Show House Magazine April 2020
BRIDGET CORDY SPECIAL AGENT FEATURE (TRANSCRIPT)
It was September last year when Ben Babington founded Trilogy after nearly 20 years at Jackson Stops, where he headed their new homes operation covering central and greater London.
“I set up Trilogy to focus on the three core disciplines of residential development land, development consultancy and new homes,” explains Babington.
“I didn’t want the Trilogy branding to look ultra modern. It’s very much about those traditional values of a full service agency but with a fresh look.”
Trilogy covers London, Surrey, Sussex, Kent and Hampshire but reaches further thanks to their links with local estate agents to support each development and complement Trilogy’s expertise.
“The idea is that you then get that really strong local or regional presence and then from our side, a very strong land & new homes department with a great deal of experience. It means we can be truly independent as we are not tied to any one agency brand. We’re already doing this at the moment for a number of clients.
“Trilogy is not a mass marketing operation. This is all about giving the very best service that we can, so we do the research and hear the agents’ pitches. I understand the inner workings of an estate agency so I know whether I’m getting a straight answer or not.”
Babington became an estate agent straight from university, joining Jackson-Stops & Staff in Wimbledon. After managing their Chelsea office he gained a year’s experience in land before becoming head of new homes.
“The sale of the London operation of Jackson Stops presented an opportunity to set up on my own. I wanted to provide the set up of a large company’s land & new homes department and then utilise the very best local and regional agents to complement it.”
He now commutes from his home in Hampshire to Trilogy’s offices in Reigate Surrey in his semi-autonomous car. “I leave home at about 5 in the morning, press a button and the steering wheel and pedals take over and it drives me into the office and the same on the way home. Having done that massive commute into London for many years, it’s certainly more comfortable than South West Trains.
“I’d rather start early and finish at a vaguely sensible time. The children are now 5 and 7 and they’re usually up at 5 o’clock anyway but I make sure I always see them every day, either morning or evening.
“We’ve also got a brilliant IT set up so all of us can be working remotely or working in the office, so if anything comes over on weekends, the phone is always diverted to my phone seven days a week so we can pick up on those enquiries.
Always an advocate of digital marketing, he wants Trilogy to become well known for digital marketing combined with traditional agency service.
“We’re all walking around with smartphones or tablets, so we increasingly expect the experience to come to us and whilst the portals are obviously important, they are by no means the be all and end all.
“Smaller to medium sized developers really need to stand out in what is a pretty crowded market, including large developers with significantly bigger marketing budgets, so we need to ensure that they are still competing.
“Then once you get the message out, it’s ensuring that you’ve got the tools to give people a good experience. We provide all of the branding, management and choreography of the sales and marketing campaign.
“All of our instructions have 360 degree virtual tours which we’re finding are a great way of people almost conducting a first viewing, so we know by the time they’re visiting the marketing suite or giving us a call, they’re virtually semi-qualified buyers.
“We’re also doing professionally narrated video tours with still photography and really great descriptions in a short video that we can send out to our buyers.”
Babington has been building a database of prospective new homes buyers and operates a trackable HTML emailer system which allows him to closely monitor campaign reactions and thereby focus on buyers who show greatest interest.
“Good developers, the ones that we like and want to work with, are actually brilliant at what they do. We then bring a wider market perspective into getting that product absolutely right, launching at the right time, and presenting it in exactly the right way so that campaigns are successful.”
As the company has grown, Babington has brought in a strong new team including Natasha France, previously sales & marketing director for Heronsbrook Homes, Andrew Simpson, who joins from Sibley Pares to lead Trilogy’s land operation, and Hugo Stuttaford to provide development consultancy advice to house builders, public bodies, institutions, charities and local authorities.
Additional services offered via partnership arrangements include finance, mortgages and Trilogy Interiors. “I’ve just been able to start from scratch and say, right, who are the best people to essentially become an extension of this team? We want to give the client the best possible launch strategy because ultimately we want it to be a success. It’s not what you’d typically offer but it means that we can offer these services as and when they’re required.
“If there was one magic bullet in estate agency, I think we would all know about it. When you own a smaller agency it’s going to be even more important to know that the work we’re doing for people is of the high quality that we want it to be.”