It’s good to talk

“I have now been at Osborne Property Services for just over six months. I have spent much of that time meeting clients and asking all sorts of questions about their business and what they want to achieve.
It has been a fascinating process and I have taken a number of important lessons from these conversations.

First, the traditional client/contractor relationship is dead. It is no longer good enough to have the approach of ‘the client wants this so we’ll just do it’. Clients appreciate feedback and, where appropriate, challenge. Ultimately they want to spend their money well.

This brings me to my second point. In the past, contractors have been guilty of focusing on how to maximise their returns from a client. This was never a sustainable approach and certainly is not now.

We need to help clients to make the most of their resources. If a housing provider wants to raise more revenue by focusing on reducing key-to-key times, Osborne can help with this. There is no sense in us seeking to boost our income through simply ticking off items on a schedule of rates. If the client fails to achieve their aim of reducing key-to-key times, they will very likely be looking for a new provider – and rightly so.

Third, Osborne has an excellent reputation for customer service. Our customer service expertise helps clients to get great results, which are delivered really well. But we need to make this competitive advantage work harder for us in winning new business.

For me, a service provider such as Osborne has to be trusted to do a great job consistently. Building this trust takes time and commitment, but it is worth it. Our customer service nous certainly helps in this regard. With trust comes belief that we will do what we say and we will act in the best interests of the client.

As a result of that I believe clients can save time and money by phasing out the practice of checking the checkers. We want to do a great job for our clients’ customers, as that means we are more likely to win more work. Where our clients succeed, we succeed – it is as simple as that. Ending the practice of checking the checkers means clients get more for their money.

The final area which crops up in pretty much every client conversation just now, is the general election and what the housing landscape will likely look like after 8 June.

In my view, regardless of who is in Number 10, there will remain a need for affordable housing to buy or rent across our key markets in London and the South East. The resources available to social landlords to help meet this demand are stretched and, in many instances, will be unable to entirely deliver the homes required.

I believe this sets the stage for innovation. For instance, the recent Homelessness Reduction Act 2017 reinforces the statutory responsibility English local authorities have for helping homeless people. As homelessness has increased in recent years, the available resources to help affected households has to go further.

We are pleased to be working with partners to give them more for the money they spend. In this instance, we are helping the local authority and private sector landlords to offer a maintenance service to improve PRS properties to the standard of social homes. This way the council is confident that, when it places a homeless household in a private rented property, the home will be of good quality. The household is therefore able to focus on finding stable, longer-term accommodation.

We have only been able to bring our expertise to bear in examples such as this because we have spent time with our clients really getting to the heart of their needs. Regardless of the result of the general election, the traditional client/contractor relationship is dead – long live the new client/service provider relationship.”

Carol Bailey is Managing Director of Osborne Property Services