Inventory Hive: Proptech should demonstrate agent value and not bypass it
Utilising property technology has come of age. Why? Well, organisations are beginning to take centre stage, espousing the ways proptech solves problems in all verticals of real estate.
Foremost is the need to speed up processes, which enables businesses to automate aspects of their workflow so they can focus on front end profitable operations.
One such figurehead for the proptech industry is Richard Abbots, the CEO and founder of Inventory Hive. I know Abbots is a staunch advocate of solutions that help agents do their day job faster and more efficiently.
With the steady introduction of rental platforms and apps designed to bypass letting agents and property managers in the tenancy process, Abbots stands defiant as a proptech innovator determined to do the opposite and include agents.
The developers behind the award-winning Inventory Hive app think the answer lies in improving efficiencies and showcasing the value property agents bring to the process. By doing this, lettings agents and landlords can claw back some much-needed time while saving cash. As a result, the tenant experience becomes better organised and streamlined.
It’s a win-win for all.
The work that goes into tenancy management exceeds finding and securing tenants. Yes, platforms can certainly automate aspects of that, but the move-in, inspections, certificates and check-out processes still need the agent’s personal touch and professional knowledge for legal compliance, tenant relationships and landlord reputation management.
Richard Abbots said: “We work with letting agents (and tenant and landlords) every day and see the immense work they put in behind the scenes to keep tenancies filled and running smoothly.
“Without all of these essential activities, tenancies would soon run into legal problems, deposit disputes and relationship breakdowns, to name a few.”
However, as many agents will agree, inspections, inventories and reporting take time – time that some may not always see or appreciate. The level of detail required from these visits, background checks and assessments is also essential, both for tenant safety and landlord protection. It’s one reason why agents are such a valuable resource.
With that said, technology can lighten the load both in terms of time and cost, and the latest free feature update for Inventory Hive does exactly that.
Pre-designed reports and template questionnaires have been a popular feature within the Inventory Hive app for some time. A look at the reviews of the app demonstrates just how useful these are for streamlining agent workflow. But now there’s a free customisable feature, too.
Up to now, there were various pre-designed templates available for check-in reports, inspections, inventory reports, etc., within the standard internal library of the app – the ones that all letting agents use.
But now, with the new feature update, agents can also create their own questionnaires and customised disclaimers for anything they need. All the back-end coding and complexity has been done, allowing agents to quickly create a questionnaire for inspectors to use on Legionella assessments or fire risk visits, for example. These are then attached to the property information within the app for record keeping and reference.
It’s activities like these that agents and property managers are having to organise and manage every day.
“Every feature we create for our users is there to make life easier for everyone in the tenancy process – but it doesn’t take away from the value agents bring. If anything, it showcases what they know and how much they do – from the advertising of a property to the management of a tenancy. It simply takes away the time-consuming admin-heavy tasks to reduce costs across the board,” added Richard.
“Continuous improvement lies at the heart of everything we do. This new release is very much a case that our users have spoken – and we’ve responded. There’s no additional cost for these new features either. It’s our way of saying thank you to the agents and landlords who continue to use our app. The value of our subscriptions keeps getting better – and the workflow for agents keeps getting smarter.”
Richard Abbots is a client of our sister company Proptech-PR, a consultancy for founders of proptech and fintech SMEs looking to grow and exit.
But even if he was not, out of the 500 or so founders we have met, Richard’s ambition, drive, roadmap and execution tell me that if anyone is going to have a multi-million-pound business in the very near future, it is Richard Abbots’ Inventory Hive.
Richard and his team constantly listen to their letting agent clients, hear their needs and build solutions, and then comprehensively help agents bed these solutions in. There is no ‘them and us’, he genuinely gets that user experience is king, so paying attention to that and keeping all stakeholders in the loop helps a business scale.
As Richard himself says: “We have a huge round of development underway already for our next big release, which will drive efficiency for property managers like no other platform. Watch this space.”
On The Market CEO Jason Tebb turns around its fortunes
If there’s one thing we don’t do here at Proptech-X, it’s pulling punches. Equally, we heap praise on spectacular acts that benefit the industry. In this case, the transformation of OnTheMarket’s business by its formidable CEO Jason Tebb.
Prior to Jason’s steady grip on the portal’s business, OnTheMarket had become marginalised despite having noble aspirations from its inception. It also had a less-than-stable business model and had many agent clients scratching their heads as to the value of being onboard.
In the shortest amount of time, and during a period of lockdown, Jason Tebb took up the mantle and did three key things. First, he opened his door to all, listening to his agent members and making it easy for new potential members to get access.
Then he put a commercial mindset to the business, seeing that OTM could be a powerhouse technology platform helping its agent client base, as well as being just a property portal. The large number of business partnerships that have been put together in the last year shows not only will more revenue be driven through the business and profits are up, but agents will get useful technology to run their businesses more efficiently and make more profit for themselves.
Speaking as a property technology consultant to some of the largest enterprises on the globe, take it from me that most estate agents need saving from themselves. They are vaguely aware that the digital transformation of real estate is happening, but only have a foggy idea of how to go about it.
Jason Tebb has cured that by sifting through the best in class, the software services that have a real value add, and formed great business alliances with them so agents do not have to.
The last key thing Jason has done is to show he has a plan. What’s more, he can articulate it and, perhaps more importantly, carry it out. The recent financials show that OTM’s group revenue enjoyed an uptick from £23 million to £30.8 million, with underlying profit rising to £2.6 million for the period.
In his own words, Jason Tebb says it is great that OnTheMarket has “achieved a year of further financial and operational progress…We’ve received great feedback from our customers regarding our new strategy and our enhanced suite of product and service offerings.”
Tebb continues: “We look forward to continuing to deliver greater value to both advertisers and consumers during the year ahead.”
Often it is hard to be an innovator when you come into a business as a new CEO. When many stakeholders hope for a period of stability and status quo, Mr Tebb was brave enough to back himself and go for growth. A laudable feat that is paying off.
Andrew Stanton is the founder of Proptech-PR, a consultancy for Founders of Proptechs looking to grow and exit, using his influence from decades of industry experience. Separately he is a consultant to some of the biggest names in global real estate, advising on sales and acquisitions, market positioning, and operations. He is also the founder of Proptech-X Proptech & Property News, where his insights, connections and detailed analysis and commentary on proptech and real estate are second to none.