Greater than 18 months on from the acquisition of ZPG for £2.2 billion by Silver Lake Companions, a US non-public fairness agency specialising in know-how investments, Zoopla is beginning to realise its potential with bold plans for progress.
There have already been various alterations for the reason that takeover, with lots extra adjustments afoot, together with some massive plans, as Charlie Bryant, CEO, Zoopla, explains…
What are you able to inform us about Zoopla’s plans for progress?
Brokers are on the coronary heart of the whole lot we do and each determination we make. Our mandate for progress is to be the very best associate to brokers, to ship tangible worth and to unlock new progress alternatives for them by way of delivering an modern, broad set of services and products.
Key to this are our efforts to enhance the expertise and engagement for dwelling hunters, in flip driving applicant and valuation results in our clients’ companies.
We respect that we function in a aggressive market and we don’t take our clients with no consideration. We consider that we’re in one of the best place to supply a tailor-made, progressive package deal of options and platforms, anchored in information and perception, and a dedication to a long-standing partnership.
What areas are you most seeking to broaden in?
We wish to lower the stress and revive the enjoyment of discovering a brand new dwelling for property hunters, whereas easing ache factors for brokers, and it’s our evaluation that the business is hungry for tech innovation.
For the reason that introduction of the property portal almost 20 years in the past, developments in how we assist folks discover a dwelling have slowed. The business has merely not stored up with the tempo of innovation in different consumer-centric experiences, from selecting a film to listening to music.
Knowledge, personalisation and a deep understanding of our viewers will all subsequently be key to our future.
We recognise that we must be greater than only a portal. Combining the ability of our software program, portal footprint and deep understanding of digital advertising and marketing, might be key to offering a differentiated expertise for shoppers while enabling brokers to be extra environment friendly and aggressive.
Enhanced software program is a key enabler to facilitating higher connections with shoppers throughout the property lifecycle, enhancing efficiencies and producing extra applicant and valuation leads.
However tech developments don’t occur in isolation; figuring out and attracting new expertise is essential to realising our ambitions for the way forward for residential property. Creating 120 new jobs, dozens of that are specialist roles inside Product & Expertise, in addition to launching our first Tech Apprenticeship programme, are propelling us ahead to unveiling a brand new period of innovation.
When it comes to new merchandise and know-how, what’s within the pipeline?
Whereas 2019 was about establishing the constructing blocks of success, 2020 is about product and know-how, defining what it means to create worth for the agent group and easing the method of discovering a brand new dwelling.
We wish to get rid of the ache factors and inefficiencies brokers face, and to create extra added worth for brokers and their clients.
For this reason we’re investing in areas which beforehand have been costly, time-consuming and irritating for brokers, corresponding to digital advertising and marketing, lettings and attracting and successful vendor and landlord directions.
It’s vital that we innovate the place it issues most and to streamline strategies. Delivering an ever-improving suite of services and products for brokers and shoppers is our precedence.
We sit up for sharing extra details about every of those launches all through the course of the yr.
Zoopla just lately introduced that it is going to be creating 120 new roles to assist the agency meet its targets?
Attracting prime expertise to bolster the spectacular array of present workers is intrinsic to our path to progress – each this yr and for the years forward.
In December, we introduced plans to create 120 new jobs in 2020, a transfer supported by London’s Deputy Mayor for Enterprise. The brand new roles embrace dozens of highly-skilled consultants in product growth, software program engineering and information evaluation, reflecting our main concentrate on innovation and Product & Expertise.
Additionally they characterize a once-in-a-career alternative to reimagine our business – redefining the shape and performance of shopping for, promoting and renting residential property.
Roles are additionally being created in groups all through Zoopla, throughout Advertising, Buyer Success and different enterprise help features, and are very important to us assembly our objectives of reinvigorating the house shopping for course of and offering a good higher expertise for brokers.
Extra just lately, we introduced the creation of ten software program engineering apprenticeships in partnership with the Tech She Can Constitution, with a eager emphasis on bringing extra females into the sector.
The ten profitable candidates will take part in a 12-week bootcamp earlier than beginning work at Zoopla HQ and can profit from a graduate-equivalent beginning wage.
We hope the initiative will develop over time and can show game-changing as we search to offer extra girls with the chance to pursue a profession in tech.
