20 August 2019

It has never been more important to articulate the value of having an effective asset management strategy.

The reason I’m saying that is while we have seen significant challenge from the government on strengthening tenancy (end of Section 21s), improving building safety (Hackett review) and consumer influence, priorities swing towards what gets measured gets done. The government’s ambition to deliver 300,000 extra homes a year by the mid-2020s would seem to be the overriding priority.

As a developing registered provider it can be easy to lose focus on your existing communities. The safeguard against this dereliction of duty is having a strong relationship with your customers.

At whg we have many ways of engaging with customers, from our board and committees, to focus groups and social media surveys. As a result of this ongoing dialogue, we’ve always had a focus on delivering what tenants want through our asset strategy.

To deliver our strategy, we co-designed with customers our ‘Great Homes and Neighbourhoods Standard’, which explains what customers can expect of their home, communal living areas and neighbourhoods.

Conversations with our customers made it clear that looking after the bricks and mortar of a home was not enough, and that they recognised the importance of place in their enjoyment of their home. As a result, our asset strategy takes into account the need to invest in both our homes and community spaces to create successful neighbourhoods.

Our strategy also recognises the important link between successful investment and customers’ ownership of their community. We have found the most successful investments are where customers have been involved, influencing the plans for their local area. One of our customer-involved schemes even led to power bill savings of 40%.

So what are the benefits to designing an asset strategy with tenants at the heart?

  1. You learn so much through the co-design process about what investment is necessary and how best to safeguard it through customer buy-in.
  2. You have a customer-led programme of works and a clear agenda for looking after your existing neighbourhoods.
  3. Customers can help assess whether or not your investment has been successful.
  4. It reinforces the link between investment and good day-to-day management. Your experience of living in your home and your enjoyment of your home cannot be separated into investment in decent homes, it goes way beyond into the experience of living in the neighbourhood.
  5. From a value for money perspective, it means we are not trying to second guess what our customers want. We hear first-hand what they want, and often what they don’t, making for better investment decisions.
  6. Finally, working with customers is fun, informative and reminds us what we are here for. I’d thoroughly recommend it!

Robert Gilham

Robert Gilham is Corporate Director of Business Strategy and Assets at whg

As a corporate director at leading Midlands landlord whg, Rob draws on nearly 30 years’ experience of the sector to strategically manage the Group’s business strategy and asset portfolio.

Having held several senior positions including Director of Housing and Corporate Director of Operations, Rob’s current role includes external affairs, communications, group wide performance policy and corporate planning along with the Group’s asset portfolio of repairs, major investment programs and neighbourhood planning.

Designing an asset strategy with the customer at its heart