The chief executive of Purplebricks says he wants to move his agency’s 600 Local Property Experts from self-employed to employed status in little over three weeks.
Vic Darvey has told Estate Agent Today that he wants the new structure operating from September 1. But he has admitted that the agency’s service will face disruption over this month during the transition and he expects “some noise on social media” from critics of the agency and the initiative.
Face-to-face talks with the self-employed LPEs begin today, although some soundings have been made in recent months; he says he believes there will still be 600 LPEs in place as employees on September 1, although he accepts some existing ones ”will not want to make the journey.”
Darvey says there will inevitably be some disruption to the service as some self-employed agents leave and replacements join - he says he has 100 waiting in the wings to work for the company for the first time.
“We are offering uncapped commission and a highly competitive salary. Agents will are more - they may also pay more tax, but their net earnings will increase” he claims.
Employed LPEs will still be able to work flexibly and from home, but they will get 25 days’ holiday per year and the usual paternity and maternity rights associated with employed status.
“During the pandemic there were market closures and lockdowns and some of our self-employed agents were concerned at how they were to put food on the table. That, combined with the fact that there were uncertainties anyway over the seasonability of the agency business, means that a move to the fully employed model seems sensible. We have a responsibility for the financial security of our people” Darvey tells EAT.
He insists that scaling up - to achieve Purplebricks’ ultimate target of 10 per cent market share - is easier rather than harder with fully employed staff because the packages on offer are more attractive to existing agents employed by other companies.
“I expect a lot of phone calls from them today” he says.
This morning’s formal announcement from Purplebricks - made to the City at 7am, at the same time as an internal note went to the self-employed agents - said: “The move to a fully employed model for Purplebricks' agents represents a further enhancement to the Company's business model, following a review of how the Company can best serve its customers, support its field teams in the future, and meet the demands of a strong market.
“The Board now believes that moving to a fully employed model will ensure that the Company can scale up quickly to meet consumer demand and, to that end, the Company has already created a talent pool of over 100 of the best agents in the industry who are ready to join it as opportunities arise.
“Having ownership over the recruitment, training and management of a unified high-performing team will support the delivery of a consistently high level of service to Purplebricks' customers across the country, including an enhanced opportunity to increase ancillary revenues.
“Additionally, it will provide greater security and benefits to incentivise Purplebricks' agents. The Company's newly employed sales team will enjoy a highly incentivised package with the ability to work flexibly and remotely, in keeping with the Purplebricks entrepreneurial ethos and changes to ways of working that have come about because of the pandemic. Agents will also benefit from the rights that come with employee status as well as having access to many new opportunities for career development and growth.”
The announcement adds that since its foundation in 2014, Purplebricks has become ”the best-known and largest estate agency brand in the UK in its drive to deliver on medium-term market share targets.”
The company launched new pricing structures just last month, including a Money Back Guarantee and a simplified two-tier proposition. The national roll-out of these structures is underway at the same time as the transition from self-employed agents to fully employed.
You can read more about this morning's announcement here.