Steve Harriott, CEO at Tenancy Deposit Scheme – the RLA’s Depositguard provider – discusses the serious fire which destroyed the company’s head-office.
He said: “I’ve always firmly believed that TDS’s biggest strength is the expertise, dedication and attitude of our colleagues.
“The fire at our head office just two weeks ago put that theory to the test and confirmed my belief.
“If you haven’t heard; at around 4pm on Wednesday, January 9, a serious fire broke out at our head office in Hemel Hempstead.
“Thankfully all 89 colleagues based there were swiftly evacuated safely and without injury.
“The fire destroyed the first floor and roof of the building. It was tough to watch for me personally and our team, but rather than panicking, every single member of staff pulled together to ensure that the vital service we provide to our members and customers continued.
“We have regularly planned for situations like this and when it came down to it, our business continuity plan stood up to the toughest of tests.
“Due to our robust systems and planning, our online services continued uninterrupted and all deposits and data remained protected. As the fire took hold, we were already planning our next move.
“We informed our members of the situation and continued to provide updates and information through our website, social media channels, member newsletters and the local and property media as we realise that letting agents, landlords and tenants would, understandably have been concerned about the continued protection of their tenancy deposits and data.
“By 9am the next day, all of our core services were back up and running, and we brought our telephone and email service on line by 2pm. In fact, many of our customers did not notice any change in our services.
“Over the weekend we moved into our fully equipped, interim office in Hemel Hempstead and when our colleagues arrived on Monday morning, it really was business as usual.
“Even more impressively, despite working remotely or in our temporary office space, our customer service teams had their call-answering times back to an industry-beating 28 seconds the day after the fire.
“You can plan and drill as much as you like but you never expect something like this to happen. To lose your headquarters to a fire like this and to not miss a step is astonishing.
“While I wouldn’t wish to go through the experience again, I believe the way our team came together to show composure, resilience and professionalism has served to build an even stronger TDS.
“Our premises may change, but TDS is so much more than the building, it is the great people and the service they provide.
“I would like to recognise the brave firefighters at Herts Fire & Rescue, Dacorum Borough Council and all of our fantastic letting agent members who offered to help and sent messages of support. There are too many to name, but all were deeply appreciated.
“2019 may not have got off to the start we imagined it would, but we’re here, stronger than ever and focussed on continuing to provide our customers with the great levels of service they deserve and expect.”