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The Awards You Cannot Enter

Monday August 14, 2017

We are shortlisted for another award which is always a joy, but this is an award with a difference – it is one you cannot enter. The Estate and Lettings Agency of the Year Awards run by Property Academy and sponsored by Rightmove is quite unlike any other award in our sector and possibly any sector.

Savvy business people know exactly how awards have operated in the past. Usually sponsored by a trade body or magazine, the call goes out for submissions. Cue calls to the PR agency who will write the submission then polish it until it glows. Then the big players book a couple of tables for ten at the £400 a head awards bash at the Dorchester. One big agency used to send its submission to all judges on an iPad with a friendly note saying “keep the iPad”. No surprise that their annual dilemma was which director would get up on stage to collect the award.

Property Academy had enough of this questionable gravy train and came up with a new formula. An award you cannot enter because you do not know you are being judged. The award panel conduct extensive investigations into 30,000 UK letting and estate agencies. Mystery shoppers contact them all and narrow the field down to the top 20% which is where we are happily sitting today. Our prize thus far is inclusion in the Best Estate Agency Guide.

Then things get serious. The top 20% are mystery shopped in person and on the telephone up to nine times. We had a sneaking suspicion something strange was going on. Tenants do not usually ask questions about arcane property law. A landlord may be interested in our dispute resolution process but few spend half an hour interrogating us on it. But hey, our tenants and landlords are entitled to ask whatever they want so we simply provided the information. At no time did we guess we were being judged from afar.

This new approach is refreshing for a number of reasons. We are being judged on what we do all day, every day rather than on a glossy PR presentation of what we do. The Estate and Lettings Agency of the Year Awards levels the playing field meaning the big boys cannot simply throw money at the award and expect a return. The awards favour the innovators and those smaller agencies who realise absolute quality of service is the only way they will thrive and grow.
The denouement is also a refreshing change. Rather than pay a fortune to watch industry fat cats collect their gongs from a B List Celeb, Property Academy has organised an exhibition to showcase the latest innovations and a conference with key industry speakers from the UK and around the world. Yes, there is a black-tie dinner when the winners will be announced but like the awards itself, this is invitation only.

So, having got through to the finals of an award we never entered we are all very much looking forward to the announcement of the winners in September. But none of our team will be resting on their laurels. To quote the American actor Alan Alder, “Awards can give you a tremendous encouragement to keep getting better”. We enjoyed a small glass of Franciacorta Brut to celebrate having come this far, then it was back to doing the everyday things that got us noticed in the first place.

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