Trust In Me


“Trust in me, just in me…” so sang the Serpentine Seducer of the Junglebook.

And so do oh-so many tedious estate agents of various shades (including me obvs).

Anyway, I recently read the following headline in the industry press…

“The market share of hybrid and online agents dropped to just 6.7% last year, down from 8% in 2020. *

The report goes on,

“Such a considerable underperformance in a buoyant market will clearly raise significant interest in the viability of the business model that has failed to gain traction with 93% of sellers last year.

“This suggests that perhaps sellers prefer the tangible, personal and reassuring approach given by traditional agents…”

Too right mate.

Surely, after over 10 years, and only 6.7% market share, the internet-based estate agencies are a busted flush?

Conversely, in the last (crisis-ridden) 12 months, according to Rightmove, our market share has gone up by pretty much half – from 29% of all houses sold between the commons to 44% – three times that of our next nearest rival, an International corporate brand.

Also, according to Land Registry figures, Rampton Baseley is not only outperforming our rivals but also the market.  By a factor of 7!  – Land Registry transaction volumes across our area are up 5.5% against the average of the preceding three years. RB transaction volumes are up 38% against our 3-year average. Coincidentally, Purple Bricks released its second half figures for 2021 today – its instruction numbers were DOWN 38%…

I have seen this phenomenon a few times over the 14 years or so that RB has been operating, from intense financial crashes to idiotic referenda, to inane general elections (and equally inane PMs), to international pandemics.

In fact, the past decade or more has been an era of endless uncertainty. And in each episode of anxiety, we have outperformed the market and our competitors.

How do we explain this polarity of performance between Rampton Baseley, the Internet Onlys and The Corporate Behemoths?

Simple. One word, trust.

Well actually it’s not that simple, because in reality I should add the words people, excellence, people, quality, people, knowledge, people, honesty, people, experience, people etc…but I won’t.

I’ll just use trust, and really only because I have just read The Speed of Trust by Stephen M.R. Covey (son of Stephen R. Covey – he of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People).

BTW you probably don’t need to read the book (and frankly I wouldn’t), as it belongs to the school of business books titled “I’ve got a good idea, it’s only really fit for an article, but my publisher wants me to extend it over 350 pages and make it a book. I agreed because he’s given me a $500k advance.”

This quote is probably all you need

“If we conduct ourselves in ways that promote trust…we will witness a positive difference in our companies and our personal relationships”

No shit Sherlock.

So, one word trust.

But I’m going to add another. Our second word today is behaviour (Covey says “conduct ourselves”, I say behave). Trust is built and earned by behaviour.

Let me explain.

In the last 12 months, 89% of our business has come through recommendation and reputation. People telling other people that we’re good at what we do.

Homeowners trust us to do a good job, because of the way we have behaved over the past 14 years of our existence. The behaviour of our people has earned us trust amongst the good denizens of the close-knit world of Wandsworth Property.

And the differentiator, dear reader, between us and the Internetters and Corporates, is our third vital word of the day (in fact the only word that really matters in this business) – people.

In estate agency you can get ostensibly the same product (ie a service to sell or let your property) pretty much anywhere you like; however, it is the service you receive that will vary enormously. And this service is provided by people and the way that they behave.

This is the differentiator. We sell an exceptional service, provided by exceptional people, that enables the public to sell and let their homes with peace of mind.

Peace of mind that an experienced professional will be handling one of their most precious (both financially and emotionally) possessions. Peace of mind that the deal will go through. Peace of mind that their best interests (not the estate agent’s) are the primary concern. And therefore, peace of mind that they will get the best price for their home.

This is what the internetters and the corporates lack. Exceptional people, who in their behaviours engender trust (see what I did there? Combining all three of today’s words to make a definitive statement…)

Their business models – by definition – simply do not allow for it. The former because their USP is price (and if you’re cheap you can’t afford expensive people) and the latter because they’re too big – with so many offices to populate they do not exercise sufficient quality control.

Let us finally return to the turgid world of behavioural economics.

Remember Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers?

Its most famous concept perhaps being that to be exceptional in the field in which you operate, you need to have invested at least 10,000 hours in its practice.

Well, not one of our front-line team has done less than 10,000 hours of agency. Moreover, they’ve done most of it with us.

Last year was our best year ever, because when times are tough, and people are anxious, they will pay just that little bit more to employ a 10,000 hour expert.

One final quote from a turgid business book, Frederick W. Smith, CEO Fedex,

“We thought that we were selling the transportation of goods; in fact, we were selling peace of mind.”

Fedex’s clients trust that their packages will arrive safely, swiftly and in the right place.

RB’s clients trust that the transaction of their home will proceed safely, smoothly and at the right price.

This is true, trust (in) me, I’m an estate agent.


*Property consultancy TwentyCi