture and attitude of this team shines through at every turn. There is a strong emphasis on the personal touch and if something can be hand delivered, then it is, from the pre-valuation pack to the delivery of moving essentials on completion day. Aftercare is viewed as an essential part of the package; they don’t stop when the contracts are signed, and take the long view when it comes to building relationships. Fun initiatives such as contracts for children to keep their rooms tidy for viewings mean potential clients of all ages get to know and like this business! This fun is coupled with a serious back office operation that enables the directors to monitor and measure every possible aspect of the customer service journey – they understand that it really is all about the relationship.

Roberts Newby gold

This agency leads the way in terms of commitment to availability to their customers. Seven days per week opening has been the norm for 20 years, and valuations are undertaken well into the evening if required. There is always a senior decision maker in at weekends and evenings who can deal with and manage any and all customer requirements to a high level of detail. The team is well established, with many longstanding members who have built relationships with clients over the years and can offer continuity of service for repeat business. Training and development is outstanding with lots of events and variety, and the staff is encouraged to engage with senior management to share ideas and discuss any courses they are especially interested in. New employees are given a for all your property needs... Best Service Guide so they are clear from day one what is expected of them and can act accordingly. Roberts Newby is an agency which engages with its clients and reaps the results of its outstanding reputation.

super agents

silver

robertsnewby.com

Killens bronze

31

Killens puts people at the heart of what it does; offering a personalised service to the local community. As a relatively young agency, it is still building its reputation but there is clear evidence that so far, its approach is working. This is an agency that prides itself on successfully combining traditional values with a modern and fresh approach. The directors lead by example and the small and cohesive team works hard to develop relationships based on friendship and honesty. The level of referral business is impressive as is the fact that they recently opened an auction house to complement their estate agency work. This is run to the same high standards as the rest of the business and is achieving great results for the profit margin, as well as helping to raise their profile. The marketing strategy and materials are of the highest standards and tailored to each individual property. Killens is a very impressive agency indeed.


website estate agency

SPONSORED BY

Best Website Foxtons As a long established agency, Foxtons is impressive in its ability to lead the charge across many areas; in this case, its website. Arguably the website is a fundamental part of any business these days but Foxtons takes it to the next level offering a wide range of content and functionality at a consistently high level across the site, platforms and apps. These are constantly tweaked and refined with features added according to feedback so all are developed organically. Cookies are used carefully for the benefit of the consumer but also take into account the vital information they can gather for business usage. Content is updated regularly and with keen attention to detail to ensure accuracy e.g. of schools data etc. Local guides have a ‘living in’ section which is rich with statistics, and the news section covers major announcements and commentary. This is a well-deserved gold for the second year running and Foxtons should be congratulated.

Romans

gold

silver

Romans website is clean, easily navigable and absolutely aligned with the company’s brand and values. Consumers can be confident that it has been built with their needs at the forefront of its development and properties can be quickly searched and filtered. The content is great and helps position Romans as an authority in its area with commentary, guides and updates featuring heavily. Additional services are clearly shown and are informative but due to the clean and clever layout users won’t feel as though they are being bombarded with content heavy pages. As it was built in-house and is run by the marketing department, Romans can quickly adapt and amend information, practically in real-time due to the bespoke CMS. The team has invested heavily in the new website so users are staying on longer than before and the layouts have been changed in order to improve SEO. The video guides are high quality and informative. The Romans website is part of the brand experience that serves to differentiate it from the competition and generate leads across all areas of the group.

Haus Properties

bronze

33

As one would expect from this young and vibrant agency, the website is very interactive and socially led. A nice touch is the integration of the Haus mates section with social media. The blog is relevant and informative. The online tools are also carefully thought out and useful for both the business and the clients; this is not a website which uses gimmicks for gimmicks’ sake. The use of Open Book technology is excellent; this back end system allows buyers and vendors to access a personal journal containing all the information pertinent to their move as well as statistics and news from Haus. This can include viewing feedback, press advertising, appointment confirmations and property specs. In a highly competitive category, the judges were pleased to see this small agency giving the big boys a run for their money.

Wooster & Stock – shortlisted


social media estate agency

SPONSORED BY

Best Social Media Sewell & Gardner The judges were impressed by the social media strategy and implementation at this agency. The policy was designed with clear objectives and goals and they measure what they can in order to understand what works. The team is kept informed as to the social media plan as they are encouraged to get involved; they take it in turns to post comments and updates giving the company’s online presence an individual tone whilst staying true to the guidelines. Great review strategies are in place so they can analyse actual tangible results, and compare and contrast these monthly. Extensive Google Analytics are used as well as platform analytics; this information is then directly applied to social traffic. Response to all types of online comment is excellent and there is a real understanding of the fit between online acknowledgement and offline discussion. It is crystal clear that Sewell & Gardner has an extraordinary understanding of how intelligent and considered use of social media platforms can benefit business.

