Anthony Stankard, MD of Reside Manchester, spoke to us about how Alto estate agent software has been supporting his vision for his people-first independent agency.
Anthony had a long history in the corporate estate agency world before starting out on his own at Reside Manchester.
“I was previously residential director at JLL for a number of years, and prior to that at King Sturge and Chestertons, so always in the corporate world” he said.
“I’d reached a real high point in my career. But what I missed was what got me into the job in the first place: the people. I wanted to get back out there and speak to our customers, the sellers and landlords we are representing.”
That desire to return to the front line spurred him to open Reside Manchester in 2013.
Now in its eighth year, Anthony and his team of 14 operate out of a single branch in the hubbub of Deansgate, and still take that same ‘keep it simple’ approach.
“I wanted to build a team of honest, nice people to deal with. All offering impeccable service, with those little extras that make all the difference,” he added.
“And that’s pretty much how we started building up our property management arm – no uniforms or fancy titles.”
Reside has grown significantly in scope in those past eight years. As well as sales, lettings and property management, it has also forayed into the world of build-to-rent.
“Starting off by managing a 274-unit build-to-rent site at the height of the pandemic was a steep learning curve, but it’s been a really valuable experience,” Anthony said.
Reside is also a big player in the local new homes market.
“I’ve spent a lot of my career bringing new homes into the market in Manchester city centre. We are very successful in this area – and it’s been particularly important to us over the past very challenging year.
“People seem comfortable viewing new builds – the second hand resale market is always going to be that little bit harder in the context of the pandemic,” he added.
With Reside’s new homes arm busier than ever, the last 12 months have reaffirmed that the decision to manage things with Alto was the right one.
“Staff being able to take their laptops and get on Alto whenever they’re on site at developments has always been a big bonus. And that’s before we even get into how important that’s been since 2020,” Anthony added.
With a significant body of experience in the industry, Anthony knew his way around the property software world before starting Reside.
“I had used other property management software providers, and their marketing functionality was one of the big push factors against using them again. As things started to move more and more online, they just weren’t able to keep up.”
“Before installing Alto, I met all the big suppliers, but what set Alto apart was how it truly brought all of the agency together,” Anthony said.
“We took advantage of down-time over the festive period in 2018 to get installed and never looked back.
“The migration itself was really easy – we were advised that it’d take a week, but in reality it was a bit shorter. The vast majority of the data migrated easily – only a couple of duplicates that were easy to rectify,” he added.
Alto’s combined functionality has played a big part in bringing the whole of the Reside branch together.
“Whereas before, everything was on separate systems, everything talks to each other now, across sales, lettings, property management and accounting.
“It’s a really well-oiled system. When the sales/lettings team get a new instruction, the team upstairs who deal with property management don’t have to duplicate anything and can get straight on with their bit of the process,” he added.
That focus on people is never too far from Anthony’s mind when talking about Alto.
“The system helps promote transparency. Because everyone now shares the same system, everyone in the business is able to give basic information to anyone who contacts the branch.
“That’s often enough to pacify the customer until they can be dealt with in more detail if they have a specific query.
“Sometimes, mistakes are going to happen – no one is perfect – but the most important thing is maintaining that honest dialogue with the customer.
“Landlords know they can get in touch with me directly – and they often do – it’s really important we don’t lose that personal touch,” Anthony confirmed.
Anthony got his team up and running with three days of Alto training after installation, but since then, as new staff come into the business, they’ve been able to go it alone.
“The analogy I use is it’s like how the iPhone revolutionised the mobile phone. Alto is doing that in the property management software world.”
“The intuitiveness is second-to-none. If you’ve used any other property software system, it’s a piece of cake,” said Anthony.
“So much so that we can get a new starter in on the Monday, train them ourselves – and by the end of their first week, they’ll have a pretty good understanding of how the system works.”
Another area that Alto has impacted for Reside is the financial side.
“Payments, reconciliations and bank uploads in particular are where Alto has saved us the biggest amount of time. Paying landlords before we got Alto was a full-time manual job,” Anthony said.
“In terms of training on the financial stuff, we leave that to the Alto team – not because it’s particularly complex to do in the system, but more because each new starter will come in with their own approach to how to manage that sort of thing.
“Getting Alto to train them in the right way to do it in the system helps ensure consistency from the get-go.”
“And, if we have a specific issue day-to-day after training, it’s good to know that the support team is always on-hand with those niggly bits of property management. Reversing overseas landlords’ statements when needed – that kind of stuff,” he added.
“I’d really recommend Alto for those agents out there still relying on Excel and inputting information several times into several different systems,” Anthony said.
“With a bit of prep work, you can have a painless switch to Alto and save enormous amounts of time in the long run as a result.
“That means you can focus on the people-side of the business that we all came into it for,” Anthony concluded.
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