2020 - Reflecting on a year of innovation, resilience and Zoom.
As we come to the end of what has been an incredibly challenging year for many, I have been reflecting on the positive stories and how many have come together to ensure communities continue to function.
When the world turned on its axis all the way back in March, and millions of people were forced to minimise contact with others, it fundamentally changed our lives. From the abandonment of offices, to Zoom quizzes and banana bread we all had to find a way to live in the ‘new normal’ - but there were also unforeseen consequences in our industry.
Many housing associations, local authorities, councils and landlords were forced to walk a difficult line between ensuring properties are well maintained, while also making sure residents are safe and protected. Repairs were still necessary, maintenance work still needed to be carried out, but with the added pressure of not making unnecessary visits to residents’ homes. Housing providers moved to only carry out emergency work, which then created a backlog of works once restrictions finally eased. In addition, contractors were at risk of losing a large proportion of their income with fewer jobs than usual, creating the perfect storm for everyone involved in the industry.
While we didn’t envisage this crisis, Plentific was founded to make housing work better for everyone and I am proud that we were able to step in and support the ecosystem. We helped housing providers and landlords manage their works and keep jobs flowing to contractors, while also keeping residents safe and happy. In fact, throughout 2020, Plentific has facilitated almost 180,000 jobs across the UK and Germany - including nearly 30,000 at the height of the initial restrictions between March and June. We’ve enabled housing providers to carry out essential works when needed and helped clear the backlog, but we have also been able to keep over 1,600 local businesses in work.
We’ve also heard some incredibly positive stories from the community, from contractors going above and beyond to help residents in their time of need, to individuals changing their lives by learning a trade. Being part of an industry that has pulled together to support each other through difficult times has been a shining light in a difficult year.
Supporting our clients
Despite a big shift in the way we work, this year has shown us just how important it is to keep innovating. It has brought into focus the myriad ways clients need to be able to use our platform, as well as the multiple forms of organisation that can benefit from our technology. The team has worked incredibly hard to release 43 major product updates throughout 2020, including allowing landlords to assign work orders to their DLO and appointed contractors, as well as post jobs to the marketplace. We’ve also added compliance capabilities following the acquisition of X Tag further increasing the scope of the platform, as well as launched the DPS marketplace alongside Notting Hill Genesis and Peabody. Expanding the functionality to become a Platform-as-a-Service solution, allows clients to use Plentific in the way that is most appropriate for their organisation, whether they are a social housing provider, local authority, estate agent, private landlord, property manager - or any other type of landlord.
As the housing and property sector continues to grow, so too do the challenges. Understanding the priorities and core concerns of the sector has been absolutely crucial to Plentific’s growth and this year we launched PropertyLab, an incubator programme, to collaborate with those at the centre of the storm to create products and services that truly help. This year we’ve tackled issues in compliance, resident satisfaction and voids management and the wheels are now in motion for four new products, all now being trialled by clients and set for release in 2021.
The Plentific platform is now used by 55 housing associations, local authorities, councils, managing agents and landlords to manage 250,000 properties. In Germany, meanwhile, we have rapidly grown from one city at the start of 2020, to 20 today, meaning a 1700 percent increase in the number of units managed through the platform. Contractors are also flocking to Plentific in Germany and, through the course of the year, the number of registered contractors fulfilling works has grown by 4200 percent. Our short term vision is to hit the 1 million properties under management mark rapidly.
Growth in challenging times
Of course, none of this would have been possible without the incredible Plentific team who have not only adapted to a significant change in the way they work, but thrived. In March, just like many others, we were forced to close our offices and move to working from home and the team adapted brilliantly, taking to Slack, Zoom and Google Meet to keep productivity high, communication open and support one another through difficult times. And the team who left the office in March, now looks somewhat different as we have welcomed 108 new staff through the year. Our HR team worked overtime to read through nearly 20,000 CVs and interview almost 2,000 applicants, while the wider team has pulled together to welcome and onboard new team members, bringing them into the Plentific family - even if from afar.
And, if that wasn’t enough for the year, we were also thrilled to be named one of Deloitte’s Technology Fast 50 as one of the fastest-growing companies in the UK; have our work with Notting Hill Genesis and Peabody be highly commended in the Innovator of the year: technology category at the UK Housing Awards; and be shortlisted for the Most Collaborative Business Award at the PropTech Awards.
As we head into 2021, I want to thank all of our clients, partners, contractors and the Plentific team for making the year a success, despite the challenges. There are no doubt more difficult times ahead of us, but if we all pull together and support one another I am confident we will continue to see communities thrive and have many more good news stories to tell. To keep up-to-date with what is happening at Plentific and in the wider industry in 2021, including our Fresh Perspective interviews with industry leaders, sign up to The Edit, our weekly newsletter, here: https://www.plentific.com/client/the-edit.
Wishing you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from the whole team at Plentific.