As Chesterton Humberts is named letting agency of the year, Tim Harrison calls in on the Battersea office to discover the secrets of their success

Chesterton Humberts has been named letting agency of the year, winning the title at the 2013 Resi awards.

The achievement is a national award, but it reflects well on each individual branch, including the one at 6 Battersea Rise.

Lettings manager Alex Britez was in no doubt about the reason for the firm’s success. “The staff get us there,” he said, adding that the recognition meant a lot in an industry saturated with competitors.

Chesterton Humberts was singled out for customer service, something Alex believes holds the key to succeeding in the market in Clapham and Battersea, where the firm prioritises the customer’s needs above the company’s.

The Resi judges singled out Chesterton’s staff training as a critical element in determining the winning agency, highlighting the ‘money spent on specialist training for staff to encourage their personal and professional development’.

The firm set up a service improvement group, to analyse responses from customer satisfaction surveys to improve treatment of landlords and tenants.

Robert Bartlett, the CEO of Chesterton Humberts, received the award at the Hilton at a black-tie event attended by 900 people.

“This is a huge achievement, and shows how hard the entire team has worked to innovate and improve our service, to keep ahead of some very strong competitors,” he said. “I am extremely proud of the department, which is not only incredibly knowledgeable and professional, but also willing to go out of its way to meet the needs of our clients.”

The rental sector is regarded by many as even more competitive than sales, with new online rivals springing up all over the place. One way Chesterton Humberts has kept its nose in front has been the introduction of what the judges called ‘forward-looking online tenancy agreements’ to speed the lettings process.

The busiest lettings time of year is now upon us, as families rush to complete well in time for the start of the new school year, so how does Alex – who has been in the business nearly a decade – see the current market in the Battersea area?

“The rents have been increasing marginally as we build up to the busiest six months,” he said. “It’s very strong and vibrant in the summer months.”

The signs look good. Year on year, Chesterton Humberts has grown its lettings business in Battersea (020 7298 5630) by a phenomenal 70 per cent, comparing the last quarter with 2012’s equivalent.

Part of the growth is down to people finally getting round to doing in 2013 what they put off doing in 2012, but part is also down to Chesterton Humberts’ growth as a firm.

The past year has been one of expansion for the firm, which plans further new branches in the coming months to take the number of offices in the capital to more than 25.

The challenge, as every lettings manager knows, is to repeat the feat next year.

“We’ve reached the level we’ve strived for… and we don’t want to slip now,” said Alex, pledging a determined fight to cling on to the top spot in 2014. “It certainly keeps the pressure on us, year in, year out.”

Picture: Alex Britez, lettings manager at Chesterton Humberts in Battersea