Wednesday, September 04, 2013
Close The Door - Wednesday
‘What is it?’ Asks trainee F alongside me in the car, as I pull to a halt near the subject property. Already I’m regretting bringing him on the valuation, but it’s how I learnt the business, pre-training courses run by failed estate agents and smarmy graduates with a degree nobody else wanted.
‘Don’t you recognise the motor’ I ask testily, nodding my head towards a familiar brand of small car, sporting a ghastly corporate slogan down the side.
F stares at the parked cars in the road, eyes slowly rotating along the line. I can almost hear the cogs grinding again.
‘Is it a diesel or something?’ He eventually asks hesitantly.
‘F**k no!’ I snap, breaking my no expletives rule.
F’s head snaps back as if I have actually slapped him, something else I’m not allowed to do. The staff handbook has become pretty extensive.
‘There,’ I say petulantly, pointing at the opposition’s vehicle. ‘It’s our competitors. They are obviously valuing ahead of us.’
‘That’s not good.’ States F, ruining it by adding. ‘Is it?’
‘No it’s not f….. flipping good.’ I tell him just catching myself from two expensive deposits in the swear jar.
‘Do we wait?’ Asks F looking at the dashboard clock. It’s a good question. I always aim to be on time and if I am running late, make sure the potential client is telephoned by the office to forewarn them. A homeowner – or at least some of them – will often tidy the house, prepare a cuppa and be ready a good fifteen minutes before your due appointment time. If you ship up ten minutes late without ringing, there’s a fair chance they’d have been pacing for nearly half an hour. So, you can kiss goodbye to any business.
‘No we don’t wait.’ I tell F decisively, turning to scoop my briefcase from the back seat and yelping as a sharp pain stabs along the sciatic nerve. The painkillers just make me feel nauseous, dizzy and as if I’m slightly detached from the conservation. A feeling F must be fairly used to.
‘We’ll curtail their sales presentation and disrupt any chance of the owners signing up for a sole agency if we ring the doorbell now.’ I tell F. It’s a grubby business, but they’d happily stiff us given the chance. F nods and follows me half a step behind, like some third-world-country wife - without the benefits.
‘It’ll just be a beauty parade anyway.’ I tell F a little negatively, as I open the rusty gate. He subconsciously sweeps a hand through his hair, as I hop from one foot to another and buff my shoes on my trouser bottoms. The old Eurovision Song Contest refrain of “Nil points” plays in my head as a tacky chime – not unlike a long distant Cliff Richard effort – rings out inside the hallway.
After a long wait a figure appears at the glass and the door swings open to reveal a flustered looking man with glasses and a goatee. He’s carrying a clipboard and for a moment I think it’s the other agent, but then I see the twenty-something, Armani-clad lounge lizard behind him. He’s the manger our competitor’s office and has an iPad in his hand and a supercilious look on his face. The bastard would win any beauty competition against me, not run by the Saga over-fifties company.
‘Sorry about earlier.’ Says the owner, after the other agent has left and we’ve done a swift tour of his house.
‘That’s alright.’ I say magnanimously, as we sit in the lounge and F plops himself on top of my hand. It’s a three-seat sofa but I’ve told him to stay close and not do anything stupid - so a 50% strike rate…..
‘Only I’ve got quite a few of you to see this morning.’ Continues the owner.
That’s not alright I think angrily. He’s just going to end up confused on price and baffled by fess. Briefly I wonder if he’ll be interested in my experience, professionalism and qualifications – then junk the notion.
Half way through my pitch, the doorbell rings.