‘Working in corporate estate agency is like being on a treadmill with the end goal set on targets and income.’ says Ellie. ‘Customer service levels are poor and back room procedures such as admin, property management and accountancy are unreliable. Both landlords and tenants can feel treated unfairly and poor service can be the norm. Tenants can often feel marginalised and landlords feel they are being financially penalised. As an employee you felt that you were pushing against the tide to try and improve service.’
Thankfully from this frustration Ellie determined how a new type of letting agency could work and it tied in perfectly with the approach the Dourish and Day sales team were already taking. Customer focused, independently minded and competitively priced the lettings team decided to set themselves apart from the competition still further by charging NO TENANT FEES!
Hailed by the charity Shelter on twitter for this fair approach to renting Dourish and Day also found that landlords were quick to get on board. ‘Our landlords saw the advantage as being two-fold. Firstly, their properties were ahead of the competition and guaranteed to let faster with the average saving for a couple of £750 in the local market, but secondly, they liked the fact that we were being fair to tenants. Many landlords having been tenants previously felt these charges were unfair and some didn’t realise agents were charging the levels of fees there were.’
Double charging is a huge issue in the lettings market, with landlords and tenants both bearing the cost of inventory charges, admin charges, tenancy agreement fees. While it’s not illegal, it does appear to be unethical. There’s also a culture of uplifting contractor invoices which landlords are largely unaware of.
Dourish and Day have simplified the entire process for both landlords and tenants by treating everyone fairly and it’s paid off with them being awarded the accolade of Best Lettings Agent in the West Midlands by their tenants in 2018. Based solely on customer feedback the ESTAS award is highly respected within the industry for the reason that customers have to actively vote their agent as ‘Amazing’ to win. While for some agents an ‘Excellent’ customer service rating would be enough, at Dourish and Day lettings only ‘Amazing’ will ever be good enough.
‘It’s a level of service we intend to keep. Having won an award in year one it’s always going to be tough to be as good again, but the lettings team are determined to keep the focus on customer service. We’re also adamant that we’ll be fair to tenants and landlords and build on the fabulous reputation we already have as a new breed of ethical letting agents.’