Hat and Home: Reapit saves us time, saves us money and makes our jobs easier

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Ben Gee, Founder of Hat and Home tells us about the challenges of opening a new agency during the pandemic, why he decided to switch to Reapit and how it helps his agency to gain a competitive edge; as well as how he thinks technology will affect estate agencies over the coming years.

Reapit saves us time and saves us money. It makes my job easier and my team’s job easier.❞

Ben Gee, Founder, Hat and Home

Tell us about your agency 

“We are Hat and Home. Hat and Home was born in December 2020, with our first office in a market town called Wokingham in Berkshire. Nine months after our first office, we launched our second office in Crowthorne, which is the adjacent village. We are an estate agency who covers Sales, Lettings and we also run a private search division.”

What was it like opening a new agency during the pandemic?

“A lot of people thought we were pretty brave to do so, but we were very fortunate as an industry that we were allowed to operate. So, of course we had to make the concessions and make sure that we were operating safely, but apart from not being able to have a launch party to launch a business and obviously not being able to have people in the office, we were able to operate, which was challenging but the market was on our side as well.”

Did that change how you engaged with your customers? 

“Definitely. As an estate agency, we’re all about customers. We’re all about people with all of our communications, so to have the type of communication limited was really challenging, but everybody was in the same boat and we all clubbed together and made sure that we got the right result for our clients.” 

Why did you decide to switch your CRM to Reapit? 

“The CRM that we use is the engine room for any estate agency. It’s absolutely vital to the running of our business and the platform we were using just wasn’t suitable for our needs. It was making our job harder, not easier. It was making my team’s day-to-day life a bit more difficult than it needed to be. 

We wanted to make sure that we had a platform we could use that did exactly that, it was a customer relationship management tool, it helped us win business, and we decided that Reapit was the best platform for that.”

❝The CRM that we use is the engine room for any estate agency. It's absolutely vital to the running of our business.❞

How was the onboarding experience?

“I was anxious about it to begin with because everybody talks about how difficult it is to migrate data. Everybody talks about how difficult it is to change a CRM. It was actually a dream. It was a fantastic experience, from the initial conversations that we had with the project team to being assigned a project manager, our weekly catch-up calls, a clearly defined project strategy throughout and people getting on with what they should have been doing, when they should have been doing it, it was fabulous.

Instead of migrating our data from our old platform to Reapit, we actually chose to do it ourselves, because we wanted to make sure that we had quality data. We found ourselves in a situation with our previous CRM where we had an abundance of data that wasn’t what we wanted in terms of quality or specification, so we decided not to bring that forward to Reapit. 

And that’s worked really well, because it enabled us to look at the data we had, work out what was good and what was important to us. We found holes in it, which was useful, because it meant we could change our processes and we’ve ended up with a much cleaner data set because of it. 

The onboarding process was absolutely fantastic. We went from start to finish in six weeks, it was a dream.”

❝The onboarding process was absolutely fantastic. We went from start to finish in six weeks, it was a dream.​❞

How does Reapit help you gain a competitive edge? 

“As an agency, we essentially do two things, we bring properties to market to sell or let, and then we contact people to sell or rent those properties. So our CRM needed to do those two things and give us a competitive edge to bring properties and market to find people that we’re looking to sell or let.  

And once we were given the mandate to sell or let those properties, to make it as easy as possible for us to find the best person to contact, to get them through the door, and unfortunately it wasn’t like that with our previous system, and it definitely is like that with Reapit, it gives us the ability to use the tools that are already within the platform to go out and easily identify our next prospect, easily identify who might be our next customer.  

And once we have found them, do the best job we can by going and finding the best possible person to rent their property or the best possible person to buy their property at the best price.”

Is that because you can mine your own data within Reapit? 

“Absolutely! When I first started in agency, you would have a box of applicant cards on your desk of your vendors and your buyers and you would literally mine that data, you would call them all the time, nothing has changed with that. It’s just that software gives us the ability to organise that data better, access it easier, and be more specific with how we’re looking at that data, so it’s much easier to bring up a shorter list of people that are very specific to a task that you’re trying to complete that day. 

So yes, I don’t think anything’s actually changed with how we operate, it’s just made it easier to do our job well.” 

