“Because it’s the way we’ve always done things” isn’t a business case. Successful businesses are those that are constantly evolving and improving their processes. Those that don’t evolve end up getting left behind. Take the now-infamous case of Blockbuster - once a global giant with more than 9000 outlets worldwide, Blockbuster failed to recognise the threat of on-demand video streaming (and even rejected an offer to purchase Netflix) and filed for bankruptcy protection in 2010. Closer to home, House of Fraser is the most recent example of a business that has failed to adapt to the changing times. The ailing retailer took too long to acknowledge the way people do their shopping had changed and didn’t respond quickly enough with its own online offer. It’s now unclear how the retailer will survive.
Continuous improvement - or “Kaizen” - is the key to building a successful business. The concept, which was developed in Japan, involves the continuous analysis of operational processes in order to improve operational efficiency. Although Kaizen has it roots in manufacturing - Toyota and the Toyota Way being one of the most famous examples - its applications are diverse - businesses and organisations throughout the world, from banks to hospitals to governments, have adopted the concept as a way to save time and money.
The administration and process-heavy lettings industry is ripe for improvement and, with the looming Tenant Fee Ban set to erode agencies’ revenues by 18-20%, it’s vital to ensure your team are operating as efficiently as possible. Agencies who want to get an edge on the competition should start identifying processes that could be improved - particularly manual, time-consuming processes that could now be automated using new technology, such as Goodlord’s online platform for letting agents, which digitises tenancy creation and progression.
There are significant benefits to be gained from automating your processes. Not only will you reduce your overheads, but you could improve your agency’s profitably by giving your negotiators more time to spend on revenue generating activities like prospecting, viewings and negotiation.
Digitising your process also makes it easier to create higher value tenancies by offering your customers extra services they can purchase with the click of a button, such as Rent Protection Insurance for your landlords or utility-switching for your tenants. You’ll also benefit from any improvements made to the platform itself, such as the upcoming launch of renewals on Goodlord, which will let agents process a renewal in 60 seconds.
You could also grow the size of your portfolio. David Thomas of Liberty Gate believes he’s grown his agency twice as fast thanks to technology like Goodlord. “I’d probably be about half the size I am now, easy,” says the Nottingham-based agent.
Before the agency adopted Goodlord, their time was being consumed by a very manual, administration-heavy process for lettings. “When you’re trying to do 20 lets a month, it was late evenings, it was early mornings, just prepping for move ins all the time,” says David. “The minute Goodlord came along, we knew it would take all of that away. So that alone freed up time so we could go out and get more business, we could go out and get more lets - so it’s massive. You can scale up your business twice as quick if you’ve got that automation.”