Over the past 18 months, build-to-rent brand, Sigma Capital Group, like many other organisations, has had to think long and hard about the innovative ways that it could interact virtually with its customers, while providing the best and safest rental journey.
While it has been challenging, Sigma’s rental brand, Simple Life, has come up with a series of contemporary methods to engage and create a sense of belonging from afar. With the worst of the pandemic hopefully behind us, Sigma has a new addition to the ever growing list of fun ways to bring residents of the communities together. As well as pizza nights, Easter egg hunts, ice cream van visits and Santa and his reindeer dropping by, the first of many book boxes have now been put into place at Simple Life’s developments, as well as the introduction of the Simple Life app – making everything about moving as simple as possible, while also providing a platform for neighbours to get to know each other through forums and chats.
As part of Sigma’s health and wellbeing initiative and community building project, the first of ten book boxes have been planted in four of Simple Life’s developments, with a view to install 16 more by the end of September.
The miniature libraries are installed with a variety of books to choose from for all ages. The idea is to pick a book, read it and return it or donate another book to give the opportunity for someone else to enjoy.
15 book guardians have come forward as volunteers to maintain and manage the book boxes installed by the pathways in their front gardens for residents to share and re-use the books.
The initiative originated with the ‘little free library’ in the US – the world’s largest book-sharing movement.
The feedback has been nothing but positive since the first four handcrafted miniature libraries were installed at Shrewsbury Close, Coral Mill, Brookside Grange and Rochwood Rise.
Speaking on behalf of the new initiative, Vicky Hurcomb, head of marketing at Sigma, said: “We are always looking for innovative ways to get our customers involved within their individual communities and while lockdown may have slowed the physical meetings down, the virtual activities really took off. However, now that we are hoping to be past the worst of it, we couldn’t think of a better time to launch our book boxes, providing our residents the opportunity to socialise, while using our miniature libraries as a hub and common ground to get to know one another through their shared interest of literature.”
Niamh, ESG Director also comments “Not only is sharing books part of our environmental outreach initiative, but the individual book boxes also contribute to our sustainable values, as they are hand crafted for Simple Life. Scottish-based joiner and apprentice team, HM Raitt and Sons Ltd, have handmade each book box for us and pride themselves in taking reclaimed timber to build new pieces of furniture. Our first boxes have included wood from salvaged Indonesian fishing boats, panelling from an Edinburgh-based bookstore from the early 1900s, reclaimed Swedish hardwood used as flooring in the 1980s and the metal base plates are constructed from metal used in a decommissioned road gritter. Not only do our boxes provide stories for our residents, but they also each hold a narrative of their own.
“We are delighted with the reception the book boxes have had already and we can’t wait for more of our developments to be part of the programme.”
My Simple Life app
A further initiative introduced this month to all Simple Life residents is the bespoke My Simple Life app.
Available on both Android and iOs devices, the app has a number of beneficial features available to all residents in Simple Life developments.
To start with, each user can personalise the app by having a profile name and picture. There is a compliment and complaint function, so residents can regularly provide feedback, helping Simple Life to continually improve its services across the different developments.
There is a news section, as well as closed forums only accessible by residents of the same development. This creates a safe space for conversations, for purposes such as lost and found, neighbourhood watch services, local recommendations, and meet-ups etc.
The app holds a feature providing customers the ability to see their live statements and outstanding balance, as well as the ability to make a payments, which has encouraged residents to chip away at their outstanding bills, with tens of thousands of pounds being collected within the first few weeks of launching.
To make things as simple as possible, there is a ‘My Home’ feature which allows residents access to anything they need to know about their property and development. Within this section, there are details such as manuals and handbooks for appliances and utilities, as well as being linked with FixFlo – the maintenance reporting system. It also contains security details, such as setting alarms, testing fire alarms and how to maintain homes to the best standard, waste and recycling details, important contacts within Simple Life and ‘how to’ videos so customers can perform any minor repairs themselves with the guide of the residential handymen.
To keep all important documents in one place, all tenancy agreements, inventory, gas and electric certificates, EPC, copy of floorplans and measurements are in a section in the app so it’s all to hand when needed
A further perk to the Simple Life app is the exclusive offers and discounts provided, some of which are UK wide, while others are region specific for each development. This includes discounted bills with Sky or discounted travel, including unlimited journeys across the Mersey Gateway Bridge and Silver Jubilee Bridge for a small administration fee for local residents. Simple Life has also agreed a bespoke rate with a nationwide removals company at a discounted rate, as well as the opportunity to buy or rent Simple Life furniture packs.
Moving to a new place can be hard and to make the transition as smooth as possible, the app includes a ‘my area’ section allowing residents to see where the nearest restaurants and supermarkets, schools, coffee shops and train stations are for example..
Commenting on the app, Vicky Hurcomb said: “There are already plans in place to continue to add to the app as Simple Life continues to pioneer the build-to-rent industry. We see this as an ongoing and ever evolving platform, providing everything within reach for all our residents.
“The response so far has been fantastic and we encourage all our residents to continue to use the app and provide any feedback they have so we can enhance the user and rental journey as we go.”
Article published by BTR News