THE UK'S FIRST ESTATE AGENT EMPLOYMENT TRAINING PROVIDER
Dexters Academy, the UK’s first Estate Agency Employment Training Provider, takes on 100 new recruits in 2021 to build local office network.
Dexters, London's leading independent Chartered Surveyor and Estate Agent, has confirmed that it will be taking on 100 new recruits for the Dexters Academy apprentice scheme during 2021 as the business continues to grow by investing in its people and maintaining the high standards of professional training provided to the outstanding teams working in Dexters' network of local London offices right across the capital.
Dexters expect strong interest and a healthy number of applications for their apprenticeship programme. They have 80 apprentices nearing completion of their courses at the Dexters Academy and a further 70 apprentices who enrolled at the Academy this year. In addition to this, 150 apprentices have previously qualified from the Academy since 2017.
Through their 5,000 sq. ft Pimlico Training Academy, Dexters is the UK's first and only Estate Agent ‘employer provider’ accredited by the Government's Education and Skills Funding Agency, which is part of the Department of Education. As an accredited provider, the Dexters Academy delivers a series of nationally recognised apprenticeship programmes in Estate Agency and customer service. Typically apprentices and others joining the Academy are self-motivated, driven to succeed and are passionate about customer service.
Dexters is optimistic about the year ahead, predicting an 18% rise in turnover next year to £125 million. The Dexters Academy plays a key part in preparing for the future growth of the business through it’s training and development network. Since reopening all offices in May Dexters have worked all summer and right through the November lockdown. Dexters have employed 160 new colleagues overall during 2020, all of whom will do some training at the Academy, the figure includes the 70 who have joined the Dexters Academy apprentice programme.
Brandon van der Westhuizen, Dexters’ Recruitment Director, says: "Our apprenticeships are at the very heart of the Dexters Academy, however we offer a full range of training and coaching to all of our colleagues from here”. Brandon van der Westhuizen explains that he is looking for a broad range of new recruits to join the Dexters Academy, he continues: "We pride ourselves on exceptional customer service and so those with experience in retail, travel and hospitality do well on our fast-track management programme where we can train them for a career in property. We also welcome applications from graduates and have a number of apprenticeships on offer. We do employ some talented people from elsewhere within the industry, but we prefer recruits to go through our Dexters Academy, indeed approaching 90% of our management have come from our own programme."
Brandon van der Westhuizen adds: "Most of our colleagues work near to where they live, so local roots and a detailed knowledge of London are an advantage. It typically takes a new recruit around 7 years to rise up to being an Office Manager, however there is a fast track management programme through which the most ambitious and talented individuals can progress more quickly. After basic training, targeted earnings start at £27,500 - £45,000 rising up to over £70,000 for senior negotiators and office managers. Experienced office managers can expect to earn a six figure salary."
Brandon van der Westhuizen went on to explain: "We are very proud of the fact that we employ more women than men (over 53%), however we're not complacent, since our senior management still requires more gender balance and therefore, although it will take some time, and recruitment and promotion is on merit, we are consistently looking to employ more women than men to help us to redress this."
New recruits will be joining a firm with 70 offices across the capital, including 12 in Prime Central London, a well-managed business which is one of London’s only major residential estate agencies that is a firm of professional Chartered Surveyors, regulated by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).
The Dexters Academy, spearheaded by Hayley Lynch, Dexters Director of Coaching, specialises not just in Estate Agency skills but also professional qualification programmes for Estate Agency sales, lettings and for the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors. Currently about half of the company's entire workforce is training for one professional qualification or another. Professional development never stops and even the senior management and directors continue to be involved in their own education, coaching and developing and mentoring others. Dexters Academy has a cutting edge leadership development programme, busy working with tomorrow's leaders.
The Government has proposed that all Estate Agents should be suitably qualified and Dexters is very much in agreement. They already meet the proposed ROPA (Regulation of Property Agents) minimum standards and are looking to exceed these with a focus on lifelong learning.
