Ruban Thavanesan, Director of award-winning independent London agency Stones Property explains how Reapit helps them to save time and grow their business through its innovative features, ease of use and powerful integrations with leading PropTech suppliers, giving them an edge over their competitors.
Tell us about your agency
We’re Stones Property. We operate over two locations, one in Hays, Greater London, the other one in Hillingdon, Greater London. We do residential sales and lettings, and we’ve been going since 2005.
What business challenges does Reapit help you solve?
So as an independent estate agency, one of the key challenges we face in today’s market is a lack of stock. Within Reapit, there’s reporting functionality that enables us to segment data, applicant data, and from that, we’re able to see for example, next time buyers that might have something sell. So, we’re able to look for other opportunities and try to generate valuations through having better conversations. Not just with applicants, but also with vendors, landlords and so on.
The other thing that Reapit also offers is integrations through the AppMarket. So, we’ve found that using the likes of companies such as Brief Your Market and Spectre, we’re able to integrate their platform into Reapit with our data, enabling us to do things like sending welcome emails, when an applicant’s registered, helping to get getting our branding out there.
Brand awareness is very key for us, marketing/advertising costs a lot of money, so being able to do that within a database that’s probably 15-plus years old with over say 10,000 contacts, but on a regular basis keeps our name out there and hopefully sticks. So, if they’re ever in conversation with family or friends, hopefully, they will remember the name Stones, because they would have seen that from email campaigns and things like that, and that could only happen with a third-party company being able to integrate with our data through Reapit.
What's your favourite thing about Reapit?
I’ve been using Reapit for about 17 years now, on and off. Previously, where I was employed working for a very large independent, almost corporate, and now running my own agency. I think over time it’s developed, but it’s not being over developed where I find it quite hard to use. I find it very easy to use. We recruit staff yearly and they also pick it up very, very quickly. On top of that, there’s also the support. I’ve got a really good relationship with my Customer Success Manager, Mark Everett, he’s always mucked in whenever we’ve faced any issues.
I suppose the way the world is now with PropTech, you have got a lot of integrations. So, Zoopla, Rightmove, On The Market, Brief Your Market, Spectre, Postcode Finder, things like that, and sometimes things will go wrong. It might be from our end, it could be from Reapit’s end, it could be from the other software provider’s end. But knowing that those things can be fixed, quickly and that there isn’t this crazy waiting time, makes all the difference.
The other thing I like is the AppMarket. There was a point when I was looking to move CRM providers because of this whole new fancy app that was out there and the things that you can do. My experience of it after that was hey listen, it’s actually not worthwhile moving, because we would have lost a lot of data firstly, and I think trying to transfer for 10 years’ worth of goods over to another platform was also going to be very difficult. Reapit probably looked at that and said, well, actually there’s a lot of new companies coming in, it be good to have a place where they can all integrate within us and that’s worked out great.
The likes of what I use are Brief Your Market and Spectre – which integrate really well – Zoopla, On The Market, and Rightmove of course, it all seems very seamless. Properties come on and get taken off as and when they go on for sale, or sale agreed or withdrawn or to let or let buy. But overall, it’s more the ease of use and also the support that I like about Reapit.
How would you describe the value that Reapit brings your business?
One of the biggest values is time-saving, essentially, that’s why we use a CRM system. One of the things that we use is an integration called TAPI, and that integrates with our phone systems, so when a client calls, if that record is in our database, the details of that client appears on the screen, whether it’s an applicant or a landlord or a vendor, and so on.
Off the back of that you can address them by their by their name, which gives that personalised service, not just somebody ringing in, you might have dealt them a million times of the last ten years, so that kind of impresses, clients essentially; but it also allows staff members to go into that record straight away and actually read through notes as they’re entering into that phone call as opposed to them trying to find out why that client is calling. Sometimes they’re calling for a specific department or a specific person and someone might shout out, “that’s for me” and that leaves the other members of staff to deal with either the walk-ins or other calls that are coming in.
We’ve obviously got integrations with other third-party companies like Brief Your Market and so on. So, the benefits there are that when an applicant is registered, within 24 hours an e-mail is sent out introducing ourselves – which is great brand awareness – because they’re probably ringing about 10, 15 estate agents trying to look for property. It’s also good for us in terms of Google, because they recognise that people are visiting our website, off the back of that e-mail, to see our current stock, which saves a bit of time as well. They can then contact us about the stock that we have available.
How has Reapit helped you grow your business?
As an independent estate agency, we opened up our second branch off the back of Covid, so November 2020 we opened our Hillingdon office. Off the back of that, we had to hire more staff and adding users into Reapit takes me about 5 or 10 minutes, it’s really easy. And off the back of that the staff are now having to learn a new system entirely, which is really easy. Most of our guys, they picked it up inside 30 minutes to an hour.
I guess the way that the data is all segmented and so on. We used to use a system called the 1 to 31 system, which essentially was you’d have 1 to 31 different folders from January to December. And what we used to do was if someone asked to be called in November for example, we’d put it into November into the middle somewhere or towards the end. Using Reapit, we’re able to use those old traditional methods and make it more efficient, by creating alerts and there are reporting functionalities that will let us know when to call clients and so on.
So, definitely saving time and the ease of Reapit and being able to access certain data at certain times quite quickly and efficiently makes a massive difference. So yeah, 100%, it’s definitely helped us grow our business.
What's your favourite app?
So, I’ve got two favourite PropTech apps that I like using. Both of them actually gave us great successful results in the last couple of years. The first one we started off with was Spectre. It’s a great lead generation tool and it also integrates with Reapit via the AppMarket. It helps you to see what kind of data you already hold in terms of landlords or sellers against the properties that are on the market.
The same thing again with Brief Your Market, it’s a great marketing platform. One of the things that’s useful is where, for example, if we register an applicant whether that’s for sales or lettings, they get welcome e-mail. We have about three emails going out every month and that keeps the brand going. Off the back of, they’re able to click through to the site and see what stock we have available and contact us if there’s anything there that they like. We’re able to even see who opens those emails as well and maybe even be able to target them, if for instance they keep opening a certain part of the marketing that’s going out.
Also, sometimes it’s great just to go on the AppMarket and see who else is there and you know, start Googling what their prices are like and say, hey, that’s a bit too expensive we’ll leave that one out and that’s nice and cheap, we’ll go for that one, I’m just joking. But it’s good because it just exposes you to what’s out there. I’ve been doing this for close to 18 years now, and being a small independent agency, I wouldn’t know what systems are out there, if I didn’t go to conferences and I wasn’t part of a big corporate network. Whereas having a platform that’s just there on my screen that I can open up in the morning when I get in and see what apps are available and how they can help me in my business, it’s a massive plus.
How do you use technology to enhance your agency?
Being able to, I suppose, kind of attack and be able to get more stock in, because as an independent estate agent, there’s a lot of competition. I’ve got an agency next door, across the road, one three doors down that way, another two more further up that way, another two more within five minutes walking distance from this office. So, there’s probably about seven or eight on this road.
What difference can I bring? What’s my USP? What’s my purple cow? To a seller or a landlord. We all essentially operate the same way. We all have High Street locations. We probably all advertise in the same places, and we all open probably the same hours. But if you can have technology there to make you get there quicker or essentially save you time, which probably will save you money, it makes a massive difference.