Yesterday I had the great pleasure of attending my first ever annual ARLA conference.
Currently I am 2 exams into my ARLA Technical Award (only 2 left to go – fingers crossed!) and having only worked in lettings for 18 months I was keen to see what an industry-wide event would be like!
After an early start, and horrible traffic, I arrived at the Hilton Metropole in London along with my colleague Donna (Lettings Negotiator) and Director Jane. We took our seats – just in time – and had a great spot on the second row! Tim Hyatt (Current President) & Peter Bolton-King (Chief Exec of National Federation of Property Professionals) introduced the day with some gener
al news from ARLA and a big welcome to everyone.
The conference itself had over 500 delegates in attendance – the largest yet – along with a fantastic selection of industry exhibitors – showcasing related services and products. Peter Bolton-King informed us of legislation changes due in lettings soon – and we furiously scribbled down notes to ensure that we did not miss out on anything important and were able to inform our customers of the news! Peter also gave us the news that ARLA will this year be introducing a marketing section to it’s website, and a new monthly e-newsletter to provide even more accessible advice and resources for member firms. This is great news for an agency like ours, where marketing is so very important, along with the emphasis on being one of only a handful of fully qualified ARLA agents in the vacinity!
From what I heard it seems that the affiliation with ARLA this year will become a focal point for both the Agents and ARLA themselves, to truly ensure that Landlords know about the fantastic advantages of using a regulated agent. This can only be good news for both us and the Landlord!
Following the ARLA round up came Liam Bailey – Head of Residential
Research @ Knight Frank – to give us an overview on the economics of the industry, investment opportunities for foreign investors, the current & forecast trends in the UK & London, and housing market indicators. Surprising to us was that in London, foreign investors contribute a large portion of investment sales in the Capital due to the weak pound and the need for safe haven investments – namely from African and European investors. Donna was soon angling for a ‘business trip’ to Africa to secure some new clients (watch this space)..
After one of many cups of coffee we consumed throughout the day, we returned to hear Phil Rumbol (ex-marketing director of Cadbury and now
partner of 101 ad agency) speak about building brand identity. Phil helped master-mind the highly acclaimed Cadbury gorrilla ‘In the Air Tonight’ advert. He highlighted to us the importance of ‘New Style Marketing’ as apposed to ‘Old Style Marketing’ where companies would tell people who they were and what they were good at, whilst the information was passively absorbed. Now-a-days this is not the best marketing strategy because consumers are far more media savvy and more likely to listen to reviews/opinions from their family or friends, through social media, networking, word of mouth, recommendations etc, than to listen to what the actual company tells them, and believe it! Therefore the importance of reputation via referrals and reviews can never be undervalued. Effective marketing needs to project your brand aims in everything that you do in order to be constantly supporting your promises to customers and keeping your reputation intact. And of course, do not forget that if you make a promise to do something, in your marketing & advertising, then you do actually need to deliver that promise!!
Next up was Dr Lynda Shaw (who has a PhD in neuropsychology and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine) went on to talk about behaviour in respect of customers from a more psychological view (taking me back
to my Uni days!) and the importance of really taking time to listen to your customers and being honest and open. She also touched on the negative impact that stress or bad thoughts can have in the work place, and that a pleasurable brain is always a far more efficient one! We left for lunch hoping to raise our nitric oxide levels with a little glass of vino!
During lunch we networked around the exhibitors stands, amassing free pens and dropping business cards into competitions (alas, I did not win an Ipad or a 9 litre bottle of champagne!!).
On our return we had a brief presentation from Lynne Copp (MD of the Worklife Company) about managing the ever difficult work and life balance.
Although not specific to lettings, her talk was incredibly interesting; full of ideas about the importance of having happy staff and trying new initiatives to increase productivity, which we were surprised (and secretly thrilled) to find included working from home, working shorter hours & perhaps changing peoples working times! Not sure how much of that we will get away with back at the office….but she certainly gave convincing evidence to support.
Wrapping up the day was Marveen Smith from PainSmith Solicitors with her ever-informative and fast faced legal aspects talk. She t
ackled new legislation and frequently asked questions from the ARLA hotline: New legislation that Landlords perhaps need to be aware of as well of agents this year include:
- The Localism Act, coming into effect on April 6th gives more clarity on Tenancy Deposit Legislation. Landlords 30 will now have 30 days from the day the deposit is received/the tenancy starts (which ever is soonest) to log the money with an approved scheme. Tenants can now take deposit related cases to court immediately, and the penalties are now selected from a sliding scale of between 1x and 3x the deposit amount. Section 21’s cannot be served if the deposit is not protected in the correct timeframe, or the prescribed information is not correctly given to the tenant.
- The Flood & Water Management Act will means that if a tenant does not leave a forwarding address for the utility company to chase the outstanding water bill, the Landlord will now liable for settlement. Landlords, please ensure that you see sight of a final PAID bill before you return your tenant’s deposit, and also ensure that you have the relevant utility clauses contained in your tenancy agreement, to allow you to use the deposit money to repay final bills!
All in all this was a fantastic day – and a great insight into a large and dynamic industry!
I can’t wait to go again next year!
Lettings Pixie x