Property Personnel started trading 25 years ago this month, so I thought I’d turn the clock back all those years and tell you a little about how things were then, and how different they are now. But before we talk about the business, two of our consultants, Georgina and Hannah, weren’t even twinkles in their parents’ eyes back then! That alone makes me feel old!
In 1988, if you were privileged enough to have a mobile phone it was the size of a brick, with an equally long aerial. Calls were about £1 per minute, so you didn’t spend long chatting, and texting didn’t exist!
Whilst on the subject of communication, computers were yet to make an entrance in to the mainstream office world; we all relied on the good old telephone or Royal Mail to keep in touch. Our early marketing letters were created on a typewriter, and sent by post at a cost of 14p. A large number of the CVs we received from candidates were hand-written, with many of the others often badly typed, resembling old-fashioned ransom notes!
Looking back through our records of the late 80’s, average basic salaries for negotiators were around £4,000 pa, and if you were lucky enough to earn £25,000 in a year you were a serious player. 90% of our vacancies were sales rather than lettings, and, of all the changes over the last 25 years, the exponential growth of the lettings industry has to be the most dramatic. Back then, lettings really was the poor relation, with most estate agencies not even bothering to get involved, but the agencies with foresight to do so really did ‘steal a march’.
From the outset, business was extremely tough to come by. With the country in the depth of recession, and the property market crashing, there were far more candidates than vacancies. Interest rates rocketed to 15% on Black Wednesday (19/09/92), a far cry from where they are today, having sat at 0.5% for 4 years.
There have been some notable changes in the attitudes and expectations of clients and candidates as well. Job seekers coming in for interviews would think nothing of lighting up a cigarette, often without even asking permission! Who remembers ashtrays on every desk? Whilst it was often OK to smoke, males attending interview with facial hair, or females wearing trousers rather than skirts, would often be instantly rejected! It was also perfectly acceptable to reject a candidate for being too old or too young.
Whilst in many ways we have made massive advances in the last 25 years, when it comes to business I think I’d happily go back to the days when texts and emails didn’t exist. At least we still all spoke to each other!
Anthony Hesse, Managing Director