Knight Frank gold

silver

Knight Frank has one of the best handles on social media in the industry. The technology directors were very clear on their attitude to, and understanding of social media. This was reflected through their superior knowledge of each site and their tailored usage of particular platforms to appeal to different markets. It was also refreshing to see the site URLs were simplified for ease of searching; they are true to their word as being responsive to customer feedback. Clever use of third party analysis allows them to see the bigger picture with regards to scrutiny of both strategy and performance. Knight Frank does this for both themselves and their competitors and uses this information for comparison of successes. Despite their size, Knight Frank manages to show originality and adaptability in the structure of their social media policy, taking on board all forms of feedback to develop and deliver an enhanced online voice in line with clients’ expectations and requirements. The directors take the view that their plans are by no means complete; the intention is to continue to evolve and react as new platforms and functionality come to the market.

Northfields bronze

35

Northfields understands the importance of measuring the effect of social media and doesn’t implement systems for systems’ sakes. The directors maintain a strong presence across different sites and engagement over the past year was immense across all platforms. Of particular interest was the three-step process to enhance their business which highlights the long-term plans which are in place. This is also true of their newly implemented Tweet philosophy. Use of both internal and external metrics is excellent as is the attention paid to the platform analytics. Northfields has a heartening core strategy, and the directors are setting themselves targets to continue to strengthen their online presence throughout 2014. They are also sharing their message with the team for transparency and buy-in. This is a proactive business with definite direction. They have shown great innovation in the microsites and in encouraging users to share information online to spread the Northfields messages. They are obviously extremely knowledgeable and use the platforms as intended to take the business from strength to strength.


training & development estate agency

Best Training & Development Foxtons

SPONSORED BY

Foxtons employs a dedicated training team which produces measurable results for the team and ultimately the consumer. The directors take a holistic approach to training that begins with active recruitment of individuals from varied backgrounds, and mainly via recommendation from existing staff. A diverse range of sessions ensures branches stay in touch and are fully aware of what each is doing at any time. The goals are clearly defined – they want to, "create the finest estate agents in the industry". The trainers are all longstanding Foxtons staff so have absolute confidence in the brand and view the training programme as a journey. Team members are fully immersed in the Foxtons culture but are also given access to experts to deliver courses as diverse as how to remedy common boiler problems over the phone or pass their technical awards. The induction is extensive with 37 modules and three exams which must be passed before progression to the next level is possible. Workshops are used to consolidate practical and theoretical training and there is a real commitment to industry qualifications. In terms of reward, Foxtons stands out with unrivalled career progressions, fast tracking for outstanding candidates and a mixture of financial and non-financial reward

Romans gold

silver

Once again Romans has demonstrated what a well-oiled machine it is with its outstanding attention to the education and evolution of its team. The directors are hands on and the training philosophy is based on the mantra of “recruit, train and retain”. The underlying belief is that through growing their people, excellence will breed excellence and great staff are great for business. Every aspect of the schedule has been carefully considered and the team (and therefore the public) can be confident that everyone at Romans is fully versed in all aspects of agency as well as the Romans way. The budget for the residential team alone is impressive as is the time commitment they are willing to put in each year. The culture, vision and values are shared from day one of employment and subsequent training is tailored to the individual and their role. The directors are keen to retain a small company environment and mix this with the best of big agency power, whilst growing and keeping consistency. A mix of qualitative and quantitative individual and team targets helps to foster collective spirit. .

Northfields

bronze

Within Northfields, hard business facts are analysed in order to measure the effectiveness of the training, and the programme is altered and developed according to the stats, which includes feedback from the team. Training and development goes to the heart of the Northfields culture and is led by customer and staff requirements, the position of the business and market conditions. Although the directors recognise the importance of technical awards and understanding industry legislation and compliance, personal objectives are encouraged with rewards and bonuses structured to take these into account also. The directors seek to understand all key measurables of their business so training is tailored, for instance, through knowing the average call time, they make sure that all the team can get the Northfields proposition conveyed within this time frame. Conscious of different working and learning styles, there is not a one-size-fits-all approach to training. This increases buy-in and there is a clear understanding of what exceptional standards look like.

Aston Mead – shortlisted 37

Marsh & Parsons – shortlisted


newcomer estate agency

SPONSORED BY

gold

Best Newcomer Ivy Gate Ivy Gate uses both cutting edge technology and personal contact to revolutionise and challenge traditional estate agency. The business model is built on an understanding of the way buyers and sellers now use online to find properties in a fast and efficient way, but still desire the personal touch and face-to-face contact to continue the process thereafter. Each client is assigned a personal relationship manager so they need only deal with one agent throughout the process. There was clear evidence of a strong pipeline to be realised over the coming months and multiple income streams are being developed to protect against changing market conditions. This also helps clients feel they can access an end-to-end service under one roof. Expansion plans are already underway which is impressive in such a young agency. The judges felt this was a winning formula and a brave approach. Backed by businessman James Caan of Dragons Den, this is a solid and well researched business with a definite strategy. Showing robust early results with impressive figures thus far, Ivy Gate is one to watch and the panel looks forward to watching its evolution in the future.

