Working through this backlog was, quite frankly, a dauting task.
Especially during a time when the industry was still adapting to ever-changing Covid-19 restrictions and an uncertain future.
So, how are we now tackling this logjam while maintaining the safety, security and productivity of our surveyors out in the field during local lockdowns?
Many shifts in processes and procedures have been implemented and, getting back to basics, this starts when booking and arranging appointments.
We now ask the following questions:
- Are you or anyone in the household suffering from Covid-19 symptoms?
- Is anyone symptom free but self-isolating or in quarantine?
- Are you able to ensure all areas are open and accessible?
We then have to advise homeowners of exactly what will take place during the visit, what safety procedures we will take, which ones they need to take and make them fully aware that our surveyors will be wearing personal protective equipment (PPE).
PPE has now become the norm, and whilst universally accepted by both surveyors and customers, it’s nonetheless challenging during inspections and requires appropriate usage of masks and hand sanitiser at all times.
The initial process of acquiring sufficient PPE is an article in its own right.
With personal circumstances changing daily, whether that’s surveyors or customers displaying symptoms, our cancellation rates for inspection have naturally been higher than would otherwise be expected.
This creates its own challenges in terms of requiring additional case handling resources to cancel and rebook visits, as well as the inevitable knock-on effects this has on service levels.
We lose capacity from our workforce whilst surveyors self-isolate and test, and given the extremely high volume of current instructions, it’s often difficult to find a replacement diary slot as quickly as we would like.
In addition, our surveyors have always had a choice over whether to proceed with an inspection and have the option to cancel if they ever feel that it is unsafe to go ahead.
Our priority will always be to support the health and wellbeing of our people and our customers.
All these factors mean that some visits may unfortunately have to be cancelled and these are just a few of the many ongoing logistical issues that surveying firms are navigating on a daily basis.
Guidance is also changing in relation to local lockdowns and different locations.
We’ve been able to carry out valuation and survey inspections during local lockdowns as restrictions over tradespeople working in homes has largely been unaffected.
However, we await to see exactly how the new three-tier system will impact this moving forward; at its highest level, this may once again restrict all but essential workers.
Moving forward, we will constantly evaluate procedures, monitor government guidelines and share intel with clients, lending partners and across the Countrywide group to ensure we get the safety and productivity balance right – both out in the field and at our national operations centre in Derby.
The latest lockdown tiers announced by the government will mean a continuing revising of procedures to keep our people and customers safe, although as we speak guidance allows us to carry on as normal.
Finally, we are also entering reduced daylight hours especially with the clocks going back in a week, and so where we can, we will be looking to perform some appointments at the weekends to enable as many applications to progress as we can.