From the Desk of Shepherd Ncube, Yellow Springbok Founder
It's 3 March, 2018 - a very cold, windy and snowy day. I received a letter today that I've read multiple times. I just finished reading it again, this time out loud.
The letter is from a client and it reminded me how incredibly personal selling your home is. It also showed me that some of you are interested in how a business like Springbok has developed and grown, its underlying values and whether it can truly deliver what it promises.
This letter has inspired me to write an open reply to everyone visiting our website.
It's unusual for me to get a personal letter these days because Springbok has grown so much - my teams and associates get most of the letters and emails. It made me think how far we've come: this company that I started from my home office in July 2007 with just a credit card and my home equity, and which - 10 years later - has completed over 2,400 deals in the last 12 months.
People often ask how I "made it" in business, coming from such small beginnings. The ones that know me well know that I have one rule. That rule is on a board in my office and in my bedroom. I've followed and practiced it all my life. It's a Zig Ziglar quote:
"You will get all you want in life, if you help enough other people get what they want."
I will do almost anything to deliver on that promise, even at my own expense. This core value is engrained in the spirit of Springbok. I don't want to ever lose that one, vital directive.
The Defining Deal
There's one deal from when I was starting out that defines me - and Springbok. It perfectly sums up everything in our company culture and ethics.
I was still learning the ropes and when I told my mentor about it, he said, "You'll never make it in property." As you can imagine, being told I'd fail by the guy who I was supposed to be learning from... well, it sent chills down my spine!
Back then, I was coaching tennis to pay the bills while I built my property business. My mentor was one of my students and very successful in property. I told him that an elderly lady in Fazarkerley, Liverpool, had called about selling her house. I'd asked her the standard question of how much she wanted and she set the price at 45k. In my opinion, the house was worth at least 90k on the open market.
I honestly felt something was not right, so I asked her more questions, such as where she was moving to and if she had kids. She said she would move to a caravan park in Wales after she sold, confirming my initial instinct that something was not right.
She had three children, all with good careers. I asked for contact details and called her daughter. When I asked if she knew that her mum was selling and wanted cash - fast - to move to a caravan home in Wales, she was stunned.
A while later, she phoned back and told me that her mother suffered from Alzheimer's. She was grateful because most people would have taken the deal instead of doing the right thing. I'd missed out on a potential 45k profit )less costs) but I'd remained true to my values.
"You should have done the deal and taken the money."
My mentor said that when I told him the story. In his opinion, the cash-buying business isn't about emotions or doing the right thing. It's about beating the fierce competition by making as much profit as you can off every deal and, if you stop to care about the consequences for the seller, you'll never make it. You're being weak.
Me? I knew I could never do what my mentor advised. If I found myself in the same situation again, I'd do exactly the same thing, every time. It's the way I am.
Within two years, my principles were paying off. That lady's daughter recommended us to friends who became clients. My principles became Springbok's principles. Happy clients began telling their friends and families about us. Word spread. Those personal recommendations are the secret sauce that's always fuelled our growth.
We'd rather lose a deal than hurt a customer
What does this mean for you? It means that, although I might not meet you, I make sure my team practices these same values. When we're hiring, we hire on values and will always choose character over skill and talent. The culture of "client first, profits second" is ingrained in every Springboker's veins!
The "litmus test" question I ask my associates when they can't decide what to recommend is, "What would you tell the client in front of you if they were your mother or brother, your flesh and blood?"
The Seller's Problem
By 2010, I was fed up of the fast-sale industry and my business. So many companies were popping up every day that it was impossible to stand out. Even now, it's much the same: clients can't tell who's who because the names are all so similar. And the cowboys hide behind the similarity.
Back then, I had a generic name like all the others: Fast Property Solutions. Not exactly memorable, is it? I wanted to be different and I didn't want to hide behind a generic name. But a name change wasn't going to benefit the seller, so I asked one question that turned out to be a game-changer for Springbok and a huge benefit to every seller who's discovered us since then.
"What are the three things you, the seller, want and the challenges in providing them?"
- The best price for your house. You don't want to give away your hard-earned equity by selling at 70% to 80% of market value. The challenge was that a better price means less money for the company - and the basic premise of all cash buyers is to get as much money as possible on every deal.
