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TODAY'S OTHER NEWS

Ex-Countrywide CEO’s high praise for online agency’s success

A former chief executive of Countrywide has issued a string of extravagant claims about the lockdown success of the online agency which he now leads.

Grenville Turner - who was appointed chairman of Yopa last summer - says “without High Street offices to worry about, we were able to quickly ensure that all our agents were set up to offer full support to customers when they needed us most.”

Yopa is heavily backed by the investment arm of Savills, by Your Move and Reeds rain parent company LSL, and by the venture capital division of the Daily Mail and General Trust, as well as individual investors. Last summer it revealed another £16m of investment from a range of sources.

Now it claims that has all paid off with success while other agencies were still coming to terms with the Coronavirus crisis.

A statement from Yopa this morning says it moved from being the UK’s seventh largest agency for new listings on Rightmove in January to number two during April and May.

It says it listed more properties during lockdown “than all other hybrid agents combined, excluding Purplebricks” and enjoyed a 67 per cent rise in instructions in the first week of this month (June) compared with the same week in June 2019.

Ex-Countrywide CEO’s high praise for online agency’s successTurner, in a long statement issued alongside the figures, says much of the success is down to the business model and preparation in the weeks leading to the lockdown.

“As a priority, we ensured our teams - from the central office and contact centre staff to local agents - were fully briefed and equipped to work from home by March 17. By March 24, when the UK lockdown was implemented, all staff were working from home and our contact centre staff were only booking virtual valuations and viewings” he says.

“We developed a programme of advice for agents and customers - existing and prospective - to help keep home sales moving whilst ensuring we played our part in keeping the UK as safe as possible. This included more advice on virtual valuations and viewings, customer-led photography, the offer of a Yopa Open House weekend at a safe point in the future, and a content series for vendors to get their homes ready for future sale” he adds. 

“We also widened diary slots so that both buyers and vendors could book secondary physical appointments once the government began to ease lockdown and customers felt it was safe to meet with their local Yopa agent in person. This enabled us to sprint out of the stocks once the restrictions were lifted in England on May 13. 

"Recognising that, as franchisees, our local Yopa agents income would be severely impacted by the market shrinkage and the uncertainty around government support for the self-employed, we took the decision to support our business partners financially beyond the realms of their licence agreements. 

“We think this attitude, alongside our general approach in developing a cohort of entrepreneurial estate agents, is in part why we’re generating so much job interest from experienced high street agents. Further, our agent tenure has increased over 85 per cent year on year.”

Turner claims that the online agency’s fee structure helped boost instuctions, with one option - a Pay Later choice - extended from 10 months to 12 months, although he says the swing towards deferred payment options have now subsided. 

He also says the increased use of virtual valuations and viewings, customers’ own pictures and Open House weekends when safe have been extended now into the post-lockdown period. 

“We continue to offer this extended service in part because our customers have been so receptive to it and as a ‘just in case’ in the event of a second lockdown. Perhaps this will be our industry’s future, and we welcome and embrace that innovation” concludes Turner.

In February this year - six months after Turner’s arrival at Yopa and before the pandemic struck - the agency claimed its revenue had been increased by 38 per cent while its costs were slashed by 40 per cent annually. Its fee structure had also been simplified.

  • Michael Riley

    This is a bizarre statement and reads like an extended preparation for a job interview.

    One word that relates to success in business that appears to be missing is.....

    .... profit.

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    Zzzzzzzzzzz

  • Paul Singleton

    Yawn........

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    So tired of hearing this constant bigging-up of a way of conducting agency that simply cannot look after clients' best interests and is only designed to make front-end income. Especially in a tough marketplace as furlough is discontinued and job losses start to bite, let alone a second lockdown, it's easy to list new stock now, and to offer extended terms of engagement (that only really stop the vendor from changing minds when they realise you're pants) especially if only charging a fraction of those established and successful local agents you're up against, but the only thing that proves proper measurable achievement and success for clients is Sold and Let boards. And none of the online agents has ever proved themselves on the only basis that counts. Are your number of sales at least 85% of your number of instructions on an annual basis? No? Then you're not even in the running for 'good enough'. In really good years (eg 2006, 2009, 2015) our agency has sold as much as 110% listed stock that year, and that's with the highest number of instructions (based on volume sales) compared with our local competitors. Until you can start boasting of those kind of stats just pipe down, pipsqueak.

  • Steve James

    Largest agency than all the others combined........... excluding purplebricks!!! What a dullard this guy is

  • Wynne Davies

    I think his dreaming .. wishful thinking at best.

  • Andrew Ireland

    The fact that he refers to 'clients' as 'customers' says it all. All a bit 'Are you being served'.
    I'm interested to know how Grenville planned for Covid lock down when no one else knew about it well except Yopa.
    Yes, I run the biggest surveying company in the West country except everyone else.
    I agree with Michael the only success is profit, nothing else counts. You can list all you like.

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    Having worked for both I can confirm that both companies are as delusional as each other. How Yopa secured investment is beyond me. The ONLY good thing about Yopa is their tech set up which can be copied what cant be copied is the service traditional agents offer. If Yopa invested in their staff and made sure they covered a manageable area with centralized office hubs in each county for staff and customers they could be lethal but they would rather waste money on TV ads and Google adwords. One person cant do it all and when a rep gets paid his commission on instruction what incentive is there especially if it takes 30 viewings, 2 fall throughs and 9 months to get to completion!
    As for Countrywide I first joined in 2007 and returned in 2017. In those 10 years absolutely nothing changed, that says it all......oh apart from selling Rightmove. Just imagine if Countrywide became one brand and shut the pointless 3 different brands in one town down, became more centralised with floating staff / experts combining the Yopa / PB tech but that would be too easy! It's time for the people at the top to step aside in most corps, for some it's to late imo

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    YOPA are an utter disgrace, while in lockdown we have adhered to the rules and yet they advise clients to put properties onto the market during a virus pandemic just to get a headline like this.

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