The first quarter of 2019 has been a challenging one for those operating in the property industry with sales activity having slowed and a myriad of legislation being introduced, primarily in the lettings sector.
I am not immune from the factors that affect my clients and, whilst I would argue that many would actually benefit from more input and involvement from myself at the present time, all are understandably having to balance this with the realities of their own cashflows.
During the last couple of years I have slightly “reinvented” myself to take account of changing market and regulatory conditions.
Around a third of my business is now delivering compliance training – in the last year or so this has majored on GDPR, Anti Money Laundering and Consumer Protection Regulations and, of course the impending tenant fee ban and other lettings legislation such as the requirement for Client Money Protection (CMP) and the introduction of the Fitness for Human Habitation Act.
I have run three open anti money laundering and consumer protection courses in the first quarter with over 120 delegates attending in London, Manchester and Milton Keynes. My next open courses are in May. In addition I have delivered training to a number of individual clients and have more bookings in the diary across the coming months.
Another third of my business is acting as business mentor – it always has been – but the emphasis on this has moved slightly away from sales and more towards lettings due to the threats and opportunities posed by the aforementioned legislation and the fact that the market is generally more buoyant than sales. I act as a quasi Non-Executive Director for many agencies and provide experienced and forward looking input and guidance on strategy, operational approaches and practical and pragmatic ways of maximising the success of the business.
A lot of my work currently is around reshaping business propositions to mitigate and, hopefully, gain from the tenant fee ban. My Lettings Heath Check is proving increasingly popular and, so far, I have never come up with less than 110 recommendations as a result of my investigation and approach.
Whilst the full Lettings Health Check is very detailed and is a two day project, I have carried out “cut down” versions, concentrating on key areas of compliance or commerciality and marketing for other clients.
The final third of my business is made up of areas such as copywriting, PR, social media management. I am currently writing the content for a new website for a professional services client and have produced a number of bespoke articles for agents as well as my regular marketing and media work for others.
My media work has seen me become a judge for a number of awards and I have just completed my judging of a category in the Property Press Awards - I have judged these prestigious awards for a number of years and look forward to catching up with the “great and the good” from across the industry at the awards night in Londinium in May.
I am also handling a number of acquisition projects for clients seeking to grow their lettings portfolios.
In November 2018 I accepted the offer of becoming a NED at Glanty, the parent company of award winning lettings software platform teclet. teclet is an innovative platform that joins up and automates the tenancy and renewals process thereby enabling agents to make money through additional product sales and services, save money through greater productivity and efficiency and improve service through a better service offering to clients and customers.
The platform has been adopted by a number of high profile estate agencies including Spicer Haart and Hunters and we have a significant pipeline of interest from hundreds of other agencies in both the corporate and independent sectors.
In business you always have to be looking to acquire new clients and new business opportunities. I am fortunate in having been in the industry a long time and being very well connected but I have made an increasingly conscious effort in recent months to raise my head further above the parapet.
I have presented two webinars for Rightmove and appeared at their tenant fee ban seminar which was broadcast live. I have had a number of articles and features published in the trade press – Estate Agent Today, Letting Agent Today, The Property Chronicle and the Negotiator magazine.
In February I appeared live on the Estate Agents Podcast answering questions about compliance and the trends and issues in the industry generally.
In the last couple of weeks I have been video interviewed by Christopher Watkins and a series of “bite size” elements from that interview will be being released across various channels in the coming weeks. I have seen the “rushes” and, apart from failing to make me look like George Clooney, they are, in my opinion well-structured and full of great content and insight.
I also recently invested in having a new set of photographs done for use in the media and elsewhere. Some were "booted and suited" and others reflect my passion as a frustrated wannabe musician and will be used if and when I ever get round to recording that first album!
Overall, I have ended up on target in the first quarter with the second quarter looking as if it will produce a similar result. Having a plan and monitoring against it has helped me keep on track and every business should do likewise. I have had to make adjustments along the way but, because I know what I am looking to achieve and what I need to do to do so, I am better able to do so.
We cannot change the wind but we can adjust our sails.