You work for a company called Purple bricks, an online estate agent in the UK. Read the case study (two articles) below and identify the main points. Create a set of up to six presentation slides (.ppt or .pptx file format) that summarise these main points to send to one of your senior colleagues who is new to the company.
You will not be required to speak, so these slides need to contain all the key information from the case study and need to be written clearly so that your colleague can understand it.
The total number of words in your entire presentation should be between 150 and 200 words. This word count is NOT per slide. The usual allowance of 10 per cent above or below the word limit does not apply to this TMA.
You will also need to produce a title slide, and a final slide showing a full reference for the case study, source information for any images used, and the word count. These title and reference slides do not contribute to either the slide count or the word count.
The company has said it will work on a fully employed model in a move it claimed would allow it to ‘scale up quickly to meet consumer demand’.
Investors reacted badly to an overhaul announced by online estate agent Purplebricks (Photo: Sarah Hourahane)
Investors reacted badly to an overhaul announced by online estate agent Purplebricks, sending its shares down by more than 6 per cent. A large proportion of the company’s workforce is made up of Local Property Experts, individuals who are contracted by the firm to work for it. Now, the company said it will work on a fully employed model in a move it claimed would allow it to “scale up quickly to meet consumer demand”. It said it had already created a pool of more than 100 of what it dubbed “the best agents in the industry”, who are ready to join as opportunities rise.
The change will cause a spike in operating costs for the company, which recently launched a Money Back Guarantee for homebuyers.
The company said it expected non-recurring costs of £3m–£4m in its 2022 financial year, with ongoing administration costs expected to be £1m higher in the same fiscal year and beyond to support the increased size of the team.
In spite of this, the company remained optimistic about its medium-term prospects, stating it continued to expect annual revenue growth in excess of 20 per cent.
Chief executive Vic Darvey, said: “The pandemic highlighted the challenges of being self-employed for many people, which is why we created the £2.2m fund to support the agency field during recent challenging times.
“As normality returns, we believe that moving to a fully employed sales model will benefit and support our people and make Purplebricks fit for the future.” He added that the change would enable the company to better protect its agents and continue to deliver a locally based service. “It will also ensure that we can continue to drive a more consistent, high-performance culture and experience for all of our customers, helping us deliver a next-generation estate agency service to buyers and sellers alike,” Mr Darvey added.
Some rival estate agents that offer a self-employed model saw the move as an opportunity for them to hire Purplebricks workers who might want to retain their status. Odos Properties asked its followers on Twitter to get in touch if the change affected them, saying it was recruiting for self-employed partners across the country.
Purplebricks recently put years of losses behind it and recorded a pre-tax profit of £3.6m to the year to April 2021, driven by a rise in revenues to £90.9m.
When major shifts in the way a business operates occur, bosses like to cite “innovation” or “disruption” as the driving factor. This makes sense, of course. Bosses want to show that they are on the front foot, changing in response to developments in their respective industry, rather than acknowledging that they have either been left behind and are playing catch-up, or are being vicariously forced to alter the way they do things by another power.
On Tuesday, Purplebricks announced a major change in how it runs its business and the company’s statement was at pains to suggest that this was a move purely driven by internal motives. Property experts on Twitter seemed to disagree. One industry commentator, Henry Pryor, may have hit upon a motivating factor: the taxman. He wrote: “Can’t help but think that sooner or later the taxman was going to argue that self-employed ‘local property experts’ [who] work solely for Purplebricks were in fact employees, just as they have done in other instances.”
Mr Pryor is referring here to IR35, anti-avoidance tax legislation designed to tax “disguised” employment at a rate similar to employment. As the local property experts are technically outside contractors, the payment that Purplebricks makes to them does not attract National Insurance contributions from the company, nor do they qualify for auto-enrolment in pensions. Ride-hailing firm Uber comes to mind here.
Adam Pennington, senior associate solicitor at Stephensons Solicitors, said the move by Purplebricks “mitigates against the risk” of a class action suit by workers. There’s no suggestion this was on the cards for Purplebricks, but as Mr Pennington says, “it just takes someone to push a claim through and before you know it, there’s a group action”. In fact, this move could be a positive for the firm, he says, as it will give the company greater control over the training of its workers and could improve the reliability of its customer service.
