Cambridge Residential is a fast growing lettings agent based in the South of England. Established in 1997, the business opened with a low volume of properties which were managed using a paper based system. As the business grew, a database developed, but was only used as an information source with all processes remaining manual. As volumes of properties grew and legislative complexities increased, Tom Ghibaldan, Director of Cambridge Residential knew that a new IT system had to be purchased.
As with many managers of businesses, Tom was concerned at the implications of integrating a new system which would perform a critical role within the company. Specifically, the legislation around lettings – EPC, gas certificates and so on – meant the business could not afford these key issues to be overlooked. “With the old system, we understood it and – even if it wasn’t any good – we knew where to find everything” said Tom. Also, he knew there would be a high investment of time, especially as he had decided to be the figurehead for the company to drive the change forward.
Post their “go live date”, one of the company’s concerns proved accurate in that Tom had to dedicate a huge amount of time personally to managing the process and has been training staff himself following the initial training we provided. “Initially there was lots of groaning and hands in heads, but now there are lots of ‘eureka’ moments and I can see staff smile as they realise that Qube SLM has just done something automatically for them” said Tom. Advice that would be passed on to any other business going through the same process would be to spend a greater time “playing” with dummy data between initial training and going live, just to help build familiarity. However, in terms of his other main concern, this proved to be less founded as even during the high learning curve, fewer things were being missed.
Qube SLM is undoubtedly a system that requires time for users to become fully familiar with it. But Cambridge Residential quickly began to experience the benefits. One of the requirements Tom had of any system was the need for greater automation. With Qube SLM, you can search for a property, get the details and a digital photo, input them to the system and then everything else is completed automatically – the website is updated, information is uploaded to portals, the details produced and the property is then being marketed from that instant. “We never need to question whether the website is up to date,” Tom says. ”We just know it is!”
More specific to the lettings arena is the client accounting needs. In Tom’s words, Qube SLM is “second to none” in this area. “Contacts (landlords/contractors etc) are all getting paid more promptly which improves relationships,” he explains. “And arrears chasing and tax issues are now much easier to manage.” As time has moved on, the staff to property ratio has dropped due to the increased automation and functionality offered by the system. He has also noticed that staff are able to spend more time dealing with property management rather than being bogged down in administration, all leading to better customer service.
One feature of Qube SLM is the ability for landlords to access their accounts through the website and therefore reduce workload on negotiators. Cambridge has a high number of international landlords in far flung corners of the world which, due to time-zone differences, makes telephone contact a challenge. With our system, these customers will be able to view their account details 24/7. And with customer service being one of the differentiators that Cambridge prides themselves on, this increased accessibility for landlords was very attractive.
When asked about his views on Qube SLM, Tom provided the following summary: “Going with Qube SLM is the best decision I have made since starting the business. I wish I had done it much earlier. When you are small, you put the decision off and, as the business grows, the decision to change gets harder. The secret is to do it early. It has transformed the business. It’s fantastic!”