Q: It appears that the BtR sector has continued its openness in information sharing to an extent that we haven’t witnessed in other UK property sectors. Why do you think this is and how do we ensure this ethos continues?
Luke: BtR is relatively new in the property sector. BtR has drawn on multiple disciplines in and outside the property sector to fill the space. New people in the space have created a new direction of management, ideas and the customer journey.
Unlike the rest of the property sector there are no real trade secrets, as all parties are on the same journey and learning together. Generation rent has created an openness and transparency with customers, and this seems to be transferred to peers, this must continue in the various BtR forums.
Q: What is the USP your management guarantees your tenants / what are some of the USP’s you’ve seen in developments and how would you ensure the message is endorsed through the business?
Luke: As a provider focussed on family housing, we work off of a low-physical amenity model. Therefore, we very much focus our efforts on doing what we are here to do but doing it well rather than spreading ourselves too thinly across many different special facilities. This therefore avoids inflated rents because of all-inclusive amenity and gives the resident choice.
Our key brand values are:
Total peace of mind
We are selling a place of belonging not just bricks and mortar. We’re offering a house which could be a forever home.
With a background in regeneration, we pride ourselves on building neighbourhoods and encouraging a sense of community.
This is created via on-site events that we host throughout the year including a branded ice cream van with free ice creams over summer, wood-fired pizza events, visits from Santa and his brass band at Christmas – anything that gives residents an opportunity to step outside the house and get to know one another.
We have great community engagement on our social media pages, and we also have a forum for each site within the app, allowing residents to set up their own discussion topics and socials.
As our families will put their children in local schools, we fund many school projects up and down the country to also help the wider community to thrive.
Q: When reviewing a scheme, how do you ensure the health and wellbeing of the tenant is considered and how important will this be to top tier management in 2022?
Luke: Our model is low amenity housing. It’s more about location and what’s around the development rather than high amenities on the development. When scoping a scheme, we ensure that it is close to good schools, local amenities such as parks, gyms and shopping centres, as well as offering great transport links, so our residents have everything they might need.
As mentioned above, we invest heavily into on-site and online events, which is of utmost importance to top tier management as arguably BtR is a service-based, not just product-based industry – that is what makes us different from the rest of the rental market.
We feel achieving a good sense of health and wellbeing doesn’t always have to mean large expensive amenities – it can sometimes be the simple things that have the most impact and value.
For example, last year we decided to offer developments a book sharing box situated on site. We have had huge interest, with over half of all residents now having access to free books. We also hold online campaigns such as our health and wellbeing series, which sees residents across the country sharing all sorts of workshops with one another, from baking to Pilates, and music.
Q: What are some examples you’ve seen of additional tenant incentives that have achieved an increase in rental premium for a development?
Luke: It’s the smaller things that make a bigger difference to our residents, permitting pets, allowing residents to run businesses from their home, on-site seasonal events. It’s about enhancing the customers’ experience and delivering what we say we will do well.
Q: Technology within developments and the proptech sector as a whole are growing at an exponential rate. In your opinion, if you had to split the technology requirements within a development into the following 3 sections:
What technology / features would you place into each section?
Q: We have seen a rise in health & wellbeing amenities being offered to tenants. How do you think these can be provided at a manageable cost to the investor? And, how do you think we can measure this?
Luke: Health and wellbeing is a very personal thing, so it is inevitably difficult to measure. We tend to measure our social impact by tracking customer satisfaction survey results and getting qualitative feedback from residents.
We also monitor our Trust Pilot and Home Views scores because it is also really important to ensure that our initiatives are what residents want – they cannot just be a tick in a box if we want to achieve real value.
We as a BtR provider can offer health and wellbeing related initiatives, but particularly when it comes to building communities – this also needs to remain authentic, which is why where we can, we encourage residents to play a key role and to take on responsibility too (e.g. resident book guardians, encouraging resident run socials, asking residents to nominate local charities when deciding on our donations).
Article written and published by UK BtR: https://ukbuildtorent.com/2022/05/11/management-qa-with-luke-lightfoot/