The last quarter of 2019 was the best quarter of the year in financial terms and I was delighted to end the year 12% ahead of my business plan.
Given the challenges that my clients faced in the property market this was a pleasing result and showed that good businesses recognise that engaging experienced, forward looking input into their operations is actually a great investment. In 2019 I worked with 164 different businesses and provided a range of services including training and coaching, business mentoring, compliance audit and control, content writing and social media management.
During the year I ran six open anti-money laundering and consumer protection regulation courses with over 240 delegates attending as well as many programmes for individual companies. My next open course is in London on March 4th and is booking now (details here)
Interestingly, National Trading Standards have recently stated that agents should now be informing potential buyers and tenants about air pollution levels as this is "material information" under Consumer Protection Regulations and could affect a consumers transactional decision making. I can hear many of you saying - "where is it going to stop" - short answer I don't know but, as I have been saying for some time, caveat emptor (let the buyer beware) may not be dead but it is certainly terminally ill and cannot be relied upon or hidden behind!
In 2019 I was delighted to have been selected as a judge for three separate sets of awards.
- The Property4Media Property Press Awards
- The LFS Conveyancing Awards
- The Negotiator Awards
Whilst it can be time consuming, it is always interesting being a judge and seeing what the best in the industry are doing and attending the award events is always a great opportunity to mingle and network with the “great and the good”!
During the year I was also honoured to chair the LFS conveyancing conference in Birmingham and also to be a panel guest at the Bold Legal Group/ESTAS legal conference in London.
The LFS Conveyancing conference and awards has now been taken over by the Inside Conveyancing group but I am delighted that I have been retained again for 2020. The conference and awards will be in Birmingham on 23rd September.
October saw Integra voted as Exceptional and Top Three in the training, coaching and consultancy section of the EA Masters Supplier of the Year 2020. This was particularly pleasing as it is voted for by clients. This was the third year in succession that I have secured such an accolade at these awards.
In 2019 I was invited to join the Home Buying and Selling Group which is a group comprising stakeholders from across the industry - these include the Government, Bank of England, the Law Society, RICS, NAEA, Licensed Conveyancers and representatives from the estate agency, conveyancing, searches, surveying, mortgages and insurance industries.
The Group is looking at how improvements can be made to improve the speed and certainty of the buying and selling process and improve consumer confidence.
The provision of more robust information at the start of transactions will be key(Home Information Packs anybody?!) and aspects like "reservation agreements" are being explored.
This will be a huge "work in progress" and important it doesn't just become a "talking shop" and actually helps deliver real change. I am delighted to be able to input my, not inconsiderable, "two pennies worth" and hopefully help move things forward.
During the year I contributed articles to each of the four editions of the Property Chronicle magazine. The two most recent articles can be viewed here:
I also contributed a well received article to Letting Agent Today about the need to "join up" technology in the agency sector
December saw two major projects come to fruition.
Firstly, Glanty (parent company of teclet, the innovative lettings software) where I am a Non Exec Director, secured a significant investment from On The Market who acquired 20% of the business and have an option to acquire the remainder of the business over the next 15 months with a performance related purchase model.
The additional opportunities that will be created by working with On the Market are significant as they have around 12500 estate agency offices in their membership.
Secondly, long term clients Christopher Nevill in Uxbridge were operating from two premises in the High Street (sales and lettings) and during the year consolidated into one refurbished premise and managed to assign their other lease just before Christmas.
Not only are there significant operational gains to be had from being in one premise but there is also a significant reduction in the cost base.
A year ago, another long-term client, Orchards of London, consolidated their four High Street office operation into a single “hub” covering West London. No-one would pretend that the move didn’t create some challenges but overall the business has moved forward, is nicely profitable and well set to grow in 2020.
January will see me commence working with a young industry professional on a 1:1 Mentoring programme. Whilst I do a lot of this work on behalf of companies, it is pleasing to see someone who is prepared to invest in their own development – when I think of the time and money I have “invested” in my own career over the last 45 years, it has paid dividends many times over and I believe it will do for my client.
Talking about investing - January will also see me attending EA6, a conference looking at the future of estate agency and the harnessing of technology – a great line-up of speakers and demonstration of exciting new products is planned.
As we enter a New Year it is pleasing to have a number of clients who have already scheduled meetings with me throughout the year in order to help stay on track and deliver the business plans they have created.
My own business plan for the year is in place. I have a clear set of objectives that all follow the SMART principle of being Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timed. I keep my plans under almost daily review in order to stay on track and in order to adjust where necessary to meet new conditions and opportunities.
I am also excited about a couple of discussions that are taking place about Non-Exec Director roles with exciting, forward looking businesses. As an independent resource I am very careful to ensure no conflict of interest arises with any of my clients but where I can bring the benefit of my experience, knowledge, business acumen and mindset to a non-competing organisation that I believe in, then I am happy to discuss getting more closely involved.
Now, an observation for those of you who engage external photo/floorplan and EPC specialists. Are you clear about who owns the rights to any images etc produced?
Many agents get annoyed (rightly) when another agent uses images that had been produced by their agency but don’t realise that the rights may actually lie with their provider and not themselves. Often (and understandably) photographers/datagraphers are often only licensing the use of the images/floorplans etc they produce to the agent who engages them, they are not passing across “title”
This might be one to look at and review to ensure your arrangements are as you would like them to be.
Finally, best wishes for a successful 2020. As always, I am here to discuss any aspects of your business where you believe I can assist.
Michael S Day MBA FRICS FNAEA FARLA