Tuesday June 28, 2005
To Boston, with my hard shoes on, to deliver a timely kick in the general direction of the estate agent’s bottom. Perhaps I should make it clear that neither the hard shoes nor the kick were anything more than a figure of speech. Of course. I don’t do violence, and my feet aren’t up to the job of wearing hard shoes any more.
Before going into the office I did a quick tour of the agents’ windows along the main drag, checking prices and ‘sold’ stickers. And peering inside to see the level of activity. The result of my survey was to conclude that (1) we have our selling price at the right level, slightly on the low side if anything, (2) there is a great paucity of ‘sold’ stickers, and, (3) if I had to sum up the level of activity I’d use the image of young gel-haired men yawning in boredom, waiting for something to happen.
So, into our own agent’s to deliver that kick, frightening the life out of them by asking exactly how many enquiries have been received, how many copies of the printed details have been mailed out, and handed out, and the actual cycle time of the advertising and display. I wasn’t really surprised to learn that they don’t keep figures of that kind. By examination, it seems that the work has been and is being done, and done as well as it is in any agent’s office. But, no better. Instead of striving to meet the change in the market my impression is that these people are sitting on folded hands waiting for the business to come to them rather than going out and jolly well grabbing it.
I wasn’t surprised, nor greatly displeased, but I left them in no uncertainty that, at the end of the contract in about eight weeks I shall be looking at the possibility of switching agents in order to get a new team, a new advertising push, and a new window into the much reduced population of serious buyers. When I put it to them that it might be in their interest to consider giving me some incentive to stay with them beyond the end of the contract they were horrified. Not so much at the prospect, but at the very thought of the prospect.
In summary, the agents we chose are as good as any, but no better than most. In a much reduced market you have to work to be better than most, and you have to work hard at being best. I didn’t see any sign that they have grasped the nettle. It’ll take a while for the reality of a changed market to hit them, I fear, as it will for the other agents. Some will survive, many will fall.
Hey ho. I left them smiling of course. No point in upsetting the poor dears. And I think they’re likely to do their best to obtain a sale for us before the end of the contract.
As reward for my efforts I trotted along the main drag, into and across the town square, and into Georgies, where I partook of a late breakfast. And very good it was, too, hot, top quality ingredients, well cooked, and served with a smile. There’s a recipe for business survival if ever I saw one.
My walk back to the car in the bright sunshine was undertaken in a spirit of some urgency. There are far too few accessible public loos in our town centres and the one in the car park is the only reliable convenience with a reasonable standard of cleanliness. If there hadn’t been that element of diuretic-induced urgency in me I’d have loitered, snapping away in the sun, picking up pictures of life in what is a really rather happy town. As it was I clasped my pencam to the strap of my bag and beeped a few times as I walked through. My mind was not on the job, though, so I found my results rather sub-standard, yielding only one interesting picture. I shall do better next time.
Then, home, taking a side-trip for a routine supermarket provisioning. It was a hot start to the day, though not unbearably so, and I fancied I felt a slow but general cooling as the sky filled with a thin haze of cloud. During the afternoon and evening the haze thickened into real cloud and the day ended with thunder and lightning dancing around the heavens, slow and ponderous, more like a stately afternoon tea dance for the elderly than the thoroughly earth-shaking hoe-down that I’d really like to see. It rained, some, and cooled, some. By the time I was ready for bed the air was scrubbed clean, though, and came through the windows in a refreshing stream, making for a good, restful sleep.
All in all, a decent, productive day. Got things done. Didn’t feel too uncomfortable at any point except for the last few steps of my cross-town walk to the public loo in the car park. And that’s pretty good going for any day just now.