When the Prime Minister announced lockdown, global panic was at an all-time high. Businesses everywhere were forced to close, staff were being made redundant and the future looked bleak… Here in the Letting Agency sector, we were imagining the worst, and what if all our tenants stopped paying AND we couldn’t set up any lets in the future…
Almost overnight, we were thrown into CRISIS management.
At Agent Rainmaker, we had to cancel over 20 events, delay a few major events, and all of a sudden, rather than talking and helping our community to focus on GROWTH, income generation and business management it was diverted to one thing… SURVIVAL.
Our Senior Team, Kate Gregory, David Parker, Dawn Bennett and Sally, came together and turned ourselves into investigators, researchers and educators, on what help was out there. Running almost daily talk shows and debating the latest news from the government in the AR group for our members.
It was quite a time, those first few weeks… remember we are agents ourselves, but together, alongside the agents in Agent Rainmaker, we pulled together.
We all felt a HUGE sigh of relief when the Furlough scheme was launched (anyone ever heard of that word before?), then shear excitement with the CBIL loans and the Bounceback loans. With the highs and lows, we really did ride this wave together.
But over the last few weeks, we did a bit more than that… here is how we worked together with YOU during Coronavirus to pivot OUR business, and support YOU too.
Getting the Basics sorted first…
Going quiet during the Covid-19 outbreak was unavoidable, as we are predominantly an EVENTS company! But we were determined to keep adding value and serve 1000% more than we ever have… as a result of this, we chose NOT to furlough our team, instead to stay on board and to be honest, WORK OUR SOCKS off and bring the community together, to get us all through this awful period of 2020 as unscathed as possible.
The first concern was “What if the Tenants stop paying their rent”
To counteract this a Covid Guide for Business was created, as well as an 11 Step Tenant Call Plan on managing your letting agency throughout Coronavirus. Making the process easier for agents was top priority, as we understand that the industry already has its fair share of difficulties. What with the government throwing legislation at us every 0.5 seconds. To take out the stresses of writing up a response from agents to tenants and landlords, we did this for you! We created a Tenant and Landlord Letter for effective communication that would be required during the pandemic.
We couldn’t let houses, so let’s build up LEADS for when we can!
In this case, front end needs a little bit of TLC! Covid-19 made front end sales and letting generation even more challenging with social distancing in effect. The inability to actually conduct viewings seemed impossible. The digital world opened up new opportunities to solve this issue. With virtual viewings being the ultimate go-to for marketing your properties, we create a resource to help with front end. We created digital solutions to acquiring leads, and a range of automated funnels, which we were building for our Agent Rainmaker Members…
On top of this, we designed and built a digital-viewings funnel so that businesses can crack on and still set up lets, even when we couldn’t leave our houses!
Let’s run an online SUMMIT!
I’ll be honest, this was a little crazy… but we LOVE events, and wanted to see HOW an event could be run completely online… but not like ANY OTHER event…
As you know at AR, events have to be LOUD, FUN and packed with networking, sharing and loads of engagement! (all of which isn’t that easy on ZOOM!) but we were determined to find a way, and I was convinced that as a business owner, looking forward, is definitely a better option than looking down.
So, after the initial PANIC we pulled a few strings to get the BEST OF THE BEST from the worldwide marketing community together, and created the ‘PIVOT your business 2020 SUMMIT ‘, and we pledged ALL of the profits to charity (see this blog here)
To our surprise, everyone said YES! We ended up with 24 speakers, which over 3 days, delighted our AR members with top line strategies for marketing growth and generating LEADS for your business.
Over 100 AR members attended, and experienced a FUN, INTERACTIVE and ENGAGED 3 day event, like no other… at the end of the event, many said they wouldn’t have believed it was possible for an online event to feel so much like a REAL event… we even had a reception, break out rooms and an EXPO area!
In total, the event raised over £11,000 for the amazing charity “Promise Dreams!” Meaning that many very ill and terminally ill children will now get their biggest dreams come true
Not bad for a crazy idea…
Facebook LIVE anyone?
