Recruiting during a pandemic
2020 was looking to be an interesting year for the housing market in the UK until the global pandemic hit and everything changed.
The housing market was basically frozen in time before starting again in earnest in May, swiftly followed by the announcement by the chancellor of a nine-month stamp duty holiday until the end of March 2021. Combine this with UK house prices rising at the fastest annual rate in more than four years in October, and this begins to give the picture of just how busy conveyancing has been.
At SAS Daniels LLP, we recently announced the next series of hires in our property department with ten new appointments in the residential and commercial property teams.
It’s not always easy to grow and be successful in busy times but here’s a few best practices that we have lived by over the last year.
Get ahead and of the game
It is important to understand that big announcements and changes like the stamp duty holiday are likely to fuel demand, especially in a market that is bouncing back from 3 months of pent up demand.
We recognised this early and started the search for the right people ahead of time as recruitment takes time and getting the right people is always important, but never more than during challenging times.
Experience steadies the ship, youth fuels it
The biggest challenge is making sure you can keep up with the demand and if you get behind the curve it’s incredibly hard to catch up. But there are a few key things that you can do.
Being modest here, but one of the first things the business did was make a number of senior hires in important roles, like my own, where experienced people were brought in to provide direction and steer the ship in an incredibly busy market.
But let’s be clear, the people that our clients deal with on a day to day basis are often the driving force behind success. They have worked incredibly long hours in unprecedented ways to ensure that clients get the homes of their dreams, despite the pandemic.
Being flexible is key
Our people are our business and their safety is paramount. As soon as we learned of the measures put in place to combat the virus, we made sure all 110 of our employees had the right technology to work from home and keep in touch with their clients. We also made sure that the environment was as safe as possible for key workers who had to come in to our offices.
It is also Important to understand that not everybody has access to a particular service like Skype or Microsoft Teams, so all of our colleagues have learned to be flexible taking calls on Whatsapp, Teams, Skype and a host of other services, ensuring to tailor to each client’s needs. As always, communication is paramount.
We have also been working hard to make sure that all our procedures and systems are fully up to date and were pleased when land registry announced it would accept electronic signatures on most deeds and documents. This is a long-awaited step forward and particularly useful when clients and other parties are locked-down and unable to visit or access offices.
So that’s it. As an industry, we have always worked very hard and long hours, but the last 12 months have been the most unusual that I have ever seen in my career. For us, the key to success in unprecedented times comes down to planning, flexibility and professionalism – remember those three things and you can’t go far wrong.