Agent Rainmaker Live – No Ordinary Event

High energy, high impact and highly rewarding… and I’m not even an agent!

Like comparing chalk with cheese, I can promise you that Sally Lawson’s ‘Agent Rainmaker Live’ is an event like no other in the industry. It’s raw, charged, highly emotional and surprisingly human!

While most conferences focus on the legislation and politics involved within UK lettings & estate agencies, ARL makes it all about business owners and their staff. It’s funny how we sometimes forget that businesses are made up of people – don’t you agree?

 

There’s a touch of the U.S.A about ARL…and in a good way too! Last year the event spanned two days and was presented in a Tony Robbins-esque display. People chanted, people cried, people danced (…and some of us almost died for over-indulgence at the bar…)

It was loaded with industry speakers, legislation, self-help, an awards ceremony and even an exercise class (which I hope we don’t have to do again this year. I don’t think my legs could take it again after the night before!)

There was plenty in the way of storytelling last year, and you could see from other’s reactions that they identified with what was shared. It was hard hitting and heart-breaking at times and I think plenty took comfort knowing they weren’t alone.

For me, there was nothing more genuine than the story which was shared by a fed-up mum & her son. Now this was no ordinary mum – she was like your mum, a grafter, and relatable in so many ways. She’d been in the industry for a while and once had several offices spread over Wales. Over the years, legislation, poor staff, a grumpy husband and rubbish tenants had left her feeling fed-up and out-of-pocket. She wanted to close down the business and say enough was enough! Her son however didn’t give up on his mum or the business and invested in Sally & her team. A few months later a £60,000 turnover quadrupled to £240,000! It was really touching and left me wondering what my highlight will be this time round.

A flash awards & dinner ceremony also ensued at ARL 2018, rounding off the first night. It was a fabulous yet humbling experience that left you hungry for the same success – It’s not often that you hear of people adding £1million to their profits.

The real cherry on cake, however, came a little later at the charity fundraiser. Now… do you know what happens when you get 250+ agents coming together for one evening of giving? A donation of £30k – that’s what! It was overwhelming and I feel so proud to have been a part of it. It also makes you wonder – what else could be achieved when agents come together? In my opinion, the industry needs collaboration.

What’s more, 2019’s Agent Rainmaker Live is set to span three days, and promises to be even bigger and better.

You can get your tickets by clicking here.

Agents: How to stop people forgetting to sign out keys

If you feel like you’ll never get your staff to toe the line, try these suggestions

“I just can’t get my staff to do things properly” has to be just about the biggest complaint I hear from estate agency owners and lettings managers as I travel the country.

For many, getting people to sign out keys every time is a constant battle. At the same time, most people realise that getting this right is the single most important way to prevent keys going missing.

Though it’s easy to say “I’ll never get my negs to do it right” and accept it as a “fact of life”, in reality, signing out keys is just a simple organisational habit that you can embed without a great deal of effort. Here are the top things successful agents do to ensure that keys are issued correctly every time.

Locking keys to the board is the wrong place to start!

Locking pegboard systemSome assume that the best way to ensure people always sign out keys is to lock them into the cabinet, and that nothing short of this will work. The good news is that there are many (much cheaper) things you can do first.

In fact, physically locking keys down can have its own problems, such as the impracticality of the space needed for a chunky board and the cost.  You not only have to pay for the board (the most popular brand costs £280 for just 25 keys on Amazon), but you also need the special key rings and pegs to make it work.

Even peg locking mechanisms are often worked around when the staff are in a hurry.

Whilst a physical locking system can and does make sense for some, I only suggest coming back to it once you’ve tried all the other things below.

Stop ‘locking’ and start with ‘looking’ for the key

You probably know the many obvious security reasons for not writing your property addresses on keys, did you know that this (still alarmingly common) practice could also make your staff less likely to sign them out?

If it’s too easy identify that they’ve got the right key, people will get into a bad habit of grabbing it and running, certain in the knowledge that they have the right one.  Though it might save them a few seconds of time, it will leave you both out of compliance and exposed to all the risks of losing keys.  If they have to do a little work to find the key, but it’s then super easy to sign it out whilst they’re at it, then why wouldn’t they?

