Our new online marketing platform for the Cotswold marketplace

Karen Harrison explains why she has just launched Cotswold Homes Online

"Why offer freelance sales services via an online marketing platform when your reputation is so firmly founded on the local high street?"

Our core ethos has always been to provide superlative service standards to local customers. Both in sales and lettings, as renowned specialists and leaders in the marketplace we combine a high level of professional ability with a detailed working knowledge of the Cotswolds. With the benefit of longevity and experience in every sector from shared ownership to grand country homes, we have produced consistently outstanding results for our clients over the best part of two decades.

Our reputation for success has always been based on results, not on cheap fees. As founder-owners, having worked in the local marketplace for over a quarter of a century, the principal directors still lead from the front today, motivating and inspiring everyone to work hard, encouraging a positive and proactive team ethos whilst ensuring that each person becomes proficient, multi-skilled and independent. All staff also receive external formal training via Gold Standard, working towards industry qualifications and professional memberships, for which we pay all associated costs and subscription fees.

We invest equally heavily in the most up-to-date technology and modern marketing methods. Our exclusive licence of Fine & Country North Cotswolds, combining the financial might of an international network of upper quartile independent estate agencies, offers uniquely effective marketing to the hugely important London / investment marketplace. In the same way, our exclusive Cotswold Homes marketing platform offers superlative regional exposure via a wide range of affordable social media / bespoke print media opportunities suited to every sector of the local marketplace.

With such investment into all elements of outstanding agency, our traditional no-sale no-fee model is necessarily a costly provision. However there is no doubt that professional accompanied viewings, skilled sales negotiation and dedicated sales progression are the most important elements of any transaction. With a national average success rate of just 50% of instructed stock to sales (far less for online agencies in the North Cotswold marketplace from our own research), we habitually convert around 95% of our instructed stock to sales. At least with a no-sale no-fee structure there is proper accountability for the end result.

Today there is undoubtedly an appetite for more cost-effective services but a standard national online model is not simply bargain basement. It does not dispense with fripperies and luxuries but essential elements of successful agency. The worst stress points of any transaction are not adequately covered. Fraught with frailties, there is a fundamental lack of provision and investment into high-level skills, into dedicated sales progression, specialist local knowledge, united teamwork.

As Antony Codling of Jeffries has recently demonstrated national online models are at best only half a job, a coin toss with no back-up plan. Budget airline is one thing but only one working engine and an automatic pilot is another. If you knew you wouldn’t get on the plane. Relying on a fundamental lack of understanding about the elements that really matter in achieving a successful transaction is essentially a cynical enterprise.

However, Cotswold Homes Online is a luxury regional model purposely designed to overcome these insufficiencies, providing superlative marketing opportunities and the best in freelance estate agency services, with sufficient flexibility to be suited to every sector of the local marketplace. Combining freedom of choice on products and services with complete transparency on costs, it provides the perfect answer to cheap and ineffective models.

In offering a scale of fees for optional freelance services via Harrison James & Hardie we do not diminish our reputation or ability, whether at entry level or as part of a bespoke international marketing campaign. We merely provide invaluable access to our wisdom, expertise, experience and knowledge of the Cotswold marketplace within an affordable framework, and thereby the facility to ensure a truly successful end result.

Karen Harrison is co-founder and director of Harrison James & Hardie. The company has a policy of continuous re-investment into the training and retention of local staff, and is committed to the use of new technologies and innovative marketing methods.