Some Ideas to Consider in Order to Reduce your Overheads

It is very apparent that the return to normal life is not going to happen overnight, but is going to be a long drawn-out process, so now is a good time to take stock and see how letting and estate agents can reduce overheads in order to remain profitable. Writing in The Negotiator magazine recently, management consultant Adam Walker, who is a specialist in the sale of letting and estate agency businesses, says that there are a number of things that a mixed estate agent/letting business can do to help reduce overheads.

First among these is proptech. Some of Walker’s larger clients have been able to increase the number of properties that each of their property managers looks after by as much as 300%, by innovative use of proptech, so this is one thing that you should look into.

Another suggestion is outsourcing, particularly for the smaller business. There are a lot of companies now that will provide outsourcing solutions to letting and estate agents including drawing up tenancy agreements, checking references, registering deposits, collecting the rent, and organising repairs. Many of the smaller businesses will find it cheaper to outsource some of these functions rather than continue to do it in-house.

Another way of cutting costs is to reduce periodic inspections. For example, instead of carrying out an interim inspection every three months, cutting it down to every six months will have a significant effect on overheads. Using our inventory software at Reports2Go will also save a considerable amount of time on carrying out inspections.

As she said, the danger is that if an unsuspecting landlord or agent had used the June issue and then served a Section 21 notice to obtain possession through the courts, it is very likely that the possession would fail. Who would think that yet another version would be released on July 9th?

You can download the software from Google Play or The App Store and install it on your mobile or tablet for free. As you go through the property you can type up your notes as you go, or to save even more time, use the app in audio mode. Our software is particularly easy to use, and since it is free to use, why ever not?

You simply dictate everything into the app as you go and then upload it to your portal. When you get back to the office you can then download it and type it up, or better still – and to save even more time – you can have us type it up for you for a small fee, leaving you free to continue carrying out inventory.

Yet another area is viewings, which take up a considerable amount of time for most letting agents. You might be able to cut down on viewings by suggesting that applicants or potential tenants carry out a virtual viewing before booking a physical visit. If there is high demand for a rental property, perhaps you could arrange for all of the viewings to be carried out over a one or two-hour period, saving your staff time running back and forwards to the office. A good quality inventory document can help supplement other virtual information for the prospective tenant to assess the property suitability.Possibly some of your staff have been working from home recently. Is it possible that this could become permanent and that they could work part time from home or even all the time? If so, you could possibly move to a smaller, less expensive building. Do you really need all of your branch offices in a small area, or could you move some of the staff to a central office? Would it be possible to take on part time workers to carry out some of the admin at home after hours?Another issue may be your marketing budget. Have you ever sat down and analysed your marketing budget to count the return on spend? Which of your marketing efforts is the most effective? Perhaps you could get a valuation on Facebook or Google Ads for less than you spend on your local paper. When you know how cost-effective you're marketing really is, you can direct your ad-spend to the most profitable areas.

Panos, 15 January 2021

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