Countrywide's retail chief says the group's new hybrid joint online and traditional project has involved training agents to change the way they interact with the public.
In an interview with Estate Agent Today, Sam Tyrer - Countrywide's retail director - says the training behind the project was the biggest ever undertaken by the group.
The three brands undertaking the project (Spencers in the Leicestershire and Rutland area, Austin & Wyatt in Dorset, Hampshire and Wiltshire and Frank Innes across the East Midlands) were selected because of "strong and trusted" reputations in local markets.
Tyrer says there has been no adverse reaction from other agencies in the Countrywide group and says other brands have already asked: “how quickly can I get this?”
Training has taken almost six weeks and has included two "engagement days" with high numbers of agents attending; these involved what Tyrer describes as "challenging thinking" with the emphasis on consumer research to demonstrate what the public wants from 21st century estate agency.
Other training concentrated on new technology and "instilling behavioural changes in the way they now interact with customers" - what Tyrer calls "an intensive process of winning hearts and minds”.
The pilot is currently restricted to sales but Countrywide plans a roll-out across wider geographic areas and across lettings and financial services.
In detail, Tyrer has told EAT that the new system is based on four key components.
1. Research of over 3,000 movers to assess what customers want from the sales process, discovering how customers want to be served in the modern market. This has led to the new system allowing customers to monitor visits to their property on Rightmove and Zoopla, lead numbers, how offers are progressing and so on. Tyrer says the new system allows customers to undertake this analysis themselves, at any time.
2. A so-called Flexi-service where sellers can choose the online option and change to traditional if they want. There is no extra charge to customers changing back to traditional agency services having ‘started’ online.
3. A revamped digital service for sales, which Tyrer describes as offering "a compelling digital journey' for the consumer." An example of this can be seen on the Spencers website here.
4. Finally there will be what Sam Tyrer promises to be the largest-ever Countrywide marketing campaign.