Finest Properties

silver

39

Finest Properties demonstrates a positive and refreshing attitude to agency with excellent qualification and attention to detail. The focus is on quality of their sales portfolio rather than quantity, and feedback shows that customers think of them as a long established and experienced agency. The owner previously worked at some prestigious agencies and it was evident that he has managed to combine big agency ideas and systems with a committed and personal service, tailored to his clients. Use of a viewing room means the office has more in common with a gallery than an agency and this is reinforced by the quality of the particulars and marketing materials. This approach has enabled them to cement their position in the market and for such a young agency the brand awareness is high, as is the market share. The business plan was carefully thought out and there is a determination to be seen as providing a different and bespoke service. It has a bright and fresh approach with a strong emphasis on client satisfaction and the judges have every confidence that this agency will go on to achieve great things.


auction estate agency

SPONSORED BY

Best Auction Agency All Wales Auction The business is built on the belief that the people make the difference. All involved have an excellent understanding of what fantastic customer care looks like and they act accordingly to achieve this every time. This firm has embraced technology and developed stringent back office processes as there is utter comprehension that the two must go hand in hand to complete the customer experience. The target is that within a few minutes of the valuer leaving an appointment, customers will receive their personalised presentation pack; a lot of the work is done beforehand in order to achieve this. All of the auction staff have passed the NAVA technical award and a new website is under construction to go alongside the recent rebrand. Communication is outstanding and they understand absolutely how to simplify the auction process to aid consumer understanding. A third branch has recently opened and this auction agency must be commended for its superior business model.

Graham Penny Auctions

gold

silver

The judges were impressed by the attitude of the team at Graham Penny. Extremely helpful and knowledgeable, they were able to explain the auction process clearly and simply whilst emphasising the advantages it provides. Since this business was founded in 2006, it has not lost a single member of the team which demonstrates how valued each employee feels. As the dominant auction house in their region the directors are keen to embrace modern practices; they want the auction process to be seen as a real alternative to the traditional methods of selling a property so the auction rooms are modern and inviting. They use television screens in the showrooms with proceedings broadcast online: online bidding is also being introduced in response to customer feedback. This year has seen the business expand to a third branch and the panel has no doubt this growth will continue.

Auction House Cheshire & North Wales

bronze

41

There is no question that this is a thriving and well-run auction house. The success rate is above the national average which is particularly impressive in the North Wales market which continues to be tough. Part of the Auction House franchise, the director here has leveraged the benefits available from the parent company whilst maintaining a tight grip on his business and developing it according to his own initiatives and ideas. The director is conducting the auctions himself from the rostrum which he believes gives him more opportunity to build a relationship with the client. Fee levels have been maintained over the past 12 months which has enabled this business to deliver a widespread and high quality marketing campaign in the 4-6 weeks prior to auction. The team has also worked hard developing relationships to broaden their commercial property side – this focus is set to continue in 2014 and the judges have no doubt it will prove successful.


buying agent estate agency

SPONSORED BY

gold

silver

43

Best Buying Agent Sourcing Property The director of this business is a strong believer in customer loyalty and has set up her agency to demonstrate this through every touch point. A thorough CRM system is utilised to its full capacity for all contacts, and is regularly updated with information in order to develop and maintain relationships. Hand in hand with this is the team’s focus on growing loyalty from the outset and it is clear that first time buyers are given as much attention and interest as high net worth individuals. Stringent systems and processes only serve to build on this capacity to engage with clients. Technology is used alongside the personal touch to profile clients and match them with the best contact in the offices. Communication is then managed accordingly and tailored to the client in question. There is a strong sense of the importance they place on forming personal relationships with the result that some clients have subsequently become friends with the team. The judges found this to be a passionate and well-rounded business.

BDI Home Finders Tracy and her team view themselves as advocates of the client rather than agents, who pay attention to the emotions behind the moving process rather than solely focusing on figures and measurables. There is a strong understanding of the motivations of agents and vendors so consultants are carefully matched to the consumer. Demonstrating a really honest approach and careful management of expectations, BDI covers huge areas and the team works hard to build relationships fast. Considered use of handpicked freelance consultants ensures clients have access to local area experts across the country and this focus on relationship building is extended to estate agents as well. They manage to strike a balance between understanding that efficient and resilient agency work can be combined with charm and empathy in order to get the job done. Clients come from all walks of life and each is exposed to a well-oiled and slick service which has been honed over the lifetime of the business. The fact that they enjoy high levels of repeat business and recommendation proves this is a successful approach. The heart of this business is advocacy - this is unique and works. Excellent.


franchise estate agency

SPONSORED BY

Best Franchise Auction House UK This business goes from strength to strength and the panel is pleased to reward it once again with an award for Best Franchise. There is a strong sense of the support given to franchisees from the parent company. The communication is outstanding and it is clear that it knows what it is talking about. The package of services and systems available to franchisees has been honed over the years to become the powerhouse package it is today. The regional spread is excellent; this truly is a national business enabling it to grow during the recession. The product can be explained clearly and concisely so applicants can be sure they fully understand what they are undertaking. Processes have been developed to be simple yet efficient and are easily navigable. The marketing library is extensive and provides a one-stop shop for franchisees to access any documents they may need from compliance papers to logos, banners and brochures. Great importance is placed on legislation and compliance – this is broadcast to franchisees and training is offered accordingly. This is an outstanding and growing franchise with an almost universal appeal.

