Making estate agency website design more profitable!

How the Commercials work for our Designer Partners…

So you are interested in becoming a design partner and working on top of the Homeflow platform.

Great!  Now you want to understand how the money works…

There are lots of ways we might get started together:

  • Maybe you have a new client and you want to use Homeflow to saves you programming effort. You want to take the saving and increase your profit margin, or re-invest that budget in more design time, rather than waste time re-inventing functionality.
  • Or maybe you have a small client, and the economics are sub-scale for you. They like you, and really want to work with you, but they don’t quite have the budget to make the business profitable for you. You need a way to reduce costs, and open up profits from on sale revenues to other clients.
  • Or you’ve come across an agency who already knows Homeflow and is hooked on some of our enterprise grade estate agent website functionality. That client is specifying Homeflow as the “Intel inside” and you want to work out what’s in it for you.
  • Or maybe you have an existing client, who you want to port across, to bring them new features or functionality, fix a technical issue, or make them fully responsive, or whatever. Or you want to work with us to upsell some new capability to that existing client.
  • Or perhaps we have approached you, as we’ve admired one of your designs, and we wanted to invite you into the partner programme, as we have more design work than we have designers at the moment. (NB: we can’t take a risk on a new designer, until they are proven via a project, however we’re very creative in finding routes to work with designers who we have selected as interesting, so let’s chat).

In each of these cases the commercials are the same:

Basics principles:

  • All design partners sign our design partner agreement.
  • The economics of new theme designs are agreed on a case by case basis. However, the design partner scheme rules are standard, to keep it fair for all. Hence publishing them openly.
  • The scheme is young, so is subject to change, we only work with 10 design firms at the moment, however we are looking to open that up to between 20 and 30 designers this year.
  • Our aim is simple, we need it to be solidly profitable for you, so we seek to:
    • Make the programming job faster, simpler and more enjoyable
    • Help you charge more to the clients, by explaining the improved value they get
    • Save you costs in the job to open up margin…
    • …which you can reinvest in more front end design work, take as profit, or use to sharpen prices to clients and win more business – your choice
    • We also want to create a trail of 100% margin revenues for designers (from a steady stream of £500 bounty payments, where you have literally no work to do at all) – to incentivise ever better designs
    • And we want our design partners (where they specialise and want this work), to make upsell revenue from surrounding work and support for the clients.  Indeed, we’ve written an article here to clarify the overlap and services we each sell to our mutual clients.
  • We are happy to front the client relationship if needs be, though our preference is that the estate agency is your client, and that you handle all relationship, project management, design process, etc.
  • We are not however willing to be invisible – that just gets awkward and has no real benefit other than vanity. The client always needs a base licence in place directly with Homeflow, and we’re more comfortable when the relationship mechanics are completely transparent between all parties. Think of our intended positioning as “the intel inside” your fabulous estate agency website. If you’re happy with that kind of positioning, we’re good to go…

Upfront Build fees / Ongoing licences:

  • You charge the agent whatever you like for the work upfront. That’s your business. We’re here to support you making as much money as you can from the build. Indeed we can often help designers upsell clients’ budgets, by explaining the increased value, or the importance of the systems they are building.
  • In cases where Homeflow introduce you the client and you price up the work, you will need to add 20% to the build fees, which is payable to Homeflow as payment for our introduction.
  • We charge a monthly licence fee, which we contract directly with the client for. This varies between £75 and £275 / month depending on what product set they buy, though is typically £150 in nearly all cases. You can learn more about what that monthly licence includes for the client here. We can help you explain this fee to the client, there is rarely any resistance once the value is explained to the client. Experience has taught us that it does however, often require Homeflow to explain the service and value to the client the first few times, as we are near the top end of the range of monthly fees that they will typically see from the all-in-one-house design / build estate agent website providers (we’re the only designer eco-system platform to date).

New Designer Charge:

  • The very first time we work with a new designer we have a one off charge of £2000 to the project. That can be swallowed by you, charged to the agency invisibly (you’ll save more than that in programming time), or passed to the client transparently. We’re perfectly open about our pricing structures to clients.
  • This charge covers the education and handholding from our dedicated “Developer Liaison Officer” (an engineer on our team, whose sole job is to support your engineers during the build). He’s on hand to answer any questions you have during the development, to write new documentation for you if required, to answer questions in the developer support forums, (in some instances he’ll co-ordinate with our core development team to build new features for you), and he’s even there to pair-program with you whilst you learn the ropes.
  • The charge is also there partly to discourage “easy come, easy go” projects, we need to know you are serious, and have skin in the game. We can’t afford to waste our programmers time.
  • However, our aim is to have a ZERO upfront charge, it is not our business model to charge for development support, unless there is custom development work, or project management, required at our side. (See below, on “going steady”, and how we seek to drop this charge from future projects).

