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You’ve taken the first step at becoming an inventory clerk. You’re thinking about how your reports are going to look, who will buy them and how you will deliver them. But how do you price your inventory report?

To understand what your reports are worth you need to understand the market you are investing your time, effort and money in. Research carried out by Opinium for the Guardian states that about one in five UK households (4.5 million families) live in private rented accommodation, with a similar amount in social housing. In 2019; it was calculated that there were a staggering 2.66 million landlords in the UK with 30% of landlords owning more than one buy-to-let property. 

Housing continues to be in high demand especially with the current pandemic where some households are struggling financially and opting to rent to ease pressures and to work whilst socially distancing from family members who may be deemed vulnerable. Lack of supply though remains a major problem with the temporary accommodation industry worth over £1.1bn. And with figures showing that money being paid to private accommodation providers has almost doubled in the last five years from £490m in 2013/14 to £939m in 2018/19 there is a very clear and present need for private rented housing.

Great news if you are setting up your inventory business; right?

Yes and…. no.

Yes, because there is work out there to be capitalised on; reports that need to be completed and with more emphasis being placed on evidence by the deposit schemes. The new kids on the block; Ome, are actively championing mandatory inventory reports; it’s a great time to set up shop.

But, with all the positivity comes a warning. If you do not price your inventory report correctly, you could miss out – and don’t just think it’s only about cost. Quality of evidence is equally important.

An inventory report needs to be comprehensively written, detailed enough that with quality photographs or video it enables the reader to fully understand what the report is showcasing. As with any and all reports; your focus should always be on the ‘end-user’; the deposit scheme adjudicator or even the court of law. This is where your report will be scrutinised, judged and ultimately be the vehicle used to decide whether the deposit is returned to the tenant or the landlord making a successful claim.

So, as you begin the process of pricing your inventory reports there are steps you need to take to ensure that you don’t bottom out before you start.

Get a spreadsheet going

Facts and figures should be the lifeblood of an inventory clerk. You need to know where you are, where you are going and have a plan to reach your targets whether you are a sole trader or looking to develop a team of inventory professionals.

Look at your competition

By seeing what everyone else is doing in your local market, you will quickly see and capitalise on best practice and understand what the market is willing to pay for your reports (value-based pricing).

Know your market

What do agents, landlords, tenants want from your reports? Detail, ease of use, ability to sign online, share with tenants and create audit trails for evidence; is the price the ultimate factor? Research is vital both as you start up and as you develop and build your business.

Talk to your clients

If you don’t ask what it is that they need, understand their pain points and deliver a service that they will want to use then you don’t have a business. But don’t just stop there; you need to keep the conversation going, develop a rapport and a service that they cannot do without.

To help you think about pricing options and other factors to consider when developing your business our webinar Seven Ways to Price Your Inventory will help you to understand how to set your prices that are both attractive to your clients as well as your pocket.