Hampshire-based Mark Ellison, co-founder and director of Sparks Ellison, talked to us about his journey into estate agency, and from VebraLive to Alto.
We are a one-office independent covering Chandlers Ford (which lies between Southampton and Winchester). We opened in 2003.
I run the business along with my business partner and we do the majority of the valuations. We are both still front line, sitting in the office among the team, so still very hands-on in every aspect of agency.
In 1993 a friend told me they thought I’d be good at agency after she had spent the day looking at property. I applied to two agencies and got an offer of employment.
We are very fortunate to have a very experienced and driven team of staff. But frankly, heads down and make hay while the sun shines!
Mark Ellison, co-founder and director of Sparks Ellison
Since 2004 – it helps streamline processes and enables easier marketing and contact. And less writing!
Basically the same underlying structure but much more updated and flexible.
Some parts of software don’t change massively but Alto offers way more options and functionality. And the fact that it’s cloud-based is absolutely imperative in today’s world.
Being cloud-based to be honest. The fact that I can access it 24/7 and wherever I am is great.
Moving from VebraLive to Alto, it was generally very smooth.
Compared to our previous migration, it was straightforward, and the help and support was fantastic.
I thought the people involved in every step of the process had a clearly defined role and part to play. Ongoing support from James Dolan in particular has been first class.
I compared a number of systems, and Alto has what we needed at this time.
The value for what it provides, I feel, is much better than what I saw as the biggest competitor. I also felt that the migration from VebraLive to Alto was much more likely to be smoother and having heard from colleagues in the business, I knew lots of people had suffered big issues.
I also have to be honest and say that James Dolan was a massive part of us choosing Alto.
Every question we asked, he knew the answer to and showed us how simple the system was to use and how much it could do.
Think very carefully about what it is you are trying to achieve.
Think about timing and try to do when you know you will have time to learn the system and time to personalise it. Make sure it’s cloud based. Don’t overthink what you need.
Agency is a very straightforward business.
The more you take on the more you sell. Your software is not a replacement for good quality staff or phone calls!
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