Money for Resales: Paying you ongoing theme sale bounties…

  • Design work you do for a client, can be fully bespoke and “exclusive”, or it can be “rethemeable”:
  • Some designers and some agencies are NOT remotely interested in having the work be rethemeable, either because they want are are paying for national exclusivity, or because they just don’t like the idea. That’s totally fine, we have plenty completely bespoke clients and we welcome them.
  • However, so long as both you, and the estate agent are happy for the work to be re-used, outside of a contractually agreed exclusion zone of exclusivity, then we are both free to resell that design pattern to other agents.
  • For a theme to be resold – ideally we require the design partner to design it with that in mind and certainly to build it fully re-themeably(wiring up the colours to variables, the logos to the CMS etc.)
  • We sell dozens of these “theme” sites every month. Everyone is a winner, we get more clients, you get more clients, and the clients get a full powered Homeflow engine, at theme level pricing.
  • Depending on the economics of our original deal, these resales may then qualify for a “resale bounty”
    • (If the original design order came from us, and was paid for in full, that won’t be the case)
    • (If it came from us, but was more marginally priced, or if it was introduced from you, then it will qualify for a bounty of £500 / theme sale / capped at between 5 and 10 theme sales / for a period of 2 years, this is agreed on a case by case basis)
    • (If it was a speculative design, which you added to the library with no upfront fee, then there will be a strong bounty attached, up to the maximum of £500 / theme sale / uncapped for a period of 2 years)
  • We can’t make any promises how many we will sell. After all it largely depends on the quality of the product you produce…
  • However, as an example, at the time of going to press, the most recent theme of any age, has sold 24 times in 7 months, with an additional 6 in build at the moment, and somewhere in the region of 10 in various stages of the engaged sales cycle. So potentially on track to sell 50 times in the first 12 months alone. This is a popular theme, but it is not the top seller. At the other end of the spectrum, it’s very rare to have a theme that sells less than 10 times.
  • The on sales will depend on how attractive the design is to the estate agents, how simple it is to set up, how responsive it is, and how different it is from the most popular designs.

Helping you generate surrounding revenues:

  • We are keen to support design partners in making money from their clients through additional products and services, which might include, but won’t be limited to:
    • Redesigns periodically for clients
    • Rebranding work for clients
    • Surrounding design work, print, brochures, advertising offline work
    • PPC services (In certain very selected cases, Homeflow offers this service, as well as feeding enquiries to a range of specialist Partners)
    • Social media services
    • SEO advisory services and support (Homeflow offers some SEO advisory services, though not offsite SEO support, as a part of our package)
  • Homeflow do not offer many of these services, and we encourage our design partners to do so, dishing out the work where we hear of demand for it.
  • We would ask that our design partners refrain from pitching these services at the time of build though.  And prefer them to be added in later.  What you choose to do is your business, however as we introduce clients, we don’t want anything added to the mix at the time, which might complicate, or derail the sale.
  • In return, we work in good faith to support those services sells to your clients, and will always offer that work back to you first, if the client is running on your design. If it is not a service you offer, or the client doesn’t want to buy the service from you, then we reserve the right to introduce the client to someone who can support them.

Selling together

  • Once you’ve done one, and proven you can build on top of the engine, the floodgates can open. We can generally channel a significant number of deals to our design partners. We’ll add you to the partners page, and we will start to recommend you as an option to estate agents who approach us. Remember, we still don’t have a single graphic designer, or front end developer on staff, so we need you to be successful…
  • Clearly, you are welcome (shall we say, encouraged, even) to bring clients direct to the table, and we do get orders placed that never touch Homeflow until the build begins. This happens mostly with our established design partners, however we are seeing increasing levels of designers who found us during their research ahead of a client pitch or build, or agents who are specifying they want their trusted designer to use the Homeflow engine, the “intel inside” positioning.
  • However, 70% of the orders are still originating from Homeflow at the moment.
  • And, given the complexity of the sale – and the fact that Homeflow have relationships and a brand that is reasonably well recognised in the market, we typically find it is easiest to sell together.
  • Obviously we can help answer client’s questions, and upsell the value in our engine better, and the roadmap of development – so it helps to have us in the sale.
  • But you may initially feel there is some “risk” in telling us “who the client is”.
  • However, remember, to make our business work, we HAVE to find a way to have you fully comfortable co-selling, and working in a trusting relationship with us. Our business depends on this.
  • So here’s how we work it to make it comfortable…and ensure you can trust in us to sell with you:
  • You declare you are working on a new potential client and tell us who that is.
  • We look them up live, on the phone with you in our system.
  • We will declare immediately if that client is in an active sale process with us (that does happen, as if the client goes out shopping they are very likely to discover Homeflow these days).
  • We do this in a way which is completely transparent, we’ll tell you who we are dealing with, when we last spoke to them, what we said, etc.
  • IF we are dealing with them with another designer, we will declare this immediately, and we need to back away. This has NEVER happened yet, there are 18,000 agents out there, but it will at some point and we need to protect our designers on a first come, first served basis.