Drilling down on costs more, Russell Quirk, of Property Industry Eye, suggested that when local property experts enter formal employment, the National Insurance levy at 13 per cent of employee earnings will add £4.3m to Purplebricks’ annual costs. Then with pension contributions, he estimates that another £1m should be added, totalling £5.3m, or, as Mr Quirk says, “roughly the amount of profit that Purplebricks made last year”.
Purplebricks was open about the rise in costs but some investors were clearly unnerved. Shares in the company dropped by roughly 6 per cent, with shareholders obviously feeling unsure about the profit prospects of Purplebricks in the short-term. This appears to be another challenge for Purplebricks to overcome and many will be watching to see whether this is the “disruption” or “innovation” that is finally needed to stem years of share price falls.
(Source: Gerard, 2021)
Industry watcher says shareholders are worried that the agency is increasingly looking just like the industry it once professed to disrupt.
Investors are becoming increasingly perplexed by Purplebricks as its share price continues to plummet on an almost daily basis, a leading expert has said.
Since the beginning of June the estate agency’s share price has dropped from 90p a share to 61p at close of trading yesterday [16 August 2021].
The decline has accelerated in recent days since it revealed plans to bring all its field operatives in-house as staff, declining by 71p a share to 61p a share, a 13% drop.
Purplebricks’ stock has performed poorly during Covid while many estate agency share prices have increased as the market has boomed, declining overall by 40% in value.
“I think the challenges for Purplebricks are two-fold,” says industry watcher and Twindig founder Anthony Codling. “Paying a low fixed fee seems like a good idea in a hot market. If homes are selling like hotcakes, why pay more? But it appears that Purplebricks has not been able to gain market share during the stamp duty holiday fuelled housing market. Perhaps Purplebricks is a bit like Goldilocks, it doesn’t work if the market is too hot and it doesn’t work if the market is too cold and the perfect temperature range appears quite narrow.”
Codling also says investors are clearly concerned that its recent decision to change direction and bring its field staff in-house as employees is a ‘significant change in direction’.
“Investors may also feel that the company that they invested in to disrupt the housing market has actually been disrupted by the housing market,” he says.
“The challenge for Purplebricks will now be to soothe the fears of its LPEs [Local Property Experts], and to show investors that it can once again look like a disruptor, walk like a disruptor and talk like a disruptor.”
(Source: Lewis, 2021)
Follow these guidelines to help you as you write your TMA:
- Use the note-making skills you developed in Session 2 to produce the bullet points for your slides. This means choosing the key information and writing concisely.
- Write your bullet points using appropriate grammar (see Session 2, 2 Grammar for note making).
- Check the guidance on creating slides in Session 3, 2 Creating effective slides.
- You should use the font style that is easy to read. Make the font size 30 or larger for the heading and a minimum of size 24 for supporting or bullet points.
- You should use relevant and appropriate images in your presentation. Use no more than one image per slide to support your main points and include image sources on the reference slide. This does not include the logo of the case study company if you use it across the slides as a header or footer and it is not necessary to have an image on every slide.
- Only use information from the case study itself (two articles). Do not consult other sources other than for obtaining images.
- Note your audience’s needs and only include relevant information.
- Consider how best to organise your information. You do not have to follow the order of the source texts. The information in your slides could move from the general to the particular.
- Use headings for your slides to help organise the relevant information.
- Avoid the use of slang or phrases that are not inclusive (i.e. don’t exclude people from other cultures or those whose first language is not English).
- Add a title slide containing a title, your name and Personal Identifier (PI).
- Include a full reference of each case study article, source information for any images used and the word count on an additional final slide.
- Ensure that the total word count for your entire presentation(excluding title and reference slides) is between 150 and 200 words. An under-length or over-length assignment will affect all marking criteria adversely.
- Once you have finished writing your assignment, submit the slides as a single file to the Online TMA/EMA system by the given deadline.
Gerard, B. (2021) ‘Investors react badly as online estate agent Purplebricks announces a change to its operational model’, inews. 10 August, Available at: https://inews.co.uk/ inews-lifestyle/ money/ property-and-mortgages/ investors-react-badly-as-online-estate-agent-purplebricks-announces-a-change-to-its-operational-model-1145033 (Accessed: 10 September 2021).
Lewis, N. (2021) ‘Investors worry as Purplebricks’ share price continues to nose-dive’, The Negotiator, 17 August. Available at https://thenegotiator.co.uk/ purplebricks-share-price-continues-its-nose-dive-investors-worried/ , (Accessed: 10 September 2021).