Despite the challenges that businesses have faced during the Coronavirus pandemic – there have been some positive things to come out of 2020. We heard from Jonathan Webster, Owner of Corsham-based Complete Estate Agents, who has used lockdown as an opportunity to recharge his business model…
During lockdown, estate agencies were forced to a stop, with the UK’s property sector put out of action from March through to mid-May. However, for Jonathan Webster of Complete Estate Agents, the available time became a valuable ‘pause’ in in which to bolster and innovate his business offer.
He said, “I wanted to be ready the second we came out of lockdown with something special and appealing for homeowners and buyers, that would set us apart. We’re a digital estate agency so it made sense to really embrace what digital can offer.
“I used the time to create virtual walkthroughs of the properties on the books, investing in this new visual approach using special software. It allows you to explore the property from your computer or device. It can qualify people in or out of a property viewing, which means better quality viewers to homes, so with concerns still rife about Covid19, this is a helpful and unique tool.”
The work carried out made returning to business a much faster process when lockdown rules were eased.
Jonathan continued, “When our industry came out of lockdown, we found out on the ten o’clock news with no prior warning. We had to open at 9am the following day but because of the way we worked we didn’t need to delay. I opened for business and had built a list of viewers from my walkthrough videos. It makes house viewing very efficient, but rest assured I would never be happy to sell a property without them actually seeing it in reality first, and believe me, there have been offers on the strength of the video walkthroughs.”
A moment of realisation
Like so many business owners, Jonathan found the strength to launch his agency after realising he was stuck in a job he didn’t enjoy and he’s been innovating and adapting his business concept ever since.
“I set the business up after I was stressed working twelve-hour days, seven days a week for a national internet company,” he explained. “My decision to create Complete happened for me when I wanted one afternoon off to celebrate my partner’s birthday. I finished work that day at 1pm and soon after I had messages from the UK Sales Director telling me that although he knew I was off, he wanted me to get houses on the market!
“I like work but I cannot put up with bullying. It was the crossing point for me. Complete had been in my head for a while as I used to co-own a two-office high street agency, but I knew that I wanted to open an internet-based company as this is the future of estate agency. In that sense, it wasn’t tough to launch as I knew I could do it and make a difference.
“I have experienced all sides of the industry and believe that our business model is the way forward, in the way in which clients are marketed and also for the way in which we treat employees and team members. I would like to see happy employees doing great work with a life outside of agency. I believe in a work environment where staff are driven to do their best, because they have a support structure around them that supports their home-life as well as their work-life.”
Reputation becomes the strength
There are many ways in which Jonathan is tearing up the rule book of a very traditional and hard-nosed sector.
“For one, we don’t do sales targets,” he said. “That will surprise a lot of people I suspect. What we do is always focus on the needs of the customers. We know that when we do that right with strong ethical values, our reputation becomes our strength. This is something that has happened already. We were the winner of The British Property Awards for Corsham and Melksham in 2019. This was the first Corsham agent ever to win this award. Our reviews are five star and the word is out you can trust us. Not something you can say about all estate agents these days unfortunately.”
Jonathan had always hoped the business concept would become a success but if anything, was even a little taken aback by how fast the agency is growing. Complete has an HQ at Digital Mansion in Corsham and while properties were initially just sold locally, today the agency has had properties under offer in Hampshire, Gloucestershire, Hertfordshire, Yorkshire, Chippenham and Bath.
Jonathan added, “Our expansion has been incredible. As the word spreads, locations organically grow with like-minded people who want to try a different approach. Coming out of a pandemic, this feels like a real achievement. With a digital offering, we can be a lot more nimble to respond than high-street based agencies. People understand that now.”
Pictured above: Jonathan Webster, Business Owner of Complete Estate Agents