An agent has broken new ground by creating an open-plan shop which includes an agency office, a cafe and an interiors store - and the staff and customers move seamlessly from one area to another.
The idea was the brainchild of Tracy Thornton, an estate agent since the 1980s and who for the past 11 years has been heading up Thornton Robson, a single-office agency in Rugby, Warwickshire.
In her early days she used to stick hard-copy photographs of properties in her office windows as the main marketing tool. But now Thornton’s business has taken the innovative step of encouraging would-be buyers and sellers to socialise in the same place as they discuss a transaction.
“It’s created 75 per cent more footfall and it’s generated more instructions. Some people use the area primarily as a cafe and end up discussing property. Others come in because they’ve got estate agency business to do but end up buying accessories from the interior store. It really works” says Lauren Bourne, a sales and letting administrator.
The five sales and lettings staff are specialists in agency and were recruited specifically because of those skills but sometimes serve at the cafe if there is demand.
“We’re trying to break down barriers and reinstate the personal touch that’s been lacking in the bigger agencies and in buying and selling online” explains Bourne.
The open plan office/cafe/interiors shop has been operating since October and has, by all accounts, been receiving quiet compliments from rival agencies in Rugby too.
In a local magazine Thornton Robson expressed its philosophy this way: “We still believe that, despite the marketing exposure of Rightmove and websites, people like the option of visiting local agents to discuss local markets, schools and facilities - with staff often locally-educated and who live and socialise in the same area too. They will always have the upper hand over a call centre situated miles away from a buyer’s potential new home.”
What’s your view on this? Is this an agency taking a bold step to pioneer a new type of office - can you imagine your own firm going down this road?
Please let us know...