What does Outsourcing your Property Inventories involve?
Traditionally companies outsourced primarily to cut costs. But today, it is not only about cutting cost but also about reaping the benefits such as accessing skilled expertise, reducing overheads, flexible staffing, increasing efficiency, reducing turnaround time and ultimately generating more profit.
Outsourcing allows new projects to start quickly and can reduce labour and training costs. It allows you to focus on your core business harnessing economies of scale which enables a competitive edge vs. other businesses. This can also reduce risk. A typical benefit is that high achieving letting staff can be left to get on with their job of growing commissions, rather than spending time drafting inventory reports, check in and check outs and dealing with laborious deposit disputes.
The best negotiators are not always so good at doing back office tasks. Outsourcing your inventories provides the highest level of expertise, completed with short notice and fast turnaround times, leaving you to do what you do best.
- Carrying out inventories is a specialist task; it is not an activity letting agents are necessarily experienced in. With staff attrition, levels of expertise change and can lead to poor quality and delivery that does not meet client expectations. If a staff member at a letting agent leaves, training somebody new takes time, the quality suffers, and the client gets a poor user experience.
- An inventory/check in/check out is not a core letting task for an estate agent. It is not commission earning and takes a letting negotiator away from the core activity of letting and bringing on new properties to expand the commission driven portfolio. Every hour spent doing inventories/check in and check outs could be spent searching for new landlords/properties to bring to the portfolio. A good inventory for a 2-bed flat could take 2 hours whereas a large 5 bed house may take the best part of a day. A lettings agent may not have the motivation or key skills to do this leading to disappointment at all levels and time that could have been spent nurturing and building relationships with landlords. A poorly compiled report may also lead to disappointment when it comes to deposit disputes costing time, effort and money for the Landlord, Agent and Tenant leading to a poor user experience at all levels and reputational risk for the Agent.
- One of the most important reasons to outsource is that the inventory report should continue to be unbiased and independently carried out by a 3rd party completely independent of the agent, landlord and tenant. This is the only way to have a truly unbiased and transparent method of reporting which satisfies all of the deposit companies and adjudicators. If the landlord does the report there is a bias, if the agent does it there is a bias as they are working for the landlord and ultimately have the landlord’s interests at heart.
- A deposit adjudicator is also likely to pay more attention and be more receptive to an unbiased professionally drafted report carried out by an independent company. Additionally, as Landlords are expected to adhere to new regulations, financial changes etc leading to further professionalisation of the sector, Landlords will to also expect their agents to include professional delivery of particular services such as inventory reports and check in and check outs. A good independent inventory provider is seamlessly integrated into many successful letting agents.
Peter Drucker – Management consultant, educator, and author
- Ask yourself, do you really feel that doing inventories and check in/check outs internally truly benefits your business and the landlord/tenant and not just from a financial standpoint.
- Make contact with a few independent inventory companies and ask them where their service could benefit your business from a holistic perspective, not just that they create good reports. Ask them about their communication methods, delivery, USP’s, why are they different and what are the benefits of using them beyond cost. Does the inventory provider engage with you to help with deposit estimations and disputes, or does their service just stop at creating a report and sending it out?
- Compare the reports you create internally with those of a professional company, use this as an opportunity to improve and upsell your service to Landlords vs the competition. Landlords would look at it favourably when they hear that inventories are carried out independently and professionally. Ultimately the expectation from landlords themselves now is for them to deliver a professional lettings service, they have the same expectation from agents.
- Look for gaps in your current inventory service, or patterns where issues occur which will help you reengineer and enhance the process.
- Identify if outsourcing inventories would work for you. What would the benefits be to the team and the bottom line if you refocused on core competencies?
Remember doing inventories internally is often a distraction for lettings negotiators and is a specialist task that should be done independently by a professional company to satisfy the deposit companies and adjudicators when and if disputes arise. It’s a red herring to think doing it internally only saves money, any poor reports or lost disputes due to this could lead to a poor reputation for the agent amongst Landlords.
Check out our blog on the importance of a quality inventory.
Contact us today to chat about how we could enhance your lettings service with our specialist inventory process.
Tel + 44 7932 760 563