Ben Smith, Lettings Manager by Jane Gardner, Lettings Director
Ben is our efficiency machine: He joined the Sewell & Gardner team in 2007 and it was a fast track learning curve for us both. Ben was very used to working independently as a Lettings Valuer and suddenly he became part of a tight-knit team who work closely together covering all aspects of the lettings process, from valuation through to viewings, deals, paperwork & completion: Quite a lot of new systems to take on board! I knew that it would be a journey of discovery for us both and after spending an initial few weeks working closely together I realised just how much I was going to learn from this lovely man in return for all the new systems I would be teaching him. Initially we set out to find out how Ben’s valuing and previous management techniques could fit into our Sewell & Gardner structure and then we began work on integrating these techniques into our processes and adapting them to form a new system we were both happy with. From that day onwards Ben has been an integral part of the team, helping me to grow the top line turnover by a whopping 145%!
Ben has a wealth of experience in the lettings industry: He went straight into Estate Agency after leaving college in 1993, starting off as a Trainee Lettings Negotiator at ‘Rolfe East’ in Ealing Broadway and then working his way through a variety of independent and corporate companies over the years, until he found himself, in 2005 at Parkheath Estates in Watford. Being new to the Watford area gave Ben the chance to really get out into the field and learn about the town and where the best rental developments were situated, and that is the first time I met Ben, handing over keys for a rental property we both shared on one such development, Cassio Metro. I have to say that my first impression of Ben was of an exceptionally friendly and professional agent, little did I know that he would soon be working for me! During 2007 I was approached by the franchise owner of the Parkheath Watford office to see if I would be interested in buying the lettings side of his business, and I luckily acquired Ben as part of the deal. I must say that I am exceptionally happy that I did so.
Over the past 6 years Ben has shown such tremendous skill as a negotiator and valuer, he works very closely with the rest of the lettings team and, in particular, our senior negotiator Julia Pennell . Ben always has his eye on hitting and beating his targets and providing motivation to his colleagues when the going gets tough. This is just one of the qualities that makes him a brilliant Lettings Manager!
So, what are Ben’s negotiating skills? Well, firstly, he is incredibly straight forward and is utterly trustworthy so clients love his black and white approach and they always know exactly where they stand. As a very forthright person Ben has no qualms about the ‘bad news’ side of the business and whilst he delivers such news with sympathy and care, he is matter of fact and will always be ready to offer ‘something better’. If that means he needs to source alternatives, he has great systems in place, and he always knows what is available on the market, with any agent, not just Sewell & Gardner. I would confidently say that, over the past 7 years, Ben has had at least one conversation with most Landlords in this area and he constantly maintains our instruction level at number one on the Rightmove competitor analysis, I put this down to his dogged persistence and the way he constantly remains in touch with clients past and present. As an ‘old school’ trained agent, Ben relies on the telephone and will always prefer this route to that of email, which I think this is quite rare nowadays. As a company we monitor the Rightmove phone calls into the office and the team take turns in listening and critiquing the calls, not once have Ben’s calls been questioned, he is the perfect ‘phone negotiator’.
On a customer service level, I receive many testimonials to Ben’s commitment and professionalism, which show how he goes over and above to please the client and how he has raised the customer service bar way above the expected level. In January Ben phoned an elderly lady who had just moved into a new flat and she mentioned that she had purchased some new curtains but needed the number of a handyman to help her to hang them. Without hesitation Ben offered to pop around on his way home from work to hang the curtains for her. She hadn’t mentioned that it was curtains for every window, it took him over an hour to do!
Ben works very closely with the sales and new homes teams, his rental experience is invaluable for calculating the yields for our Magical Mystery Tours for Rental Investors, which Ben helps to run on a regular basis. Ben regularly visits all of the new homes sites in the area and arranges to put their best plots onto the next tour itinerary, with the promise of 10-15 investors showing up to view it is rarely a ‘No’ from the site staff, even if they are not affiliated with our sales department. On the most recent tours the number of investors has dramatically risen and a typical tour will result in 3 deals agreed.
Ben works hard on securing investment deals, recently one of Ben’s client Landlord’s purchased an investment property through our sales office on Ben’s advice and it was rented to the first person who viewed at the asking price. The Landlord was so happy with Ben’s advice and service throughout the initial rental that he purchased 2 more investment properties in Rickmansworth, again one rented immediately at the asking price and the other is currently being renovated and due on the market soon. Just last month our New Homes department launched a small development of one bedroom houses in the town centre and Ben discussed the rental potential with one of his lady clients who was so impressed that she purchased one house and Ben had a tenant signed up immediately, so she just talked her daughter into buying the plot next door and that will be on the market in the coming few weeks! I have no doubt that Ben will have a tenant lined up before the paint is dry!
Overall Ben is an exceptionally important member of our team and a genuinely lovely person with exceptional customer skills in the areas of valuing and negotiating, if you are looking to rent out a property in this area, either as a Landlord, Tenant or Investor, you should make a call or visit to Ben your number one priority.
Proud of my staff..!