Who are you and what does it say on your business card?
Beccy Moore. Office Manager for Nicholas Humphreys
Tell us more about Nicholas Humphreys?
We’re a national independent estate and lettings agent. As well as professional property sales and lettings, we specialise in student lettings. We started up shop almost 20 years ago in our owners dining room and now have 8 managed offices and 28 franchisees across the UK.
What makes Nicholas Humphreys unique? Tell us something amazing that Nicholas Humphreys is proud of?
As well as our core business, we recently set up the Nicholas Humphreys Charity Foundation to raise vital funds for Rainbows Children’s Hospice and other local worthy causes. Through charity balls and fundraising events we're approaching £100,000 raised in 2018 alone. We’re extremely proud of the effort our staff, suppliers and clients put into raising funds.
You specialise in student accommodation. How different is the student sector to the wider private rental sector?
In my opinion, I’d say the key difference is the pace in communication. Students want everything in an instant, that’s the world they live in. Their main communication is through social media and they’re used to a rapid response. To communicate well to this group you need to first understand social media and talk to them on their own level.
Secondly you need to appreciate that you’re working with clients experiencing living independently for the first time, which in itself can be very demanding. Some haven’t got a clue, while others know exactly what they want, but have unrealistic expectations about what they can afford. Our job is to juggle expectations, delivering the best they can possibly achieve on a student budget.
What challenges do you face?
The key challenge for student lettings are the annual changeovers. There is literally zero room for error. The majority take place overnight, with tenants moving out on 30th June and new tenants moving in on 1st July. In our office alone, we have 200 managed properties, and each one requires a great deal of attention in a 24 hour window. Inspections have to be carried out, cleaners booked, paperwork completed and utilities managed. Given the work focus, we have to employ additional staff to fulfil. It’s an extremely busy and stressful time for us all.
Tell us more about the management of utilities?
As we manage the properties, we need to take meter readings as tenants move out, and provide to the relevant utility companies. Sounds fairly straight forward, but we’ve often found ourselves going into basements at 9, 10pm at night. In addition, we’re regularly given incorrect information about providers, which requires a lot of additional phone time to track down. It’s not uncommon to come into the office on 30th June to find meter readings missed. We once had a call from a tenant at 2am to come and take a meter reading - students don’t operate a 9 - 5!!
Can you tell us more about Glide Switch?
Glide has launched a new product, ‘Switch’, aimed at agencies like ours, designed to remove the admin and hassle traditionally associated with student tenancy changeovers. We’ve known Glide for a while and they approached us last year to trial Switch - given our changeover workload, we were happy to give it a go.
Switch essentially enables Glide to take charge of utility contracts over the tenancy changeover - they manage the process in its entirety. For us this has meant a significant reduction in admin over the summer months. Glide now takes care of any utility admin during tenancy changeovers, reducing our overall workload and stress levels.
Country house or city apartment?
Trendy roof terrace or traditional English garden?
Traditional English Garden
Would you rather be a free-moving tenant or settled owner occupier?
Settled Owner Occupier
What is your favourite room in your home?
My living room
Homes under the Hammer or Location, Location, Location?
Location, Location, Location