HomeXperts gold

silver

The applicant vetting process is thorough and meticulous which only serves to benefit both franchisee and the business itself as everyone is confident of a good fit with the HomeXperts culture. The directors have built a strong brand reinforced by skilled management and a hard-hitting attitude. They understand that running a franchise is not for everyone and the recruitment process is ethical and measured; they are prepared to turn down applicants in order to maintain quality standards and control of the business. Compliance and regulatory insight is controlled by high level involvement from senior people, and all systems and processes are centrally controlled and audited. Many of the franchisees are first time business owners which is testimony to the confidence they feel in the entire HomeXperts package. Training is exemplary with an initial six week induction programme encompassing a mixture of technical, regulatory and soft skills. This business takes a focused approach using its strong brand image so franchisees know their strength in the market place and can take a professional attitude to building profit.

Newton Fallowell bronze

45

Newton Fallowell is a solid example of how to run a franchise model. This agency has managed to maintain a family feel within the network and this extends via franchisees to the consumer. Quality and maintenance of standards are of the utmost importance and growth of the business is carefully controlled in order to preserve its key business principles. Back office processes are centrally controlled by an experienced admin team but ingenuity is actively encouraged so owners can pitch proposals and ideas through the company “think tank”. In this way, all involved can rest assured that whilst the franchise framework is robust and stringent, there is room for the business to evolve holistically around this and continue improving.

Hunters – shortlisted


prestige estate agency

SPONSORED BY

Best Prestige Rokstone The judges’ said they were blown away by this agency. The attention to detail was spectacular, which is to be expected within this category, however there was clear evidence that this agency goes above and beyond clients’ expectations even at this end of the market. Systems and processes have been put in place to ensure compliance when dealing with high net worth individuals from overseas, as well as ensuring that the sales progress smoothly and with minimal issues. They work with Mishcon de Reya for tax and UK buying advice and it also carries out purchaser qualification and KYC, vital to ensure any offer put forward is achievable and genuine. New business generally arrives via personal recommendation from existing clients for both applicants and listings. The director is a force of nature and her attitude is contagious; without exception the team is impressive. The staff is tiered to the price range so they can learn through experience. Marketing is intelligent and thoughtful with impressive insight into the motivations of the clientele they work with.

Caldwells

gold

silver

Each new client is given the director’s contact details and a welcome pack containing a raft of information on the moving process as a whole and more specific material tailored to the individual property. The video tours are outstanding and high quality. All team members visit new listings personally so they can speak confidently to any enquiry from the first point of contact. There are defined systems and processes in place and a robust CRM system aids personal and regular communication. The offices are modern yet comfortable and alongside the marketing materials and branding, fully convey the culture of this business. Use of technology is excellent and used to enhance the personal service rather than replace it. The team is encouraged to spend as much time as possible with clients at the outset in the belief that initial high touch engagement enhances the client experience, expedites the sales process and differentiates them from the competition.

Zoe Napier & Associates

bronze

47

This agency is extremely customer focused with a raft of exciting and considered initiatives to meet the requirements of the clientele. Offers are delivered face-toface in order to promote discussion of the pros and cons of a particular offer and vendor. Networking is vital in this market so they build relationships with buyers’ influencers such as wealth managers, private bankers and yacht brokers etc. As specialists in the equestrian and waterside markets, Zoe and her team realise the importance of understanding legislation and take this aspect seriously. Experts in the rural and equestrian market, this team knows its stuff and has developed a strong framework specific to this market such as carrying out pre-surveys on period properties prior to listing in order to highlight and remedy any potential issues. The photography is absolutely paramount to the marketing and shoots are stage managed by the Zoe Napier team and scheduled around the natural environment of the property such as the tide or sunset to ensure the best possible pictures are taken. Alongside these are more quirky and cameo shots which are in keeping with the cheeky and fun branding of this agency. .


new homes estate agency

Best New Homes Countrywide Land & New Homes Countrywide has demonstrated once again why it is a strong contender in this category with transparent and proven examples of industry best practice across the board. With almost exclusive recruitment from the housebuilder industry, and a Land graduate scheme run with Nottingham Trent University, this is an approach that pays off from the outset as both commercial and residential clients feel they are dealing with an experienced and knowledgeable team. This confidence is vital in this industry, not least due to the sheer number of schemes, developers, compliance and regulations that must be engaged with and followed. Countrywide has embraced initiatives such as part exchange solutions, asset management and shared ownership properties as well as implementing its own innovative ideas, with a full search-to-sale proposition.

