Every estate agency applying to join a new group for independents will be mystery shopped in a bid to ensure it meets an appropriate standard.
The unusual approach has been revealed by mystery shopping company Yomdel, which has linked with the soon-to-launch Federation of Independent Agents.
The FIA has been set up by industry consultant Graham Lock and formally launches on April 25. Its aim is to leverage the economies of scale of a large number of independents combined, in order to secure PropTech and other services at a price and quality previously reserved for large high-spending corporates.
The FIA says it will accept only one agency per area into membership, and according to Lock the group will be “a fresh take on estate agency membership organisations for a sector that has seen its landscape change significantly in recent years.”
Andy Solomon, chief executive of Yomdel, adds: “The FIA will ensure that its members adhere to excellent standards of professionalism and customer service. As such, Yomdel ... will be mystery shopping every agent applying to join. In these tough and politically uncertain times, Yomdel understands that businesses need to go above and beyond if they are to stand out from the crowd and successfully find ways to grow their market share.”
Yomdel - which also handles 24/7 managed live chat and other customer-facing services - says it has struck an exclusive arrangement with the FIA which will extend beyond checking agencies before membership but will be, in its own words, “regularly mystery shopping each and every member of the fledgling trade body.”
Around 30 industry suppliers have been hand-picked by Lock on the basis that they are good quality and can be accessed at discounted rates for FIA members.
Lock himself calls the FIA “an organisation of likeminded independent agents that I’m bringing together to enjoy commercial advantage in competing on costs with the corporates. But, also, to genuinely ensure that our agent members are the best there is, as flag carriers for customer service and integrity. Our industry is getting tougher and only the better agents will prosper now.”