❝Software gives us the ability to organise that data better, access it easier, and be more specific with how we're looking at that data.​❞

How would you describe the value that Reapit brings to your agency? 

“Saves us time, saves us money. It makes my job easier, it makes my team’s job easier. It’s very specific, so if we’ve just sold a property in Acacia Avenue for example, and we want to tell everybody that we’ve been to value their property within a mile of that address with what we’ve just done and the price we’ve just achieved, and the fact we’ve got other buyers for them, it’s very easy to do that through Reapit.  

This means that within two minutes, through a power report, we can bring up a list of 50 addresses that we need to talk to that day. That’s not easy to do through other platforms, so that saves us time, and it’s much more likely to get us a better result.” 

What’s your favourite Reapit feature? 

“One particular aspect of reporting, organising data, and managing your data that I think Reapit does really well, is power reporting. It enables you to narrow down a list of 250 potential people to talk to into a very easy, concise list of 30 people. Which makes it a task that will happen that day rather than something that might get 10% of it done.  

So for instance, you might have registered 300 buyers this month and you can quite easily run a power report that tells you of those 300 buyers, which ones are not on the market yet, and of those ones that are not on the market yet, which ones have a postcode in your area, and of those ones that are not on the market yet and have a postcode in your area, which ones have been to view with you so they’ve had experience with you. 

And it’s about taking that list down of something that’s unmanageable to something that’s very concise and much more likely to get you results. We talked before about making sure the return on your investment is there, I think it’s the return on your time as well that is really important. 

Power reporting is something that I think is absolutely phenomenal in the platform.”

❝Power reporting is something that I think is absolutely phenomenal in the platform.​​❞

What’s your experience of using PropTech apps within your CRM?

“I think it’s in its infancy still and I think that the idea of us being able to access multiple applications through one software platform is going to grow over the coming years. I think something that’s really key when we’re talking about PropTech and different applications and different systems to use is being very defined in what you want it to do for your business.  

There’s a plethora of options out there for us to use, whether it be SMS, whether it be electronic direct mail applications, whether it be address finding, whether it be prospecting, and they come at you from every angle. But, unless you really define what you’re trying to achieve for your business, they’ll never work for you. What we’ve never had up until recently is this ability to integrate all these through one platform, and that’s becoming easier and easier, which is fantastic.”

How do you think technology will change estate agencies? 

“I think that there is going to be an engagement piece about how we engage at the first touchpoint with our customers.

We are very poor as an industry at adopting new technologies and we’re very good as an industry of not changing. So you tend to find that people make enquiries through Rightmove at ten o’clock at night. And yet the first thing that most estate agents will do is try and telephone them at nine o’clock in the morning. 

So we’re using a different medium at a different time to try and engage with people. And I think what we’ll find is that the quicker we can engage with people at the point of enquiry – whether that’s a potential landlord or potential seller, potential tenant or potential buyer – if we can engage with them better and more efficiently and more effectively at the point of enquiry, I think we’re much more likely to be able to take that relationship forward. 

And I don’t think that relationship can then be driven by technology, I think that relationship has to be driven by an understanding of their needs and a demonstration that you’ve understood their requirements, but where we’re missing it as a moment as an industry is having that engagement piece really nailed down, and I think that’s what’s going to change over the next few years.”

❝If we can engage more efficiently and more effectively at the point of enquiry, then we're much more likely to be able to take that relationship forward.​​❞

How can technology help estate agencies to be more efficient? 

“I think we need to make it as easy as possible as we can for our customers to engage with us and I think we need to make it as easy as possible for our teams to go out and do their job well, and that to me is what the function of the CRM is.

In terms of what technology can do to make our operations more efficient – just by having more information at our fingertips – easy reporting tools enable us to make business decisions because we can see what’s happening with the data, we can see who’s enquiring with us, we can see who’s making requests for valuations and at what time they’re making their request, how that conversion route takes place, and that enables us to make business decisions about where we spend money and where we’re more likely to get a return on investment.

So absolutely the technology behind it definitely enables us to make business decisions, but I’m a huge fan of making sure that it is customer-centric and that we’re giving our customers the best possible experience they can of moving home.” 

Are you currently using the UK’s most popular property software? Realise your full business potential when you use a single platform across sales, lettings, property management and client accounts. Get in touch today for a free demo of our award-winning property software.

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