“Where to Guv?”


You don’t just get into a taxi and say drive. And you don’t just go to work and work. You have to have a destination, a goal a mission…even more so when you run that place of work.

As we sit out these dark and dreary days of our discontented winter, there has, I think, been an opportunity for hibernatory reflection, and introspection.

Consequently, I tapped on the glass partition and checked where we were headed and the kindly cabbie pointed me back to the winter of 2006/7 and to the birthplace (and one-time boardroom) of Rampton Baseley, The Eagle Ale House on Chatham Road.

Joel and I were Estate Agents, but above all friends, very good friends. We would spend long winter nights after work in The Eagle in front of the fire (that’s if we’d been lucky/early enough to beat the local winos, sorry regulars, who always nabbed the best spot).

We’d sit supping pints and swapping stories and gripes about the various estate agents we’d worked with and for, and between us we had intimate knowledge of small, medium and large agencies of hugely variable qualities throughout the Borough of Wandsworth.

Some agents we’d known had been kind, but not very profitable. Some had been profitable but not very kind, considering their staff expendable and inconvenient. Some had been profitable and kind, but their “success” had been overly reliant on the Brown Envelope School of Agency.

One day, whilst toasting ourselves (literally and metaphorically) in front of the fire (we’d both nicked off early and beaten the dipsos – it was around 1030am), I’d had a thought – still possible, remember we were early.

“Joel” I said, “if you had to choose an agent out of all those that we know, to sell your house, who would it be?”

“Good question” he slurred “Well I like David, he’s a kind man and treats people well, but he’s got no drive, he’s too “nice”, and I don’t reckon that he’d get me the best price. Bill has good market share and dominates his area, but his devotion to Mammon and his penchant for Envelope Agency, means that I couldn’t trust him. Pete’s a very good agent, and very driven, and does well, but he uses the light bulb attitude when it comes to his staff, they’re a necessity, but expendable so keep ‘em cheap – not sure his guys have the expertise to handle a sale properly, and frankly I never know who works there. Audrey’s honest, upfront and runs a tight ship, but she’s also snobby and uptight. Not sure I’d enjoy working with her?”.

He sighed, and sagged gently lower into his seat…“So, no, I can’t think of anyone I would actually want to use.”

I too sighed, and picking myself up off the floor, went to the bar for another pair of pints.

I shuffled back across the sticky carpet and put down the drinks, sloshing them gently over the table and Joel’s crotch, as I crumpled back into my seat.

Joel was upright and beaming, seemingly oblivious to his testicular drenching, and with his eyes ablaze, he exclaimed “I’ve got it! I have an idea!” he exclaimed.

“Oh f-ck no” I groaned “not again…”

Oblivious to my antipathy and wide-eyed with the Zealotry of The Possessed, he continued “We agree that no one does agency that suits us right? No one does agency that fits our values, there’s no agency that we’d actually choose to use; no one that provides a service focusing on honesty and diligence, that does a good job, that works hard for its client (not itself) and does so with kindness and a sense of fun. No agency of a great service provided by good guys that have been around a while, and who know what they’re doing. No one does it like we would want it done, or we how would do it if we could. No one right?”

“True” I dribbled into my pint.

“Therefore, we need to start a business!” he cried.

“Of f-ck!” I groaned and slid back onto the floor…

One of the most unfortunate aspects, amongst the many that comprised the ensuing hangover, was that the idea still made sense in the sober light of day.

And it still makes sense today.

Thirteen years later we are market-leaders.

It would seem that amongst the disparate denizens of Wandsworth there were others too who could not find an agency that they “would choose to use”. People who, like us, wanted an agent that would sell their home for a good price, and do it with honesty and integrity. An agency that would have expert staff who knew what they were doing and would do it with a smile on their face. A good business, staffed by good people, who earnt a good living, and provided a great service. Last year a survey of people who’d instructed us to sell or let their property revealed that 89% had done so due to personal recommendation or reputation.

So, on another long winter’s night 13 years later, Joel and I met (unfortunately NOT in the Eagle – Covid!) and put pen to paper and transcribed the essence of that marvellous, drunken session – for keeps.

So now when the cabby shouts “Where to guv?” I just hand him this.