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In the last issue of All Magazine, Andy Pointon explained the delicate juggling acts required to balance the challenges of investment and development in creating a viable build to rent scheme. In the latest edition of All Magazine’s build to rent series, Allsop’s Head of Mobilisation, Matt Smith, discusses the importance of mobilisation in creating a successful build to rent scheme.

 

Why is mobilisation crucial for a build to rent scheme?

 Historically, the rental market in the UK has been dominated by product originally designed for owner occupation and converted to rental, with less consideration given to a renter as the primary audience. Purpose build to rent schemes being designed and built today cater specifically for the renter, and centre entirely around the consumer’s needs, their ‘product’ experience and a lifestyle offer.

 

What do you mean by mobilisation?

While it involves everything from looking at lift usage patterns and creating multi-million-pound operational budgets to figuring the best pet wash location and choosing the best communal coffee roast, mobilisation essentially boils down to maximising the potential of a building for occupation, both for the investor/management and customers. We ensure our experience of managing buildings feeds in to the design process to inform operational efficiency, optimising space and best in class customer journey. The goal is for a building to run like clockwork and for our customers to have a seamless and delighted experience at every touchpoint from the moment of first engagement and for that to happen, every facet of the asset, product and service, needs to be considered and managed.

 

What are the benefits to investors?

Maximising a building’s potential is a win-win for the customer, owner and operator, which is always of benefit to the investor. Where all considerations are mapped out and put in place during the mobilisation period, we can ensure that when the development is launched, lease up rates and rents are maximised and that high level investment performance is sustained.

 

How do you mobilise a building?

Mobilisation involves taking the architectural plans for the building, from six to 12 months before practical completion, and examining how these can be optimised to best suit the tenants of the building and the management. It involves thinking about how customers will want to use the building and influencing the design to reflect these usage patterns. Whether this involves altering the bathroom to create new storage space, or minimising dead space in the corridors, mobilisation can greatly increase the quality of the end user experience. The fun part is then bringing the building to life.

 

Why is mobilisation a relative unknown?

An unfortunate consequence of a successful mobilisation is that most of the work goes unseen, as it’s often only when problems emerge that the importance of mobilisation is appreciated. But if no-one has thought about worst-case scenarios, such as what happens to all the new technology when the power goes out, or planned how 100 people are going to move into the building on the first weekend, then the building hasn’t been mobilised correctly. If mobilisation had a motto perhaps it would be Murphy’s Law – anything that can go wrong will go wrong!

 

How can mobilisation benefit everyone?

Mobilisation is often about finding mutually beneficial solutions to problems. For example, how can customers be encouraged not to wheel their bikes (and the dirt, rain and mud that entails) through reception, into the lift, and through their apartment to the balcony? By installing fit-for-purpose bike lockers in the building, we can make life easier for the customers, while also reducing maintenance costs for the owner.

Similarly, we’ve sourced and placed parcel lockers in The Forge, a new 283-apartment purpose-built build to rent scheme that will be the first of its kind to be completed in Newcastle. These state-of-the-art lockers not only make life easier for residents, who benefit from their own post office, but also make the building more efficient, by avoiding the need for the concierge to become a sorting office.

By adding to the lifestyle offering available to tenants, these amenities become a real selling point for the building and can also produce additional income for the investor.

 

Is it only amenities?

Whether by choice or necessity, people in the UK are now taking a more European, long-term approach to renting. This means they are looking for a greater sense of community, which we are meeting by altering designs to increase the amount of communal space in our buildings.

We also consider trends in technology and lifestyle, in order to futureproof the building as much as possible.

 

What about the bottom line?

Ultimately, mobilisation is about trying to create a product that is 100% based around customer service and making life as easy as possible for these customers. Today’s rental market means that people will move if they have a reason to. By mobilising a building effectively, we can make life as easy as possible for our customers, thereby giving them a reason to stay, and in doing so, maximising the rental income of the building for investors.

Allsop’s expertise covers all aspects of the BTR sector. Our services include research & consultancy, analysis & viability, development, management, valuation and investment.


Notes to editor

Allsop’s expertise covers all aspects of the BTR sector. Our services include research & consultancy, analysis & viability, development, management, valuation and investment.

Contact

If you would like to get in touch with Matt, please contact him:

matt.smith@allsop.co.uk or +44 (0)113 290 2516