As our business, teams and stakeholders have quickly adapted to new ways of working, we wanted to discover the creative ways that we have continued to drive forward our business in a lockdown.
We have spoken to our own experts to find out how their day-to-day duties have been impacted by social distancing measures. Over the coming weeks, they will be sharing the biggest challenges they are facing and the measures they are taking to keep delivering in lockdown – from leasing industrial and logistics units to virtual-selling new homes.
David Binks, Senior Director – Leasing & Markets, is responsible for coordinating leasing activity within St. Modwen Industrial & Logistics. Here, he shares how his team is using technology to continue working with its agents and consultants, as well as pitching for new opportunities, remotely.
“I am David Binks, Senior Director responsible for leasing and markets within St. Modwen Industrial and Logistics. My role is to co-ordinate the leasing activity within St. Modwen’s dedicated industrial and logistics business unit ensuring that we are doing all we can to lease our developments and void in the managed estate as quickly as possible. I also monitor the market to ensure that we invest in developing our pipeline in the most active markets. I am also responsible for our building relationships with our key customers and target customers.”
What has been the biggest challenge you have faced as a result of the lockdown and social distancing measures?
“The biggest challenge that I have faced has been ensuring that the leasing activities continue during lockdown and progressing leasing discussions on those lettings that were occurring before the lockdown commenced. Encouragingly, we have also agreed a number of new lettings during this time.”
What changes, adaptations or new measures have been required in order for you to keep delivering effectively under lockdown?
“Some of the changes we have had to resolve include getting legal documents signed. Social distancing has also meant that we are not able to conduct inspections with prospective customers. We have also been looking at our promotional material to ensure that we can provide customers with video and other digital content for our developments.
“We have also had to adjust some of our agreements with customers when delivering alterations to buildings as our suppliers have not been able to attend buildings or sites to complete works.
“Naturally, some of our customers have been reluctant to progress leasing transactions so we have worked closely with them to understand their concerns and, where we can, we have adapted our approach to unlock those conversations and continue the process.”
How have your stakeholders adapted and how are you maintaining relationships during this time?
“We work a lot with agents and external consultants. With agents, we are continuing to hold our marketing meetings using Microsoft Teams, and they have adapted well to this new way of working.
“We have also had a number of presentations from our agents to understand the impacts of the crisis on the market. This has given us an insight into how we can adapt to changes in the market and our customers’ requirements as we emerge from the lockdown and into the future.
“We have even pitched for some new opportunities using Microsoft Teams during this time. This is a challenge as part of the pitching skill is to build a relationship with the other side which is harder to do when not face-to-face.
“As we have reduced our reliance on external consultants, we are drawing further on our own resources and using our in-house design and external comms teams to help maintain momentum and raise awareness of our developments.”
How has your team had to adapt to remote working?
“As a team that was already adept at working remotely – and from across any number of our development sites nationally – we continue to hold regular Microsoft Teams meetings, encouraging people to turn on their video on so that we can still interact with each other. We also use WhatsApp to share stories and market intelligence.”