Building business resilience
While 2020 floored many others with COVID-19-related challenges and lockdowns in South Africa and around the world, the Century 21 team was prepared. Thanks to the company’s culture of embracing PropTech innovation, the majority of Century 21 branches had already been using PayProp, some since 2012.
To see how this helped the business throughout 2020, we spoke to some of the biggest rental portfolio managers and the senior leadership team from the South African business.
South African CEO Harry Nicolaides, who is based in the Johannesburg head office, says Century 21 came out of the first lockdown eager and raring to go.
As Harry explains, using PayProp across the majority of the network has allowed the company to run its rental business effectively and remain resilient in the face of market dips and rises. Cloud-based automation makes Century 21 more efficient and profitable, he says.
We are not technical or financial people, he adds.
We deal with property and therefore want to use the best technology available to make our day-to-day lives easier.
Harry also emphasises the importance of accurate data when selecting a technology partner.
We need accurate information that is always available on tap – to be referred back to in case of a dispute or audit.
Future-proofing their portfolio
While a long history of success in property sales has carried the 50-year-old brand through other difficult periods, Century 21 has seen a surge in demand for property rentals in recent years. At present, around 60% of its local franchises manage a rental portfolio in addition to sales, operated through a growing network of 420 rental agents.
Eva August, National Operations Manager, explains how Century 21 – like so many of its competitors – has realised the golden opportunity for recurring revenue offered by the rental market, supporting buyers and sellers in the long term.
PayProp is a life saver if you’re interested in building, growing and managing a rental portfolio, she adds.
Efficiency is everything as time can kill deals – something I preach a lot at work. I’m always in a rush to get results and PayProp keeps up with my demand for quick and accurate numbers.
Century 21 has also benefited from using digital technology as a selling point when approaching new business prospects. Landlords in particular show significant interest in the platform’s security features which protect all aspects of how their money is handled.
Immediate impact at all levels
As well as enhancing the productivity of management across the company’s franchises, adopting PayProp across the majority of its property rental branches has made a huge difference from day one. The Century 21 office based in East London is just one of many success stories.
Aside from the visible timesaving, improved accuracy and smoother running of the office, Gena praises PayProp’s ease of use and onboarding process – a crucial part of introducing any new technology.
It’s an easy and user-friendly platform that prompts you throughout. And we could get in touch with the PayProp team as much as we needed until we had everything up and running.
In her team, some of their most important features include the letters of demand and the daily reports.
PayProp is everything we expected it to be. Sometimes we look at each other and say we could never do without it.
Gena also has the unique position of experiencing PayProp from a customer perspective too.
I personally rent from an agency that uses PayProp, and as a tenant I get the same high level of service and information that we deliver to our clients.
Savas Nicolaides agrees that PayProp’s efficiency is one of its biggest strengths.
Staying connected and informed
As the Century 21 network in South Africa covers such a wide geographical area, both staff and clients have become accustomed to communicating at a distance.
Eva August explains how the company had to pivot at pace and find better ways of connecting that allowed new sales and rentals to continue, even when physical viewings were not taking place.
As the first lockdown started easing, we found that new systems of connecting would now be a permanent way of working. We’re very grateful that systems like PayProp – which facilitate automation remotely – allow us to continue connecting with clients, whether we can travel to work or not.