Six Things I Won’t Miss About Working For A Corporate Agency

by James Liggins, Associate Director, Horton and Garton Chiswick

I’m very excited to join my first independent team and help Paul Cooney build the Horton and Garton business here in Chiswick. Paul mentored me years ago. I learned the ropes years ago from him and one might argue that the last several years in corporate agency have been an extended training course on how the competition works and how we can outperform them… every day was necessary to ensure I got the job with Paul! I’ve always been based in Chiswick so I feel part of the furniture here; I know the local shop owners and residents. Working for a forward thinking independent agency like Horton and Garton is the perfect fit.
My career in agency thus far has been spent working for corporates and the experience I’ve gained has been invaluable in terms of learning what to do and, more to the point, what not to do. At Horton and Garton we can do things better and work differently to the London-wide chains. We’re an office of committed property professionals; there isn’t anyone ‘in training’ here for us to babysit… you’ll never find ‘the new guy’ who’s learning the ropes. The property industry is full of inexperienced people trying to make as much money as possible – your sale will suffer if it’s in the wrong hands. We have a collective experience of over a century and we’re proud of this fact. At a corporate, their company-wide policies and procedures means, as a negotiator, you frequently can’t take decisions that fully benefit the client. As we don’t need to please our manager’s area director’s CEO, the whole team is fully client focussed, working for them instead of ‘the company’s’ self-centred interests. It’s a incredible feeling… I feel like a new man!
Reflecting on my first week in independent agency, here’s what I won’t miss about the corporate world…

Six things I won’t miss about working for a corporate agency:

– Joyless, bland property descriptions. In corporate agency, I had zero flexibility when it came to writing property descriptions and would often have my sellers calling me to say, “Can you add in our favourite local pub that’s just a three minute walk? We think it’s a real selling point.” I had to tell them I wasn’t allowed as it didn’t fit in with the standardised description! Utter lunacy.

– Politics. Politicking was part of every day corporate agency life. Ego-stroking and keeping the peace between negotiators was exhausting. I’ve witnessed clients suffer due to the dark art of office politics. Selling property should be about the client, not inflated egos!

– Up to 50 live listings. I’ve always believed too many listings is a recipe for failure. You might sell a few of them, but what happens to the rest? If you’re considering an agent with 50-odd live sales listings, you should also be considering how many minutes of their day the experienced team members will have to spend on your property. It’s just basic maths.

– “Smashing the phones.” If I never hear this phrase again it will be too soon! The utter inflexibility of working for a corporate agency meant cold calling was part of my routine. I absolutely hated it as I knew the buyers I was ringing hated it, too. People in West London detest cold calls. They might be received happily in other areas of London or the UK – who knows? – but they don’t wash here.

– Leafleting and door knocking. It’s still common practice but thankfully not at Horton and Garton. We’re good enough at our jobs that we don’t need to employ these outdated (and desperate) tactics. In fact, we run a paperless office in Chiswick so printing thousands of leaflets would go against the ethos.

– Ties. Bad ties, silk ties, ties in general. This one speaks for itself – never again!