By contrast, if they have to look up the key in one place, only to need to go somewhere else to actually sign it out, then that all-important second step will almost always be skipped.

If you’re still using a paper list to find keys, keeping the list right next to your sign-out log is a must (but please remember to keep this list secure and lock it away at night!).

If your CRM offers you a basic sign-out log, then you might be able to use that. However…

Beware of too many clicks (or keep a pen handy)

Taking the path of least resistance is not just human nature, it’s a fundamental law of nature in general (think rivers, electricity, even evolution).  Anything that slows people down, even a little, is less likely to get done.  It’s absolutely critical that the process of finding a key, signing it out and getting out the door for that viewing can be accomplished with the absolute minimum of effort.

If you have an electronic tool for key tracking (e.g. the CRM system we talked about earlier) make sure that it is as rapid as humanly possible to get from knowing which key you need, to getting it signed out.  This can be measured in the number of clicks or key strokes to get the job done.  More than 3 of either and it’s time to find a faster option!

If you’re stuck with pen and paper, there are still ways to cut down the friction.  Just keeping a working pen tied to your logbook can make a surprisingly big difference.  You might also think about the amount of information someone needs to fill in.  Name, date and signature are about all you can ask for, or the friction is too high (yes, you’ll be sacrificing other important and useful information, but that’s better than keys not being signed out at all!).

Visual cues trigger the right habits

We’re all driven by our habits, and all good habits start with a trigger.  Most of us don’t have to think to brush our teeth in the morning, we just do it out of habit.   We want to make it a habit for the team to always sign keys out, so we need to trigger them to do it (there are many books on this subject- my favourite is Charles Duhigg’s “The Power of Habit”).

If you’ve already changed the computer system, or re-positioned the key book, then those changes themselves might be enough to trigger people to a new way of doing things.  Often it’s a good idea to add a visual stimulus, here are some common examples:

  • If you have a key room, (or a back room where keys are stored) a prominent poster asking “Have you signed the keys out?” should trigger the right response in the short term
  • Changing the keys themselves can also be helpful, for example add a brightly coloured tag

Reward good behaviours…

Once you’ve done all the physical things to get the right behaviour in place, don’t forget to show your appreciation as things start to improve.  The way you do that will probably depend on each individual within your team.  Rewards can be monetary, or you could try out a service like PerkBox, but don’t forget good old fashioned praise and sugary treats!

…And follow up the mistakes

The final important way to get people to toe the line (once you’ve made it as easy as possible to do so) is that you quickly pick up on the occasions when the process isn’t being followed.  Nobody likes to be seen to be getting it wrong, so you must take advantage of this to keep the right process front of mind in the early days.

Having someone with authority to actively monitor how well the keys are being managed is crucial, and often overlooked.  If people think nobody is watching, they’ll be inclined to cut corners.  On the other hand, if they know it will be noticed when they don’t do things properly, they are far more likely to put in the extra effort to get it right.

If you see people not following the process well, then you can follow up with them either individually or collectively.

In some circumstances (particularly with sales staff) negative incentives have been shown to work quite well. These often take the form of fines for not being signed out.  Turning the process into a game can also work, providing a special bonus for those people who handle keys well, and “naming and shaming” the worst performers. Whether this is right for you will depend on your business culture.

“What gets measured gets managed” – Peter Drucker

You might have been wondering about how you know when things are going right or wrong.  Getting hold of the right information quickly is probably the biggest reason to use a dedicated key management system, as it is built to provide the right information to you.  However, it isn’t impossible to do it using paper and spreadsheets (it just might take a bit longer).  Depending on your CRM system, you might also be able to print useful property reports out (though many are sadly lacking good features for this).

Here are some thoughts on what to track:

  • How many keys are being signed out each day – is that what you expect?
  • Do you have more viewings, inspections and other visits scheduled in a day than you have keys signed out in the log?
  • Check at the end of the day which keys are outstanding – is this what you expect?
  • Are there any keys who have been signed out for a really long time? Who is responsible for following them up?

