In her latest blog Chief Executive Elspeth Mackenzie explains the thinking behind Thrive Home’s new business model, which aims to support growth and build resilience in an uncertain operating environment.
One of the biggest challenges for any business is determining how to best serve its customers and ensure it is able to continue doing so into the future. This is particularly challenging – but even more vital – in the ever-changing, uncertain times we currently face.
At Thrive, we have been asking ourselves what kind of business we need to be to continue to build and manage affordable homes in some of the UK’s most expensive areas, where there is an acute housing shortage, enabling people to live in homes they would find unaffordable in the private sector.
We’ve been thinking about this very carefully and recognise that we have to be really clear that our business is being a landlord and property manager. We’re focusing on ensuring that our core services really work and that customers receive what’s important to them – good value homes which are safe, affordable and provide security that enables people to make long term plans.
A fair deal
We are introducing this new business model – the ‘Thrive Deal’ – over the course of this financial year, starting with our new customers. The idea is that it will deliver clarity about what we do in return for the level of rent they pay and their responsibility for the upkeep and basic care of their home.
The Deal is based on self-service through digital or telephone channels with service delivery on a next convenient appointment basis. This helps Thrive to control costs and manage demand.
Our Customer Experience Panel has worked with us in developing this new business model. The panel has supported our plans, worked with us to determine how to measure customer satisfaction and will be closely monitoring how the Deal works in practice.
From an operational point of view, we have rebuilt our organisation around delivery of core services with the intention that the majority of routine services will be delivered either digitally or through our Customer Contact Centre.
This will enable us to target more expensive technical resources where these are really needed. Through focusing our business in this way and making greater use of technology, we have reduced headcount within the organisation by 18%.
This is a very bold step for a relatively small housing association but Thrive has real ambition and we believe that fundamental change is needed to reposition housing associations in ways that are appropriate for the future. To be proud of the great value that we offer our customers and enable us to compete with the new entrants – for profit providers and hybrid organisations with offers outside of the regulated sector that we are starting to see in our markets.