A preliminary founder members’ meeting of a new trade body is to go ahead this Wednesday, founder Charlie Wright has confirmed.
He also revealed that the over-riding pre-requisite of membership will be a no sale, no fee model – and that all the prospective founding members are male.
Wright, who is the founder and managing director of estate agency software firm Easymatch, had initially withheld his identity when plans were announced last week for the Charter for Independent Estate and Letting Agents (CIELA).
However Wright – whose previous businesses in the estate agency sector included the bu2iness, and Datography – has now openly expressed his hopes for the venture, which aims to create a new agency mutual organisation for independents across the UK.
He said that the role of the founder members will be absolutely critical.
He said: “National members must be able to relate to the founders.
“If grassroots estate agency members cannot relate to their national committee representatives, then they will be unlikely to unite in sufficient numbers.
“It’s no good having corporate employees as board directors of agency mutuals if they have never walked the walk of starting and running a small business in a highly competitive environment.
“They will know nothing of the eternal struggle of the high street or small business owner. It is my view that having employees of large corporates representing small business owners in a collective organisation is a recipe for failure.”
Wright went on: “Each founder member will be representing the interests of thousands of their fellow members’ livelihoods. This is an extremely serious undertaking, so I will be asking founder members to accept that their role has nothing to do with their own individual agency business.
“The overall geographical balance of the founder members committee should be one that reflects the whole country. Past and existing agent organisations have, in my opinion, been too London centric at their leadership levels.
“Of the initial CIELA invitees, only two are from London agencies. The rest are from the home counties and around the country.”
He said the founder members would also represent a balance of different views and business models, including rural and urban, traditional and high-tech.
However, all would have to offer personal service “in person”, including advice, accompanied viewings, negotiation, sales progression and a no sale, no fee business model.
He said two prospective founder members operate small hybrid agencies; another prospective member is a former branch chairman of the NAEA; and another holds a very senior position in a regional group of agents.
Wright said that there will also be several members of another estate agency mutual – which he declined to name – at Wednesday’s meeting.
However, not one woman business owner is among those due to be at the inaugural meeting.
Wright said: “The female candidates I invited have expressed support but said they are unable to spare the time, or they have not responded. I would be very happy to hear from any women business owners who fit the profile.”
Wright said his earlier preference for anonymity was because he had not wanted to be bombarded with responses.
He said: “As a direct result of last week’s story on EYE and people quickly deducing that I was involved, we have received dozens of approaches by email, on LinkedIn and on Twitter from people proposing commercial partnerships, associations or collaborations which are simply premature at this stage, given there is not yet any certainty it will proceed, but nonetheless time consuming to deal with unfortunately.”
Wright said of his own business: “In due course I will fully disclose my commercial interests in CIELA, but its premature at this stage, other than to say Easymatch has almost zero involvement, and CIELA is a totally separate undertaking, legally and commercially.”