How long does it take to get key management right?

Most people find that after implementing the above steps, the effect on the way people sign out keys is pretty instant. If you start monitoring how people take and return keys, you could find the problem solved in under 2 weeks.  The challenge is to keep it going.

It’s worth investing the time to check on keys every single day in the first few weeks.  Following that, once you’re confident everything is working well, you’ll find you don’t need to check as frequently (and the process of  checking is much easier).  It’s super important that someone in your company is responsible for checking on the process regularly – check out this article for more on why, who and how to get someone in charge of keys.

Need any help with getting keys right?  Why not get in touch?

We’re working on a few free tools to help you and we’d also be happy to put you in touch with customers who’ve been through the process already.

Keyzapp Quick Facts: Beyond Barcodes

What does Keyzapp bring over and above the traditional barcode system?

Barcodes were all the rage in the late ‘90s. Some enterprising agents and software makers began using barcodes to track keys and some of those systems are still around today. Barcodes were just the first step- they make some things easier, but key-based headaches have continued in many places that use them.

Keyzapp represents a major step forward. Here’s why:

You’re not tied to a single computer

Most barcode systems require special equipment & software, meaning you can only use it one or two computers. Keyzapp works on all computers, (scanners are optional) and almost every phone or tablet on the market today*

This is far more convenient- staff can look up keys at their desk and sign them out when they get to the cabinet.

Track every key movement

Most of us transfer keys in more than one way Sometimes, they are passed between people when outside of the office. Because Keyzapp works anywhere, these events can be audited and captured as well.

Absolute scanning simplicity

With barcodes you often have to open up your software click inside a particular box for a key scan – this is fiddly and hard to learn. With Keyzapp, simply tap the fob on the reader or phone and you’ll be taken to the right place without even touching the keyboard!**

Lower administration

Many barcode systems require you to print your own barcodes. This passes the cost and a time-consuming process to your team; they have to open the software, manage a stock of labels, print the barcode (then unload the labels) and then attach it to keys. Keyzapp’s fobs and stickers come pre printed and coded, you simply attach them to your keys and start scanning.

Lower cost hardware

Our NFC readers for PCs and Mac, are typically half the cost of the cheapest barcode scanner. With Keyzapp, your smart phone can scan fobs at no extra cost.

In summary…

Upgrading from barcodes to Keyzapp gives you:

  • Far greater convenience and flexibility
  • No admin headaches
  • Ability to track more activities
  • A faster, more user friendly experience
  • Bang for your buck

What really makes Keyzapp work is the way it enables your people to follow your key process consistently every single time, so you have complete peace of mind. Book a demo today to see how it can help you.

Bringing Smarter Key Management to Facilities

Keys. We still can’t live without them yet staying in control of them is time consuming and frustrating for facilities and building managers the world over. Having solved this problem for hundreds of letting agents and property managers, Keyzapp is now bringing its knowledge and tools to the facilities sector.

Founded in 2014, Keyzapp takes advantage of the low-cost contactless technology now found in most credit cards and mobile phones, completely removing the need for spreadsheets and logbooks. As with all innovations that improve business practices, the idea is simple. Just tap a key fob on your phone or reader to see instantly what a key is for, and issue it to the person who needs it without fuss. The app then takes over, giving you an instant view of who has your keys, sending automatic reminders to people whose keys are due back

Keyzapp’s three co-founders were certain they could find a better way to keep track of small, hard-to-track assets like keys, after seeing at first hand the sheer nuisance that misplaced keys can cause in the lettings industry. “Our mission is to completely eliminate paper-based logbooks and spreadsheets for tracking keys in business. We had to come up with something different that’s accessible to everyone” says director Tim Hill. “Managing keys is a people-process, so the answer was to make the whole thing extremely easy to pick up and use. At the same time, it had to be flexible enough to respect the different ways companies tag and record their keys. We also had to make it low cost so that it was a viable option for people managing 20 key sets or 20,000.”

