Letting Agency Horror Stories and How to Avoid them

Now that Halloween is just around the corner, it’s time we take a look at some horror stories that are a little closer to home for letting agents. But don’t worry, we’re also here to help you avoid making them your reality, with some easy-to-follow advice on how to transform your day to day office operations to help make your working life more enjoyable.  

Never Ending Phone Calls 

Anyone who has worked in a letting agency environment, whether presently or some time ago, will have grown accustomed to the sound of endlessly ringing telephones. It’s a given in an industry that is heavily person-centred. Agencies act as the middle man between four different and often competing, parties; Landlords, tenants, contractors and the general public, and as a result are constantly in demand.

However, answering the phone is far from being the only task on the to-do list of a letting agent. Letting agents have a notoriously hectic workload which makes answering every call impossible. As a result, it can be frustrating for anybody trying to get in touch with them and result in complaints being made. It can also have a knock-on effect on the progress of many of the projects the agent is responsible for.

These busy phone lines can quickly become one of the most stressful aspects of the job, however, there is finally a solution. Outsourcing your phone lines, either full time, or part-time during busier periods, to a third party call handling specialist can really help to ease this burden and significantly improve your customer service.

Call handling providers like Cymphony have a large body of expert and experienced staff who would be trained in how to answer the vast majority of calls your company receives, making them indistinguishable from your in-house team. They could then pass on any necessary information to you to handle at a more convenient time. And what’s more, outsourcing in this way is far more affordable than hiring your own staff, as it works on a pay per minute basis, ensuring that you always get a return on your investment. Not to mention the fact you wouldn’t be responsible for the HR aspects of hiring or have to provide premises and equipment. It’s a win-win!

A Constantly Re-filling Inbox 

On top of a phone that never stops ringing, letting agents are also tackling an inbox that has a constant influx of new emails. As well as those who simply prefer to email, having failed to get through on the phone, each party will often try emailing instead. 49% of consumers, on average, use three to five different communication channels to contact customer service. Many property enquiries also reach letting agents this way too, as company websites are often set up to offer online enquiry forms. Furthermore, many issues that are handled by letting teams are legal in nature, and therefore require written proof, which is another reason why emails are often the communication method of choice. 

But have no fear, we have some solutions for this too. First of all, so many of the emails you receive will be simple queries that can be answered quickly, and for this form of communication, a live chat feature on the company website may be more effective. It is well known to be the most convenient way to contact a company which will also help you to tick more boxes when it comes to the quality of your customer service.

While this would be a great way to cut down on the number of emails that come flooding into your inbox on a daily basis, you may be wondering how you can spare the time to respond to live chat requests. This is where outsourcing comes into its own once again. You can outsource to experienced live chat agents just as easily and affordably as you can outsource calls to call handlers. So for a fraction of the price it would cost you to hire the extra staff you need, you can dramatically reduce the demand on your time while simultaneously improving your customer service ratings!

Legal Action and Harming Others

One of the biggest fears of any letting agency is the threat of legal action from Landlords and tenants. Many of the tasks that agents have to complete carry with them significant responsibility, so the smallest mistake can have big consequences. For example, failing to spot a message from a tenant regarding a power cut, could result in you leaving them without heating and hot water for over 72 hours, which breaks one of the many laws lettings agents must abide by.

Even worse than legal action is the possibility of causing real harm to others. For example, a poorly managed property maintenance project could result in an accident that injures a tenant. Failure to deliver a perfect response to every challenge you face as a letting agent is often the result of having an unmanageable workload. In response to this, our suggestion is to hire the help of a virtual personal assistant.

Like any assistant, a virtual personal assistant can help you to tackle the vast majority of day to day tasks, allowing you to focus on those that require your expert touch. The benefit of the fact they are virtual is that they are remote and, therefore, do not require you to provide them with a workspace. When you source them from a provider like Cymphony, you also have access to multiple virtual personal assistants, meaning that there is always someone available to help, day or night.

Furthermore, a large number of emergency calls from tenants often come in overnight and surprisingly, many lettings agents don’t have an out of hours phone line, leaving tenants without the help they desperately need. Outsourcing your call handling means that your phone lines would be manned 24/7; greatly easing tenant frustration.

Frustrated Landlords 

As a letting agent, you can often be on the receiving end of the wrath of Landlords. Letting out properties can be a stressful process for everyone involved, but Landlords fall victim to the financial strain which can be significant at times. In fact, rental income is the sole priority for only 35 per cent of Landlords, which explains why it can be such a source of tension for them. As a result, they keep a close eye on the decisions you make as an agent on their behalf. Sometimes, you get it wrong, for example, you could choose troublesome tenants, forget to publish the advert for their property on a certain day, or overspend on a property maintenance project. 

The best way to avoid mistakes is to keep control of your workload and hire the help of a personal assistant as we have explained above, but it also important that you make sure you are always accessible to them, as this helps them to feel more in control of their properties and eases their frustration. Ensuring that you have help with calls and emails by outsourcing, is the best way to achieve this too.

Chasing Contractors

Perhaps the most time-consuming aspect of being letting agents is chasing contractors. Agents are responsible for managing property maintenance projects on behalf of Landlords, but their progress is often threatened by how inaccessible the majority of building contractors often are. As a result, you can spend a significant amount of time playing telephone ping pong with them, trying to organise the next stage of a project, whilst also juggling the needs of the Landlord and tenant, who you need for gaining access to the property and agreeing on costs.

A virtual personal assistant can be invaluable when it comes to this particular aspect of being a letting agent. Handing over the responsibility of liaising between contractors, tenants and Landlords to them, allows them to give more focus on the task and have more success, while you can concentrate on other aspects of your role. It helps that virtual personal assistants aren’t restricted by traditional working hours too, as it greatly increases the chances of them being able to get in touch with each party. And of course, they’re more cost-effective than hiring an in-house assistant, in fact, companies save up to 78% of costs by hiring virtual assistants.

It looks like the traditional stresses that come with working in a lettings agency might be facing their final days, as outsourcing finally provides the affordable and much-needed help that staff have been asking for. Soon, your phone and your inbox will become much calmer, your workload will be far more manageable, your tenants and Landlords will be happier and your conscience will be clear. Contact Cymphony today to set the wheels in motion for a stress-free future in lettings.

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