Guy Harrington, CEO and founder of Glenhawk, explains how being nice in the market goes a long way, and how the company benefits immensely from their customer service.
What makes Glenhawk so special in the property finance sector?
Because I’m a developer myself, and having been involved with developments for about 10 years – mainly in Central London and a few bits in the Midlands – it’s really our unique fee structure.
We don’t charge an admin fee, we don’t charge an exit fee, an early repayment fee, or an extension fee.
When a client comes to us and takes out the loan, if they come through a broker, it’ll just be an arrangement fee, but if they do come directly, there’s no such fee to pay.
For us in the market, and our offering of the bridging or development finance that we do, we’re unique in that respect.
The team we have, from both my experience and our underwriters’ experience, can fully understand the position that the borrower is in, and also makes sure that the borrower isn’t paying any crazy fees on top of just the normal interest rate. That’s how I believe we’re unique in our offering.
What does customer service mean to you?
It’s transparency. I know it’s one of those catchphrases that everyone uses, but I really believe we are different in the way that we operate, and that’s from being completely transparent with the clients.
To give you an example of that, we had a client recently who took out a loan with us, and they’d been quoted for the legal fees on our side – which they paid – and the solicitor said to us that it was less than they thought, to the tune of £500.
Most lenders at the end of the process would keep that money, but in our case, we turned round and said to the borrower, “you’ve overpaid by £500, here’s your money back.”
With that, the borrower was over the moon, and I think if you do little gestures like that, then that £500 that we sent back – which is something we’d do for every client that has excess legal fees with us – is worth its weight in gold as it shows we care for the customer.
To summarise, customer service for me is transparency, and little gestures like that, which prove we’re on their side and aren’t looking to rip anyone off.
Do you find gestures like this shows, in the way customers will return on the service you provide?
Yes, we do – only last week we had a guy, who we provided a £1.8m loan for a property down in Kent with a supermarket going on it, and the day after we finalised everything, he referred us already to another client, which was fantastic.
Direct referrals are wonderful, as they always come off word of mouth. A lot of deals come through brokers, but word of mouth for us is so strong.
What is unique or innovative about your product?
The handling of the client at our end. We’re building our own lending software platform to manage the loans with an integrated client management system, because we went out to the market and weren’t happy with what we saw out there, so we went, “let’s build our own.”
This translates to helping the client out, as not only are we doing property finance, but we’re also doing our own in house technology.
That certainly covers the innovation side, but from the unique side, it’s more how we deal with our borrowers. Any borrower speaks directly to a decision maker, and they’re carried through the whole process with them.
There are no cases of being passed to the credit committee, or being passed down the line to two or three other people while your case is handled – it’s handled with the same person the whole way along.