Missed appointments are the bane of every service industry business, from estate agents to plumbers, from lawyers to hairdressers. For a commercial concern, time is indeed money and a missed appointment is not only time wasted but a lost opportunity for other work and therefore revenue.
It’s widely accepted that every missed GP appointment costs the NHS £30 and the overall scale of the loss is phenomenal: every year 9.6 million appointments are not attended by patients, equating to a cost of £288 million to their already overstretched budget.
While there is nothing but anecdotal evidence of the extent of losses sustained by the various UK business sectors as a result of missed appointments, the experience of the health service is a salutary one.
The economics of being an inventory clerk
The private rental sector relies on the participation of individuals with specialised skills, not just letting agents, maintenance services and safety certificate providers but also those whose contribution is not, let’s be honest here, always appreciated, and that includes inventory clerks.
Looking at inventory clerks specifically….
There are many companies who employ or contract with clerks to carry out property inspections and there are also plenty of clerks who work as sole traders in their own right.
As an inventory clerk, most people need as full a diary as possible to deliver a decent income.
The going rate for the larger companies to conduct a property inspection of a 1 bedroom, furnished house or flat can be anywhere between £100 and £200 in and around the London area.
Sole traders will generally charge less than this depending on the region / area covered, contracts with local agents etc but as with any business, prices are costed carefully to suit the market and give them a sustainable business.
An inspection of a larger property can take up to 3 hours or more so the daily maximum that is probably achievable is 4 inspections but often fewer depending on the size, furnishing level, condition and travel time for keys.
So, if 3 inspection appointments have been booked for a single day, and one tenant, landlord or letting agent who has agreed to be present, fails to turn up, or the inspection has to be abandoned because the tenant has not yet moved out or maintenance is still ongoing, that equates to an immediate 33% reduction in the clerks expected earnings because of missed appointments.
Based on an average of £75 per report (mean), the potential loss of revenue from an industry wide perspective could be a lot more expensive than missing GP appointments.
Data on missed appointments
Although there is no actual data for this sector, we have enough experience of working with companies and SME’s in the property industry to know that missed appointments are unfortunately not rare.
Although considered by some as an occupational hazard, one way to combat the losses suffered is to put report rates up, that way clerks can build a financial buffer against their losses.
However, this puts pressure on landlords and strains business relationships as they either have to accept the increased costs of inspections or reimburse the clerk for the failed appointment.
Unfortunately for landlords, they are unable to reclaim that cost from their tenant because of the Tenant Fees Act 2019.
This legislation strictly limits the circumstances in which landlords can charge their tenants for anything beyond the normal rent, deposits, any variations in the tenancy requested by the tenant, late payment surcharges plus any utilities bills (subject to the terms of the tenancy agreement).
Liability attaches to the tenant only if they have made their own arrangements for a property inspection so you could ask yourself why do we not do more more to offer reports direct to tenants? Food for thought….
Passing on the cost
Moving the cost of missed appointments to the landlord may fill the immediate financial hole but it doesn’t do anything for the ongoing relationship between the parties.
As clerks, you rely on regular clients as the basis of your business so it’s not wise to alienate an otherwise satisfied customer.
So it’s preferable to sit down with the landlord and or the letting agent, if they use one, to discuss ways of working together to eliminate or minimise missed appointments.
Causes of missed appointments
It’s impossible to legislate for discourtesy and unreliability, this happens and is a fact in everyday life, but most tenants are reasonable people who understand that accurate inventories and check outs are in their interest and so wouldn’t necessarily seek to inconvenience clerks or landlords.
It’s really not in their interest and to be fair, in my experience, tenants often react favourably towards clerks as we are seen as impartial.
Of course, there are other reasons why appointments fail and it can happen even when a tenant is absent by mutual agreement.
You might not be able to get hold of the keys, or the landlord may have had new locks fitted without notice. This happens a lot!
An emerging and increasingly more common issue is the fact that tenants are finding it harder to move and are often let down by other parties in the rental chain. This can mean they literally have nowhere to go and leaving even on an agreed date is longer an option for them.
However, no matter what the reason is behind the delays or missed appointments, many of these problems can be resolved and or at least proactively managed with a little forward planning.
How do you solve the problem of missed appointments?
It’s easy to talk about improving communication but with busy work schedules, often there is no time in the day to stop to sort out the admin so one solution is to utilise the automated systems and features already at your fingertips within Inventory Base.
Specialists in developing inventory property management software, Inventory Base really does make the role of inventory clerks more streamlined and simple.
The property inspection app offers so much more than a way to manage the inspection itself.
- Use your account features and tools
Using integrated tools to book / schedule appointments and issue appointment reminders to tenants and landlords by automated SMS is one way to combat the thorny issue of missed appointments.
Inventory clerks can monitor schedules, keep diaries up to date and receive advanced and instant notifications when a tenant or the commissioning agent cannot keep an appointment through client messaging.
- Customise emails and messages
This is an option available to Enterprise users where you can customise emails sent out to Clients, Tenants, Landlords and Agents when a booking/report is created, completed and/or closed.
It is also possible to customise SMS messages here too.
- Contact your clients
Keep in regular contact with your client base to raise awareness of all the methods and options open to them so that they know how to get in touch.
Calling agents, landlords and clients the day before the appointment to confirm keys and ask if there has been any changes to the booking.
You can also do this via messaging however often I find it’s better to call and it also helps maintain the relationship with them especially during busy periods like student season as everyone is so busy it’s easy to ‘drop the ball’ creating the conditions for missed appointments to occur.
And because all these options are all included in our property management software, they’re easy to set up as far in advance as circumstances allow and will substantially improve communication between all parties.
There will always be occasions when appointments fail, but with Inventory Base in your reporting armoury, you can manage the problem and keep the issue of missed appointments to an acceptable minimum.
Reporting software is an investment but with Inventory Base, it’s one that delivers value and can help you to maximise your time as well as your income and make missed appointments a manageable rarity.
- Always use contacts to record tenant contact details and make sharing of reports quick and easy – see support guide
- Provide clients and tenants with a business phone number to contact you if either party are delayed
- Use the SMS option to send out auto reminders of appointments – see support guide
- Check with clients the day before the appointment in case of any last minute changes to the booking or key location
- Customise your emails to help inform tenants of your check out process and methods of contact should their move be delayed – see support guide
- Keep up to date with latest features, changes and more via your booking account – see releases