14th August 2020
Four months after the Coronavirus lockdown we have all our staff off furlough and back to full time work. With our investment in new technology those of us not in furlough continued working 40+ hours a week, maintaining our 7-day service to clients. The deals we lost due to the pandemic are measured on one hand, as are the number of tenants who are in serious rent arrears, more than justifying our long-term policy of attracting and selecting quality tenants for our clients. In fact, the pandemic has differentiated agents between those who were dedicated to looking after their customers and those who had weak contingency planning, if any at all.
We are still seeing the differentiation, with some agents having embraced the philosophy behind The Coronavirus Act 2020, and adapted their processes and procedures, and those who are either bending the rules or blatantly disregarding them. It would be nice to think that disregarding the regulations will not put customers or the agents themselves at risk of Covid-19, but I am not so sure! A prime example of this is the delivery of Video or Virtual Tours, something the regulations state we must provide. I won’t mention names, but I’m surprised at some of the larger agencies who are flouting these regulations by not limiting the number of physical viewings by the provision of online viewings.
As it happens, our Video Tours have proven very popular. This week we have surpassed 150 videos, which we have filmed ourselves, edited and uploaded onto our dedicated Vimeo page. On the rental front, we have reduced the number of physical viewings by more than 60% to achieve the same number of lettings. On the sales side, we halved the number of viewings needed before an offer is received.
In the past month our video tours have generated 6,509 views (as at 9.45pm 11.08.20) with 1,533 having watched the videos from start to finish. I would suggest the 4,976 who didn’t watch the videos all the way through would have requested a physical viewing had we have not had the video tour available. More people through doors simply increases the risk of spreading Covid-19!
What has surprised me is that the most popular days for watching the videos are Tuesday and Wednesday. The lowest view day of the week is Sunday. The most popular device by far is mobile phones, followed by desktop PC’s, then tablets and finally a small number are watching on smart TV’s.
Both our sales and letting departments are busy. Far busier than we had forecast during lockdown when re-writing our cashflow projection and business plan for 2020. I’ve always followed the mantra that if you fail to plan, you’re planning to fail! As it happens, we’re only marginally behind the 2020 business plan I wrote in autumn 2019. We have therefore recommenced the refurbishment of our offices and we’re continuing with our recruitment drive, starting with a new member of staff starting with us on the 17th August! We aim to follow that up with an additional negotiator for our rental team in readiness for 2021.
There’s lots of uncertainty for many people in the months ahead, but what will never change is the need for everyone to have a roof over their head!