Over the 10 week peak corona period, We also hosted 59 live streams in our communities, at a time we believe, it was more important to be connected than ever, discussing the latest, the what do we do next, and how the hell do we interpret this! In every session.
As Agents collectively, we needed each other, and I just want us to go back 4 years… If THIS had happened then, without any of these communities in operation, how would this period in business have felt…
Quite a scary thought.
Venessa Afonja, Director of VA Property Consultants commented,” It’s just really nice to know that there are other people out there, doing the same things. You guys are constantly pushing us forwards, pushing the boat out!”
“It’s such an amazing network to be part of. It’s like having another board of directors working with you, it’s been really good.” Sue Gidney- Richard James Estates
Covid-19 Support Resources
Next, the big challenge came when the government gave 24 hours notice, that agents could re-open their offices on the 13th May.
However, there was a raft of “proviso’s” attached, Safety equipment, social distancing rules, PPE equipment and much more… and most of our agents staff had been FURLOUGHED, so had absolutely NO IDEA, what this was all about
So, never ones to back down from a challenge, our team decided (predominantly Dawn Bennett & David Parker) to run a return to work ONLINE Induction, for all staff, to take them step by step through the requirements for working in a letting agency office NOW
For 2 hours, the dynamic duo took our AR members teams through everything they need to know about working in the office, out on viewings or valuations, and when organising maintenance works…
All delegates were also provided with a full Return to Work Policy, a Checklist of Considerations, Daily Cleaning Schedules, a Return to Work Plan and audit forms to adapt to their own businesses too.
This meant hours saved by our AR members, and a tick in the box, for the H&S inductions DONE.
Sally Williams, Director of MBA Lettings commented“You were reading one page ahead of the rest of us! You had the answers straight away which was really helpful”
Successfully Getting your Priorities in Order
Even before Coronavirus, letting agents had a habit of prioritising ‘back-end’ management. When businesses hit a certain level of success, they have a tendency to plateau because they simply stop growing. Why? The priority on the back end enables growth in the front end of the business. The important fun stuff that gives us the agent buzz is lost in a never-ending cycle of legislation in tenancy management.
Tried and Tested Support
Sally Lawson, CEO of Agent Rainmaker also operates her own letting agency, Concentric Property alongside a white label property management company too. With 30 years of experience within the agency, Sally lives, eats and breathes the letting industry. As former President for ARLA, Sally has the industry knowledge to offer expert guidance on how to grow your business and navigate through Covid-19.
When asked about the advice and guidance that Agent Rainmaker has offered, Venessa Afonja commented,
“You’re doing this in your own time, in your own business, with your people. We can take from that and learn from that!”
Seeing the Results!
Sally Says “I remember one of the ZOOM calls we had about half way through, it was a really hot day, and we were live discussing the latest changes needed, and most of the attendees were sitting in the garden relaxing and listening to us… We asked how they were feeling, and they said, well you will just let us know what we need to know, so we don’t have to worry… Job DONE as far as I’m concerned, that was exactly the result we wanted for our community”
We asked some of our other Agent Rainmaker members what their thoughts were on our support over the last eight weeks.
Director of VA Property, Venessa Afonja said“Personally and professionally for me, it’s kept my A-game. It’s nice because it feels real, rather than just educational training”
Sally Williams, Director of MBA Lettings said“It’s been brilliant! I would not have had the confidence to be sitting here on my own with everybody furloughed.”
“We’ve been looking forward and using this time to build and make a plan to improve things rather than just treading water”.
Sue Gidney, Director of Richard James Estate Agents said“A lot of people have closed down, physically, mentally. You would assume that everyone would do what we’ve been doing.”
We were so happy to be able to hear such positive feedback from our Agent Rainmaker Accelerator members. We are also incredibly proud of our community and cannot wait to see our agents grow even more so into the future.
There is real power in coming together as a community, in taking care of each other and ultimately all reaping the rewards.
It’s been an honour serving you all during COVID 2020 and Thank you all for sharing too. From all here at Agent Rainmaker.