Over the weekend, the sales team and I attended the Property Franchise Group’s National Conference, as well as the Finance Planning Winter Conference. It was the first conference of the year for me, and although most industry commentators have issued their predictions for the year, I think that the first conference usually gives a good indication of how the year will play out. From the speakers’ presentations to the chit-chat of delegates, you can usually get a sense of whether the predictions echo throughout the industry.
So what did I learn? Well, the overarching theme was change. Industry change, change in working practices and changing behaviour; 2018 will be a year of change. As the industry faces challenges to its long established practices, we need to change and adapt to fit the new world around us.
Aside from the stock and fee pressures, the issue of ‘the balancing act’ (as I call it) was the most talked about challenge that was explored at both conferences. Traditional high-street agents are realigning their models to incorporate elements of the ‘hybrid’ or ‘online’ models. There is an increasing need to have some sort of online offering as part of the services we provide, largely due to client demand and the changing nature of their expectations. The struggle, and the challenge, for many is to find the right balance – the traditional face-to-face, warm customer service delivered by a local agent, mixed with the online convenience that we have all come to depend on.
So with this in mind, it was rather fitting that one of the presentations at the Property Franchise Group’s conference opened with the Star Trek theme. As an industry we must “boldly go where no man [or anyone] has gone before.” We must explore unchartered territory and get creative with our solutions to the challenges that we face.
Many businesses in the industry are already doing so, and we’re no stranger to it. With the new Introducer eWay service soon to launch, we’re making strides to get the industry working more closely together than ever before, strengthening the working partnership between estate agent and conveyancer, for the good of the client. As we all continue to work through the challenges of 2018, I have no doubt that we’ll see countless creative ways of solving problems and even more new ways we can improve the home moving process.
A colleague told me that their favourite quote from Star Trek’s Captain Kirk is: “They used to say that if Man was meant to fly, he’d have wings. But he did fly. He discovered he had to.” I thought it was quite fitting for our year ahead.
So beam me up Scotty, I’m ready.