11 questions we ask every agent: Kit Ram Residential
Kit Ram has been in lettings and property management for 25 years. He now runs Kit Ram Residential, working with landlords in and around Bedford.
Can you tell us a bit about your agency – what areas do you cover and how long have you been operating?
We offer lettings and property management in Bedford. The business has been operating for three and a half years, but I’ve been working in the industry in this area for a lot longer.
How and why did you get into estate agency?
I started my first lettings company 25 years ago. It became one of Bedford’s fastest growing, most popular and biggest lettings agencies, and I helped several first-time landlords who went on to become portfolio landlords. I reluctantly sold the company in 2011 after a health scare, but I was still managing my own portfolio. As I started to take more on, it made sense to start operating as a business again.
What would you say are the biggest challenges your agency has faced over the past couple of years?
Honestly, I haven’t really faced any particular challenges that I didn’t expect. It took a while to get back into the industry on a full-time basis, I wasn’t expecting to be letting five-eight properties a week – I was realistic. Even when coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions came in, we did everything I wanted to do.
We’re set up to work from home and, if anything, the restrictions helped because we could do video viewings. I’ve been able to let properties without any physical viewings – it’s almost been the perfect scenario.
Did the pandemic affected the way you operate?
If COVID-19 happened ten years ago when we were shop-based and relying on people walking in, we wouldn’t have done any business. But software gives us the opportunity to work remotely and that definitely helped through the last two years.
How do you see the industry changing in the next few years?
My biggest worry is that there seems to be bigger agencies taking over. Locally, we’re one of four independents. There used to be around a dozen. It could be an advantage for those that stick it out, but it’s a competitive landscape.
We’re also seeing more legislation and letting agents will have to run a tighter shop with better controls. That’s where software like Alto helps – we can simplify processes and keep it all in one place. I don’t like the idea of having hundreds of platforms. If one platform can do it all, then it’s better for everyone.
How long have you been using property CRM software and how has it changed the way you run your business?
I’ve used property management software since around 1998 and I’m a big advocate. It makes things slicker – processes, referencing procedures. I’m very process-driven and software lets you have everything set in stone, with lock-tight procedures.
What made you move to Alto, and were there any business challenges or problems that encouraged you to make the change?
When I first came back into the industry I was using Jupix. I was happy with it, but there were certain things it couldn’t do, and I knew they were possible because I was doing them before on my old software.
I shopped around but I kept coming back to Alto because it sounded good. I had a demo and I don’t say this lightly, but I was fairly blown away. It was clear how much time Alto could save me across the business.
How does Alto compare to other software you’ve used?
What I like about any software is that it saves you time and takes away the element of getting things wrong. Alto automates so many processes that I know it’s all correct. Like deposits, for example. On my old system I would have to register the deposit and upload the certificate manually. With Alto, it’s just a few clicks and you know it’s done. It minimises errors and is very efficient.
Previously I had two members of staff and now I have one, who has time to spare. That’s made possible because of our processes and our new-and-improved software.
What’s your favourite Alto feature?
Probably the accounting functionality. I feel like my last software oversimplified it and I couldn’t do everything I wanted to. With Alto, I can import and export payments and batch receipts to save time and reduce errors.
I do think there are still things to improve, but I know the development work is going on in the background. In time it’ll give me all the bells and whistles, and that’s what I was hoping for.
How was the migration and onboarding process?
Onboarding was fantastic, a lot easier than I had anticipated. The team made it sound like it would be more difficult, but it was very easy – including the data migration.
The training has been excellent too. After our upgrade, I had to call the support team once. The support team are always there and available.
What would be your top tip for other agents when choosing property management software?
Check that it’s future-proofed. And make sure you do your research to see how much time it can save you.
See how Alto’s cloud-based software can support your business. Book a chat with one of our experts.