Back to Basics

Estate agent Countrywide has had a fairly torrid time of things with profits in sales and lettings falling by 45%. In acknowledging mistakes and setting a forward path, the group pointed to the different customer needs between sales (recurring 10-yearly) and lettings (recurring annually), which require a more nuanced and expert approach than could be delivered in the single division under which they had operated. In addition, centralisation and standardisation had constrained entrepreneurialism and added to overheads. Finally, Countrywide accepted that its attempt to compete with online platforms has been poorly executed and led to customer confusion. In an era where technology facilitates process streamlining, here is a candid case study of some of the reasons why it should not be applied blindly in ignorance of the underlying business model and an acknowledgement of where and how value is created.