Getting to know you: Michael Bruce

What do you currently do?
I am the Chief Executive Officer of Purplebricks.com, the disruptive, next generation estate agency. Purplebricks is a hybrid estate agency which means that we combine all the best things about traditional estate agency with an online platform and local property experts to provide a fully integrated around the clock estate agency. It is a very varied role that gets me involved in everything from customer experience through to design, software development, advertising and marketing, PR and sales.

What is your inspiration in business?
The determination of customers to embrace change and the tireless hard work of the brilliant people who work at Purplebricks to make a difference in the industry. Setting out on a journey with some really key principles and objectives is in itself hard enough but finding people who genuinely support what you are doing and have an unwavering desire to provide a pleasurable experience for every customer is so much more difficult. I am delighted to lead a business where we have this balance right.

Who do you admire?
Other than my wife, Isabel, who always supports my passion for business, I admire the people who work for our business because they have the same drive, commitment and ambition that I do. Every day I hear from virtually every member of the team about their progress, feedback and reviews from their customers, ways to advance the objectives and anything we need to do to overcome issues or obstacles.

Looking back, are there things you would have done differently?
Of course. There is no entrepreneur who can genuinely say that there is nothing they would have done differently. Getting the very best people can be trial and error sometimes. This is just a fact of business life. We naturally want people to succeed and therefore sometimes we have taken longer than is necessary to make changes. Thankfully we have managed to get the balance right first time with our Local Property Experts and we have the pleasure of now working with absolutely first class people. You often hear people say “go with your gut feeling” and I think this is correct but with one caveat: “don’t react”. The only outcome to an immediate reaction is an overreaction. Take a breath, assess your thinking and act decisively.

What defines your way of doing business?
We inspire and help people to realise their potential. It is important to understand their strengths and weaknesses and to have a clear understanding of what they really want to achieve. Just because someone smiles, it doesn’t mean that they are happy. Talk to your people, find out what makes them tick and occasionally be sure that they are still ticking in that way. We have worked hard to understand and support our people and as a result, together we are achieving our objective of providing the most convenient, cost effective, transparent and first class service for anyone selling, buying or letting a property in the UK. If your people don’t know the objective don’t blame them for going off in the wrong direction.

What advice would you give to someone just starting out?
Believe in yourself, know what you are good at and what you are not, and surround yourself with excellent people who can fill in the gaps. Get to know your people, understand them and then give them room to grow. Make sure they know the direction you want to go in and how it benefits the customers and them. Then watch them grow and see how much discretionary effort your customers benefit from as a result.

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