Why the office still matters in lettings
Sarah Wycherley at White & Sons is part of a 10-strong team that works from one office - which has certain business benefits, as she explains.
There's a family vibe at White and Sons, especially in our lettings team. We have two full-time negotiators, some part-time people, and a property management team of three dealing with all of the maintenance issues, gas safety certificates, EICRs, boiler breakdowns, etc. As Senior Lettings Manager, I progress tenancies using Goodlord, and we're all in house - and in one office.
Sharing ideas easily
When you work in close physical proximity to your team, you can bounce ideas off each other. You can chat to each other, you overhear things. If someone says something about a property, the property management team might be able to interject and say, "Actually, this is the current situation".
You get a much faster turnaround time for things when you don't have to call people. We sometimes don't even have to look at our system - you can just tell each other directly and it makes the response time a lot quicker.
When remote working during the pandemic, our service to landlords wasn't interrupted, because we were able to use our online system and the notes that we put on there. We could still work really well for our landlords and for our tenants - it was just harder to have that same team vibe, and some decisions were delayed.
Generating deals quickly
In the office, if our sales team has a property that's sticking on the sales market, they can see what it's worth, then decide to have a chat with the landlord about renting it out. That's when the lettings team can step in to share a bit more information to help with that conversation.
There's that instant communication. We can give them a response and a price, or we can have a call with the vendor. We hold the gas safety certificates, and other property documents, which means that from a sales point of view, we can provide a lot of the information that conveyors want for a property - so it's a lot quicker.
Building the right team vibe
However, to make the most of the benefits that an office can offer, the team needs to be right. It all comes down to recruiting the right people initially - to fit with both our team and our customers - and then helping make sure that it's the right environment for them to thrive.
We're all quite involved in the recruitment of a new person. Whoever they're directly working with will sit in on the interview to make sure that you get along and have personalities that would work well together. We make sure that they're introduced to everyone, and we have group chats to make sure that the person coming in definitely suits the atmosphere that we have.
Do landlords and tenants like the high street, office presence?
We're now all back in the office full time. It's how we all prefer it - and our landlords too. They tend to like to come into the branch to see the negotiators that are doing the deals and doing the viewings.
They can see the admin team that's setting up a new agreement for one of their other properties. They can have all of their issues solved, because we're all here.
If one person can't solve their problem, generally speaking, someone else in the office will be able to. We have quite a few older landlords and they definitely appreciate the fact that they can come in and talk to us, face to face.
Tenants, less so. We get fewer tenants walking through the door. Technology has encouraged this shift, since we've started using Goodlord especially. It's such a simple process that tenants don't come in with any questions or to sign - it means that they don't need to come in anymore because everything just happens so smoothly, all online.
So that's an interesting divide, and may affect our future approach to the office space.
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