Keen to find, recognise and share some of the most innovative and exciting suppliers in the property industry, Agent Wow regularly compiles a ‘Supplier of the Month’ feature.
This month we were delighted to head to the Scottish borders to find out more about the award-winning Spark, a multi-utility supplier for tenants throughout the UK.
Agent Wow caught up with Spark’s Commercial Director, Ian Crowther.
AW: What are the location/regions your business operates in?
Ian Crowther: We work with the largest Letting Agents, Estate Agents and social landlords right across the UK, servicing our 400,000+ customer accounts from our HQ in the Scottish Borders.
AW: How long have you been in business?
Ian Crowther: We’ve been in business for 10 years.
AW: What are your main services/activities?
Ian Crowther: Spark is the only multi-utility supplier for tenants across the UK; working with letting agents, social landlords and homeowners, to provide hassle-free energy and utilities. We remove admin headaches and create new revenue streams for agents.
For tenants, competitive prices, a range of utilities and a ‘better than the Big Six’ service are at the heart of what we do. Whether it’s gas, electricity, broadband or Sky TV entertainment – offered through our sister brand Home Telecom – we’re here to make things easy and provide short or long-term packages that work for our partners and their tenants.
We work with the biggest PLC lettings and Estate Agency groups as well as the privately owned national brands and over 100 smaller local agents. Today, we have a turnover of £200m+ and employ over 400 people. We’ve recently won awards for our service, people and culture and leadership and been recognised as one of the FT1000 Fastest Growing Companies in Europe, one of the London Stock Exchange Group’s 1,000 Companies to Inspire Britain and in the Sunday Times Grant Thornton Top Track 250.
AW: Who are your main team members?
Ian Crowther: Our main team members are Chris Gauld, CEO and co-founder, myself, Ian Crowther, Commercial Director and Darren Ypey, Head of Sales
AW: What do you do differently?
Ian Crowther: We’re the only multi-utility supplier built around the home move market. The major energy and broadband suppliers don’t offer a tailored solution that works for everyone in the chain and brokers tend to create additional complexity as the ‘middleman’. Our background in property management gave us the insight that has allowed us to create products for customers that also add value for agents and property managers.
We understand the importance of regular, guaranteed revenue for those in the home move chain and we deliver exactly that. With a dedicated team, set-up exclusively for our partners, we offer gas, electricity, broadband, Sky TV and more, providing hassle-free management of essential home services.
AW: What do you think is coming in the property industry next?
Ian Crowther: Two things are happening. Firstly customer’s expectations and changing and the experience we need to deliver as an industry needs to keep up. The future is digital, mobile and flexible. Secondly, agents revenue models need to change. Covering their costs and generating their margin through tenant and landlord fees won’t be possible going forward. They need to look to new ways to leverage their network, people and customer base to fill the gap.
For us this is a win, win. We offer a better utility experience to tenants while creating a valuable revenue stream for agents and we’re digitizing the journey for everyone.
Consumer expectations in everything from online shopping to food delivery to transportation have evolved enormously in the past 10 years. The home-move experience is late to the party but tenants are becoming more demanding by the day.
We’re working with a number of our closest lettings partners to provide their clients with an innovative, end-to-end online move-in process.
By allowing tenants to set up their new home from their mobile or desktop – arranging everything from broadband, to energy, to services such food delivery before they even move in – we’re taking the hassle out of moving. Through our new digital home move assistant we have the got the setup of council tax, water, gas, electricity, telephone, broadband and TV down to 3 minutes and 10 taps, saving tenants time and money and creating an income for partners at each step.
AW: What would you like to see happen/change in the industry or arrive on the proptech scene?
Ian Crowther: The scrapping of tenant fees has been a shock to the system, but the silver lining is it has forced lettings agencies to come up with innovative ways of adding value to their customers. Challenging conditions the in estate agency market look set to do the same.
We’re working with our partners on unique product offerings that will provide tenants with differentiated, value-creating services – ultimately benefiting all involved. As the only multi utility built around the needs of the home move market, we like to think we’re the obvious choice to support our partners at what is a time of change and therefore opportunity
Thanks to Ian Crowther and Spark for taking the time to participate in our ‘Supplier of the Month’ feature. Keep your eye out for forthcoming features on Agent Wow that highlights the best talent in the UK’s property market.