SPONSORED BY

LSL Land & New Homes Silver winners last year, LSL continues to demonstrate excellence in this area and the judges could see this department is run by a team that understands their business. There is a strong focus on data analytics and the measurement of KPIs in order to fully understand the business and improve the ability to quickly react to changes in the market. To help with this, an analyst has been recruited. LSL understands the importance of building relationships with the developers themselves and testimonials from key staff at large house builder chains demonstrate that they view LSL as a partner. The size of this organisation is fully utilised for consumer benefit and a number of nationwide roadshows on various aspects of new build properties and moving processes have been a resounding success. LSL aims to position itself as an authority in this area and it is clear it is seen as such by the public.

gold

Beresfords Beresfords New Homes department has always impressed and continues to do so, contributing an impressive percentage of the company’s bottom line. All staff are educated as to the importance of understanding the new homes offering and training is run regularly. One impressive initiative is a development awareness course for the team to help them spot potential for new developments and land sales in their area. This agency takes the long view with clients – it understands that once trust and loyalty is established, income and profit follow. The directors look at the whole market and develop strategies to deal with this rather than reactive ‘silver bullet’ solutions. They also seek to complement what the house builders already offer rather than imitate. A strong focus on PR is reaping rewards and nationwide developers are lining up to appear in the bespoke magazine. The endto-end service is tailored to the client and the market share is outstanding.

silver

bronze

49

bronze

Foxtons Over the past 12 months, the percentage of new homes sales has increased and there is clear understanding that this is a real area of development. Client focused, Foxtons absolutely understands the London market. The new homes operation is inspiring and every step in the process has been carefully considered from initial lead generation to signature on completion. The directors understand this is a specialist area and have worked hard to ensure the staff in this department has detailed knowledge in order to deal effectively with both buyers and the developers themselves. They work with some big name builders but have recently expanded their work with smaller, more niche developers as well. This is proving effective as it allows them to cover all bases with the demanding London market. The culture is energetic, progressive and passionate and with the new homes department expanding its contribution to the company’s profit margin, it can only go on to even greater things.


financial service estate agency

SPONSORED BY

Best Financial Service Reeds Rains Following a shortlist mention in 2011, and a silver award in this category in 2012, the panel is delighted to be able to award Reeds Rains the gold for 2013 and publicly congratulate the team on an outstanding financial services department. The directors have a deliberate policy of not wanting to “reinvent the wheel” of financial products and services in what have been difficult times so they have countered this by ensuring that what they do offer is innovative and meets market demands to attract new clients and support the estate agency side of the business. Never content to tread water, the team actively seek to offer top notch service and are all able to guide customers through the myriad of financial products, processes and checks. They understand that people can view the “interview” as intimidating and set out to make everything as simple and smooth as possible.

Ocean Financial Services

gold

silver

Part of the Ocean Home Group, this company differentiates itself from competitors through the sheer range of services available. As well as acting as mortgage brokers, the team provides independent financial advice on a variety of products, and the fact that they operate a whole of market model means customers can expect to be well advised as to the best product for them; Ocean is not restricted to recommending specific lenders. The brokers have built relationships with the lender underwriters so have a much more transparent understanding of final approvals which has helped reduce the failure rate significantly. The after care service is excellent and a particularly nice touch is the ability for customers to contact two PA’s who are available to guide them through the process and help move things along where they can. Redress and compliance policies and procedures are second to none yet the culture is relaxed and informal so clients feel comfortable and confident.

Your Move

bronze

51

Your Move offers a very specific financial services offering that focuses on mortgage and protection products only. This means the team is able to guide customers through the products in fine detail and with expertise. Clients can therefore feel completely confident that they will be well advised at each stage from initial discussion to completion. Your Move utilises a robust CRM programme which the team use to great effect to keep up to date with customers’ journeys so they can offer appropriate advice accordingly. One successful innovation is a “Remortgage Club”, where clients are contacted three months before a fixed interest rate ends to advise them on what options are available. This has been well received and the take up rate is very good indeed. Recruitment is strong and this year has seen the team grow by 30% with another 20% due to be added before the end of 2013. This requirement for more people is a direct result of the success of Your Move’s financial services department.


Best UK Conveyancer Rowlinsons Solicitors overall winner Once again, our awards have recognised the hard work and dedication of the best conveyancing companies. Congratulations to the overall winner Rowlinsons Solicitors.

SPONSORED BY

gold

53


Rowlinsons Solicitors large conveyancer The conveyancing department at Rowlinsons is a key contributor to the direction of the business and the profit margin. The directorship is extremely proactive and hands on, with the team kept fully apprised as to expectations and standards. They work hard to offer a personal and transparent service, understanding how to make it as simple and straightforward as possible for the ease of the customer. The excellent CMS system provides strong support and can be tailored to each agent and instruction so processes are stringent and formal but the communication is personalised and friendly. Fee earners are paired up so clients can always contact a named person with any queries and know that this contact will be informed as to their situation. Training is extensive and all employees work towards formal qualifications; the compliance and regulation is second to none. Extended opening hours and strong branding has helped increase turnover. The service at Rowlinsons is strong, reliable and consistent.

SPONSORED BY

gold

gold

Advantage Property Lawyers large conveyancer

silver

bronze

55

silver

The judges could see this is a company that punches above its weight. It was evident that the client always comes first; the friendly team consistently looks at how they can improve and develop, and they make a real effort to compete with the nationwide companies. Compliance is immaculate with a concrete focus on risk management and they are currently recruiting a Compliance Manager to support the Head of Legal Practice. Communication is exemplary whether written, on the phone or face to face but most importantly results and actions from any contact are followed up and dealt with. This team understands the importance of trustworthy relationships between all parties involved in the moving process, and the company is an Ambassador for The Conveyancing Association Pledges. Customers are treated fairly and the service they receive is fully tailored and amended throughout the transaction.


