Case Study: Cottsway Housing
Cottsway Housing was originally a stock transfer from West Oxfordshire District Council, since then it has grown and developed and has around 5,000 properties now based across nine local authorities.
Collection Rate: 99.9%
Caseload Reduction: 63% 2,081 down to 768
Arrears: Lowest Ever Arrears 1.13%
Prior to using RentSense Cottsway were keen to streamline their income operations, as they had been using the same systems and processes when the stock was transferred across from the local authority, and according to Cottsway’s Income Manager, Wendy Hardy:
“Although performance was good there was an acknowledgment that our income function processes were both labour intensive and paper heavy. Essentially officers would run reports on a fortnightly basis and would work through their caseload each fortnight, but they were only getting through about 70%.”
At that time the organisation was going through a state of change and were on the cusp of a major development programme. What’s more they were beginning to work outside their usual local authorities, and it was at the time of fundamental welfare reform announcements by the coalition Government, all of which prompted an appetite for change within the organisation. The focus of which was revenue protection and central to that was modernising the income collection function.
Cottsway believed that the introduction of RentSense would help the income team ‘focus their time on the right cases’ and help eliminate the unresolved caseloads. Throughout the process Wendy ensured the income team were ‘bought into’ deploying RentSense, and involved them in the consultation and deployment.
“We wanted to move officers away from unsuccessfully trying to spend time on all accounts to focusing on the right accounts in the right order. Throughout the process they could see the benefits of using RentSense and they took to it straight away, because it is so easy to use and it made an immediate impact streamlining their cases.”
Prior to RentSense each officer had their own patch but there was very little visibility from a management perspective to see how they were performing. Now with RentSense not only can Wendy see, in real time, how officers are managing their caseload, everyone has visibility of one another’s patch.
“This insight is especially useful,” comments Wendy. “We can manage resources of the team so much more effectively, I get an instant overview and I can look to put in extra resources on to a patch when required. And importantly it’s not a complicated product, the simplicity is the beauty of the RentSense. I would simply have not been able to do this before.”
Not only has RentSense helped Cottsway mitigate welfare reform and further improve performance, but the levels of service have also been welcomed by Wendy and the team
“I’ve got a really good relationship with Mobysoft and always have had. If I’ve had a problem I know I can pick up the phone and speak to someone and responses around customer service is always very good. Helpdesk calls are answered very swiftly and I am given an expectation of when it will be answered,“ explains Wendy.
Cottsway, like all Mobysoft customers, have a dedicated Client Success Consultant and Account Director both of whom are responsible for assisting the client get the most out of their investment into RentSense.
“As a customer I always want to feel valued, so seeing our account manager on a regular basis is a great way of reviewing performance having a chat with the team,” comments Wendy. “They also take time to speak to the responsible director as well, so performance is fed up to the board, and it demonstrates we are getting a good return on investment.”
Enabling Agile Working
As part of their digital transformation drive, Cottsway are on the cusp of agile working, enabling them to be focused in the field and spend more time face to face with customers. This approach is in response to the changing landscape around welfare reform, encouraging people to get into work. This enables Cottsway to offer additional support to those tenants that need it.
RentSense has helped enable the income team to spend more time meeting tenants. They now spend first few days in the office and then the rest of the week out visiting, working through the priorities.
“Before the income team were more office based, Rentsense has helped with the shift to agile working and it enables us to offer more support to those tenants that need it from welfare reform,” comments Wendy.
Best Ever Results
Cottsway’s approach to revenue protection, prompted by a changing environment, has worked well, by updating processes, investing in RentSense and this has helped protect revenues
“The executive team place a real emphasis on income as they see this as our lifeblood, therefore it is critical we have the right resources in place to collect income. There is an acknowledgment from the directors that RentSense is a key tool in revenue protection,” highlights Wendy.
“RentSense has created officer capacity and given the team more time to focus on complex cases and the households that need the attention.”
RentSense has helped Cottsway’s income team focus on working on the right cases at the right time, and it helps differentiate between a true arrear and a technical arrear, and in the process it presents far fewer cases. Indeed the caseload reduction is 63%, whereby the HMS was presenting 2,081 cases a week whilst RentSense recommends just 768.
According to Wendy, ‘officers now spend more time on a case to get a better resolution.’ This in turn has helped Cottsway achieve a collection rate of 99.9% in 2016/17 and they realised their lowest ever arrears of 1.13%, smashing their year-end target of 1.87%.