Herbert R Thomas (HRT) Estate Agents, with offices in Cowbridge, Neath and Bridgend, was first established in 1926 specifically to provide professional advice to the agricultural and rural community of Glamorgan – a role it continues to provide to this day. Almost 90 years later, the transformation seen within the real estate industry to increasingly online platforms was a day-to-day challenge for HRT given the slow broadband speeds available to the company.
The company, which employs over 35 people across its three branches, became one of the first to take up superfast broadband as soon as it became available in Cowbridge in the summer of 2014. As well as a thriving residential sales and rental department, Herbert R Thomas offers a dedicated Commercial Department to provide advice on investment acquisitions and disposals, development, office, retail, industrial agency, commercial valuations and property auctions.
Superfast broadband leads to dramatic improvements
Jayne Drummond, HRT’s Business Manager, said, “The introduction of superfast broadband has led to a dramatic improvement in both download and upload speeds from around 10mbps to 80mbps. The costs are also on a par with the old broadband system, so it’s a win win situation for us.
“We have been using specialist software designed for estate agents for a number of years. However, due to the old broadband system it was really slow and kept crashing. As soon as more than one person tried to log in and upload details the whole system would go down, causing us huge problems internally.
“Any members of the team can now log on to the system when we like. We are also able now to make use of all the software’s functions which we simply couldn’t take advantage of previously. Our staff as a result are much more productive and are not there anticipating that the system might go down and that all information would be lost any minute or to have to wait for it to reload after another crash. You can’t imagine how frustrating that was for everybody concerned!
“We had actually tried to introduce a Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) system a number of years ago, but the signal was so bad we abandoned it. However, we are looking to introduce this again now we have access to superfast broadband.
Improving customer service
“The business is also more efficient as any of the branches can now remotely log in to the main office for any finance matters as well as enabling homeworking if required. We are also able to offer an improved service for our customers through better connectivity and communication paths. We can also offer free wifi to our customers in the office which is a great bonus.
“We also now use iPads when we are out and about to take photos and details on site and then upload them seamlessly when back in the office. This would not have been possible before and all our data is now backed up on a cloud based server which again removes the worry about the server crashing!”