Excuse the puntastic (or not) title, but as you’ve no doubt already deciphered I took a trip northwards a couple of weeks ago for The Guild’s Annual Conference 2017. Held in Birmingham, the conference was titled “Good to Great” and featured a full programme of talks, speakers, panel sessions and a “Masquerade” theme Gala Dinner and Awards.
For those that don’t already know, The Guild of Property Professionals is a member-only organisation with a national network of around 800 independently owned estate agents. The current CEO of The Guild – and he’s been in situ since September 2008 – is Marcus Whewell, who has previously held Director positions at various major media companies and the British Safety Council. The Guild was first founded in 1992 and is primarily there to raise standards in estate agency by working with the very best independent agents across the UK.
The conference included an opening speech from Marcus Whewell himself, followed by a revealing presentation from Zoopla. Up next was a “What to expect in 2017” talk by Graeme Leach, Chief Executive and Chief Economist of macronomics.
After a short break The Guild launched their new brand before an interesting talk by Linda Moir, Head of Events Services at the 2012 London Olympics no less, entitled “Driving a memorable customer experience”, which is what all customer-facing businesses should be prioritising above everything else.
Tony Morris, Managing Director of Sales Doctor (a firm I mentioned in a previous Natter), was also on hand to do a speech on how to be a world-class negotiator, followed by perhaps the most relevant and pressing talk of the day, carried out by Jon Cooke, Director of GPEA Ltd: “Your competition is changing: are you?” As we know, those who stand still in business, and life, are usually those that are left behind. It’s the innovators, the adapters and the risk-takers who set the tone for the future and challenge complacency and preconceptions.
The event finished off very nicely, as these things often do, with a lovely dinner and drinks. The awards part of the evening was compèred masterfully by Melissa Porter, TV presenter, property developer, writer and transformational life coach (no, me neither!). We carried a story about the various award winners last week.
As is increasingly common at such soirees, there was a photo booth for all of us (very sober people) to lark about in. The pic below is of me, Lily Bennett (Marketing Executive at The Guild) and Joe Parry, Director of Parrys Property and Fine & County in Monmouthshire.
The event was held at The Vox, Birmingham’s most cutting-edge conference centre – and very impressive and modern it was too. As usual, an excellent day and evening with the crème de la crème of the property world, superbly well managed and organised throughout.
Zoopla’s tenant referencing
As part of Zoopla’s presentation at the conference, we got an insight into what is coming soon for the company. This included things like removals, home and life insurance, EPCs and, most surprising of all, tenant referencing. Is this the latest string to ZPG’s bow?
Word from Zoopla is that there’s a tenant referencing manual in its property management tool, but that's been in place and unchanged for over a year. We’ll have to wait and see if, and how, they develop their tenant referencing offerings in the future, but one to keep an eye out for.
Continuing this topic, a quick shout out to Rent4Sure, which is a nationwide provider of tenant referencing and insurance services for letting agents. We will be featuring some interesting developments on Rent4sure in a forthcoming Natter. They aim to deliver only the best quality, tried and tested products to their clients, everything from rent protection and Right to Rent checks to landlord and tenant insurance.
They do all this by offering a brand new, innovative and bespoke system, which offers a wide range of services to letting agents, tenants and landlords. Their website is well worth a glance.
A home moving gift
At the conference I also met up with Home Move Box.
A lovely idea for a company, this one, in what can sometimes feel like quite a hard-nosed, cynical world. Home Move Box helps businesses thank their customers personally with a gift as they move into their new home. Aiming to offer something for every possible moving occasion, Home Move Box allows firms to brand gift boxes with their own logos, as well as offering bespoke boxes (for that extra special touch) and seasonal boxes (for something a bit out of the ordinary).
It works in three very simple, straightforward steps. You browse the range of gift boxes available and choose the one that is perfectly tailored to your customers. You then place your order, uploading your company logo onto the gift box if necessary, and then receive an invoice for your purchase. Lastly, it’s delivery time – the gift boxes can either be sent to your office (so you can hand them on to your customers in person), or you can opt to send them directly to your customers’ new homes. Easy-peasy.
The company has been going for more than six years, helping deliver hundreds of thousands of gift boxes from estate and letting agents, house builders, housing associations, banks and building societies from its HQ in Erith, Kent.
Not only is a gift box a nice gesture, it also helps from a brand awareness point of view – getting your name out there on social media (where many customers head to in order to voice their approval) and rubberstamping your business as one that puts customer service and customer satisfaction at the forefront of everything it does. Reputation, perception and customer service are all-important in the world of estate and letting agency, so anything that can be done to improve on these should be grabbed fully with both hands.
Exciting news on the publications front, as we introduce James Dearsley’s PropTech Today column from this week (the first article went out this Wednesday and is well worth a read). James, whose day job is running The Digital Marketing Bureau, which he also founded, is a well-known and passionate PropTech advocate – the authoritative voice on all things PropTech, I think it’s fair to say. In fact, he was recently voted the number one PropTech influencer by LendInvest, ahead of stellar names such as BBC property pundit Henry Pryor, Trussle founder Ishaan Malhi and Zoopla founder Alex Chesterman.
The column will be a regular thing, appearing alongside the breaking news stories on Estate Agent Today, with James keeping us abreast of all the latest developments, products and innovations in the PropTech arena. So keep your eyes peeled.
That’s that from me.
Until next time…
*Nat Daniels is the Chief Executive Officer of Angels Media, publishers of Estate Agent Today and Letting Agent Today