As we say goodbye and good riddance to 2021, Tim Stafford, head of research at WBP Group, reflects on one of the businesses most challenging periods and looks at what’s in store for the year ahead.

After dealing with the stress and anxiety of the pandemic in 2020, didn’t we start 2021 with such high hopes! It was supposed to be the year we suppressed the virus and got back to our regular lives. However, for many people, 2021 turned out to be even more challenging than the previous year.

Over the last two years, WBP Group has dealt with a variety of complex issues that have challenged our entire business. But fortunately, the state governments considered the valuation industry an essential service, so we have remained open. Given the number of businesses that had to close, we have not taken it for granted.

The entire WBP Group team have risen to meet the challenge of the pandemic head-on, and CEO Brendan Smith has nothing but praise, saying, “despite numerous obstacles, WBP staff have all consistently shown exceptional teamwork, passion, dedication and enthusiasm. As a company, I know we’d be nothing without such a wonderful team who are so dedicated and motivated.”

While the last two years have been tough, we still achieved several key milestones. One of the most important was ISO 27001 certification, an accreditation that deals with how companies manage data security. As the threat of cybercrime continues to grow exponentially, this certification will ensure that when your order a valuation, you can do so with the knowledge that WBP Group will protect your personal information.

In 2004, WBP Group was the first valuation firm in Australia to introduce a proprietary wireless technology, which enabled our valuers to complete a property inspection with a tablet computer instead of pen and paper. It was revolutionary!

Because technology remains at the core of everything we do, WBP Group has partnered with Salesforce, the world’s largest digital CRM provider. And over the last two years, our IT team has been working diligently to integrate their cloud-based IT platform into our business.

The Salesforce platform will allow WBP Group to more rapidly adjust resources to meet the fluctuating and unpredictable demands of the valuation industry. It will also improve our ability to innovate as we strive to improve the speed and quality of each valuation report.

Over the last two years, the speed to market on a number of key initiatives has demonstrated just how valuable Salesforce is. In particular, when it became apparent the pandemic would make property inspections difficult, this new platform allowed us to develop an integrated virtual valuation solution. This virtual solution has helped keep our valuers and customers safe throughout the pandemic.

Another key milestone was the introduction of a customer feedback survey which has meant WBP Group can obtain real-time feedback on the service provided by our valuers. While we have always prided ourselves on our customer service, we were pleasantly surprised by just how positive the feedback was. When we asked our customers to score their experience with WBP Group out of 10, we averaged 9.3 throughout 2021. And this was from a response rate of 15%, a rate well above the norm.

What our customers say about us

The top 30 words that appear most frequently in our feedback surveys – July to December 2021

Last year also saw the promotion of several in-house staff to key leadership positions. The ability to promote from within is something we value highly, and the fact that a number of these promotions went to people who began their careers as cadet valuers at WBP Group makes us proud.

As we begin the new year, it has become apparent that the virus won’t be going away anytime soon. We will need to find a way to live with it. While this will be an ongoing challenge, it won’t stop WBP Group from celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2022.

What started in 1992 as a two-person operation in a small Melbourne office during the height of the recession “we had to have” has turned into one of the largest independently owned valuation firms in the country with nine offices across Australia.

While 2022 will be a year to celebrate all we have accomplished over the last 30 years, we won’t be resting on our laurels. We want to ensure every valuation report meets the highest standards of quality and reliability, so this year we will continue to expand our ISO accreditation to ensure our systems and procedures remain at the forefront of the valuation industry.

This year should also see us complete the integration of Salesforce into our business when we introduce a new application that our valuers will take out into the field.

One of the most significant challenges WBP Group and the valuation industry as a whole will face in 2022 is resourcing. Like many industries, 2021 saw a significant surge in business activity as the economy reopened. Valuation requests received by WBP Group in 2021 were 14% above 2020 levels and 18% above 2019 levels. We expect this trend to continue in 2022.

As we deal with this surge in demand, we will also face in 2022 the prospect of staff who are required to isolate. As we navigate through this period, we ask for your patience and understanding as we try our best to provide you with a valuation report in a timely manner.

The valuation industry desperately needs more valuers, and at WBP Group, we have plenty of positions available across the country. We encourage you to reach out and make contact if you are interested.

Finally, business is much easier when you have great customers, and WBP Group is lucky to have this in spades. We wanted to take this opportunity to thank all our customers for their continued support and understanding through the pandemic. We look forward to a time when we can see you face to face and thank you in person.

All the best for 2022!

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