We’re just over a week into new national measures introduced by the Government to protect us against the spread of coronavirus. We wanted to provide you with an update on what Cheffins has been doing as a business and how we’ve continued to adjust the way we run our business so that we can continue to help and support our clients during lockdown.
We’ve all been presented with challenges and yet there have been many moments when I have been reminded of why our business started 195 years ago. As our staff and Partners have come together to help one another to provide an ongoing service to our clients, it has been a timely reminder of the ethos of our business ‘To make life easier and more rewarding for our clients, by providing them with the best advice, outstanding service and excellent value for money.’
Fundamentally Cheffins is a ‘people’ business and not being in the office has been a logistical hurdle but one we have managed to clear by redeploying our teams to work from home with all the necessary technology to enable us all to keep in touch with our clients.
We wanted to help as many people as possible who truly needed to move house. I’m proud of the way in which our Lettings team has managed to register new tenancy applications, arrange virtual viewings, secure tenancy agreements by e-documents and move tenants in. Some of this has taken military precision planning so that we continue to abide by the social distancing guidelines but we have managed it. With so many people at home surfing the internet we are still taking enquiries on houses and vendors have been happy to arrange ‘virtual viewings’ by giving tours of their homes using mobile technology. The sales team have also been hard at working keeping deals together with many calls between purchasers, vendors and their respective solicitors.
While our auctions are temporarily postponed, our valuers in both our Machinery and Fine Art auctions are conducting viewings online by email with images, Skype, FaceTime or WhatsApp and taking enquiries on the auctions which have been postponed. We haven’t been asked to value anything by carrier pigeon yet but I’m sure we could manage if that is your preferred method of contact.
Our Commercial teams are agreeing rent reviews and liaising with landlords and tenants during these difficult times. Unsurprisingly, we have received some requests for rent rebates/holidays from tenants. By dealing with these pro-actively, we hope to make a positive difference for some of the worst affected businesses and our landlord clients who are faced with a significant reduction in income.
Agriculture and farming continues unabated with the team working hard to complete Basic Payment Scheme applications before the deadline of 15th May. And for Planning, the Coronavirus (Emergency) Act 2020 will give Councils in England the ability to hold virtual meetings to enable the planning system to continue to function during lockdown. In fact our Planning Team has managed to secure Class Q prior approvals for change of use from an agricultural building to a dwelling since the lockdown began.
All of us at Cheffins recognise that the coming weeks will test our adaptability and resilience but we are dedicated to supporting our clients and their interests at all times. Together we will work hard to find the best way forward.
Bill King, Chairman.