Estate Agency and Lettings HR Headaches with Zoe Conning, Director of Amplo Lettings.
On Monday 1 March, Kevin Murphy, Director of Employment Law Solutions sat down with Zoe Conning, Director of Amplo Lettings over Zoom to discuss the Estate Agency and Lettings HR Headaches.
“When you were looking at taking on staff, what was your thought process and your logic behind sourcing contracts of employment and employee handbooks. Did you know what you needed to employ someone safely?”
“No, is the short answer. I think because I spent so much time being on the other side of being an employee I wanted to make sure we got it right because I know how much knowledge employees have and how quick they are to google something and to find out whether it is best practise and if it is something there employer should be doing. Luckily, I did know Employment Law Solutions before and we knew the sort of issues Employment Law Solutions were resolving as well as the standard it was being done at. Therefore it was a very quick decision for us, let’s speak to Employment Law Solutions.”
“In terms of that onboarding process of you onboarding with employment law solutions as well as you onboarding your first member of staff, how did you find that?”
“I found it surprisingly simple, with your help of course. At the start I found it overwhelming due to not hiring staff before, we were in the middle of a pandemic with lockdown issues resulting in us not knowing if we could conduct interviews, whether we could call them back for an interview or if it would all have to be on Zoom. There were so many problems we’d faced even before employing staff. When we initially spoke to Employment Law Solutions and started that process, we expected there to be a lot of paperwork to sign and read through but by having you there throughout it made the process simpler.”
“Would you say that the documents we drafted together are suitable for your business. That they meet all of your requirements and all of your desires, everything that you want for your business and for the management of that relationship?”
“Yes definitely, where Amplo Lettings are a part of Amplo Group we have got other arms to the business. We are not just a property management company we have got a commercial finance brokerage, agricultural finance and property development company so it is not just about employing letting agents and property managers it is employing other roles such as a marketing manager, a finance director and other various roles. With the contracts we have got, we know they are going to cover all of their roles in the future as they are specific to our business. As well as it being great that when we do get to a stage where we may employ a role slightly different, for instance our first employee was an apprentice so their agreement is going to be different to a full time employee. We know that employment law solutions are there for that which is great too.”
“In your first period of being an employer, what have you found the benefits of working with Employment Law solutions are in dealing with those HR Headaches that arise?”
“For me, what I found great about Employment Law solutions was that you are 24/7. It was when Boris Johnson had announced the lockdown at 8pm at night and in less than 12 hours our member of staff was supposed to be in the office and we were unsure what to do. I remember sending Kevin an email at 8:15pm that night asking for advice and Kevin responded straight away as well as also sending me a text message even later at around 9pm making sure that I was happy with everything set out. It is great to have that support because I think as a business owner you expect that level. That has been the most beneficial aspect for us that it can be 24/7, 365”
“In terms of the future of the Estate Agency and Lettings industry, what do you think are going to be the biggest issues within your industry in the next 3-6 months?”
“Personally, in our sector where they are announcing the lifting of lockdown with the Prime Ministers roadmap, we will be getting staff back into the office so we are going to have to make sure we have the precautions in place to make sure they feel comfortable. So they can come back in and know that they are a good distance apart, that there are masks available there are wipes available, and hand sanitisers. As well as that they know that the office is being cleaned regularly, even by external cleaners. It’s about adapting that to the workplace and making sure our employees are happy.
Specifically to the Estate Agency and Letting sector there is a big aspect of going out and conducting the face to face viewings as well, so it is going into houses that yes may be empty but where Amplo Lettings specialise in Houses in multiple occupation (HMO’s) there are going to be other tenants in the property so it’s making sure that as a business we’ve got everything in place that our employes are happy to go out and conduct them viewings and equally prospective tenants are as well.”
“ In essence you think one of the biggest issues is going to be people’s acceptance to an element of risk? Even though in society the risk of Coronavirus is reducing there is still an element of risk there and understanding the best way to manage that.”
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“Yes, definitely and from a none Coronavirus point of view, Amplo Lettings have just had a new employee today so when they are in the office along with the rest of the team it’s understanding how those dynamics are going to work because it has been working from home for quite a long time now. So it’s managing those dynamics and those relationships through the whole team as well.”
“Finally Zoe, If you were talking to anyone else in your industry who said they were struggling with a particular member of staff or have got a HR headache or an employment law problem. What would your advice be to them?”
“It would just be to speak to Employment Law Solutions! There’s so many easy free things that people can get online but it’s not sector specific and not even business specific. The way we run our lettings agency may be different to how other letting agents run theirs. For me, the main thing that Employment Law Solutions are great at is the bespoke element and I think that is really what employers need.”