He’s a former President of ARLA Propertymark, the UK’s foremost professional body for accredited agents, where he aims to help lift good agents up while driving rogues out of the sector. And he’s also a tireless advocate for mental health in the estate and lettings industry as well as a dad of two.

Interview with

David Votta
David Votta
Owner of Votta Sales & Lettings President Elect of ARLA Propertymark

When you wear that many hats, you can’t afford to spend hours each day on time-consuming admin – and so David turned to technology for help. In an interview with PropTech supplier marketplace Kerfuffle, he explained how time-saving technology has helped him to build a successful agency without sacrificing all his other personal and professional goals.

Building a dream business

Like a lot of letting agents, David is a people person. As far as he is concerned, the lettings business is about working with landlords and tenants, not highlighters and spreadsheets – and he’s proud of having built a business that reflects that.

“We’re a little independent agency, but we’ve got a process in place where we’re not a leaky bucket like a lot of the bigger companies. We don’t lose landlords unless they want to sell. We’ve got five-star Google reviews, we get comprehensive reviews, and we get people who love the service. That’s what I wanted to create with my business.”

When you go from being a letting agent on the beat to a business owner in the head office, it’s easy to get bogged down in the administration and lose sight of what made you fall in love with the industry in the first place. But by using technology to slash the admin burden, David has been able to stay hands-on and focus on the client relationships, and he’s still as excited about selling and letting properties as he was on day one.

“I don’t really look at figures,” he says. “My old employers used to say ‘David, you’re not really up to speed with your figures’. I said ‘I’ll tell you what. You measure the pig, and I’ll feed the pig’.”

As the owner of his own business, he can’t avoid looking at the numbers completely: in the end, he’s the one responsible for its financial health. But thanks to PayProp’s convenient dashboards and displays, measuring the pig doesn’t take long.

"I use it every morning, my first job of the day. You have a dashboard that shows your productivity. You can see what your income was, what was reconciled, what your commission was. You can do audit reports." David Votta, Owner of Votta Sales & Lettings

And while the reports are simple to understand and great for someone like David who prefers broad brushstrokes, the depth of data available also makes PayProp a powerful tool for dedicated number-crunchers. PayProp’s transaction records are created in real time from live bank data and can’t be manually edited.

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“Other people say ‘well, I’m doing my end-of-year books, I’ve had to put myself in a dark corner for two days’,” says David. “[But] I just speak to my accountant and give him my PayProp login.”

"PayProp helps our business by allowing us to be extremely scalable. We can onboard customers fast and process rental returns really quickly and easily." David Votta, Owner of Votta Sales & Lettings
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Starting up smoothly

PayProp was David’s very first investment when he set up his agency. He’d been convinced of its usefulness since seeing a demo at an ARLA Propertymark event that he hosted as a Regional Executive in 2016.

“They did their presentation, said ‘this is what we do’, and I went over to them because I was so in awe of the product – I thought ‘we need this’. I presented it to my former employers and they didn’t want to know, because they’d always done it the old way. But I thought if I ever set up my own company, which I always intended to do, PayProp was going to be my first purchase – and it was.”

Nationwide lettings giants have written glowing reports about PayProp’s well-oiled onboarding process delivered by an award-winning support team, but for a startup like Votta Sales & Lettings it was even quicker than usual: at the time, David only had one landlord on the books. But the company grew fast, and in the hours he saved, he very soon saw how much more convenient it was to run a business with PayProp.

"I started the company in October 2018, and in November I went away for a weekend. I remember getting up in the morning, having my morning coffee on the veranda, going onto the app and making sure all the landlords were paid and accounted for. And I just thought, it can’t be that easy – but it is." David Votta, Owner of Votta Sales & Lettings

To enable letting agencies to benefit optimally from PayProp’s powerful, quick and easy-to-use sophistication, it is delivered as a cloud-based platform, so David can always check in on all the properties he is responsible for, on any Internet-enabled device, anywhere – securely. That means he can take care of business at a moment’s notice with the least possible fuss, whether he’s out meeting a client, enjoying a weekend break, or – as recently happened – in the hospital after the birth of his second child.

"We’re in the hospital, my wife is lying there, and I’m sitting with the baby. And I’m thinking, right, let me just reconcile some payments. My wife took a picture [of this] over my shoulder, and I sent it to the team at PayProp." David Votta, Owner of Votta Sales & Lettings

Agencies of the future

David says that while some legacy letting agencies are still PropTech sceptics, technology makes for better agencies and happier agents.“When I introduced this to larger firms that I worked for back in the day, they didn’t want to know. They couldn’t see the value and they didn’t want to lose the accounts teams. But actually you’re taking people away from the laborious accounts, the mundane part of the job, and you’re going to put them in an area which is fun and which is generating new business – meeting new clients.”

"PropTech won’t ever replace humans – human interaction is exactly what we need. PropTech will handle the transactional stuff, the day-to-day bits and pieces, but you can’t ever lose the human element of what estate and letting agents do." David Votta, Owner of Votta Sales & Lettings

As for PayProp in particular, he couldn’t be happier.

"It’s my favourite bit of software I use. PayProp has revolutionised my business: reconciling the payments, accounting to the landlord, notifying the tenant, keeping an audit log, a clear and transparent transactional history. I’d rate it 10/10, I can’t fault it." David Votta, Owner of Votta Sales & Lettings

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