A Yorkshire estate agent is breaking new ground in the industry by launching a fee structure linked directly to customer experience.
Linley & Simpson is “putting its money where its mouth is” by offering vendors the chance to choose a sales fee based on the quality of service they receive.
The company has developed a sliding scale of five different commission rates tailored to performance.
These range from 1.5 per cent plus VAT where customer satisfaction from initial instruction to final completion has been judged to be “excellent”, to just 0.5 per cent plus VAT where clients feel it has not made the grade.
Homeowners putting their property up for sale through its branches across West and North Yorkshire will still be able to do so at the traditional flat rate of 1.25 per cent commission if they want, with the Leeds city centre branch retaining the flat rate of commission as standard.
“This is an innovation that is over and above, not a replacement for, the single fee structure that currently exists,” said Mark Christopher, head of residential sales at Linley and Simpson. It adds a different dimension that will appeal to many wanting to break with tradition and have a more modern and personalised approach to payment. For the first time, vendors will be handed a bigger choice and say in what level of commission they pay.
In short, we are investing in our reputation for professionalism and customer service by putting our money where our mouth is. The concept has been born out of our core values of trust, transparency and a determination to deliver an outstanding customer experience.”
The payment-by-results option has been designed to provide the business with feedback and highlight areas where they can improve.
Vendors will be asked for their rating just before contracts are exchanged on the sale of their property, although there will be no formal questionnaire, just an informal chat.
The potential for disagreement between agent and client seems high and there is a question over whether anyone would pay 0.25 per cent over the company’s flat rate fee, even if they were 100 per cent happy with the service.
But Mr Christopher says: “Three or four days before exchange there will be a conversation about what we have done well and what we haven’t. We don’t believe it will cause friction.
“If there is anything clients are not happy with then there is room for negotiation about the fee and we get a chance to learn from that. It will enable us to look at things from a customer perspective and we’ll get feedback on how we can improve our service. That, in turn, will help us grow the business.
“If we exceed expectations then they may feel it appropriate to pay us 1.5 per cent.”
The “pay what you think it is worth” concept has been used in other sectors with varying degrees of success. It is in operation in a number of restaurants.
The Slung Low theatre company, based in Leeds, has a “pay what you decide” policy for many of its productions. The average donation is £7.50 for an hour-long show. In 2007, Radiohead released a digital version of their album In Rainbows on the same basis. At the online checkout, fans were shown a prompt that said “It’s up to you”.
Linley & Simpson’s new fee option is launched on August 13, www.linleyandsimspon.co.uk