In July 2017 independent estate agency owner Ajay Bathija decided to rebrand his office to Winkworth. Although Ajay had a very strong lettings part of his business, due to a highly competitive local market and lack of brand awareness, his sales side had suffered. However with its strong brand and extensive network – this was something Winkworth could help with.
Ajay’s business AKA Sales and Lettings had been trading for 25 years in Kingsbury, North London prior to him coming on board with Winkworth, so it wasn’t a brash decision to convert. Below however, Ajay explains why he thinks it was the best thing he did.
What have you found most rewarding in the last 12 months post coming on board with Winkworth?
“The way in which my staff have supported joining Winkworth and stood by me and the office. We have all welcomed the change with open arms and it’s amazing to see the eagerness of some of the senior staff to attend the training Winkworth provides. Support of the staff around me is vital and I’m pleased to say that we are all very upbeat and eager for the future.”
What have you found to be most challenging in the last 12 months?
“I thought initially the transition from AKA Sales & Lettings to Winkworth Kingsbury might be difficult, but it was without doubt incredibly smooth. In theory, I thought closing for 6 weeks and carrying out the refurbishment would have been very stressful, but actually it went well. I think the most challenging thing has been understanding or the realisation of all the things we hadn’t been doing or had been doing correctly. For example, having run as an independent for 25 odd years, we had forgotten how important it was to be part of the local community. I can’t begin to tell you what a difference this makes. Winkworth have taught us the value of being part of the community again.”
Having seen the business go from strength to strength your wife now works in the office alongside you and the team. How has this benefited the dynamic in the office?
“Shilpa joined our office around 5 months ago and what a difference it has made. Generally, I’m not sure I would encourage husband and wife working in one office, but for us in Kingsbury it’s been amazing. She joined mainly to run our social media and digital accounts, however slotted in so well she now assists the sales department, carries out valuations, handles social media and spends lots of her time giving back to the local community. Thanks to her hard efforts, she has managed to support two local school fetes and sponsored the local village events. I don’t think we would ever have coped without her joining, as having Shilpa as part of the office has added so much to the positivity overall. We can all see what a difference she is making.”
How do you feel about the support provided by the Winkworth back office services?
“If ever I’m struggling with anything there’s always someone I can call, and the head office support is quick and efficient. Training with Emma Hogan is superb and we all love the additional support training offers. Probably the biggest thing for me is I’m not sure how we would have handled things like GDPR if it wasn’t for Winkworth. Winkworth almost walked us through the entire process and continue to support us through the constant challenges and differing legislation in the industry. Dealing with head office is an absolute pleasure.”
Having converted and spent a full year within the Winkworth network, do you have any advice for potential franchisees wishing to do the same?
“It’s very simple, do it! Converting to Winkworth was one of my best decisions. From having 3 or 4 sales instructions as an independent to now having just over 20 is incredible and makes such a difference. The staff and I feel great about the change, its given us all the lift we needed, and I do feel that this time next year we could be the leading agent in our area.
You don’t realise the power of the network until you’re in it – once you’re in it, you’ll love it.”