EweMove has dramatically cut its price for established estate agents wanting to take on a franchise, in a bid to challenge Purplebricks ‘head on’.
It is charging £1,995 plus VAT – way down from its normal advertised price of £19,995 plus VAT – for a territory of around 20,000 households.
EweMove – which is planning to double in size over the next 18 months – also normally advises new franchisees to have working capital of at least £2,000 per month for the first year. However, the latest franchisees will be given help with their cashflow in the form of £250 per listing, repayable when the property is sold.
The franchise business, launched in 2014 by Glenn Ackroyd and David Laycock was last year acquired by the Property Franchise Group, owners of Martin & Co.
Ian Wilson, chief executive of the Property Franchise Group, yesterday confirmed that the new strategy is to allow EweMove to take on Purplebricks “head on”.
He said: “Historically EyeMove did not target estate agents, but the success of Purplebricks in recruiting over 350 Local Property Experts has been a wake up call.
“There is clearly a demand for a local business opportunity for estate agents disillusioned with the big corporates. EweMove will be offering franchises at £1,995 +VAT to experienced agents. They won’t need a shop and their monthly licence fee will include advertising on RightMove and Zoopla. Crucially, EweMove will pay its new agents £250 upfront for every listing, which matches the Purple Bricks offer to its agents.
“However, unlike Purple Bricks, the EweMove customer charging model remains commission based, no sale no fee. So when properties sell, the EweMove local agent pockets the commission, less a £250 completion paid to EweMove HQ and repayment of the initial £250 listing fee.
“EweMove management believe that this is a compelling offer which will allow its local agents to build themselves a business of enduring value, unlike the Purple Bricks listing only model which could leave a lot of dis-satisfied customers in its wake.”
The existing 90 franchisees, who largely work from home, have paid the higher price to join the EweMove business, but Wilson pointed out that all had needed full training in estate agency – something the new recruits would not need.
He said that there are a large number of good estate agents on the market, including those who have lost their jobs with corporates. He said: “There will be a lot more people in the weeks and months to come.”
Wilson also emphasised that the planned expansion of EweMove would not be at the expense of its Martin & Co and the four Xperience brands,
He said that new managing directors are being sought to head up each of these businesses, which would also be supported by the appointment of a new digital director.
Wilson said: “Our regional brands have a strong estate agency focus. Collectively, all five will be known as our ‘traditional’ brands and share a conservative heritage of suited and booted property professionals working out of high street offices.”
Glenn Ackroyd, self-styled ‘Head Shepherd’ of EweMove, said of the new offer to agents: “What’s clear is that estate agency is changing and that’s driven by the demands of consumers. They want 24/7 service and real time updates. Booking viewings online needs to be as simple as ordering from Amazon.
“Today’s customer doesn’t want to be tied down to phoning up during office hours.
“Sadly, most agents can’t meet these challenges. Transactions are down, fee levels are dropping and hardly anyone turns up at their swanky branches for a frothy cappuccino. Unless they change, quickly, they risk joining the ranks of Woolies, BHS and Blockbuster.
“In the three years since we launched, we’ve seen thousands of agents lose their jobs and this will only accelerate. But our low-cost, high-profit model has proved to be a winning combination.
“That’s why we’re reaching out to estate agents who are looking to safeguard their future by becoming part of our revolution.”
He said franchisees could look to achieve six-figure incomes. They would also have to buy into a culture where no pun is left unturned when it comes to sheep and EweMove.
Wilson said: “It is a funky brand, but people seem to like the jokey side of it. But no one loses sight of the fact that selling homes is a serious business and the firm is totally committed to customer service.”