Pirates on the High Seas and on the High Street

June 2018

Hollywood often portrays pirates as drunken swashbucklers, scurvy-ridden thugs and with perhaps the exception of Jonny Depp’s Captain Jack Sparrow, you might not hold them in very high esteem – a bit like estate agents some might say!

What you might not realise is that pirates were in fact way ahead of their time in being pioneering and principled entrepreneurs, innovative thinkers and excellent marketeers.

The infamous Englishman Edward Teach, otherwise known as Blackbeard, had possibly the most fearsome reputation of all. But it was his understanding of the importance of image and perception, which ensured he was dreaded by anyone who came across him.

At the time, sailors were treated with less respect than convicts, paid very little, and were kept in filthy, cramped living quarters with appalling food rations. Many were forced or duped into that truly horrific life. If they were lucky enough to survive a skirmish, then it was likely they would instead die of typhoid or scurvy.

But Blackbeard was a pioneer who appreciated the value of of looking after your crew. He was an excellent communicator who treated his men (and women) very well – therefore they were willing and loyal. He fed and paid them fairly, sharing the plunder won on a voyage at the end of each trip. The crew knew they would be rewarded at the end and so that incentivised them to continuously work hard.

Blackbeard also understood the value of establishing a strategy borne through years of experience. He rarely wanted to engage in battle as it naturally led to critical loss of men and precious supplies, which would fatally damage his ability to continue his lucrative life at sea. And when you know this, the reason why he developed his dastardly reputation begins to make sense for his enemies would be more likely to surrender than resist.

It’s just these kinds of Blackbeard-esque qualities that mark out the good estate agents from the bad. Good agents have seasoned property sea-legs, are supported by a disciplined and well-trained team, and can predict the storms and battles up ahead. These qualities will help you navigate the unpredictable and often choppy waters of selling your home. Yes, you might pay a bit more commission for that level of service, but it’s more than worth it in return for peace of mind and a stress-free move. That bit extra that you pay a good agent will be offset by the speed and security of your sale actually getting over the exchange line.

Like their pirating predecessor, good agents are changing the traditional way of doing things and cleaning up their act, stamping out the bad old ways and ridding the profession of the wide-boy reputation they’ve had for years. They know that it simply isn’t good enough to just throw a property online, sit back and hope for the best.

Like our pirates who had to stay focussed and motivated throughout their voyage, most high street estate agents are rewarded at the end of the transaction, when their efforts are finally remunerated. Interestingly, many of the online and hybrid agents demand payment at the beginning, so you need to ask yourself, “will they have the same incentive to work hard?”

Many competing smaller pirate crews tried to take on and oust Blackbeard. But unlike him, they underestimated the value of networking and creating allies. If Blackbeard was in trouble, help would come. Similarly, an excellent estate agent has a far reaching network, with access to properties and buyers you might never know are out there. They know their market inside out, will use that knowledge and their networks to get the best outcome for you.

So my message to all estate agents, buyers and sellers out there is: ‘Be More Pirate’!

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