THOUGHTS, REFLECTIONS & LESSONS LEARNT
We opened the doors for the first time on the 1st March 1998 with only 3 people – Gareth, Jerry Page and Ginny Williams. Today there are 16 of us!
In the late 90’s/early 2000s the average time from accepting an offer to exchanging contracts would have been around 8 weeks and the national average in 2020 was 14-16 weeks! The process has gone backwards in terms of time taken and sorely needs a 360-degree change to remedy the pain caused and lost abortive costs when a transaction falls through.
One of the most satisfying things has been the personal growth, development and longevity of many people who work with us. Claire Woodrow started in 2011 working on Saturdays and now is our Lettings Manager. Both Tracey Ashington and Angela Robinson came for interviews for a part-time secretarial role in 2004 and today Tracey is a Senior Negotiator and Angela is a director of the company.
We have a no-blame culture. Gareth saw firsthand a world-class example of this when his son was on a lung and heart life support machine at Great Ormond Street Hospital in 2006. Whilst we, his family, were phoning other family members to tell them of the great news that George was been taken off the machine one of the pipes came unattached and unnoticed and the following blood loss meant he was put back onto life support for a few more days. Nobody was blamed, their process was reviewed and it was inspiring.
Technology is important to our future and Gareth keeps everyone on their toes. New technology is regularly trialled and often adapted to make the process for our clients smoother, more transparent and faster. Everything does seem to have speeded up and so have we. From electronic signatures, so our clients don’t have to receive post and can sign from the comfort of their own homes to online virtual open houses and we will soon be offering online auctions.
We have always been a very social company and we have two WhatsApp groups, one for social chats and events and one purely for work. Before the pandemic, we had cycled to Paris, cycled around the Isle of Wight and around the home town of Belinda’s in Northern Island. We’ve also walked the Ridgeway, 85 miles from Avebury in Wiltshire to Ivanhoe Beacon in Tring. Like everyone else, we can’t wait to safely get together again for a summer BBQ and a long-overdue Christmas 2020 party.
How have new builds changed in Beaconsfield? Well in 1998 a new house of 4300-5000 square feet was considered enormous and of course, it still is. However, there are quite a few newer builds in the town that are over 12,000 square feet – to put that into perspective we sell 4/5 bedroom detached properties that are around 2500 square feet. And the apartments in the town are getting larger – the largest one that we are aware of is circa 5000 square feet!
Community – as we have got more mature as a business we have become more aware of the depth and variety of our community and we have become involved in a number of projects over the years. This pandemic has shown us all how important our community is for supporting each other, relieving loneliness and learning from others.
Training and ROPA – Whilst we at Ashington Page have and stick to our own values our industry as a whole has some way to go to earn a higher level of respect in people’s eyes. Regulation of Property Agents (ROPA) will become law in a few years and all agents and anyone dealing with the public will have to pass the necessary exams in order to be licenced to carry on in our industry. Just having years of experience will not cut it – it will take most people 7/8 months of study and then an exam. We at AP have embraced this and almost all of us have started online learning and we have a weekly Zoom quiz picking a different topic each week. Everyone is learning each week and it is fun, honestly!