003 Special: The Impact of Coronavirus on Surveying Community

Just before the beginning of the lockdown, Marion Ellis and Phil Parnham discussed the possible impact of the coronavirus on the surveying community as individuals and businesses.

They shared their thoughts on what you can do to engage customers, the dangers of virtual surveys and the technology you can use.

The Benefits of Engaging With A Surveying Community

Everyone in our industry got worried about the impact of the coronavirus on our work and lives, especially the older surveyors who might be under greater risk of contracting the virus. However, since the start of the pandemic, The Surveyor Hub has been a place of dialogue and support with regards to the current situation.

 “One thing that is certain is that you can choose how you react to any situation,” says Marion. “As tough as it might be, I’m really pleased that the people in The Surveyor Hub feel they can share their anxieties with other surveyors.”

“In many ways, this virus feels like the new Brexit,” adds Phil. “Do you or don’t you go out? I’m glad that they can feel there’s a place where they can share their worries and concerns, and what’s been quite powerful is how people are sharing but also supporting each other.”

“Generally, the comments and discussions have been very supportive,” Marion continues. “Even in our little BlueBox crew there are some very different opinions on what we should be doing personally and professionally. But I think the Hub is quite a mature environment, that people can turn to for support and to share those doubts.”

How To Enhance The Relationships With Clients

Rules have been changing and surveyors have had to adapt after returning to work. With the new safety measures, the definition of a survey may need to change in the future.

“We’ve got to be really careful over what we call as a survey, and what we call advice and consultancy, and how it’s positioned to customers,” says Phil. “We’ve got to be careful that we don’t missell what we’re doing in terms of surveying, but there are definitely ways that we can add value now. Clearly, when you’ve not inspected a property, you can’t talk to the customer about the ins and outs of it, but what you can do is talk to them about the typical things that you would check for in certain types of properties, at certain ages of property, in certain locations. I think surveyors now should be offering a Power Hour to their customers, when they could speak to their estate agents, set up calls, and just talk to them about a property they might be interested in. Equally, if they’ve given a survey to somebody, they can follow up with that person and give a bit more value, perhaps offer some reassurance by talking them through the survey again, because customers just want to feel informed and empowered.”

Using Technology In Surveying

Although many surveyors are back to work, we should be ready for whatever future brings with this pandemic. The use of technology in surveying has been discussed for some years now, and new methods have been put to test.

“I started to look at what other industries are doing, where you’ve got people who need to visit properties,” says Marion. “The closest one would be an estate agency, and they go in with their 360 degrees cameras and wide angle shots, and draw up floor plans, etc. It’s gonna be the closest one when it comes to safety, thinking about home helpers and nurses for example, and it’s been interesting to follow what the estate agents are doing.”

“Then you got all the video conferences on WhatsApp and FaceTime, but somebody’s still got to go in to do the 360 degree photos,” Phil adds. “I just think there’s still a lot that could be done from your desktop, and that poses a possibility for surveyors in these times of crisis to link up with homebuyers, and maybe create a new product.”

The Surveyor Hub Conversations

Surveyors who need support from their peers, who want to keep in contact with other people, or who just want to get used to using video for communication, are welcome to join The Surveyor Hub conversations via Zoom.

“Also, we’re getting lots of small SMEs who want some help and advice, so I’m going to look at setting up something like SME Surveyor Hub. We’ll look to give some more support to the surveyors who are running their own businesses, and it just feels like the right time to do it. So if you’re working by yourself and you need a bit of support, then come and join our gang and we’ll see what we can do to help you move forward with the resources that we’ve got.”

Links and Resources:

The Surveyor Hub is a proud partner of Lionheart, the benevolent fund which supports RICS members and their families.