How Harris & Co modernised their lettings business with PayProp

Harris & Co in Fleetwood, Lancashire, has been in the property letting business for 25 years. It’s a family-run agency with over 300 clients.
How Harris & Co modernised their lettings business with PayProp

One of the significant changes they have made in recent times was to engage PayProp to provide an integrated system to automate their client account and rental payment process. According to Managing Director James Harris, it has completely transformed the way they operate.

Interview with

Stuart James Harris
Stuart James Harris
Managing Director Harris & Co
"PayProp has changed my life – no exaggeration. I’d gone through different agents, loads of different packages, whatever there was. I knew I wanted software for the accounting side and obviously for the front-of-house side, but couldn’t see anything else out there even close to rivalling PayProp’s system." James Harris, Managing Director

“At first the price made me hesitate; it looked expensive,” says James. But he knew a solution of PayProp’s calibre was vital to the agency’s operations – and soon found there was huge financial value in it for his business.

Worth every penny and more

“I couldn’t cope with doing all the accounts. I needed something automated to do it all for us. Otherwise, I would have had to hire two more people to do what one person was doing. And when the PayProp rep put in their return-on-investment formula, I realised how much we could save.”

And save they did! The costs are lower than hiring an accountant to do financial analyses and compile reports. In addition, it has freed up manpower, which many letting agencies redeploy elsewhere to support business growth. Moreover, automation in and of itself allows agencies to manage much larger portfolios efficiently.

“As a result,” says James, “I’ve been able to do so much more business over the last 18 months.”

“I’ve had time to go out without worrying about chasing or reducing arrears. It’s all automated – no more paper statements or the like.  No more spreadsheets and bank statements.”

Harris & Co’s previous system wasn’t really transparent, so tenants couldn’t see what they owed and landlords couldn’t see if there were any arrears.

"PayProp has simplified the rent collection and payments management considerably. What took two full weeks to settle up accounts now takes a few minutes." James Harris, Managing Director

Not only does the new system enable company employees to deal with arrears before they become a problem via live payment status views, it also sends proactive reminders via e-mail and text message to prompt tenants to pay their rent.

Harris & Co also wanted something to integrate with the bank; to avoid having to log on every time they needed to make a payment. The PayProp system works seamlessly for them in this regard and enables them to see incoming rent payments in real time.

Says James, “My first day paying landlords was like, ‘Oh, is this going to work?’. I was at home. I remember setting up the approval. I received an e-mail at five o’clock saying what had come in. Then I got the text at ten o’clock, saying, ‘This is your commission’. Wow – that’s really changed things! As for fighting fraud – you can restrict access. If someone changes something, I get an automatic text saying the bank details have changed on this or that person, which is brilliant. It means I don’t have to be at the office all the time. Bank integration and the simultaneous audit log are among the things that really stand out for me.”

“It was really telling when I spoke to other agents about what we can do with PayProp, like take Direct Debits; our competition simply can’t do that.”

"PayProp really makes a small company look like a multi-million-pound business – the automated statements, the app, rent chasing, text. It’s got everything, it really does." James Harris, Managing Director

Client account clarity

Another consideration with choosing PayProp was poor service at the bank.

“Our old bank decided to start changing how they operate and they wanted a client account for every single landlord. Imagine having a client account for every landlord, as well as an Excel document for every single one! I couldn’t have coped with that,” said James. “That was another perfect reason to sign up to PayProp, as I would much rather pay for an integrated, but still compliant, client account that is going to improve and grow with my business, than pay the bank for multiple client accounts.”

James also makes extensive use of the portfolio graph on the PayProp dashboard. It enables him to see cumulative rent payments and commission totals over the previous 12 months, at a glance.

Customer service

Customer service has always been very important to James. He says, “PayProp helps us with our customer service excellence. We don’t treat anybody as the little guy. All of our clients are equally important.

Something that seems to cause a fair bit of anxiety for letting agents is the processing of their Schedule 21. With PayProp, says James, you put up a ticket to PayProp and it will be on your desk within a few days.

It’s also an easy system to use. Harris & Co hired two young apprentices recently and, without any training other than what’s done in the office, they manage it with ease. For James, this is one of the biggest selling points.

"I love the product so much; I can’t recommend it enough!" James Harris, Managing Director
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