The Times: Estate Agency of the Year Awards
Fri 22 Feb 2013
Best Medium London Agency and Best Customer Service Award: Marsh & Parsons
What the judges said: "The culture of this agency is clearly defined; they ensure they do the smaller things extremely well and use this as a springboard to achieving great things. In a business of this size, it can be unusual to achieve consistent standards across every branch. This passion is backed up by stringent systems and processes, which serve to reinforce every aspect of customer care."
Peter Rollings,Chief Executive.
What have you been up to in the past year?
We sold the business in November 2011. It paid off every bit of debt, which enabled us to start with a blank sheet and really go for frowth. We opened one office last week and we're going to open four this year. We have 17 at the moment.
You won two pretty prestigious awards, why do you think that is?
We felt that the customer service award was a particularly good one to win and painted a good picture of what we're trying to do. We speak to every single buyer, tenant, seller and landlord on a regular basis - we even catch up with the ones who didn't instruct us and ask them why. We then have presentations on why - eight a year, in fact - so that we're constantly improving.
How do you ensure that you don't lose that personal relationship with the customer as you grow larger?
It's a good question. We have 240 people at the moment, which is just about manageable in terms of that sense of feeling local. The whole company gets together once a month to discuss surveys, keep in touch with one another and so on. But eventually we will split the company into regions, I imagine, with area directors.
What are your thoughts on the housing market for the year ahead?
I think the main thing that will be different from this past year is that people will feel less uncertain. In 2012, prospective buyers and sellers felt uncertain about a whole host of things, including the 7 per cent stamp duty. Now that they know what's what, they are just getting on with it.
How about for the first-time buyer?
I think that we have a very positive year ahead for first-time buyers. The Funding For Lending Scheme seems deinitely to have worked and lenders are offering much more favourable rates with lower deposits required. I'm not sure we'll ever see a return to 25 per cent rates for first-timers but at least we've got a range of 5 per cents now.