With several significant celebrations coming at the same time for Bournemouth based Knights, House & Lifestyle magazine decided to sit down with Director William Croker and find out a little bit more about how the company are building their future and looking back over the last 15 years.
So Will, its lovely to have you with us today, especially as it coincides with a big birthday, tell us about it?
Thanks for having me. Yes, Knights have just celebrated our 15th anniversary on the 1st of June. I can’t believe it’s been so long, it seems to have gone past in a flash, in some ways, and been a lifetimes work in others.
When we started out it was Richard and I. We had a dream about setting up an estate agents, that wasn’t run of the mill, that challenged people’s perceptions of what the industry was about and hopefully left every customer thinking their experience was positive. We wanted to sell everybody’s home as if it was our own.
Richard left the business some years ago to pursue different things but we are still very close and I am very proud of what we started. We were the first agent in the town to sign up with House & Lifestyle magazine and I still have the original interview we did, framed in my office.
“We sell everyone’s house as if we are selling our own.”
What changes have you seen in the industry from then to now?
Of course the major one is the reliance on housing property portals. The way people look for property has changed and we have had to adapt or fall behind. From our pricing strategies, to the quality of our post sale service, from standing out in a digital age, to the quality of your website, these were barely considerations when we started. Our website knightsea.co.uk is in my humble opinion the best of its type. Its informative and easy to navigate whilst showing the type of professionalism a client gets from using us.
We also have a new fee structure that financially challenges us to get our sellers the best possible price, to the point where we stress ourselves at lower prices and run the risk of being non-profitable, but we are incentivised heavily so that if the client does well we do well. Our customers love the concept and we love revelling in their happiness when we exceed their expectations.
Another change has seen the advent of so called ‘internet agents’. Do you think this has heavily affected how things are done in the industry?
What’s fascinating about this is that, it’s not new! When we first started there was an agents called ‘Smart-Move’, they were an online based agents who’s viewing consultants drove Smart Cars. They did really well, then the crash of 2008 came and they went bust.
Online estate agents can thrive in a market where prices are going up. Mostly because you don’t have to be a very good agent to agree a sale when prices are going up at £1000 a week on your average house price. Where that model comes unstuck, is when the market stiffens, as it inevitably does. Suddenly each house sale becomes more precious and the ‘sell lots for cheap fees’ model suddenly doesn’t work. The leading online agent, according to statistics, sells roughly half their listed properties, that means that the choice of using them becomes a £1,000 coin toss. The public are seeing this now I believe as things have got tougher post Covid-19 and now the thought of using a good quality, local company that knows its market and offers traditional values, mixed with modern technology, makes good sense.
After all why wouldn’t someone want to pay a couple of thousand pounds more if they are going to get them £20,000 more.
“We had a dream about setting up an estate agents, that wasn’t run of the mill, that challenged people’s perceptions of what the industry was about…”
So you have just launched your new Southbourne office, what prompted that and why do you feel that the timing is right?
We, at Knights, have always sold good quality family homes, we specialise in that market, rather than apartments or starter homes. Because of the service standards we offer, this has always resonated with experienced homeowners and clients who value their greatest asset and its conveyance. We also deal with a lot of out of town clients, partly due to the branding and the familiarity of it. It’s become synonymous with service and wanting to ‘sell everyone’s house as if we are selling our own’.
The obvious is strategically placed in a thriving location with great access to some beautiful local residences, it gives us a chance to increase our market share, as well as branch out into new postcodes, whilst bookending our core market of Queens Park, Littledown, Charminster and Winton.The timing has felt right ever since we returned in earnest post Covid. We saw a big evacuation out of London with changes to working from home practices, we saw clients craving good quality homes allied to good quality service and now feels like the right time to spread our branding out.
Knights new Southbourne office is OPEN, call 01202 403433 or call the Talbot Woods office on 01202 536496 for your chance to hear what’s happening in the market today and to experience the ‘Knights touch’.
T. 01202 403433
A. 1106 Christchurch Rd, Bournemouth BH7 6DT
Talbot Woods office
T. 01202 536496
A. 274 – 278 Wimborne Road, Talbot Woods