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Being an inventory provider is perhaps not one of the top 10 career choices but the more you investigate the prospect, the greater the advantages you’ll discover as you get to know what the job entails and the benefits of running your own reporting service. If you long to be an independent, self-employed professional, in control of your time and your work/life balance then this may be the perfect role for you. But what are the 5 skills every inventory provider should have in their tool kit?

Being an inventory clerk is not an easy option. It requires intellectual, interpersonal and practical skills alongside oodles of common sense, patience and the ability to take a wider, more practical viewpoint but the advantages of being your own boss can outweigh any negatives. 

Let’s look at 5 skills every inventory provider should have in their tool kit:

The art of dealing with people

Although almost every job involves dealing with people or colleagues either face to face or indirectly through technology; inventory reporting and provision requires a high degree of interactions with both your clients, letting agents, landlords, contractors as well as tenants and other providers. Clearly your priority should always be to your clients, but it is important to establish and maintain a harmonious relationship with all stakeholders that is built on both trust and professionalism. 

Sensitivity and tact are vital in order to develop a trust-based relationship – however transient this may be – which will ensure the visit or appointment runs as smoothly as possible for all parties. As an inventory provider, you never know who you will encounter during your working day.

What matters is remembering that each person is an individual, that they are afforded the same levels of respect and courtesy that you yourself would expect. You are in their home, their sanctuary, so your demeanour should always be amenable and helpful and always polite. It should go without saying that you must present yourself as someone who is there to provide a service that is impartial and as equally beneficial to the landlord as it is to the tenant.

Being a resourceful inventory clerk

It is an unfortunate but regular occurrence, mainly due to the fluid nature of the lettings industry, that not all properties you visit are indeed ready to be reported on. Tenants and landlords don’t always see eye to eye which can delay the check out or the property may still have works yet to be completed that impact on the ability for cleaning or maintenance to be completed before you arrive to carry out the report.

This all impacts on your bookings, your onward reports and clerks availability if jobs are having to be moved, cancelled or clerks are being asked to ‘jump in’ at a moment’s notice. As this is a well known problem in the industry

Always have (in your back pocket) a Plan B if you have to rearrange the appointment

Have those options ready and waiting to be put into action for when you talk to the client; tell them what you can and are willing to do for them; they will love you for it and more importantly, will likely think of you first the next time they want a report or property visit booked (if not already a regular client). 

Another essential part of your tool kit is an extendable pole for testing alarms or selfie stick. Taking photos of parts of the property you can’t access easily or inspect with the naked eye can be dangerous if you fail to follow basic safety protocols like not standing on chairs or climbing on worktops. Having the right equipment will help you to minimise any potential risks to your safety and well being.

Along with meter, cupboard and access keys; a good property inspection app (Inventory Base) not only helps you detail and record the evidence and information but can act as a useful prompt to help ensure you don’t miss anything as you progress through the property. These are just some of the tools you need to have ready for use at the property whilst ensuring that safety is your top priority at all times.

Thinking on your feet 

Dogged determination is a quality that, for some, comes more easily than others but can be a learned attribute. A good inventory provider will look for the workaround rather than accept defeat if they cannot find the meter. Clients expect a lot from an inventory service so only the truly insurmountable tasks should be left uncompleted but always let the client know why, what you have done to try and complete the task and what other options you have available going forward to manage future issues. 

Don’t take the easy option and not bother 

The most common bug bear is utility meters; they can be as elusive as pink elephants! That said; property inspections are easier to conduct than in the previous years because of the advances in technology that provide apps that work without WiFi, that have built in dictionaries and templates that guide the user as well as training and support. We have moved far beyond the pen and paper! 

The ability to think on your feet, to think laterally is a key asset for any inventory provider as every day will, more often than not, require a potential change in the booking or the expected environment that you (thought) are walking into.

You will encounter all manner of practical challenges such as inaccessible smoke alarms and meters, unreachable ceilings and corners, unwieldy furniture and any number of other unforeseen challenges including properties that have yet to be vacated. 

Finding a foot hanging out the end of a bed in what is meant to be an unfurnished, empty property is not uncommon!

What you then do in reaction to finding someone at the property that you weren’t expecting (or vice versa) will speak volumes about both yourself as an inventory clerk and as a professional service so you need to think about what your protocols are and should be when dealing with the unexpected. 

The measure of how you manage these situations including offering solutions to your client as they will often look to you to sort out any problems or issues. Clearly there are some issues that cannot be easily resolved as often they require the services of other professionals (cleaning contractors, gas or electrical engineers) so your flexibility is a key asset of your service. 

Attention to detail

It is a vital skill to make sure that at every stage of the inspection you are focused on the smallest details, not just the glaringly obvious. An inexperienced inventory provider may feel initially overwhelmed especially on the first report when entering a property.

The task ahead might seem daunting and unmanageable. You need to take a methodical approach, breaking the job down room by room; component by component and treat it as a series of compartmentalised inspections. This way you are less likely to be overawed by the scale of the property report or assessment. 

As you enter each room, you should only concern yourself with that particular space or part of the property so that you don’t then start to wander and lose concentration. Look for any and all signs of wear or damage or issue, wherever they might be – don’t make any assumptions about the condition of light fittings, windows, electrical sockets or any of the things we might take for granted in our own homes. Part of your job is to both spot and then detail the issues using a fact-based approach.

Inventory Base Academy training will equip you with all the information and tools you will need to carry out the role as an inventory provider. You can find out more here by visiting Inventory Base Academy – Learn How to produce Professional Property Reports

Effective communication

Communication is a key component of your service; it is the basis for everything that you do both in the written word or when speaking to landlords, agents, tenants and other service providers and contractors.

Being able to put clients at ease, get across your point firmly but respectfully is essential so that clients know exactly where they stand, how you will be proceeding and tenants are put at ease and not made to feel subject to unreasonable scrutiny. These skills are even more important when preparing your report.

You are not expected to have the same level of expertise as say an architect or builder would have at their disposal but everything in your report should be clearly set out, factual and evidence based without being overly complicated or strewn with acronyms. 

When referring to a particular piece of furniture, you may not know the exact technical terms that apply to it, but you should convey the information in a way the reader can say ‘yeah I get that, it makes sense’. 

Whether you train with Inventory Base Academy or complete your own self learning; you need to hone your descriptive powers so that you can give a full account of any issues as seen and can then advise the client as to any next steps they might want to take or need to consider so that they can manage any risks in the property.

Once you start your journey as an inventory provider you will rapidly gather the experience and expertise needed to develop the skills that will empower and support a great service.