Until now, facilities managers trying to improve their key controls have had limited options, with most solutions focusing on expensive hardware that physically lock keys into cabinets. Keyzapp takes a completely different approach because it focuses on capturing the responsibility for keys as they pass from the storage locations, to different people. When scanning keys, staff see simple guided processes that tell them what information needs to be captured at each step. Front-line staff have described Keyzapp as “childsplay” to use, whilst managers quickly observe improvements in operational efficiency and improved KPIs. Savings often depend on the processes required, but range from cutting a 30-minute daily process to just 5 minutes, right through to one housing association saving £10,000 in 6 months of use.

“Moving to facilities seemed like the natural next step for us, not least because of the demand coming through our website from facilities teams across the world” continues Tim. To date, Keyzapp has been implemented in 14 different countries, with clients ranging from Shopping Centres to Airbnb hosts. “Our attendance at the Facilities Show marks the beginning of our focus on this sector and we’re excited to solve this everyday problem in commercial locations around the world”.

Keyzapp have recently completed a video case study with Amthal Fire and Security, who chose Keyzapp because of the way they could set it up to meet the needs of their 24-hour engineering workforce. You can see the resulting video from their website http://www.keyzapp.com/amthal

Keyzapp will be exhibiting at the Facilities Show at London’s Excel Centre on 18th-20th June. For more information, visit www.keyzapp.com.

Facilities Show 2019: What to look out for

Are you heading to the Facilities Show this year?

With over 100 CPD Conference & Training sessions, a Workplace Wellbeing Show, a Smart Buildings Expo and many fun networking experiences for FMs, including Virtual Golf and the Games Arcade you will need to plan your time wisely!

Keyzapp is exhibiting at the Facilities Show for the first time this year, and with so much going on we have summarised the key elements off the show and picked some of the top highlights so that you don’t miss out!

Click here to claim your free VIP ticket courtesy of Keyzapp!

The Smart Buildings Expo

This exciting Expo is dedicated to workplace technology, smart building technology and field service technology. In addition to Experience, Educate and Consult elements, there will be FM suppliers showcasing their latest technology innovations. Don’t forget to drop by the Keyzapp stand on FM6088 – help yourself to some of our Pick & Mix and see how much time you can save by getting a good key and asset management system in place.

The Smart Buildings Expo, includes three main sections:

Experience – a walking tour of a full size replica of a smart office built on the show floor. Built in partnership with Master Systems Integrators Vanti, they will be on hand to explain each piece of technology.

Educate – The Workplace Technology Theatre will be packed with content for IoT decision makers, FM’s considering implementing technology into their assets – and anyone who wants to see the benefits technology can bring.

Consult– Speak to experts in pre-arranged meetings to get independent advice on where to start, how to retrofit and how to avoid the common pitfalls.

If you would like to know more, click here to register and download the Smart Buildings e-book ahead of the event.

The Inspirational Speakers

Steph McGovern – 18thJune at 11.30

Steph talks about how she went from working as an apprentice engineer at Black & Decker in Durham to becoming an award-winning financial journalist and BBC household name.
Having broadcast from over 600 organisations around the country, Steph will explain what she thinks it takes to be a good business and how to weather the economic and political storm.
On top of this Steph will be talking about why we need to value skills more in the UK and the importance of vocational training. Plus, what she has learnt from some of her biggest interviews, which includes President Trump.

Eddie the Eagle – 19thJune at 11.30

Eddie talks about Courage & Risk.

What is courage? Is it just about a willingness to take risks, or is it more about being willing to face your fears? What about perseverance, failing but getting up and trying again? And then there’s the courage required to try something new or to try to see things differently. Sometimes the old view is comforting. Sometimes telling yourself that doing something big or rising to the challenge is impossible. Sometimes, it’s so much easier to find an excuse than to find the courage and take the risk.

There is always the risk of failing when you’re trying something new. And in the case of Eddie the Eagle, his ambitions also put him at risk of severe injury. Not landing the 90-meter jump at the Calgary Winter Olympics could have had terrible consequences. But actually, his most serious injury was caused by something completely different.

