40 odd years ago, Jon Hunt hit upon the idea of shaking up the Estate Agency business, creating an organisation that was very much out of his mould. I don’t know him per se but by all accounts he is a dominant individual with an acute commercial awareness. He founded Foxtons; his character being the cornerstone of the business; effectively he was the DNA at the centre of it. Foxtons was a brash, aggressive company, out to set a new tone in the Agency world. They introduced the 0% commission structure to break into new markets, they introduced longer opening hours and the ubiquitous branded minis. It was a business that attracted young, enthusiastic individuals pursuing the dream of earning their fortunes.
The business thrived and as Foxtons opened up more offices across London, the competition went into overdrive to mimic ‘the Foxtons way’ believing this would be their route to survival. In some respects, it was the kick that the industry had been needing. The traditional agents quickly re-vitalised their brands, altered their opening hours and tried the assertive selling approach for themselves. The company grandees had done what they felt was right to keep up with the competition. However, they hadn’t necessarily understood the importance of following it through. The change became a veneer rather than a fundamental business shift. The businesses settled back to their default position.