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By Nat Daniels

CEO, Angels Media


OTHER FEATURES

Property Natter – how can estate agents improve their green credentials?

As we motor towards the next major global climate change conference – the UN’s COP26 being held in Glasgow from 31 October-12 November – sustainability and eco-friendliness have become more important than ever and have been dominating the news headlines in the UK and elsewhere.

Last week, the very first zero carbon football match at an elite level took place between Spurs and Chelsea, while British Airways this week operated its first-ever carbon-neutral flight powered by recycled cooking oil, a major step in the airline’s goal to reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

In the world of property, meanwhile, there has been a big push from government in recent years when it comes to energy efficiency, a growth in the use of renewable energy and zero-carbon homes. Developers and housebuilders now wear their green credentials proudly on their sleeves, making it a central part of the launches of new schemes.

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While the government’s attempts to green the property market and built environment – which is responsible for a sizeable chunk of the UK’s emissions each year – have sometimes gone disastrously (ahem, the Green Homes Grant), the trend is only going one way and it seems to make perfect sense for agents to get ahead of the game and be pioneers in this area.

Not only is it good from a societal and environmental point of view, it also looks good from a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) viewpoint.

Where once green issues were only on the fringes, and not on the radar of politicians or society at large, they are now thoroughly mainstream thanks to work of the likes of David Attenborough, Greta Thunberg and the highly controversial but high-profile actions of groups like Extinction Rebellion. Plus, we’ve all seen in recent years the real-life effects and consequences of a changing environment, which has sharpened minds and the need for preventative action.

Fortunately, agents large and small, corporate and independent, can play their part – even if it’s only in the little things. And consumers will more than likely appreciate it, with research suggesting that customers are driving the shift towards sustainability and will appreciate companies and products who can match their outlook.

So, what can you do? Well, if your agency has a fleet of cars, you could consider converting these to electric – as certain agencies have in recent times. You could also look to encourage more walking, cycling and train commuting to work, rather than driving, as these modes of transports are much less carbon intensive.

Implementing recycling in your branches, if this isn’t already the case, is another easy win in terms of proving your sustainable credentials, while cutting waste by moving towards digital alternatives to paper, reusing materials where possible and saving on water can all help, too.

It’s also been suggested that working from home is more eco-friendly, with the potential to save over three million tonnes of carbon each year as less people drive in, power up their computers and turn on the heating/air conditioning depending on the weather. While remote working isn’t always feasible for agents, a hybrid, flexi system could work for your agency – and you might have certain back-office staff who don’t really need to be in the office on a day-to-day basis.

There are other, more practical, day-to-day things that you can do to save on energy – such as switching up your lights to more energy-efficient ones, going paperless as much as possible in a still heavily paper-based industry, and joining green schemes or raising money for an environmental charity.

Just Move In provides a great little guide for agents on how to be more sustainable. Often, it will be the little wins that can make all the difference, although it is likely to fall upon the heads of the larger corporates to take the bigger action, as they will have clout and financial wherewithal to take the industry with them.

The Great Suit Debate and a brand-new in-person awards show

The debate over how agents should dress in the modern, generally more casual world reared its head again this week, with our two articles on the issue generating a healthy number of reads and debate on how important formal dress is to male and female agents alike in 2021.

The pandemic has certainly had an impact in ushering in a new era of casual, but it seems the industry is still pretty split when it comes to this topic - with some arguing that smart dress is a necessity for credibility and respect among an already sceptical public, while others argue formal wear is actually a barrier and agents should wear whatever they feel most comfortable in.

The story with the biggest reads of the week, however, was the announcement that allAgents – the UK’s largest review platform for the property industry – will be holding its first in-person awards show this November.

Here, I check in briefly with Martin McKenzie, director of business development at the site, for the lowdown on the event in Leeds and the background to the allAgents awards.

How long have the allAgents awards been going for?

This is the 10th anniversary of the allAgents Customer Experience Awards. Until this year, we have digitally presented the winners with their certificates and medals as downloadable high-resolution graphics from the website.

For years, we have resisted agents telling us we are missing a 'trick' not having a ceremony. However, this being our special 10th anniversary, we thought it would be an excellent time to have one!

We are celebrating this milestone with stepping up to a hybrid event - mixing digital and an awards dinner in Leeds on Friday 12 November. Our awards have become THE ones to win due to the fact that every listed agent in the UK was automatically entered free of charge whether they wanted to or not.

There are no restrictions based on our winners and no one has to pay us or list their properties on our property portal.

How were the awards affected by Covid?

As horrific as Covid was, we found that customers and agents had more time on their hands working from home to ask for reviews and to write them. This helped grow our awards last year into their biggest ever done through our online awards formula. No-one has ever had to pick them up in person.

How are they calculated?

The awards are competed for in sales and for lettings as separate awards. There is an award up for grabs for each postcode prefix (e.g. NW6) and village, town or city included in the address of the agent branch. And that’s for all the branches on our website across the UK that qualifies for entry.

Collating the agent reviews together from the 12-month window, the agent with the most stars and a minimum overall rating of 4.5/5 will win that Gold medal for Customer Experience. There is a silver and bronze medal also awarded.

The local awards are all based on branch versus branch, so the big companies don’t benefit from a multi-branch presence and, in fact, in many places branches from the same firm compete against each other. 

We also have national awards including best sales branch and best lettings branch in the UK, as well as best small, medium and large chain in the UK. Other categories include Best UK Franchise firm and Best Mortgage Provider.

This year, we are also hoping to split the best supplier into categories like software provider, mortgage product provider, etc.

How many people are going?

We have just started informing and inviting the shortlist, so it’s too early to tell but the newly refurbished Queens Hotel in the centre of Leads has a capacity to seat 450 for dinner.

Who is presenting the awards?

We will have a celebrity guest presenter presiding at the awards handover and we will give more details on this very shortly!

Agents can book tickets to the allAgents Customer Experience awards by clicking here.

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Thanks for the answers, Martin – will no doubt be a great event and an excellent addition to the awards roster.

Talking of in-person events, the property events calendar is well and truly back in swing now. Yesterday, a few of us from the Angels Media and ValPal Network team attended the annual Agents Giving Charity Ball at the historic Epsom Downs Racecourse in Surrey, home of the Derby.

After a year off because of coronavirus, the event was back with a bang with the industry charity’s patron Phil Spencer in charge of presenting the Fundraising Champions Awards.

A range of impressive prizes were also on offer to bidders at the always eagerly anticipated auction. Great to be back in the room networking and spending time with people again. And we go again in roughly a month’s time at the ESTAS.

Until next time…

*Nat Daniels is CEO of Angels Media, publishers of Estate Agent Today and Letting Agent Today. Follow him on Twitter @NatDaniels.

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