Published: 27/07/2021 By Ross HardingChanges and Challenges are Good Things - My Lockdown Journey Through Property
18 months ago, as was the case with so many people in the country, I was looking at my working situation with trepidation and concern. Having left the High Street 4 years previously to embark on a new adventure working with online agents, I never saw myself returning to an office environment, enjoying the freedom that self-employment brings.
But times change and so do people.
With the potential for the industry grinding to a halt, being self employed with no option of a furlough scheme was not an attractive proposition. I was potentially looking at being one of the vast amount of self-employed people that were going to be left without income or help.
Luckily, having worked in the property industry for almost 20 years (and with grey hairs and receding hairline to prove it!), you meet a lot of wonderful contacts on the way.
I met up with Jon Graham, the owner of Dwell Estate & Letting Agents, in 2004 at our first company get away in the agency we had just both joined as Negotiators in Leeds. We both progressed to Branch Managers over the years and Jon left that agency in 2012 and set up Dwell. I continued for a few more years before moving on in 2016. We kept in touch and I’m very thankful that we did.
At the start of 2020, I contacted Jon to see if I could have a conversation about his business and if he was hiring. As timing goes, it couldn’t have been better. He was in the process of hiring a new Lettings Manager and was at the final interview stage. I think he said something along the lines of “I think we’ve already found someone, but if you can come in for a chat tomorrow then I’m happy to see you”.
18 months later, and I am now managing the branch, allowing Jon to run the business whilst I run the day to day activities in the branch itself.
The last year and a half didn’t go without its challenges though. Two lockdowns, several temporary and some permanent legislation changes have made it a tough time for many Estate and Letting Agents out there. We had to adapt and change with the times, looking at different ways to market properties and keep the business going. Unfortunately, the Lettings industry cannot just stop, it is a continual cycle of process and reactive works. Roofs still leak, appliances still break, rents still need to be paid, people still need to move.
But change is good, and challenging times force you look at how your business operates. You are forced to identify weaknesses and efficiency deficits within your business and make necessary changes. Without difficult times, it would be very easy to do the same thing day in day out and never really see the benefit than change brings.
During the first lockdown, trying to limit the amount of physical contact and property visits was key. So we adopted virtual marketing and other new technologies in a big way. Very early on we started to offer 360 degree virtual tours and video tours of all our properties. This is now included in all our packages at no extra charge to our clients. Would we have done this without the lockdown, probably yes. But would we have done it as quickly, certainly not.
By making changes and adapting to the world around us, we were able to grow the company even during difficult times. At the end of the financial year, Dwell Estate & Letting Agents had grown by 30% on the previous year. We now have twice as many staff as we did at the start of 2020 & we are continuing to grow and develop new processes and ideas to bring a better level of service to our clients.
So, my experience tells me to accept change and don't shy away from it. Whether this be in business or in personal life, change is often a good thing.
If your current agent has not, or is not, willing to embrace the necessary changes, then give us a call. You might not realise that a change is good, until you do it.