Why you should ditch your high street office
So, I just wanted to talk about why you should ditch your high street office and move to a serviced office.
There's been a few things in the press recently about a few agents who have done it, and then some industry figures have come out and made an argument for: compelling reasons as to why estate agents should retain their high street presence. I feel like it's a bit worrying when you have people that are well respected in the industry advising people that they should keep their high street offices because one of the main reasons for it is “marketing".
It is concerning to me because that world doesn't exist anymore. Take a little walk down your high street and see it for yourself. And the reason it doesn't exist anymore is because that age has passed.
So just to put this into some sort of perspective, let's just go back to the agricultural age. We can go back further than that to the iron age or bronze age, all of that sort of thing. But forget that for a minute and let's just go back to the agricultural age. This is the age wherein people realised that, if you plant crops, and sow the land, then you can actually grow your own food. You don't have to necessarily kill and hunt animals. It's not the only way.
So you can grow this stuff and you can stockpile food. And so suddenly, people who own land start making all of the money and that becomes a great way for people to go into business effectively.
After that, you've got the industrial age wherein people created machines, and things start speeding up. We go from creating steam powered trains, through to making cars, and then planes, and then rockets- all within a short space of time from the early 1900's, right through to the 1950's.
So we have this industrial age and the people who are making machines are making super amounts of money. It's now possible in your lifetime to be born poor and end up rich. The five-day week is created in this period of time, benefits are created, the middle class is created, and high school is created. All of these things that we see as normal in today's world are all created during this time.
Then in the 1950's to 1978, we have the distribution age. The distribution age is where outlets are created, and those who own the outlets have all the wealth. So this is where estate agency really starts and estate agency as we know it today really starts to come into play. Think of the high street in the 1960's and the 1970's. Why would you not want to put your house on the market with an estate agent? It is going to get the most amount of traffic with them, as there are loads of people on the high street. That's where people go.
So if you're advertising a house for sale, where else are you going to do it? There's no internet. You have to put your house up for sale in a high street estate agency.
After that, 1978 is around the time when the first personal computers starting to come along, and we entered the information age. So from 1978 to 1993, all the money is going to those people that are creating computers. Bill Gates, Steve Jobs- all of these people start coming into the world.
From 1994 to 2006, along comes the internet, and we've got a new age of mass distribution. So what's happening in this age is that you can create wealth without actually ever owning anything. You can get paid from clicks, Rightmove is born, Estate Agents adopt PCs, and now agents can advertise your property to the entire world! Not just the high street. And things continue to move on at super speed. 2004, Facebook is born. 2007, the iPhone arrives. And what happens when the iPhone arrives? We move into a new age- an age of data and customer experience.
So that's the age that we're in right now, and if you're working in the right age, then you make good money, and if you're working in the wrong age, then you struggle to make a living.
Now for some of those industry experts to be claiming that you should keep your high street office, with all the expenses that go with it, because it's "good for marketing" is kind of worrying to me.
The age of distribution that we talked about; the 1950's, the 1960's, the 1970's, the 1980's- that age is gone. It doesn't exist. There's no one out there that thinks it still exists. So paying a ridiculous premium to have someone's house advertised on the high street is mental. If you don't understand that the money could go a lot further on tools like Facebook, and Google, and all the other kinds of distribution services that are out there, then you've got some serious problems.
It's important for me to write this blog, and to give my thoughts on it, because I see a worrying future for traditional agents that just keep burying their head down to the fact that you need to go back to basics. And when they say that, a lot of people are dreaming that somehow they can get in a time machine and go back to the 80’s & 90’s. That world does not exist any more.
I'm not saying don't give a great service, or that you shouldn't give a personal service, or that you shouldn't have an amazing company, and you shouldn't strive to be one of the best companies in the world. What I'm saying is- just stop for a minute, and let's have a think about how distribution works these days. If you're really going to try and win business based on the fact that you've got a high street office, you’re going to have a real uphill battle on your hands there.
The distribution is not the bit that people are paying for these days, and that's where things have gone wrong. You can get it from Purplebricks for £895- they'll put me on Rightmove, and I'll go out to the world. Distribution is free these days; I can put a video on YouTube and be out there to the whole world. We want to come away from that.
Some of you are reading this blog, some of you are listening to it, some of you may have got it via email, and some of you saw it on social media. Distribution is not the issue. The issue is in service, and you don't need a high street office for that service. If you think that you'll get less people coming to you because they don't see you on the high street, then you just need a bit of education around how marketing actually works these days.
I don't have a high street office. How the hell are you finding my stuff? It's just important for you to move into the right age. Having a High Street office is what we needed back in the distribution age, and it is not what you need in today's day and age. It restricts you to certain geographical locations, and when things are tight, and stock is low, that is a big problem.
If you were working from a hub or serviced office somewhere, you could do 10 times more marketing, because you'd have a freed up budget, and you'd cover a much wider area, so you'd have more chance of getting more stock.