NOBODY wants to feel just like a number and we all appreciate the personal touch. For letting agencies, these should be the two takeaways for their business models in the face of the Tenant Fee Act. While it’s estimated the tenant fee ban could cost letting agencies between 10-30 percent of their revenue, personal service is the key to retaining business and reducing that deficit.
If you're searching for a way to beat the fee ban and make up the percentage on those lost administration charges, these are some of the options available to savvy lettings agents.
- Efficiency of automation – Ironically, automating services actually enables letting agencies to provide a more personal touch as emails and portals can be personalised per tenant or landlord. By giving customers an online portal to log complaints and concerns, and guaranteeing an instant response, letting agents also strengthen the bonds between agent and landlord/tenant while simultaneously improving their customer service. Automating administrative tasks also frees up staff time to ensure you really can offer a premium service.
- Customer service is king – Customer service needs to be the core value that guides every business decision your agency makes. Invest in staff training and make sure that every person in your agency is bright, knowledgeable and approachable. In the tougher, post Tenant Fee Act marketplace, client retention will be the difference between success and failure for most agencies.
- Increasing focus on tenant – Market experts predict that, following the fee ban, tenant experience will have a new impact on agency success. Online portals offer unlimited opportunities for tenants to rate and review their rental experiences and landlords are expected to take increasing levels of interest in their feedback. In a service industry, a company’s reputation has always been paramount. These days, there are simply more ways to have it called into question. Again, ensuring all staff members are reactive and responsive is the best way to guarantee your tenants give you a rave review.
- Increase your offering – Part of offering a personal service is being able to offer tailored, practical advice. Small additions to the services you offer (partnering with utilities, offering an all-inclusive rental rate or providing advice on insurance products for example) are all ways of establishing yourself as an expert in your field. While you don’t have to offer every landlord a totally bespoke package, showing that you understand their needs is the best way to ensure client retention.
- Staff retention – Every member of staff (including contractors) is a representative of your agency so it’s worth investing in them. Offering regular training, creating development opportunities and regularly taking the temperature of the office is the best way to ensure staff retention. Projecting the image of a company whose employees are happy to work for them is a good way to develop new business, while the consistency caused by minimal staff turnover is the most effective way to retain existing clients without increasing revenue. It’s win/win all round.
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