- Complete on your timescales. The industry has dumbed this down to the whole "sell in 7 days" thing that's become a familiar catchphrase. In reality, the legal process and traditional conveyancing process restrict how quickly a sale can complete. The challenge is finding ways to complete quickly while still ticking all the legal boxes.
- Simplicity, support and consistent communication. The challenge is that a property transaction has many moving parts. There's a complex system underlying the process - with legislation, fraud checks, legal processes and so on - and many players, from cash buyers to estate agents, lenders, regulators, brokers, buyers and sellers. It's not complicated because something unknown is working against you - one person or a company - but because the system itself is so convoluted.
Two years later, in 2012, I figured it out. I managed to solve the problem. Springbok's team of around 40 professionals now serves the whole UK in picking up where the cash-buying companies can't help.
A typical cash buyer pays about 70% of market price. They can help a small percentage of homeowners who contact them but they're turning away about 80% of online and offline enquiries. Instead of leaving those people without a solution, these companies now send them to Springbok.
And you know what? It works.
Over the past six years, my team has helped more than 7,000 people get maximum cash in their pockets on short timelines. We keep margins as small as possible to avoid digging into your valuable equity and we have a 7-day option for extreme cases. We've created several other market-leading solutions and are continuously looking for ways to improve.
Selling your home, your investment or your inherited property is also very emotional and stressful, which is why I focus on ensuring the process is simple - often overlooked by other cash buying companies - and communication, from start to finish, is second to none.
Not bad for a guy whose mentor told him he'd never make it in this industry!
Growth Fuelled by You
Springbok's success hasn't been fuelled by investors, financiers or anyone other than our clients referring us. It hasn't been fuelled by us trying to make maximum profit from each seller but by trying to help more clients for lower margins.
Yes, that's the opposite of a typical "cash home buyer" or "we buy any house" company.
Over the past three years - and I mean this with no exaggeration - I can't remember a single day without a note of thanks sent to one of my team. From a vendor who had lost hope and faith but got the sale they wanted. From a homeowner who got more money than they expected for their house and moved in a timely manner. From a seller who's blown away by our customer service.
I'm not saying this to impress you. I'm saying it to impress upon you that there's always hope, even if you've been let down by other cash buying companies, you've had an awful experience or you're desperate for a solution.
I also don't want to give you the impression that it has all been rosy or that everything always works out perfectly. But even with the huge volume and complexity of our business, we maintain an unprecedented 96.5 % customer satisfaction rate across all channels, as the many videos made by our clients with their mobile phones show.
So How is Springbok Different?
Our culture. We have a very different philosophy to other Cash and Fast Sale Companies.
My focus is - and will always be - to give you real, practical options when you're looking to sell, whether you want speed, more cash for your house or a little bit of both!
We deal with you one-to-one and I promise we'll always treat you with courtesy, respect and sensitivity. We have no junior staff on the road or offering advice. Our one and only job is to be your trusted advisors, offering you solutions to your real issues, while trying to get you as much money as possible for your biggest asset.
Our philosophy and culture serve us well. In the last five years, I believe we have become one of the best property companies in the country. We may not be number one for our business profits but we are number one in how many clients we have helped with our market-leading solution and our philosophy of putting client needs before ours.
I look at our competitors often but if you know any company that has done more, I would love to hear about it.
Are you really better?
My simple answer is "Yes".
I know how badly homeowners are represented in the system and I've made it my personal life mission to change that. If there's one thing I've learned as I've helped 7 000 people complete the sale of their home, it's this: it doesn't have to be so hard!
Despite its size, Springbok is not faceless. Yes, we're now a national company with many employees across our brands but our values are still the same. Even if I no longer get to sit in your living room, have a coffee, look you in the eye and shake your hand, I still want you to feel - as you make this important decision - that there's someone you can talk to if things don't go as planned. I want you to know that you can put my name on your feedback and send it to my address on the Contact Us page.
So, welcome to Springbok.
We'll get you the right solution to solve your problems, with NO hard sell and NO misinformation.
We'll work with you to get as much as you can for your house on your timescales.
And I'd love to hear about your experience on your journey. That's why I'll send and read your customer service surveys at every step!
P.S. I feel it's my duty to recommend my company because I know you will get the best result. And if the best result for your situation comes from someone else, we will point you in the right direction and walk away. We use a consultative approach in all cases and put your needs first!