There’s no escaping – we are living in a digital age! And if we thought the rate of technological change was fast pre-2020, it had nothing on where we are now. In fact, it is estimated that the pandemic has accelerated our digital advancement by up to 10 years. It’s changed the way we all work, shop, bank and socialise. So, has all this been the catalyst of a true digital renaissance within the lettings industry?
Thinking of going digital? Why not download our guide “6 steps to digitising your agency” and find out whether you could make the most of the emerging digital opportunities.
If you have thought about making your business more digital, then some of the greatest lessons were available at the start of the pandemic. Overnight, the industry turned into digital or hybrids. Staff worked from home battling IT, telephony and paperwork issues as well as trying to facilitate remote check-in and check-out procedures….and let’s not forget viewings. While it was all a bit of a shock to the system, a year or so later and many agents see that the ‘new normal’ is a preferable normal and many don’t plan to make a full return to pre-pandemic lettings any time soon. Does that mean now’s the time to be truly digital?
So, what are the benefits of digitising your agency?
- First and foremost, the main benefit would be fewer overheads. Not maintaining a physical office or reducing the size of your office could provide some real cost savings to your business. Some of those savings could be invested into digital technology so you could offer a more streamlined service.
- Those lower operating costs mean you could offer even better value in the form of fees. 44% of landlords surveyed by Rent Round cite that agent fees are the main decider in which agent they choose to work with and indeed the biggest expense of being a landlord. This may be an opportunity to add more value and/or offer some cost savings.
- You could cover a wider area. Working online means you’re no longer controlled by geography. Digitising systems means remote processes are far more achievable and the majority of clients wouldn’t need to come into the office to sign documents or prove their identity.
When you look at your customer base from a tenant perspective – what is their demographic? Predominantly those tenants are probably 20-39 depending on your geographical location. Generation Z and Generation Rent are people that look for smart and streamlined processes. Used to same day and next day deliveries, chatbots and information at their fingertips daily, old, slow and outdated processes are all negatives as far as they are concerned. Having all aspects of their referencing, document signing and insurances available online is probably the standard of service they would expect and prefer.
That said, there may be drawbacks in operating solely online. In a survey by Rent Round 38% of landlords find agents through their placement on the high street. Add to this that some of your tenants and landlords may not be completely comfortable with technology and prefer working the old-fashioned way. Presence on the high street shows local knowledge and will add an extra layer of trust and legitimacy for some of your clients. When you apply what you have learnt during this last year how could you compromise and create a hybrid/high street version of your business that works for you, your clients and your brand?
How would you get started?
Invest in technology that ensures you have all landlord and tenant data in an online system. Make sure that your team are happy with roles and responsibilities in this new way of working. Some services could be delegated to an out of hours call centre or chatbot at night and over the weekend. This level of service will be a hit with landlords that no longer have to work around designated business hours.
The market share of hybrid and online agents has remained at almost eight per cent, according to property industry consultancy TwentyCi. This figure has now remained stable for two years. However, what remains to be seen is how this number will be affected now that digital processes have been so much more widely adopted.
To find out how you can digitise your agency’s processes, download “6 steps to digitising your agency”.
And to find out how our BOX system could help you digitise your lettings process, book a demo today.