In this piece, Leanna Donkin from house. partnership reflects on what the last year has brought for her after a leap of faith that led her to taking the plunge and doing something different.
Having worked at a high street agency for 19 years, I can confidently say that there was always room for innovation – but that while opportunities to expand our vision and take the industry to the next level are constantly knocking on our doors, most of all it takes courage on the part of the existing players to make that vision come to life.
Where I was before house. Partnership and what inspired me to make the jump
I worked at a high street agency for 19 years in varying roles but always on the lettings side of the business. I was on a holiday about four years ago when I was asked to join as a Partner – at that time I was reflecting on the direction I should take my career, on whether I should stick with what I know or take the plunge and do something different.
Priorities now vs when I was at a traditional high street agency…
It’s very different. It’s flexible not only in terms of hours, but also toward our clients and applicants in the sense that we aren’t restricted by the corporate red tape – we can bespoke our service to suit their requirements and the market conditions of the time. The client is truly at the heart of the process and we are able to prioritise them in their own unique ways. This by no means makes the work easier – you have to be incredibly self-motivated.
How my views on the industry as a whole have changed…
This experience has made me realise that landlords and in some respect applicants, are looking for something a bit different. For instance, our photography style and social media presence seems more akin to the modern market place, with a strong emphasis on photography and brand.
The industry is evolving in a way that it embraces more modern approaches – people are continually seeking something out of the ordinary and it is our job to deliver. I think that those of us with years of experience in the industry, who have a background in traditional high street estate agencies, are able to take this sector to the next level in a unique way because we have the knowledge and experience to best support this shift.
How I see the property sector evolving and what I think it might look like in a few years…
Post-pandemic we’ve had to adjust to the virtual open house and I can see the technical side of the business has already changed quite significantly – it’s more electronic, which means everything happens at a quicker pace.
Advice I would give to others considering either setting up on their own or becoming a partner…
Setting up alone – don’t do it! Becoming a partner feels like it’s your own business, but under the umbrella of an established brand – all the crucial elements of a new business are already there and established, so you get all the benefits of setting up on your own without the negatives of having to set up on your own. Don’t do it if you think it’s an easy road, though – you have to be a self-starter.
*Leanna Donkin is Lettings Partner at house. Partnership. She previously spent nearly 20 years at Hamptons in a variety of roles.