Awards are often criticised in the industry and one recent survey found that as far as members of the public are concerned, they are the least important factor when it comes to choosing an estate agent.
But that is absolutely not the experience of Richard Fowler, of Northampshire independent Richard James.
In the first eight months of winning the Cartus Cup last year – awarded to the top agent in the Relocation Agent Network – valuations were up 22% and sales up 10%.
Fowler said: “It has helped our marketing and boosted our credibility tremendously.
“We have done a lot of marketing on the back of our win.
“As part of the prize, we also won a trip to the Cartus conference in Arizona, to which three of us went. It was a fantastic experience and we learned a lot, particularly about customer service.”
Go to the Richard James website and the front page hits you with a picture of the team and the cup – which is not small.
The firm’s pride in last year’s win is unmistakable: “We really were proud to have won, because we were up against such strong competition.
“A lot of people think that the cup is all about referrals, but that accounts for only 25% of the award. You are also awarded points for aspects including marketing, mystery shopping and customer reviews.”
Referrals are, nevertheless, strongly associated with RAN. Fowler said: “So far this year, we have had 20 completed referral cases – both that we have received and those we have passed on – and they are a good revenue spinner for those that embrace it.”
The firm has been a RAN member for about 20 years, and set winning the Cartus Cup as a target a few years ago.
With this year’s RAN conference and awards bash next month, the possibility that Richard James might win again should not be discounted.
The firm has put its submission in for the fiercely contested title: “Put it this way, we are not going to abandon it lightly,” said Fowler.
“It has been an absolute honour and a privilege to have been RAN’s Agent of the Year.”