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Is a being a specialist the right thing? 
3 years on from staring my letting agency in Bedford the industry competition seems to be shifting direction once again. When I started things were tough in the property world - houses and flats were harder to sell, mortgages difficult to come by and generally the sales market was in difficulty. Whilst some people clearly have been able to buy and sell and move to the house of their of dreams it certainly hasn't been as easy as it had been in years gone by. No surprise then that a lot of mainstream estate agents decided that it would be an idea to enter the lettings market to 'broaden their horizons'. Now at this point I am going to make it clear that I am not having a go at the competition. There are clear and obvious business reasons why these companies diversified. Over the last few years there has been a growth in specialist letting agents, mainly franchised which have been successful. Interestingly now, one is floating on the Stock Exchange and has been reported as actively looking to extend to Sales and another is also raising funds with a view to offering its franchisees the opportunity to dive headlong into the sales world. 
So the question I pose is this - Is being a specialist in your field a lost cause, less profitable (a tad of cynicism here) or simply not enduring in the world we now live in? 
I am old enough to remember my mum taking me to the local shops where there was a bakers (great hot cross buns and doughnuts), a butchers ( Lamb chops that I still think were the best I ever tasted) a greengrocers ( well I am sure it was good but you know what kids were like with their greens!) and a newsagent that really was a 'proper' sweet shop. Dad used to get some beer and the odd bottle from the off - licence and there was a hardware store and post office too. Now we just go to the supermarket - convenient maybe but in my opinion the food is never as good as supplied by the small specialist business. So can the small specialist still survive? If you want quality then I think it is the only place to go.