Jonny Wilkinson – 20thJune at 11.30

Arguably one of the best-known rugby players in the world, Jonny Wilkinson famously kicked the drop goal that won England the World Cup with just seconds left in the final. He then went on to be rated as one of the best players in the world in both internationals and at club level with Newcastle and Toulon.

Much of Jonny’s success on the field, however, took its psychological toll. He has dealt with depression, anxiety and panic attacks. In this honest, unguarded speech Jonny will recount how his focus and dedication to the sport he loves meant overlooking important parts of his life. He will consider what that experience has taught him about mental health and will talk about his personal journey to acceptance.

Make sure you register ahead to secure your place at one of the talks

Training Sessions & Panel discussions top picks

And with over 100 training sessions and panel discussions split between three different theatres, not to mention the co-located shows across the FIREX, IFSEC & Safety & Health Expo, here are a few of our top picks from The Facilities Show not to be missed. Remember to scan your badge on the way in to collect your CPD certificate:

Panel: Technology as a force for change – We are technology companies, aren’t we?

18thJune at 11.40 – 12.25

Technology has always played a role in shaping the FM profession and the broader facilities services industry within which the profession operates. Therefore; this panel debate will explore further the understanding of how technology will shape the FM profession in the future but also what’s happening right here and now.

Between Hype and Reality: Connectivity and Integration

18thJune at 14.25 – 14.55

The Internet of Things is the buzzword of the moment but there is an often overlooked chasm between the hype around it and the reality of integrating this technology into day-to-day business processes. As housing associations pressure field service companies into becoming truly connected and providing the end consumer with a tightly knit digital experience, who exactly is going to foot the bill for implementing the technology? Jason’s experience with Oprillo, a business venture that aimed to connect domestic infrastructures with field service companies using IoT tech under the end consumer’s control, showed him that there is a perfect fantasy world and there is the ambivalent present. During this panel, he’ll use his unique insight to explore the level we are at now, in terms of connectivity and integration, where we’ll be in 5 years, and the technology that will bridge the chasm.”

How not to integrate technology in buildings -avoiding the pitfalls others have already made

19thJune at 11.00 – 11.30

This session will cover the current state of the Smart building industry as well as:
– Common mistakes people make when selecting technology
– The importance of considering UX (user experience) in technology design and selection
– When to think about ‘Smart’ in the context of a building’s construction or fit-out programme

Creating next-generation collaborative work environments

19thJune at 15.45 – 16.15

Formal and informal collaboration spaces are dominating new office environments. Technology is a vital component in these new work settings. Creating spaces for employees to effectively meet, share information and innovate is an imperative for company productivity, yet many IT and facilities organisations struggle designing, deploying and managing these critical assets.

In this session, we will examine the trends that are driving the explosive growth of collaborative workspaces and share a practical approach for building a winning business case for technology. We will also show how space design, furnishings and technology come together to create more innovative and engaging places for people to work, and discuss the role standardisation plays in eliminating complexity, reducing costs, improving productivity and driving adoption.

Smart Workspaces – People, Technology, and the Built Environment

20thJune at 11.55 – 12.20

Over 60% of buildings that will be standing in 2050 have already been built. With the growth of Smart Buildings, it is no surprise that Facility Managers today are expected to be more IT-savvy. This poses several interesting challenges to the role of the Facility Manager, firstly due to the vast amounts of data generated, which is far too much to consume and understand with a siloed work approach and without tools and applications to assist.

This presentation will discuss how facilities can benefit from connectivity and integration of multiple siloed operating systems. Smart Building technology is disrupting the way building owners, tenants, and operators are approaching retrofit projects. Technologies such as multi-purpose sensors are providing actionable data that can further be utilised by Artificial Intelligence and Data Analytics applications to provide an enhanced workplace experience. Further, with the workplace population moving towards the Millennial generation and Gen Z, mobile workspaces and a tech-savvy environment have become an attractive recruitment strategy. The presentation will also briefly discuss a case study of what that ideal workplace in today’s world can look like.