Best Conveyancer Howells Solicitors

Cunningtons

large conveyancer

small conveyancer

The dedicated new business team allows the solicitors to focus on existing clients and instructions whilst they concentrate on finding new opportunities and converting leads. Particularly impressive is the large number of referrals they receive from housebuilders, who in the main require a committed 28 day turnaround on conveyancing. The fact that they trust Howells to achieve this for them speaks volumes as to the efficiency and quality of their service. Irrespective of experience and role, all new recruits shadow a senior member of their team to learn the internal procedures and systems. Once their manager is satisfied they have reached the required level of understanding and competency, only then are they allowed to work autonomously. Staff are encouraged to initiate discussions regarding their ongoing training requirements and the directors work with them to identify suitable courses. Heavy investment in software has helped automate many of the systems and processes; this in turn ensures the conveyancing process is carefully monitored with measurable steps and monitoring ability. The information communicated to all parties is clear, transparent and detailed.

The team at Cunningtons has not rested on their laurels following their win in 2012. It was absolutely clear to the judges why they deserve to be awarded the gold once again; they have continued to improve and adapt. The Compliance Officer leads by example and takes a proactive approach to the business and the team. The training and development programme has been extended and Cunningtons is CPD accredited. There is a new Business Development team in place to monitor results, meet with the teams and work with the trainers to implement courses to address any issues but also share and celebrate examples of best practice. The directors have actively recruited a small team of exestate agents to act as first point of contact for customers so their conveyancing journey starts positively through dealing with experienced and knowledgeable professionals. The fact that they have been able to increase fees and conversion rates from quote to completion proves Cunningtons offers a gold standard service.

Convey Law small conveyancer The directors and team at Convey Law have a dedicated attitude to compliance and risk management with immaculate systems and documentation to reinforce this ethos. All involved understand the need to be both reassuring and informative with the client, and staff are assisted with this through extensive formal and informal training. This can cover anything from legal procedures and legislative issues to customer service. The senior partners for Risk and Training meet regularly to measure and discuss results, following which they look at any changes or training which need to happen. They also highlight any positive feedback and share this with the team. The level of communication is outstanding as the team understands that when the client is kept fully informed, they feel more confident and issues are minimal. To aid this, they have also implemented innovative technological systems so transactions progress as smoothly as possible.

Taylor Rose small conveyancer – shortlisted 56


Best Negotiator best negotiator

Grant Bates at Hamptons International

2013

SPONSORED BY

Grant believes that trust is at the heart of everything he does and endeavours to apply this ethos throughout. He is fully involved in all aspects of the business with a proven track record across all measurables. Understanding the all-round vision and attention to detail required to win repeat business, Grant attributes his success to always doing his best for his client, including marketing the property to achieve the highest possible sales price, whilst remembering that this is first and foremost a service industry. Personally recommended for this award by the directors, Grant is seen as a key member of the Hamptons team and is well respected and liked by both senior staff and his peers. A relative newcomer to Hamptons, having been there for 18 months, Grant’s success is being fully utilised for the good of the company; he is appearing in the video for the Hamptons Academy for new recruits and will act as a mentor to some of them when they start. Focusing less on ‘selling’ and more on providing a proactive endto-end service of which the sale is the final piece of the puzzle, Grant is proving himself to be an invaluable member of the Hamptons team.

Shortlisted:

Grant Bates at Hamptons International

Dawn Platt at HomeXperts Twickenham

Sarah Abbey at Howard Cundey

Diane Hill at Howard Cundey

Ainis Radzevicius at Keatons Estate Agents

Samantha Conway at Sawdye & Harris

Natalie Williams at Waterfords Estate Agents

James Freeman at Your Move

Joanne Hardman at Your Move

57


Best Valuer Daniel O’Brien

best valuer

at Hamptons International Daniel started at grassroots of agency as a teenager and now, with 12 years experience under his belt, he is a force to be reckoned with. Having worked at the Islington office for nearly five years, Daniel is a key player in maintaining its position as Hamptons highest grossing branch, and is constantly on the lookout for new ways of increasing its revenue and reputation. Operating in a highly competitive patch, Daniel has worked hard to build a collaborative environment with a culture of sharing ideas; it is through this that they have managed to increase their New Homes department and 2013 has seen them winning pitches for a number of prestigious developments, generating a significant fee income. There was clear evidence that he is winning instructions and converting sales through his confidence and meticulous eye for detail. It was pleasing to see that this is coupled with first-rate client feedback and repeat business. The directors of Hamptons nominated Daniel for this award and the judges agreed with their view of him – they were extremely impressed by Daniel’s commitment to the business and what he is achieving for his clients. Both buyers and vendors can rest assured they are in safe hands.

