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Why we're recruiting 'Property Gurus' who aren't necessarily agents

This website recently published a piece ahead of the nationwide launch of our new property platform, Be Street Smart. 

It explained how we’re recruiting what we call ‘Property Gurus’, franchisees who will be rewarded for positive customer reviews rather than sales numbers. You can read that piece here.

The article was greeted with plenty of responses from Estate Agent Today readers. We appreciate that our model will be viewed with a whole range of different opinions. 


I’d therefore like to take this opportunity to respond to the article and some of the comments it received.

Our Gurus don’t have to have been an estate agent, but we are rigorous about who we hire. 

They must have a deep passion for and understanding of property. They need to know their local area well, and be the kind of people that you would welcome into your home. 

A few of our first hires were previously conveyancers and chartered surveyors – they’ve been involved in property all their lives and love the industry, but for whatever reason, a traditional estate agency role has never appealed to them. 

When we started thinking about the idea that eventually became Be Street Smart, we spoke to lots of customers who had recently sold their homes. 

One thing that came up time and again was that they felt they hadn’t received good customer service. 

Their most pronounced complaints included aggressive sales tactics to get them to sign a contract, feeling ‘out of the loop’ once that contract was signed, and not receiving enough aftercare from their agent. 

Many of the online estate agencies that have sprung up over the past few years have tried to address one side of this equation, without paying much attention to the other. 

They’ve moved to reduce fees compared to their competitors, but haven’t done anything to incentivise their agents when it comes to customer service. 

If anything, this model pushes agents to handle their clients with less regard, in an effort to move property quicker and make a comparable profit. 

I was an estate agent myself when I was 19, and the industry hasn’t really changed with the times at all since then – it’s become archaic.

Estate agents have a major image and perception problem, and it has become a cliché that they are not to be trusted. 

A recent Ipsos Mori poll placed it as one of the professions that ranked among the lowest levels of trust expressed by the general public, along with politicians.

I’m not saying that this is true in every case – there are obviously many talented, friendly estate agents out there who love doing a great job, and are prepared to go above and beyond for their clients. 

We’ve tried to hire as many of those as we can! 

However, the way that earnings are traditionally structured does leave the sector open to abuse from the more unscrupulous; those who are simply out to make a quick buck.

We believe that this is where we can differentiate ourselves, so from the start we’ve planned to make the customer’s experience our number one priority. 

We’ve interviewed hundreds of Guru candidates since launching this business, and we’ve only let 1% of those we’ve met onto the platform. 

If it turns out we’ve made a bad judgement, and they drop below a 4-star rating from customers, they won’t be on the platform anymore. It’s as simple as that.

My co-founder and I will be giving 5% of the company’s profits to the team every year, and they hold 5% equity in the business. 

Our Gurus won’t negotiate contracts on their first visit to someone’s house. Their only focus is to make the customer happy. If the seller wants to manage viewings themselves they can. If they’d like us to speak to conveyancers on their behalf, we can – but we’re never going to push them, or insist that they go with ‘our people’. 

Home buying is an emotional, aspirational transaction, and we believe it needs a people-centric revolution that establishes transparency and trust. 

Currently, customers have no way to measure the quality of the traditional solution for what is the largest transaction of their life. That’s madness – and it’s something we’re going to change.

This kind of peer-to-peer, review-based platform model has revolutionised so many industries in recent years. 

The individuals with the most consistently satisfied customers rise to the top and gain more trade, and new customers have a guarantee that they’re getting someone who will do a great job. 

Everything about this is designed to work for the customer, and we’ll learn from our customers whether they feel that it works or not. 

If we’re wrong, we won’t be here in a few years’ time. But if we’re right, we’re going to change the whole industry for the better.

*Alex Sullivan is Co-founder and CEO of Be Street Smart

  • Terence Dicks

    How many people who are not estate agents "have a deep passion for and understanding of property"??
    It annoys me beyond belief that ALL so-called "online estate agents" slag off high street agents, but say they are "different" and going to "change the industry for the better". In whose opinion?? Theirs?? Like everyone else in the industry, (and most of the "online estate agents" WERE high street estate agents although suddenly magically transformed into completely trustworthy angels when they start up online) they are here to make money, make no mistake. Solicited testimonials on Trust Pilot and other such "Rating Sites" are not worth reading unless you include the ones that you cock-up (and we all do it) in their unedited glory, so why do the "online estate agents" place such a value on them?? Purple Bricks remove every bad comment on Trust Pilot because they "breach Trust pilot guidelines" until they are able to swamp them with good solicited testimonials. What absolute tosh!! The only people you "online estate agents" are fooling is yourselves. Stop trying to make yourselves look good by painting our industry black and insulting the majority of high street agents who happen to be good at their job, because just take a look at how much market share you really have and how underhand you have been to get it. If you are lucky enough to have started an online estate agency, and are doing okay, then I wish you well in your endeavour. Try to do it on your merits and not on the back of continuous character assassinations.

    Alex Sullivan

    Hi Terence,

    It's not our intention to "slag off" high street estate agents - as I've said in the article, we're well aware that great ones exist, it would be ridiculous to say that they're all bad. I started my sales career as an estate agent - my boss, Michael Donnachie, is the single best estate agent I have ever known. He gave me a break and taught me what I know. So I am aware that there are amazing agents out there. I want to make moving home enjoyable, not rid the world of estate agents. Like any industry, there are good people and bad, but respected sources tell us that customers, in general, don't value the service and are underwhelmed by the experience.

    We believe that we are able to improve that journey through lower pricing, better technology, and a restructured service model. Who says? Our customers, whose stories we share on our website. I can't speak for the reviews that out online competitors use, but I guarantee that ours are completely unfiltered. The whole model would fall down if they weren't, because those reviews are what tell us if a Guru has or hasn't looked after the customer well.

    We're not trying to hide the fact that many of our Gurus used to be high street estate agents - others were chartered surveyors, conveyancers and more. They all have lots of experience and are very passionate. Again, all of their stories are told on our website. I care about making life better for those great estate agents I mentioned earlier. With us, they can earn more and work less, as well as having a stake in our success.

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    • T Y
    • 07 April 2016 13:01 PM

    I have to say I've only skimmed through this, but I would say any agent (online or high street) or any industry that tries to win business by bad mouthing it's competitors is not long for the world. Alex as you say there are some great agents out there, there are also some great ones online. There are also some not so good ones on both sides.

    End of the day customer's want to know why your service sets you apart and why you are the right one for them to work with. They want to know you will go the extra mile and that you really care. Yes we're in the business to make money, as everyone has bills to pay, but it's also a privilege because you're there to help a couple buy their first home to raise a family or help a grieving family sell a relatives home. Property may be an asset, but it's also where many memories are created and it's a very emotive thing to sell a home. If you ignore that fact, no one will ever provide a positive review and in this business recommendations are key!


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