An awards scheme for agents looks set to expand this year.
The British Property Awards, which ran for the first time last year apparently without any advertising or publicity, is free to enter.
Agents in towns across Britain are automatically entered but are sent emails to opt out.
EYE became aware of it after an agent told us that they have opted out, partly because they had not heard of it and partly because they were concerned that if every agent bar one in a town were to opt out, the one that had not would be declared the winner.
However, the organisers told us yesterday that such a situation would simply not arise, and if it did, the award would be cancelled.
We were told that one winner per town is chosen after mystery shopping, and is then charged £199 plus VAT for a marketing package which includes the logo, a press release and window stickers.
Director David Gregory said that the scheme could now extend to 800 towns, with one winner per town. Winners can then be judged regionally and nationally.
He said last year’s scheme culminated in an awards bash in the Banking Hall in central London, hosted by Homes Under the Hammer presenter Martin Roberts.
There were, he said, over 100 winners, with the national title going to Jackson-Stops in Richmond, Surrey.
Gregory said that every agent in each town is judged against 25 customer service based criteria over a period of five weeks.
Emails are sent from fake accounts, to find out for example whether agents respond as quickly to buyer inquiries as to sellers, and how quickly email responses are sent and what their grammar is like.
Agents are also assessed on how quickly they answer the phone and the tone of their voice.
Gregory said that the idea behind the scheme is to encourage inclusivity. He said: “Other award schemes charge to enter and the ESTAS, for example, only judged 256 entries last year.
“Our awards exist because is a need to encourage inclusion.”
The scheme is also different, he said, because it does not take into account any customer feedback – which he said in other award schemes would only be solicited from satisfied customers.
The website expands on this, saying: “The British Property Awards was created by a dedicated team of previous estate agency owners who believe that the industry is unfairly judged by some consumers, due to the shortcomings of some estate agents.”
It goes on: “We judge agents on a town by town basis, ensuring that only those agents who meet a certain standard are awarded by our team. Should all agents within a given town fail to meet this standard, no award will be provided by our team.
“Once we began researching for our awards, we were simply shocked by the polarity of the service provided by different agents, service levels also varied wildly dependent on the time of day and the time of the week.
“We take our jobs very seriously at The British Property Awards, our mission is to provide a useful award for the consumer on a local level, highlighting excellence within their town, an award that can be trusted and used as part of their decision making process.”
The British Property Awards – whose company name is registered as BPA8 – is planning another awards bash this year, but Gregory said that the number of attendees will force a move to a larger venue. Ticket prices last year were £199 plus VAT.
The website shows the logos of some well known agents, including Belvoir, Knight Frank, Jackson-Stops, and Northwood.
Neither Belvoir nor Northwood was aware of the awards scheme, had not realised their logos were on the website, and nor did they know that any of their franchises were winners last year.
The Richmond branch of Jackson-Stops mentions its win in the news section of its website, saying it was “absolutely delighted”.