2013

SPONSORED BY

Shortlisted:

Daryll Digpal at Beadnall Copley

Felicity Parker at CJ Hole

James Ross at Edon, Lockwood & Riddle

Alec Fry at Hamptons International

Daniel O’Brien at Hamptons International

Tony Filice at Kelvin Francis Ltd

Hannah David at Peter Alan Ltd

Steve Goss at Waterfords Estate Agents

Sharon Wiles at Your Move

58


Best Conveyancer best conveyancer

Paul Fenton at Cunningtons Solicitors

2013

SPONSORED BY

Paul understands how vital the conveyancing process is to the moving progression but takes a considered view as to how confusing and complicated it can also appear. He knows flashpoints can occur when emotions are running high and seeks to minimise issues before they appear. The overarching belief is that service standards are not just for the consumer but also extend to the agent, other solicitors and colleagues, and Paul collaborates with his team to ensure this attitude is pervasive within Cunningtons. The service standards themselves are out of this world and should serve as a benchmark for the industry; Paul’s ethos is to treat others as he would wish to be treated. The service is efficient and friendly and although use of technology is good, Paul believes there is no replacement for a quick chat on the phone as not only can it be quicker than emails back and forth, it also allows for clearer explanation of some of the more technical aspects of conveyancing. He has forged strong relationships with the agents as he knows that clients go to them more frequently than the solicitor so through maintaining open lines of communication with agencies, he can be assured of being kept apprised of any developments. Paul is an exceptional conveyancer.

Shortlisted:

Michelle Crowhurst at Barber Titleys

Deborah Booth at Beaumont Legal

Richard Durrant at Boys & Maughan Solicitors

Paul Fenton at Cunningtons

Emma Alsop at Lanyon Bowdler

Matthew Dickenson at QCAS a Division of Shulmans LLP

59


Best Manager best manager

Darren Walter at Waterfords

2013

SPONSORED BY

The judges comment was that everyone would, “want a Darren in their company�. He believes in a hands-on approach but also fosters a culture whereby the team can feel confident in their own decision making and individual way of working. Through building a strong framework of systems and processes which become routine, they can concentrate on providing high standards of innovative customer service as all the back-end admin is taken care of. The team is given the respect, guidance and direction to be able to express their personality while at the same time becoming more professional and confident. Darren was nominated by his MD which is a ringing endorsement, and the comment that accompanied this nomination was that he is seen as an excellent communicator and motivator. Staff churn is low and there is clear evidence that Darren absolutely leads by example. He believes in the company and what it stands for and his attitude is infectious. The judges found him to be an outstanding example of what a good manager looks like - consistent, leading by example, top performer and confident in delegating to loyal staff.

Shortlisted:

Peter Hossack at Guy Leonard & Co

Keir Walls at Hackney & Leigh

Sarah McKinnon at Hamptons International

Leon Stone at Hamptons International

Matthew Gurr at Howard Cundey

Janice Walker at Peter Alan Ltd

Isobel Chatterton at Robinson Hornsby

Katie Griffin at Sawdye & Harris

Darren Walter at Waterfords Estate Agents

Charlotte Brown at Your Move 61


GOLD

outstanding contribution estate agency

2013

SPONSORED BY

Outstanding Contribution to estate agency Michael Robson As Managing Director of the firm set up by the man who lent his name to our CSR award, it is entirely appropriate that Michael Robson be publicly recognised for his contribution to charitable initiatives. There can be no doubt in anyone’s mind that he has consistently gone above and beyond in his charitable work, both in his personal life and through Andrews Charitable Trust. Andrews was founded by renowned humanitarian and entrepreneur Cecil Jackson-Cole who believed that commercial success should benefit society. This ethos remains central to the Andrews philosophy. The Andrews Charitable Trust’s partnership with the firm is the only such estate agency model in the UK, and it relies on annual dividends from Andrews to keep operating. It is therefore vital that it is run as a partner to the business with focused strategy and direction; Michael works hard to steer the company’s philanthropic initiatives for the greater good. Michael joined Andrews Estate Agents in 1976 as a Trainee Sales Negotiator and held a number of management positions culminating in the position of Group Chief Executive in 1990. Since then, he has contributed time, expertise and money to the projects of the charitable trusts that own Andrews which themselves have helped to develop and support numerous charities including Oxfam, Help the Aged and Action Aid. Michael is also the co-founder of the Estate Agency Foundation (EAF), a charity dedicated to helping eliminate the causes of homelessness in the UK. Michael believes a key factor to social entrepreneurism is passionate staff who are proud to be part of social enterprise, and have a desire to contribute and give something back. Senior directors spend at least 10 days per year working directly on charities supported by ACT. He absolutely leads by example with a hands on approach and understands how to leverage corporate support to maximise awareness and promote organisations’ good works for the benefit of the charity. To celebrate the company’s 65th birthday, Michael launched the Andrews Community Challenge, a company-wide initiative which encouraged staff to get involved with their local communities by applying to the company for grants to aid charitable causes. This dedication to charity also extends into his personal life as in addition to his work with Andrews, Michael has also served as a Trustee for Opportunity Trust, Basic Needs, and for the Sophie Cameron Trust and is Chairman of the Christian Initiative Trust. As well as charitable works, Michael is also a fervent ambassador for promoting standards within the industry, recognising that it is only through increased internal scrutiny that public perception of agents will improve. With this in mind he is also a Director of The Property Ombudsman scheme. A tireless campaigner for improvement both from a business sense and via humanitarian channels, we are delighted to recognise Michael’s achievements and hard work over the past 37 years, and ask you to join us in congratulating him.

