The former director of Fine & Country and the Guild has made plain his disapproval of parent company GPEA’s online strategy which involves offering easyProperty licences to member agents.
Mike Bidwell, director of the Guild and F & C for almost ten years until 2015, has hit out at the strategy.
He has also criticised ‘kickbacks’ from industry suppliers such as conveyancers.
Bidwell, who is still associated with F & C as he is now back at the coalface as managing director of F & C in Essex, Suffolk and Norfolk, told EYE he is now free to speak his mind.
Posting up a comment on Friday on our story about Arun Estates walking away from any online offering, Bidwell queried why “any normal business would back a strategy that doesn’t make money”.
His comment said: “Even if the strategy is cloaked as a sprat to catch a mackerel, I’ve not seem many mackerels being caught.”
Bidwell went on to tell us: “I am on record as having a dim view of the position that GPEA has taken with regard to operating a self-service model in competition with its loyal and committed full service licensees and members, and the mixed message this sends out.
“Unfortunately, I’m not qualified to say whether this is a view that is shared by the majority, though, as I tend not to attend the regional meetings very often, but I sense that there is disquiet.”
Bidwell said there are other, related, issues in the industry.
He said: “Last I heard, the national fall-through rate was 37% and rising, and there is no way that you can do the job properly for a few hundred quid or whatever it amounts to, with the bolt-ons they charge.
“The other controversial point is the kickbacks from the solicitors.
“I have to say that it never sat well with us in the first place.
“We’ve now made the decision to ban it in this company altogether.
“This is in the belief that it is bad for the consumer and therefore bad for business.”
Adam Day, chief operating officer of easyProperty, said: “easyProperty is not right for everyone – people are obviously entitled to make their own decisions and form their own opinions as to whether they feel easyProperty is the right thing for their business.”
GPEA boss Jon Cooke said last night that he reiterated Day’s comments. He told us: “I agree for a business to be sustainable it needs to be profitable.
“However I am not so sure customers are that concerned about estate agents’ profit margins.
“At the end of the day the customer will make the choice and easyProperty are allowing licensees to offer choice if they feel it appropriate.”