Click here to see the full agenda via the free FM Training programme

Supplier Stands

And as well as all the above there will be over 282 FM product providers, showcasing over 2,000 solutions. With such a choice of suppliers, make sure you drop by the Keyzapp Stand FM6088 for a quick demo on how our deceptively simple key management solution can save you time and money every day. If you manage keys, we are the one supplier who really will give you your time back!

Click here to see a video testimonial from one of our Security clients who have made a big impact on their efficiency by installing Keyzapp, enabling them to spend more time on the tasks that matter most.

Have some Fun!

Don’t forget about the Virtual Golf and Games Arcades and click here to secure one of our tickets to the VIP lounge:

Above all – have a great time at the show! We look forward to seeing you there.

The easiest way to attach keys to key rings

Here’s a life-saving (or at least nail-saving!) tip for anyone who has to regularly attach keys or key fobs to key rings.

When building demonstration kits for our Key Management Software, we couldn’t believe there was no fast, simple method for attaching key rings to key fobs.  The best we had come up with was using a small flat, screwdriver to lever the ring open and then insert the key or fob.  Then we found this YouTube video, which shows that the humble staple remover has the answer! Continue reading “The easiest way to attach keys to key rings”

The tap and go revolution is beginning!

The technology that powers Keyzapp’s patent-pending “Tap and Scan” key tracker is about to take off big time according to global business advisory firm, Deloitte.

The biggest mainstream use of the technology, (known as Near Field Communication, or NFC for short) will be to make payments quickly and simply via your mobile phone.  This research coincides with Apple’s “Apple Pay” for iPhones in the UK this week. Chances are, if you live in an economically developed country, you’re already starting to use the same tech every day, with “contactless, “tap and go” or “payWave” credit cards.

With millions of phones now using the technology in the UK, Deloitte expect that we’ll see an explosion in the different ways you can tap objects to interact with them.  Keyzapp is one of the best examples of how this technology can go beyond payment systems into all sorts of everyday processes in industry.

Going from a paper log book to Keyzapp is like replacing your chequebook with contactless credit cards.

An example of contactless payment for bus travel in London How contactless technology improves key management

References:

20 minutes a day productivity increase?

Not much, but this soon adds up to over 75 hours a year, that is 2 whole weeks over a year. I mention this because this week’s news has started with “UK firms’ hiring intentions ‘sky high’ but concerns persist over productivity, the French and the Germans are significantly more productive than us! This is probably not a great concern to the Letting Industry because we are not competing with them directly, but increased productivity is still important because your margins continue to be squeezed and you need to achieve more from what you have.

The story does not stop at productivity because you also need to consider improved quality and efficiency, hence business automation tools have an increasing role to play. These tools can help you improve productivity, quality and efficiency without taking on new staff, making your business more competitive and secure.

Yes you can save 20 minutes a day (some of our customers tell us more than 30) but you also achieve greater quality through fewer errors and accurate up to date information. What is more this is simply achieved through the introduction of a better key management process like Keyzapp.

Keyzapp is a natural evolution of key manangement

All organisations that manage keys have systems and procedures in place; after all keys go back to the time of the Egyptians and Romans, however keys in their current form started in the early 17th century (Chubb-1818, Yale-1848).  What is more many organisations are using the same paper log book methods to manage keys they would have used in the 17th century!  These procedures have stood the test of time, but the problem is they only work up to a point.

New key management systems exist but they tend to be “electro  mechanical” based systems which satisfy different security needs, they are generally just as time consuming and more expensive.

The simple paper based key management systems fall down because people do not follow the procedures, so keys are continually being looked for and occasionally misplaced, all resulting in people spending more time then they want to (or need to) looking after keys.  Keyzapp provides a better way of managing keys without the need for pen and paper but is based on the same time proven procedures used since the 17th century.

Our solution is easy for people to use so that there is no reason not to follow the system.

We believe that people will realise they can improve on their current methods and that Keyzapp  is a better way, worth investigating and investing in.