63


corporate social responsibility estate agency YEAR 2013

Cecil Jackson-Cole Award for Corporate Social Responsibility Bassets Property Services Bassets’ strapline is, “Different in so many ways”, and it is clear that everything they undertake is with this ethos in mind. The directors want their business to stand out and have based their philosophy around two key objectives; one of which is to support the local communities in which they work. The judges found that this agency is a small operation which is making a big difference. There is a strong emphasis on personal involvement in charity; the team wants to make a difference alongside raising money. They recognise that supporting charity is not just about donating cash but that fundraising goes hand in hand with being active in the community. From the outset, all staff are clear about the company’s CSR policy; this is covered at the interview stage and the directors have stated that enthusiasm for charity is forming an increasingly important part of the recruitment process. Each member of the team is contracted to spend part of their time on community related activities, and each branch is allocated funds to spend as they wish on good causes. Every January sees a great initiative; an advertising campaign rolled out across local newspapers, radio and magazines asking for worthy causes to contact them if they would like to be supported that year. All enquiries are responded to, with meetings set up to see if Bassets can help. The breadth of the causes they support is extensive and they seek to be leaders in this field so as well as supporting existing charities they have also set up community groups to give further assistance using their business influence. The team also joins as many local events as they can, so not only do they offer backing via donation and volunteering, but also through direct attendance. Many of their charitable relationships are long-standing, such as with The Trussell Trust, a food bank franchise. There are collection points in each office, and staff takes turns packing and distributing food. The Dogs’ Trust is another cause close to their hearts, as is The Unit, a local children’s charity. Other events supported include theatre groups, amateur dramatics, festivals, carnivals and The Great Amesbury Duck Race! It was crystal clear at every turn that CSR is central to the Bassets Property Services culture. They believe that charity is not simply the right thing to do but should be intrinsically linked to the business ethos, with action sitting alongside donation. The directors and team should be extremely proud of themselves and we congratulate them.

65


EAF Everyone deserves

somewhere

TO CALL HOME

Estate Agency Foundation The Estate Agency Foundation (EAF) is dedicated to helping eliminate the causes of homelessness. Our aim is to unite the Estate Agency industry for a great cause.

Please help the homeless today by becoming an EAF Ambassador for an annual fee of just £100, in the hope that your office would raise just £250 in a year. Your support can make a real difference to those at risk of homelessness in the UK, because everybody deserves a place to call home.

See our website for details.

Thank you for your support

www.eafcharity.org • info@eafcharity.org • 01372 370895 Changing perspectives. Changing lives.


GOLD

Best Supplier supplier estate agency

2013

SPONSORED BY

Kremer Signs The team at Kremer Signs offer unique manufacturing at competitive prices. Their range of products and services is extensive, and market share is impressive, counting many nationwide agencies amongst the client base. This commitment from agents is due in no small part to the confidence they have in Kremer’s ability to deliver. Their signs are extremely high quality and durable and these excellent products are reinforced by a service, which is second to none. Opening hours are extensive, operating from three strategic locations across the UK so coverage and speed of delivery is very good indeed. They understand that boards are part of the marketing spectrum of agencies and work with marketing teams to maximise branding opportunities; rollouts include 14,000 hangman signs and 3D box boards. Agents can rest assured that Kremer Signs will protect and enhance their brand, whilst offering value for money through their spot on service.

VTUK

gold

VTUK prides itself on its customer engagement strategy, as the team know that this is the platform on which everything else is built. They work hard with their clients to ensure they get the most out of the software and utilise it to its full capacity. Prior to implementation, they undertake a full business appraisal for all clients. Not only does this help with consumer confidence in the product, but also enables VTUK to identify training requirements and therefore tailor ongoing development accordingly. Client feedback is not only encouraged but actively sought; this is then directly applied to improving and enhancing products and services. This transparent and open ethos goes to the heart of this business’ focus on standards and the entire team works hard to not only fulfil expectations but surpass them.

silver

Moneypenny

bronze

67

Moneypenny is not just a supplier to the estate agency industry but operates as an intrinsic part of each business it works with. The call answering service can be tailored for both small and large companies, with agents commenting that the team consistently exceeds expectations. Agencies are matched up with a Moneypenny receptionist who provides a seamless and personalised service; they can therefore be confident that customers will always feel they are speaking to an actual member of their organisation. Usage of a centre in New Zealand ensures that calls can be answered 24/7 so the breadth of the service is extremely impressive; this is well utilised by companies who have extensive client bases overseas who want to be able to make contact out of hours. The nature of the offering is faultless and there is clear evidence that the Moneypenny team go above and beyond with a proactive, enthusiastic and common sense approach.

Dowling Jones Design – shortlisted


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2013 EAA Judges Report