Major regional group Arun Estates is giving its branch staff rises in basic salary of up to 20% together with a new 33-day minimum annual leave entitlement.
The changes were announced on Friday by group managing director David Lench, and will apply to office staff in all four of its brands – Douglas Allen in Essex, Ward & Partners in Kent, Cubitt & West in Surrey, Sussex and Hampshire, and Pittis on the Isle of Wight.
Lench says the changes reflect the ongoing industry-wide battle to recruit and retain top staff.
He has not referenced online agents, but other high street firms, including in the areas where Arun operates, have spoken to EYE about the challenges of keeping excellent negotiators and branch managers on board, when commission rates have dropped in a market where transactions have stayed stubbornly low – and where online firms seem to offer big rewards.
For example, Purplebricks has upped its recruitment of experienced Local Property Experts who typically earn £200 per listing – plus more for add-ons – with adverts stressing that many can earn in the region of £60,000 a year. EYE has seen invoices supporting this claim. The campaign clearly targets the best staff that high street agents have.
Arun, which is already one of the few estate agencies to pay sales staff annual leave commission to make up for sales opportunities lost while on holiday, will now also offer its people shorter hours and reduced Saturday working.
All branches will from now on be closed on Bank Holidays. Service levels to customers will be maintained via telephone access to the group’s central sales team, open 8am to 8pm seven days a week.
Lench said: “Despite the enormous changes that technology has brought to the industry, estate agency remains above all a people business, and in such a competitive environment, recruitment and retention of top quality staff is vitally important and uniquely challenging.
“For us, that not only means ensuring that Arun staff have all the training and support they need to achieve the best possible results for themselves and for the company, but in the process also enabling them to enjoy a better work/life balance.
“Through our recruitment partners we continually review what is happening in the marketplace in terms of salary and benefits, and we are confident that these latest changes keep us significantly ahead of the game as a preferred employer.”