Better Know a B: Umega Lettings
We took the chance to catch up with Umega Lettings, a brilliant B Corp north of the border. Umega's mission is to set the standards of how a letting agent should be run, helping to encourage others will follow and the whole Scottish Private Rented Sector to grow.
Tell us a bit about the history of your company?
Umega was founded to make the private rented sector a better place to live. We saw the need for lettings companies to communicate and deal with landlords and tenants as people instead of assets or paychecks.
Why did you become a B Corp?
We became aware of BCorp through an organisation called Power of Youth and when we learned what BCorp was all about, we were SO ready for it. For 10 years we had been struggling to reconcile our values and way of doing business with why that made us a better business by any measure. The BCorp accreditation has helped us understand that relationship and align our business behind it. The accreditation process generated several incredibly valuable discussions and led to some fundamental changes to governance and worker engagement that has given us a much stronger foundation for our future.
What excites you about being part of the global B Corporation movement?
We're excited to see how far it can go. We're delighted to be part of it and to help in any way we can.
Can you tell us about the impact that your company is having in the world?
I genuinely believe we are making the private rented sector a better place to live. We are setting the example for how letting agents should behave and assisting Scottish Government with legislating around the sector. We are looking at the best of what we offer and how we can offer that more widely across our sector to increase our impact and that has lead us to some fantastic opportunities for our business. It's exciting working in our business and in our sector and we are only just getting started.
What benefits have you seen since certification?
Better decision making at the top of the organisation due to changes to our governance as a result of certification. We have started running an open book management system and we are taking this even further in ways that engage our team more in how the business works and this education leads to innovation and improved service levels across the board. In an industry like ours, that is invaluable. Our culture has never been so good.
How did your other staff react to the certification?
They don't really know what BCorp is and we've found it difficult to sell it to them. It's my hope that our accreditation will mean more to them in time when BCorp in Scotland makes bigger waves.
What has changed in your organisation as a result of taking the B Impact Assessment?
Governance/board members. Open book management. Increased confidence and understanding of our company identity which has been a big part of the improvement in our company culture.
What does the year ahead hold in store for your company?
We're launching a new service aimed at improving understanding and standards for independent landlords (those that don't use letting agents). We're adapting our core service to attract customers in the growing "build to rent" sector. We're launching a new initiative as part of our open book management where a %age of profits is ring-fenced and used to buy rental properties owned by our staff. This will reward loyalty, increase employee engagement and put our team in our landlords shoes. We are also targeting 40% growth of our core customer base.
Who is your B Corp crush?
It’s 2020, 5 years since you certified as a B Corp, what does the movement look like?
I'd like consumers and society to understand what BCorp is and for there to be a well understood body of evidence underlying the benefits to a business of running the B Corp way.
What is inspiring you at the moment?
Wales at the Euros and Andy Murray at Wimbledon