Seven years ago in September, I went down to Leith and opened the doors on an office for the first time, said hello to a couple of new colleagues, hoped that everything I’d been setting-up through the night for several weeks would actually work, then we all picked up the phones and started spreading the word that we were open and ready for clients!
Seven years (and a property market and global economic crash) later and MOV8 has turned into one of the fastest growing solicitor estate agency firms in the country and is barely recognisable compared with the cheeky wee startup it was back then.
Back in 2007 MOV8 Real Estate was founded out of the idea that the existing model in Edinburgh was not working as well as it could for clients. Solicitor/estate agents were charging percentage based fees and there were few alternatives available for sellers who were looking for something different.
Our ethos was to think differently and introduce an innovative service based on service, expertise, ethical standards and the use of all available technology. And so we began. We were in the Top 5 of all ESPC firms in terms of volume of business, from a standing start, within a year.
The market crash that took place in 2008 to 2010 was a painful time for those working in property and we were no different. The positive side was that it forced us to reevaluate and rethink. We had to look at whether the existing way of selling property was creating the best win-win scenario for both our clients and us.
What was clear was that after doing the initial work to get a property on the market, we applied the same systems and processes, the same amount of marketing exposure, the same quality of photography, the same people answering the phones and the same negotiators to the sale of a £100,000 property and a £500,000 property.
From this, our fixed fee estate agency model was born. The advantages to sellers included everyone paying the same for the core service and then having the ability to choose which add-ons they might like, including additional levels of advertising, additional for sale boards, or accompanied viewings, should they want or need these. This fixed fee model with optional add-ons meant that people could budget for their house sale from the beginning, and in many cases, save a great deal of money in comparison to the percentage fee model.
There have been challenges in the past few years, such as the market crash and subsequent slow recovery, all of which made raising awareness of our business model helping people to understand how this innovative, modern and fair way of charging for a property sale could actually benefit them: the perception was always that it must be too good to be true! However there have been multitude of happy clients and a lot of good times along the way (approaching 3000 at the time of writing) and we have always managed to stayed true to our founding principles of doing things better, doing things differently and having fun.
There can be no doubt that this partly contributes to our standing as the top-selling estate agent in the ESPC area today: compared to the other top agents, we sell a greater proportion of the properties that we put on the market. In 2014, so far, we are the Number 1 agent in terms of property sales within the ESPC membership.
Now that the market is in better shape, touch wood, we are delighted to be planning the opening of our third office in the Edinburgh area and continuing to expand the corporate social responsibility (CSR) side of our business too.
We don’t tend to talk about our CSR efforts, but every year MOV8 donates 10% of its profits to deserving causes – one of those has been and continues to be the Big Issue, and we have contributed to Macmillan Cancer Care, Cancer Research, adoption and fostering and various other good causes, both local and national. We have made it a fundamental part of our business that we will contribute to good causes and that we will use our profits not only for our own purposes but also for the good of others so that our business has a purpose that goes way beyond just selling houses for our clients.
It’s been a heck of a journey in the past seven years: expanding from three people to almost 40, having to move offices four times in our first year for reasons out of our control, setting up a second (and soon to be third) office, totally changing our business model, hiring and developing dozens of great team members, launching a unique and expanding training program called our ‘MOV8 Academy’ that allows us to take people who wouldn’t normally get a chance to work in property and set them up in a career, helping thousands of clients to buy and sell their properties and developing a corporate and social responsibility side of the business that gives a deeper purpose to what we do.
After all this, we still don’t rest: it’s not really in my nature. We’ve reviewed the whole business this year, have revised our feeing structure to take account of all of the customer feedback that we’ve received in the past few years and make it even more attractive than it was before, we’ve set ourselves the target of producing the very best in-house property photos in the industry, have restructured the business to provide even more exceptional service and to make the jobs as enjoyable as they possibly can be, and have set ourselves the target of being, far and away, the number one choice for anyone selling a property in Edinburgh and the Lothians.
It’s not been smooth at all times, of course, but we’re here, we’re loving it, we’re serving customers to the best of our abilities and we are always seeking to improve.
So here’s to the next seven years and thousands more great client relationships!