Lion Estates certainly arrived with a roar, making an impression on the market and taking a top property sector award within just three years of launching. Determined to do things differently in the estate agency world, Dominic Marcel set up Lion Estates with a focus on customer service and quality not quantity, getting the best possible deal for the vendor rather than on racking up sales and commission.
Leading a team of self-employed agents who receive generous commission along with the benefits of centralised administration, which leaves them to concentrate on what they do best, Dominic is proud of what his business has achieved. His pride was justified recently when he heard Lion Estates had been named as a Gold Winner for Milton Keynes in the British Property Awards.
The awards are independently judged by a team of mystery shoppers who mark every estate agency against a set of 25 criteria to obtain a balanced view of customer service levels. The criteria explore different mediums, scenarios and time periods, to make sure agents are rigorously and fairly judged.
Announcing Lion Estates’ win, The British Property Awards said:
“Their team performed outstandingly throughout the extensive judging period, which focused on customer service levels. Agents who go that extra mile and provide outstanding levels of customer service are rewarded with our accolade.”
Dominic Marcel said:
“There’s no charge to enter these awards and we knew nothing until we were told we had won, so it’s an incredible achievement for us. It’s fantastic because it provides an opportunity for us to explain how we’re different and how we have bucked the trend of what is the usual structure in estate agencies in the UK.”
The team are encouraged to work predominantly in the area in which they live, drawing on their local knowledge which can be used to offer genuine advice and guidance to potential buyers. There are, however, no defined boundaries and agents can act for any vendor that invites them to – while handling no more than around 10 properties at a time each to ensure they have the capacity to give each one their personal attention.
“We value local knowledge because if you tell someone that you live just down the road yourself, they are more likely to trust what you tell them about the area. However, there are no set boundaries because people like to deal with people they know, so those who’ve used one of our agents previously might prefer to come back to them when they are moving on and ask them to act for them again.”
The Lion Estates agents approach is for agents to take time to find out as much about the property and the reasons for selling as they possibly can, so that they are in a better position to get the best possible deal for their client and provide the any advice potential buyers might need.
Marketing is an important factor and in-house photographers aim to capture the nuances of a property, showing its character alongside the practical exterior and interior shots that are standard in the industry.
“Knowing why a seller is moving is incredibly important,”
“Whether that means handling things with extra care and attention because it’s due to a marriage break-up or a probate situation, or whether it’s selling a much-loved home because the family has simply outgrown the property, we get to know their needs and wants.
“Most buyers are interested in why the sellers are moving and what attracted them to the property in the first place. Whether it’s an older property or a new build, there are always factors that matter, like how the sun falls on the garden or whether there’s a park nearby for the children – all that adds something more to the process than simply presenting buyers with a set of details.
“My intention was always that this is not about getting as many houses as possible sold. Our structure means that the agents benefit from spending time negotiating the highest price, rather than what can happen in bigger agencies, where an employee is usually financially better off if they just obtain a reasonable price and then move on to the next sale.
“Buyers don’t really care how many properties you have on your books. What they care about is that you have the property that they want and can give them as much information about it as they need.
“For sellers, they know their agent. The person who comes to do the valuation will be the same person who does the viewings and the negotiations. You won’t be passed around an office, speaking to people who aren’t familiar with your property.
“It’s a personalised service that simplifies what can be an overly complicated and stressful process.”