Monday, February 01, 2010
Is that daylight I see before me?
Let's be frank.
The last year or so has been a pretty poor one for my business. You think that estate agents in the UK have had a tough time (one in six agents closing, Countrywide turning an £85m profit into a £47m loss) well try throwing a ridiculously weak pound/dollar against the euro into the mix.
I've seen a plethora of local agents close their doors and British negotiators have to return back to the UK to seek work. My own business has seen turnover plummet and while my figures for 2009 were not quite in the Countrywide league they did have my accountant wringing her hands in despair.
I have done everything in the book to win new business - increased advertising, attended trade shows, written articles for the national, trade and regional press, assiduously followed up all leads (new and old) and networked relentlessly - yet international buyers have simply been thin on the ground.
There have been a couple of "false dawns" where I thought that global transaction numbers were going to increase but they have led to nothing substantial.
I realise that there's nothing further I can do about it. This is my third recession and I know that we simply have to ride it out. My business is "ticking over" but that's not how I like it.
Yet around 11.00am this morning I suddenly saw the faintest glimmer of hope that perhaps things are going to improve.
First I had an email from the team at FrenchEntrée. Their visitor stats for January 2010 are excellent and way up on this time last year. As we move into the Spring they are hoping that they will reach record levels.
Then, two minutes later, I saw a "tweet" from Rightmove overseas saying something entirely similar.
Now, it's a long way from "showing an interest" in moving to France to employing a buying agent like myself but it's encouraging that the demand is so noticeably still there.
I can't see 2010 being anything other than another tough and bloody year but experience tells me that while recoveries don't happen overnight they do have to start somewhere..