It’s coming, and when it does the Tenant Fees Bill could wipe 20% of agents’ income off their books. ARLA research indicates that letting fees currently make up around one fifth of an agent’s income and that’s before associated costs are factored in. But there are options that agents can explore in order to get around the earnings drain the ban will bring in – by being smart, staying agile and adding value and services wherever possible.
Here are five of the best ways to beat the Bill.
Maximise your time
It might sound obvious, but making time to win new instructions is key to boosting earnings in the wake of the lettings fee ban. What’s less obvious is how you can find the extra hours, when staff are already stretched and agents are keen not to increase overheads. Investing in repairs and maintenance management software could be the ideal solution - in this way, you can take away the pain of the endless paperwork and free up staff time to seek out and win new business. Repairs and maintenance software can issue and chase invoices, instruct contractors and generate repairs reports, making it a vital addition to a lettings agency's arsenal of tools.
Add extra value
Now, more than ever, agents need to justify the value they add to property management. As far as is feasible, agents should look at offering a 24/7 service that allows landlords and tenants to contact them around the clock. That’s not as labour-intensive as it sounds - investing in repairs and maintenance software allows tenants to report any repairs issues instantly and receive an instant response, while most software systems are cloud-based which means agents can access the system from almost any location in the world. Not that you'd necessarily be worrying about it when you're relaxing on the beach in Hawaii, but you get our point.
Adding supplementary products to agents' services is another way to grow the business and offset the effects of the letting fees ban. The most obvious add-ons are insurance products, such as landlord's or house and contents insurance, although agents could also consider opening up their contacts book to share market data with external sources.
Develop an expert reputation
When earnings are tighter, it’s imperative to establish a reputation as an expert. Agents looking to edge ahead of the competition and increase profits should develop relationships with local newspapers and media outlets who can carry news updates on their behalf and come to them when comment is needed about relevant news stories. Additionally, they should boost their LinkedIn and other social media profiles with insightful and informative articles – these are all ways of engaging with landlords and demonstrating superior knowledge of the industry that will attract new business.
Ensure your compliance
The property rental market is changing all the time, and with those changes will come increased legislation. The built-in ability of agents to keep their landlords compliant and totally up to date with any legislative changes is a key way for agents to make themselves indispensable. Because while some landlords have the time to manage their own properties; very few actually have the expertise. Keeping landlords on the right side of impending legislation is the lifeblood of the industry and the reason that it will go on to survive and thrive, regardless of lettings fee ban.