How systemisation will help you beat the tenant fee ban
The first blog in my tenant fee ban series started the discussion on optimising your agency’s income sources. There were two areas I highlighted that were key to generating more income – increasing leads and increasing the value of your services. This gives a sound base for you to build your agency, but how exactly do you manage an increase in leads, and stratify the services you offer in order to increase their value?
More importantly, how do you find the time to do this? Let’s dig a little deeper…
The challenge with running a lettings agency is in the minutiae. There are microelements to all areas of the business. Managing a property isn’t simply acquisition and sourcing a tenant, but looking over rent payments, meeting the various legal requirements, reporting refurbishments and repairs, handling the relationship and expectations of the landlord, tenant and neighbours, dealing with contractors, and even more besides.
The list is endless, but you get the picture. You’d assume that all of these microelements need managing individually, right? Well, yes and no.
Over the years, the level of work to set up a tenancy correctly has grown exponentially. Over the years, more and more legislative processes and responsibilities have been stacked on letting agents by the government. Here’s just a few:
– Gas certification
– Deposit registrations regulations
– HMO licensing
– the HHSRS
– the Immigration Act and Right to Rent
– the Deregulation Act with requirements now to test smoke alarms
– the issue of how-to-rent guides
– prescribed Section 21 documents
– increased complexity of inventories
– dispute handling with TDS or DPS
– complaint handling with TPO…
As agents, what have we done? We have said “We Will Do That, Mr Landlord”. We have just taken on more and more every year, without increasing our costs. We cannot continue to do everything in a package deal that leaves us short, and then be compared to online agents that only do part of the job, and it’s because we shouldn’t do everything.
What this means is we need to be savvy with our time and start to focus on what we do that we can charge for. Break your services down and be clear of what you and your staff:
– should do as a legal requirement
– should not do, if it wastes time or isn’t relevant to your role as an agent
– spend time on and for how long
– charge for each service
For example, if my team was trying to help a landlord in a dispute over a tree on adjoining land, and this had taken half a day to solve… I wouldn’t be impressed. It would give us a good reputation with this particular landlord, but it’s not efficient and it doesn’t bring in money. You want to focus on the things that keep all of your landlords happy, with a strong, centralised infrastructure in place that can handle all of the concerns they need your help on.
With a clear structure to the levels of service you offer and their prices, it should be easier for staff get the job done. Give them the tools – the process sheets, the data, the updates – that they need to ensure these levels of service are properly managed and you’ll cut so much wasted time.
In addition, there are various technological advances that we as agents really need to be looking into to ease the pressure of the processes, so it’s simpler and quicker to stay compliant. Most of us now use a good CRM system, but there is lots of different software for reporting maintenance in numerous languages, call logging, setting up pre-tenancies and more that will all make an agent’s life and their staff’s lives easier.
As the minimum wage continues to rise, staff costs become more and more of a burden and our margins get squeezed. With that in mind, now is the time to focus on how much we charge and why, then look for ways to become as efficient as possible.
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