Andy Shepherd, Dexters CEO, comments: "Experts in real estate all over the world have mandatory licensing and qualifications in order to ensure that they are best qualified to give advice to customers. The UK is the exception and although there are some very good Estate Agents out there, it is sometimes difficult to tell because there are a lot of different standards and organisations which purport to represent the industry. Agents have become good at pretending that they are qualified and regulated when the majority are not, so much so that the public often assume that one agent is much like the next.”
Andy Shepherd continues: “At Dexters we’ve grown largely through word of mouth recommendation, in fact nearly 7 out of 10 customers come to us because they know someone for whom we have done a good job. We have well over 15,000 current Google reviews at an average of 4.9 out of 5 and we continually look to improve and to achieve a rating of 5 out of 5 at every opportunity”, says Andy.
Apprenticeships have a long tradition in the UK dating back to the 12th Century and were first legislated by government in 1563 when Queen Elizabeth I wanted “my Realm and subjects to prosper from the rich fruits of good and wise learning and practice” and issued the Statute of Apprentices which made apprenticeship compulsory for anyone who wished to enter a profession/trade including law, medicine, woodwork, stone masonry and ironmongery.
In 1994 the UK government introduced modern apprenticeships based on guidance from the Sector Skills Council and in 2009 the National Apprenticeship Service (now part of the Education and Skills Funding Agency) was launched to help coordinate and set standards for apprenticeships in England.
The Dexters Academy was founded in 2014 with an endorsement from the City of Westminster Council and is based in central London in the former Pimlico library on Rampayne Street, SW1. The building, which is Listed, was remodelled specially for Dexters by interior refurbishment specialists Archers into a spacious, state-of-the-art training centre able to house delegates in open plan spaces with break-out and meeting rooms.
Dexters is justifiably proud that this building continues to be a place of learning and there remain some of the old library bookcases alongside messages on the walls about the company’s ethos and service standards. The energy and enthusiasm of the coaching team is palpable and they are all absolutely ‘on-message’ when it comes to explaining the culture that is at the heart of everything and everyone right across the business.
Dexters believe strongly that structured learning on the job, working with an experienced Director who serves as a mentor, is an unbeatable way for an apprentice to learn the highest standards of the estate agency profession. However, this is supplemented with workshops at the Dexters Academy on areas such as compliance and legalities, customer service, effective marketing, team skills and leadership for those running a local office (each of which is a business in its own right).
Currently the Dexters Academy has adapted to social distancing through virtual learning via Zoom/Microsoft teams, guided by Dexters’ experienced coaching team. Holding classes in Pimlico with smaller group sizes will resume as soon as restrictions are lifted.
Andy Shepherd, CEO of Dexters, says: “Through our Training Academy, Dexters is the UK’s first and only Estate Agency employer provider, professionally accredited to deliver our nationally recognised apprenticeship programmes. Our apprenticeships are part of our ‘career for life’ culture, demonstrating our commitment to professionalism within our industry and attracting, retaining and developing the best talent.”
Andy Shepherd continues: “Dexters is the only UK Estate Agent that has employer provider status and we are passionate about investing and training our people and do everything we can to support them so they can spend their careers with us. At a time when we hear reports that other London agents are closing offices and going online, cutting staff and slashing training budgets, Dexters is doing the opposite and instead we are growing through investing in our offices, bringing on new apprentices and maintaining our Dexters Academy through remote learning and socially distant practices.”
Gabriella Orbert, Sales Manager, Dexters (Bloomsbury), who did the apprentice course says: “When I first heard about the Apprenticeship scheme I was really keen to be involved and was quickly signed up by the Academy. During the course I learned so much, which I now incorporate in my every day work. I feel it's been a great help in my career progression within Dexters.”
George Steer, Sales Manager, Dexters (Chiswick) says: “I started on the apprenticeship scheme at the Dexters Academy shortly after joining in 2017. The most useful part of the course was analysing my sales experience up to that point and then learning to adapt and hone my techniques to make me more effective. This has been of great benefit to myself, my customers and my clients. I'm focused now on achieving the NFOPP qualification, with the ultimate aim of RICS after that.”