The concept of an expert agent is often cited in the context of lettings agents knowing everything about the rental market, the areas in which they’re dealing, legislation to be aware of and more. These are crucial things to be aware of, certainly, but any agent who is passionate about what they do and hungry for success should have no trouble with ensuring they have the relevant knowledge to provide a first-class service to prospective and existing clients. They need to provide more to truly stand out as exceptional agents.
The changing property management landscape
Their jobs have never been more challenging than they currently are. With legislation like the Tenant Fees Bill on the horizon, which is sure to have a profound effect on profit margins, agencies of all sizes will be affected. Small ones may be bought out or have to close completely, while larger ones may need to downsize.
It’s clear, then, that agencies should be looking to increase or maintain the resources they already have in order to make up the shortfall created by the tenant fees ban. And what’s the main resource they need in order to keep their business going? Landlords.
Landlords have always been the catalyst for lettings agencies’ success or failure. Having more landlords in their portfolio means more money coming in, but it can be easier to lose them than win them, especially when they’re a finite resource - there are only so many of them to go around, and you may not have as many of them as you’d like. In cases like these, it’s absolutely vital to ensure you’re doing everything you can to keep the ones you have by maintaining strong relationships with them.
This is a very underrated skill for the majority of agents, perhaps because it’s not often considered a main part of their job - but property management is ultimately about providing a good customer experience, as most other jobs are. How, then, can they ensure that they are developing strong relationships that enable them to keep the landlords they already have while trying to find more?
One of the statistics that came out of 2017’s Fixflo Report was that 40% of agents knew of a landlord who had changed their agency due to an issue with the way their repairs had been managed. This can be the main thing that property managers are hired to deal with - landlords, especially those paying for a fully managed service, do not often want to have anything to do with managing their property, so if a repairs issue comes up that isn’t handled properly and requires them to get involved, they will naturally switch to a different agency.
An expert agent, therefore, should always be able to maintain a strong relationship with a landlord in terms of their property management, and one of the best ways of achieving this is by investing in systems designed to make the management of a property as easy and effective as possible. As far as repairs and maintenance management is concerned, software that can easily be used by tenants to report repairs and problems with the property is key in terms of property managers being able to resolve those issues.
Fixflo, for example, is available in over 40 languages and features a picture-based menu to ensure that any tenant, regardless of their language or technological ability, can accurately report the problem - this ensures there is no confusion in terms of the property manager misunderstanding the problem and sending the wrong contractor or the contractor turning up to deal with a specific problem and being presented with a completely different one. This would waste time and money and not reflect well on the agency, which could mean that the landlord then chooses to leave and go elsewhere for his property management service.
Using technology to strengthen customer relationships
Another Key Performance Indicator that landlords will judge their property managers on is their ability to keep the property occupied. This means that, not only do property managers need to ensure their relationship with the landlord is strong, but also that their relationship with the tenant is strong. They therefore need to focus on giving the tenant as much of what they require in terms of service as possible.
This can be difficult, because the needs and desires of tenants are changing all the time. For instance, they now expect and want to be able to use digital systems for things like repair reporting to ensure a quick response and resolution, especially if (as the majority of them are) they are millennials. If property managers can deal with problems effectively and provide the kind of tools people are increasingly valuing to ensure a good customer service, tenants are more likely to stay within a property for the long term.
As we can see, then, even though the landlords are the resource you need to maintain, you need to concentrate just as much on ensuring that the tenants occupying their properties are kept happy with your service. If they’re happy, landlords’ happiness will naturally follow. The truly expert agents know this, and devote time to finding new ways to facilitate improved relationship management. High customer churn does nobody any good - true success for a property management agency comes in stability and subsequently growth, and that’s what expert agents are able to achieve.