A Young Estate Agent
It’s 1983…… compact discs are dismissed as a passing fad, Motorola introduce the first mobile phone, The A-Team premiers on TV and Margaret Thatcher wins by a landslide in the general election.
In that same year a young Chartered Surveyor opened the door of his new office in Royton, wondered if he had done the right thing, then picked up the phone hoping to generate the first revenue from his new business. Apart from plenty of Estate Agency and Survey experience and a dodgy eighties haircut (yes he did have hair once) he hardly had any resources at his disposal. What he did have was lots of optimism and a strong belief that he could do it better.
Yes, the eager businessman was me, and that’s where the Alan Kirkham Estate Agency story began. Fast forward 30 years and many, many things have changed…………..
Back then, of course, I’d only ever known the expanding property market of the 80’s, with rising prices and a good chance of making a profit. I had no idea just how the country’s buoyant economic bubble would burst a few years down the line. The ‘Black Monday’ crash wiped billions from the world’s stock markets. The following year, soaring interest rates and falling house prices created a stranglehold on the UK’s property market that lasted well into the 90’s. It was a tough lesson that came back to bite us more recently. The stuttering global economy severely blighted 2008 and 2009, two of the worst years for home owners and property professionals that I can recall. Confidence is returning, but it’s fair to say that it has been a bumpy road.
So with the benefit of hindsight, what would I say to a young Alan Kirkham, if I had the chance to travel back 30 years and whisper a few words of advice to myself in that small Royton office?
Although I now know the challenges that were lurking around the corner, I would still say ‘just do it’. Whether it’s starting a new business venture or moving home, waiting for the so-called ‘perfect time’ can be a recipe for stagnation and (ultimately) failure to achieve what you really want. In fact, there’s another way of looking at it – a challenge can be an energising force, sparking innovation and creativity, and pushing companies and individuals to evolve and adapt. So despite (or perhaps because of) the fluctuating markets during the last 30 years, Alan Kirkham has experienced substantial growth from those small beginnings in Royton – the company now deals with every aspect of residential and commercial property operated throughout the whole of Oldham and Saddleworth via four local offices. Nowadays we even have a Conveyancing division.
So what’s the most important lesson I’ve learnt since 1983? It’s very simple. ‘Do what you say you’re going to do’. Give your customers the confidence that you’ll stick to your word, and they’ll not only trust you – they’ll recommend you, creating approval and new business opportunities. If that’s not a big enough incentive, remember the flip side of the same coin: if you don’t fulfill your promises, clients won’t hesitate to share this with other people. Happy or dissatisfied customers share a common characteristic: they have long memories.
And would I do it all again? In a heartbeat – I wouldn’t change a thing. It has been a real privilege to share the last 30 years with colleagues and customers alike. To everyone who has played a role in this story so far, and to those who will take part in the chapters still to come – thank you.