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Interview of Peter Grant
Written by the Letting Agent Today team
Peter Grant, CEO of VTUK

Who are you?

Peter Grant, currently serving year 27 of my sentence in the property industry and still loving every moment of working in such an innovative environment.

What does it say on your business card?

CEO of VTUK

What is VTUK?

It’s a tiger, where the spine is technology, flexible enough to be agile, but strong enough to support huge speeds and sharp turns. The claws and teeth are our clients, fearsome and sharp as razors, getting the job done, all wrapped up in big soft pelt of service, mindfulness and care.

How long have you been trading?

We started trading on the same day that Tim Berners-Lee unleashed the internet on the world in 1989. Famously, I was quoted five years later as saying: “posting properties on the internet to sell them will never take off!”

In what ways do you help estate and letting agents?

It would be easier to list how we don’t. From our initial consultancy which explores the exit plan, we ensure business continuity, effective communications, maximizing profit and growth strategies.

Along with this, we engage with the VTUK tribe to constantly evaluate “what’s next”. Currently, that is pretty much, creating new tools and strategies to gain new instructions.

What is the most important thing agents should consider when looking for a new software provider?

Often we talk to new clients who spend a long time evaluating a product for current functionality. The sad truth is that the industry is changing so fast that the real consideration should be, how fast will this company act on potential legislative and market pressures to deploy new upgrades.

From our research, most agencies only use 23% of the available functionality in their systems so a huge consideration to implementation and training would be the equivalent of a 77% benefit.

How has property software developed in the last five years?

In 80% of cases I would say it hasn’t. We were the first to produce the concept of client portals in 2011 and since then most systems have remained as useful CRM systems.

The fact is that after 27 years of development, the 'base system' is about as good as it can be without getting super complicated (refer back to only 20% being used) so development now needs to be in creating additional modules, connectivity and collaboration, whether that with other agents, suppliers or the local community.

How can agents benefit from the rise of 'PropTech'?

I am not sure that “benefit” is the right word, as, if we could roll back 30 years, life seemed pretty beneficial as it was with zero tech. But if it’s, ‘how can agents 'compete’ with 'tech’ then the answer is, “On an equal footing with every opposition no matter how big or small, agile or wealthy.

All of the keys to success, profit, growth, communications and business continuity are under pinned by technology. Like money, you can’t make a sad person happy with money but you can make a happy one ecstatic – that’s the same with tech and agency, it needs a solid foundation but boy, can it accelerate evolution.

What is the biggest challenge facing estate and letting agents at the moment?

In a consolidating and changing market, it's literally maintaining position. As Darwin said, it’s not the strongest of the species that survive but those that adapt the quickest to change. Driving this survival is the need for instructions, pressure on fees, 24/7 data on demand, staff retention and creating a holistic, joined up offering that maintains investment by stakeholders over a long term strategy.

What is your greatest achievement in your current role and what made it so special?

It was this morning. Waking up after 27 years and still having the excitement and commitment to come up with something truly in the mould of 'breakthrough technology' and no, I can’t tell you what it is yet!

What is the most satisfying part of your job?

It is a privilege every day to work with the most vibrant, energetic, innovative and professional team that I have experienced. Making a real difference to the central and most important place of our lives – the home, for owners, renters, relocators and homeless in the UK and Worldwide. In fact, I think I’ll use that on my LinkedIn profile.

What is your property prediction for the remainder of 2016?

This isn’t as hard as it seems, as we are almost into 2017. My feeling is that focus should be on creating a multi-channel agency and not shying away from the Hybrid model. If you haven’t yet, get out a yellow post-it on your monitor saying 'new homes' and finally undertake a full audit of your lettings and management data, compliance and accounts. 

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