“Going steady”: Working beyond the first client

  • Once you’ve sold the first design with us, if you enjoyed the experience and want to do more, then:
  • You tell us the approximate price point you would like to work to, obviously the more you charge, the less likely we are to be able to place more work with you.
  • That said, we do have designers at all sorts of different price points.
  • You also tell us the “type” of client work you are most interested in supporting. That might be big multi branchers, or small independents. It might be modern, edgy designs only or strong, conventional, usability focused work only. It might be only rebrandings, or only clients who want surrounding services from the start, etc.
  • And you give us an idea of your “capacity” – how many projects you would like, and how often.
  • Clearly it’s a relationship, but in general our aim is to build a network of designers, who we can rely on to produce fabulous work, for our mutual clients. So we are heavily invested in making that relationship work.
  • We do reserve the right to charge the “first time development support charge” on subsequent builds. (Where we find that the support load was unusually high, perhaps you are strong at graphic design, but less strong at the HTML, etc.) However, we should make clear, that to date, we have NEVER yet charged the £2k for a second or subsequent design. The platform is so simple, that you are usually up and flying after the first one.

Worked example: Case Study

  • Pulling all that together to give a real life example… picture the scene…
  • You have met an agent, and pitched them a web build at £7.5k
  • This was out of budget for the client, and they weren’t totally convinced anyway, so you introduce the concept of building on Homeflow
  • Homeflow work with you, and only with you, for a period of 6 months doing all we can to help you secure the contract.
  • Together we offer them a discounted site, at £6k say, in return for the right to reuse the design outside of their postcode area
  • We contract to build the site together
  • Homeflow charge £2k for the build support – you keep the remaining £4k
  • We resell the theme just 12 times over the coming year – you net £5k – as we agreed that seeing as the client was brought to the table by you in the first instance, and the economics were marginal (esp as you incurred the first time build support charge) you will qualify for the on-sale bonus structure of £500 each resale for up to 10 resales, for 2 years
  • Therefore you have now earned £9k from the original project vs £7.5k
  • Your agency is now fully qualified on the Homeflow platform, subsequent deals are 100% yours on the upfront build charges
  • In addition, Homeflow are able to pass you 5 further builds during the course of the next 12 months
  • (Hypothetically *: You manage to upsell the original client a print brochure design project and an SEO mgmt. contract)
  • (Hypothetically *, confident of your abilities, Homeflow now pass you leads for SEO optimisation jobs on other, third party clients).
  • (* Aside from the last 2 points, the above example, is a real case study which happened during the course of last year. We chose the example as the shape of this deal is also relatively typical in general.)

Different ways to work:

Fully bespoke exclusive designs
  • You the designer will create a proposal for your design costs based on the clients requirements.
  • Don’t forget to add 20% of the bespoke fee as commission for Homeflow’s introduction!
  • Homeflow will run the invoice process with the client and will pay the designer separately.
  • Homeflow will sign a separate contract with the client for our monthly licence.
  • You the designer will involve Homeflow in your sales process, enabling Homeflow to sell our monthly licence. (In the long term, our design parters will sell the Homeflow platform)
Bespoke – Re-theme
  • Same as above – except the designer will ensure their design is re-themeable for resale.
  • The designer will be paid £500 each time Homeflow sells the theme, up-to a maximum of 5 – 10 times in a  2 yr window.
Lift and shift
  • Homeflow are increasingly receiving requests for existing designs to be lifted and plugged into the Homeflow engine.
  • Homeflow are happy for designers to do this work, designers are to provide us quotes for these jobs (let us know if you are interested, please note, there is limited design work, the work is mainly HTML production).  We have some notes you might like to read about Lift & Shift pricing here.

Lift and shift and improve

  • Homeflow will have produced a video for the client suggesting functional design changes incorporating additional functionality and structural improvements.
  • The designer can the quote for the HTML work and design tweaks which will surface the functionality.
Standard theme
  • Once Homeflow has sold a designer theme and a design partner commission is due, we will let you know.
Designer assisted
  • same as standard theme (above)

 

Next steps:

If you haven’t read our resources library articles yet, best to have a dig around there. And obviously, you’ll need to review the API and technology section.

Then, if you would like to explore working with us, please get in touch for a confidential chat about how we might build lots of agent websites together during the next 12 months. We look forward to working with you.

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