Among the many new appointments, Zoopla is creating new roles in advertising and marketing and what the corporate refers to as ‘buyer success’ – are you able to elaborate?
Our Advertising workforce is inherent to Zoopla’s success – as evidenced within the launch of our main new advert marketing campaign on Boxing Day.
What issues is the distinction the marketing campaign makes to our agent companions and in January 2020, we delivered a 25% uplift in applicant leads and a 17% uplift in valuation results in brokers, in comparison with 12 months prior.
We additionally recorded a 15% uplift in net classes, year-on-year, demonstrating a rise in client desire for Zoopla. These are underpinned by the very best prompted and unprompted model recognition within the business.
On the similar time, our newly fashioned Buyer Success workforce can be gathering momentum. Compiled over the previous six months, they had been launched formally in January of this yr.
Comprising a collection of former property brokers and property consultants, they’re keen about serving to our clients get essentially the most from their Zoopla membership. They use cutting-edge know-how to offer tailor-made, greatest apply steering, and their mission is to assist our brokers drive even higher outcomes.
Because it stands, we’ve got three consultants, however have employed one other 5, who will begin on the finish of February. We proceed to rent for this workforce, ought to anybody want to apply!
What impression has the acquisition of the corporate by international non-public fairness agency Silver Lake simply over 18 months in the past had on the group?
The Silver Lake acquisition of Zoopla has proved transformational. With their monetary backing, we’ve got been capable of direct vital funding into each space of our enterprise, and the expansion figures converse for themselves.
Some key metrics for instance Zoopla’s efficiency over the previous 12-18 months embrace the truth that greater than 2,250 branches joined Zoopla in 2019, with an additional 345 approaching board in January 2020.
There’s additionally the truth that dwelling hunters flocked to Zoopla with whole applicant leads up 18% in 2019 and applicant leads per itemizing up 24% over the identical interval.
Brokers additionally loved a 41% improve in whole valuation leads in 2019, with month-to-month website visits to Zoopla rising to 58 million in 2019, whole classes up 19% in comparison with 12 months prior, whereas over 1.four million folks downloaded the Zoopla Cellular App, which was revamped in August 2019.
Zoopla introduced in over 200 new hires in 2019, together with a brand new government workforce, a lot of whom have been recruited from blue-chip tech innovators together with Amazon and MyTaxi, and but hiring stays a precedence with the creation of 120 roles and ten apprenticeships in 2020.
The advertising and marketing price range loved a 25% improve, whereas Fortunate Generals – a number one award-winning artistic company – was appointed to spearhead our new strategy.
Importantly we’re distinctive in our potential to pursue the subsequent part of our progress as a non-public firm, with out the necessity to report to 3rd celebration shareholders on 1 / 4 by quarter foundation. Which means we will take a longer-term view and place the agent, not the shareholder, on the centre of our plans.
Does ZPG plan to accumulate extra web sites, together with non-property websites, as a part of a diversified funding portfolio?
Our focus is on agent expertise and offering tangible worth to them, in addition to optimising the web client expertise and serving to them to realize their goal – whether or not it’s to purchase, promote, set free or hire a property – with out distraction.
Trying forward, what’s your imaginative and prescient for Zoopla as a web based useful resource to help brokers?
At first, we wish to return to the heritage of Zoopla as a daring, fearless and modern model – what put us on the map within the first place. This might be coupled with bolstering our employer model; we’ve got already begun hiring the highest expertise in essentially the most aggressive market – and are bringing in consultants from inside and out of doors of the property business to assist us take these subsequent steps ahead.
We are going to proceed to be consumer-centric, to orientate round impression, and to set a brand new normal for achievement.
Lastly, we wish to reinvigorate our proposition and make an impression past offering a platform for listings. We wish each touchpoint at which we work together with brokers so as to add worth and to consolidate our credentials as being greater than only a portal.
It’s a marathon not a dash, however we’re assured that our data-led strategy, mixed with our concentrate on innovation and progress, will give brokers an actual enhance for years to return.
*Marc Da Silva is Property Agent As we speak and Letting Agent As we speak Options Editor and Editor of Landlord As we speak. You possibly can comply with him on Twitter @propertyjourno