Are you providing a truly tailored lettings service?
Smart office? Check. Deposits protected? Check. Adherence to over 500 regulations and pieces of legislation? Check. All the ingredients of a sophisticated, trustworthy and transparent lettings business, surely? While all of the above are essential in today’s marketplace, this attention to detail is all-consuming. Has the quest for accountability and professionalism overtaken ground-level customer service?
What prompted this line of thinking was a recent media story on a new online agency, offering both lettings and sales services. Property Cat claims to be the only agency where all the profits are put back into the community. What’s more, every landlord or vendor who chooses to use Property Cat’s services will have a tree planted in their name. Although you may be quick to dismiss this as superficial froth in return for some quick PR, the owner of Property Cat reveals a different approach to nurturing the client/agency relationship, which caught my eye.
What is seen as a massive disadvantage in the online agency world – a lack of a tangible office – has actually been turned into a positive. Property Cat meets clients in a location of their choice, with coffee houses a popular option. The agent even trumpets that the coffee’s on them – a small gesture that’s no doubt welcomed by clients.
Meeting clients away from the office isn’t a notion that agents and property managers should be unfamiliar with. Financial advisors have been travelling to meet with clients in their own home and at their workplace for years, so why should a letting agent operate differently? Perhaps because many of us feel uncomfortable and less able conducting business outside of our business cocoon? However, agents are renting and selling products that aren’t even in their office – that’s why valuations and viewings all take place away from branch. Can we cross the mental barrier and take more business away from branch and actually to our clients?
Is the ultimate customer service tailoring your time and presence to the client’s exact needs? In the high street versus online agent argument, one of the plus points of a physical branch and team is the face-to-face element – the personal touch. Yet here we have an online agency that is going out of its way to meet with people at times and at places convenient to them, rather than restricting clients to office visits during working hours. For Property Cat as personal ‘meet and greets’ are possible as they have confined their business operation to Cardiff and the South Wales Valleys. However, doesn’t every high street agent laud its local credentials and presence in the community? Is now the time to meet Mr and Mrs Bowden in Coffee Bean Central at 6pm on a Thursday? Perhaps you just don’t have time as there’s too much paperwork to complete and boxes to tick. It is, however, something worth thinking about.
* Dave Hunt is the business development director of the ARPM Group
, who provides national outsourced lettings and property management services.