Unless you are in the habit of walking or driving along North View in Westbury Park, you might have failed to realise that we have relocated!
And that’s completely understandable. In fact, that’s rather what we hoped. You see, having had a High Street presence for 27 years, first on one side of North View, then on the other, we have – for some time – been wondering if such a thing is still needed in this day and age.
Then along came Covid-19, forcing us to close the office for a couple of months, then reopen, but not reopen, as we were instructed to work behind a locked door, only allowing visitors in if they had made an appointment and “if all other forms of contact had been exhausted”.
Back in the day – the day being 16th August 1993 to be precise – when I first started Haigh & Sons, with the help of my wife Clare and my late father Lyn, an estate agency without a shopfront would have been virtually unthinkable. The internet was not much of a major deal. Homehunters would regularly turn up at our office, registering details of their property search, making offers and booking viewing appointments.
But nowadays, most of the business we do is either by phone or via email. Rather than trawling the streets, visiting estate agents’ offices, those on the lookout for properties to buy tend to go online. I remember, a few years ago, Rightmove produced an “amazing” statistic that around 70% of people started their property search online. At the time I thought this was an incredible figure. Now, though, I reckon it’s probably close to 100%.
As Clare and I have lived in South Gloucestershire for 30 years, it seemed to make sense to relocate closer to home. We now don’t have to struggle through rush hour traffic to open the office, even on days when it’s quiet because of the season, the weather or the state of the market. Our office is a ten-minute country-lane trip away, which makes for a much more relaxed start to our working day.
The internet and technology in general has brought other changes that have made our move easier. Because our office phones are fed through the world wide web, we have been able to keep our number even though we’re miles from our original site. If anyone rings and we’re not able to answer, rather than having to listen to a cheesy voicemail and leave a message, their call will automatically divert to an actual human being who will chat to them and take details of their reason for calling. And I pick up emails on my phone, meaning I can deal with requests from wherever I happen to be.
So although we’re in a different place, we’re probably more accessible now than we’ve been since we first opened!