easyProperty CEO David Brierley on Stelios, stamp duty and getting franchisees selling
It was all the way back in 1994 that easyJet revolutionised air travel. It may not quite have been a Wright brothers scale breakthrough but the airline founded by Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou saw airlines meet affordability. In 2022, David Brierley is CEO of similarly orange business, easyProperty (part of the easyGroup) and is on a campaign to change the estate agency forever.
“Our mission statement is to help move people from A to B, much as easyJet does with its passengers,” Brierley says from his Portsmouth office. “It’s not a complicated process and what’s happened is that there are too many stakeholders in a transaction, and they’re all trying to protect their own little fiefdoms.”
Aiming to empower homeowners and buyers with a blend of sparkling human interaction and cutting edge technology, easyProperty’s unique approach is to ‘make every move easy’. This includes payment plans with sellers having the option to pay a one-off fee upfront, half before and half after sale, or a one per cent commission fee. Having secured over £800,000 worth of funding last year to grow and scale up the business, things are only moving in one direction at the moment.
Brierley knows the power of the easyGroup branding and with 98 per cent consumer awareness in the UK, it’s easy to see why. “They can trust it, they’ve got confidence in it, and it will give them good value for whatever service or product that they’re buying… It’s more than a little estate agent, it’s actually an epic brand.”
“Aiming to empower homeowners and buyers with a blend of sparkling human interaction and cutting edge technology, easyProperty’s unique approach is to ‘make every move easy’”
Despite the size of this brand, you will not find a single easyProperty estate agent on your local high street, with Brierley asserting: “I really don’t think there’s a need for that presence anymore”. He acknowledges many traditional estate agents would argue that their shop window is their brand but counters: “You can put it on Facebook, or you can put it on Instagram or any other social media for either nothing or very little if you’re boosting it.”
A foot in the franchise door
“The brand gets you in the door, but the personality of the person sitting on the sofa wins the business.” It is here where Brierley and his team work their magic. “We have a very comprehensive training and support programme. We can train people that have got experience or have no experience at all,” he explains. A three-week initial training scheme is just the start of what Brierley describes as a “very intense” three months of support to follow.
“We’re in there supporting the franchisee every day because it can be a lonely world, waking up in the morning and an empty diary and thinking, ‘God, now what do I do?’ We’re there to help people through that, and make sure that they have appointments in their diary.” Brierley himself has assembled an impressive team including national franchise director Kelvin Brooke and talent coach Jo Bourne (previously of Purple Bricks), both of whom have a wealth of industry experience and a hands-on approach. “Franchisees will see a lot of Kelvin and Join those three months especially,” he says.
In addition to the training, franchisees will receive access to easyProperty’s suite of technology, with a lush new website, a 24/7 customer dashboard and a brand-new app designed to close the distance between agent and client. With this CRM system, buyers and sellers can manage viewings, listings and appointments all in one place. Brierley believes as well this will take a lot of ambiguity and waiting out of the house purchasing process with prospective buyers giving instant feedback. “Agents are very bad at giving bad news,” explains Brierley. “They hate to upset anybody. So they kind of dress it all up. Whereas when you see a Trustpilot review, if somebody is not happy, they write it down.”
People sell property
Brierley himself has plenty of sage advice for franchisees. “They’ve got to be everywhere… school gates, golf clubs, rugby clubs, pubs, cafes, the more you can be seen out and about, and talking to people, the better.” It becomes clear talking with Brierley that he also has a passion for people. “If you’ve got a quiet day in your diary, just get out and go walk around the streets, find somebody to talk to and you never know… if you’re not doing anything, nothing will happen,” he says.
“There’s no question that you can make a very good living out of being the local estate agent”
With the government’s stamp duty holiday now over the famously unpredictable property market is living up to its reputation, but Brierley is bullish about the success of the easyProperty model. “I don’t think it’s a huge impact,” he explains. “It will affect some people’s decisions but really, the big savings were at the expensive end of the market.” When asked about a potential market slowdown, Brierley draws on his own experience: “If you need to move, for whatever reason, you move. I’ve seen terrible markets and I’ve seen good markets, but I’ve seen more good markets than I’ve seen bad. People are always having to move for a reason.” Brierley is confident that with the right training and a people-first approach that: “There’s no question that you can make a very good living out of being the local estate agent.”
One franchisee that Brierley is keen to highlight making the most of their training is Castleford Tigers’ professional rugby league player Liam Watts who he wryly dubs “our most photographed franchisee”.
“He’s a classic example of someone who wins business simply because of who he is,” he explains while praising Liam’s discipline as a professional sportsman and how that translates to being a successful franchisee. “In any business, you need discipline. You need to get up in the morning and have something to do otherwise it will disappear.” This may all sound like hard work but for Brierley, the satisfaction is well worth it. “You make a lot of friends out of it, it’s not just a transaction; it’s a period of six, 12 months, where you’re supporting these people,” he explains.
“Sometimes things don’t go quite according to plan, and you can get it in the ear – you just deal with it. Other times customers turn up with champagne and chocolates.”
Andrew Sansom is a content writer for What Franchise.