As we enter the next phase of our national lockdown, it’s fair to say our lives are adjusting to circumstances that would have been unthinkable just a couple of months ago.
Whilst these challenging times have been difficult for everyone, I believe this adversity has brought out the very best in our colleagues, our customers and us as a company.
It’s been an extremely busy few weeks. Our initial response to lockdown was shaped by the need to keep our staff and our customers safe, as well as to restructure our business to adapt quickly.
For our customers
We feel closer to our customers than ever before. To ensure we continue to provide the highest levels of service, in just a few weeks, we have:
- Created an extensive library of Frequently Asked Questions on our website to address pressing questions relating to the housing market and COVID-19
- Almost overnight, set up a network of 110 branches to work from home. Our offices may be shut, but we are still working, receiving calls and ready to help.
- Created our new “Personal Valuation Service” allowing sellers to show our managers around their home virtually with FaceTime or WhatsApp video, from which we can provide a valuation and answer questions.
- Almost one in five of our homes benefit from Virtual Viewings online. Every day more homes are being added with “Virtual Walkarounds” that we are arranging with sellers to give buyers a real feel for the property.
- We launched our “Nearer to Hospitals Scheme” providing discounted rents on properties to NHS staff, allowing them to be closer to where they are needed most. In addition, our mortgage provider, Mortgage Matters Direct, put together an exclusive package for our NHS heroes, including zero fees and a well-deserved luxury hamper.
For our colleagues & our communities
Wards is more than just a company. I believe that business is all about people, so it is important to me that our staff feel valued and respected at work, enabling them to deliver exceptional customer service. I took the decision to ensure all our staff, furloughed or not, would be paid their full salaries in March, April and May. Alongside this, my senior management team took a reduction in their pay to ensure that this could happen.
The efforts and commitment of our staff over the past weeks have made me extremely proud, from the extra hours they have put it in to keep in touch with customers, to the volunteer work within their local communities, such as delivering supplies to the vulnerable. It is clear that these efforts have not gone unnoticed and I have heard countless stories from customers thanking us.
I thought I would share a few of the comments we have received. Thank you, they really mean a lot to us all.
“In these especially difficult times, the service and support has been exemplary”.
"We had a phone call from the Branch Manager who, because of the Coronavirus, offered to bring us anything we needed during our isolation”
"I especially appreciate you taking my call on Bank Holiday Monday and after hours”
“The local supplier list for deliveries is appreciated”
“I have not felt for one minute that I have been forgotten about”.
Finally, we have always believed we have a responsibility to give something back to the towns and villages we work in. This crisis is putting great strain on communities, so we have made £66,000 available to specifically support families with children with complex needs who are experiencing hardship during this difficult period.
We also want to demonstrate our appreciation to all key workers across our region, which is why we have changed our sale boards to give thanks to those that are putting themselves on the line to keep us all safe.
At times like this, we must all stand together. Whether you are a present, future or past customer of ours, we are here to help.
I hope you and your family stay safe and look forward to brighter days in the not too distant future.