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The Uber effect

Build to Rent specialist Moda Living has a forged a new partnership with the trendy money saving taxi firm, says Paul Staley. What can we learn from it?

Paul Staley

Moda Living & Uber partnership imageBuild to Rent developer, Moda Living, announced a partnership with taxi firm Uber, through which new tenants at purpose-built city centre schemes are offered £100 in Uber credit every month for agreeing not to have a parking space in the building.

While it may seem like a marketing stunt, I’d argue that it forms part of a wider debate about identifying with your target market.

At SDL Group, our work centres around the ethos of ‘blowing our customers socks off’ on a daily basis.

Arguably, the Uber partnership is driven by increased competition in London and other major cities. It’s been designed to create more sustainable developments, as well as freeing up space for more communal areas. Regardless of whether you view it as a PR stunt or savvy marketing initiative, it certainly demonstrates the growing need for PRS to become a more commercial and targeted proposition.

DEMANDING YOUNG TENANTS

The fact is, Generation Rent is rather demanding and, in many ways, not hugely loyal. It is a generation made up of multiplatform decision makers, who spend time doing in-depth research online and via social media to compare the offers available to them. As an industry, we need to be working harder to entice them in the first place and to encourage longer tenancies to maximise yields, exactly what Moda Living’s deal appears to have been designed to do.

Paul Staley image

Paul Staley

We are seeing more developments being built with this target market in mind, with all-inclusive rents and communal workspaces and wifi-hotspots. It’s a proven fact that tenants will stay longer if they make friends and form relationships and schemes are being created to do just that.

It is a trend that is predominantly London-centric and student-based, but is now starting to move out into high-rise blocks in other major UK cities and the wider residential market. In many respects, it is about creating that good old-fashioned sense of community but executing it in a much more modern and relevant way.

I can almost see us reaching a stage where city centre developments take on a class system, similar to that seen with hotels and airlines, with tenants paying premium rents for the very best, lifestyle-based extras. It really wouldn’t surprise me if we saw things like personal chauffeurs being offered at top-end schemes as the market becomes more and more competitive.

Of course, the major challenge for everyone involved in PRS is how to transfer this targeted approach to other areas too. How do we bring the same appeal to suburban, less dense environments? The first step is to identify what elements are important to those choosing to live on this kind of development.

Of course, well maintained, outdoor communal spaces are going to be important, and things like a dedicated, branded maintenance provision may be one solution to provide that little bit extra. However, in all of this, one thing is vital – do not lose sight of the basics. The danger is that the industry becomes so consumed in competing to offer the best ‘big ticket’ items, the little things begin to suffer and standards ultimately slip.

BLOW THEIR SOCKS OFF!

At SDL Group, our work centres around the ethos of ‘blowing our customers socks off’ and it is something that we all try to achieve on a daily basis. Headline grabbing initiatives are all well and good but sometimes being exceptional at the basics can be just as effective.

If we think of the sales market for a second, estate agents tend to be well-versed in catering to a specific market by picking a price bracket and working within it.

The same approach is now starting to filter out into lettings too, with several firms branding themselves and tailoring their offering to a specific audience. This is certainly something we will see more of as firms strive to find their place in a rapidly fractioning market.

PRS is still very much in its infancy and we have a long way to go in terms of growth. However, what is vital is that we all identify those tenants that we need to be alongside us on this journey and cater for them accordingly.

The adage of ‘you can’t be all things to all men’, certainly rings true in the quickly evolving world of PRS.

August 14, 2017

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