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Bespoke software saves tour operator ‘an army of call centre staff’

A simple web-based management system created by Meantime IT has saved Nicholas Homes Group “a UK call centre and an army of extra staff.”

The family-run company is one of south-west Turkey’s leading tourism service providers and property developers, and the management system Meantime built with Nicholas Homes Group has helped the property developer to grow from one small hotel to four hotels and over 900 apartments and villas.

Despite this huge growth, the company employs just 30 permanent members of staff.
The time saving systems built into Nicholas Homes Group’s web-based system, which allows owners to take care of every aspect of their overseas property over the internet, have automated processes to such an extent that everything from arranging airport transfers or grocery deliveries, right through to renting to holidaymakers can be done at the click of a mouse.

And as well as providing a unique selling point for buyers, Nicholas Group’s system – known as Bing (Business Information Nicholas Group) – has saved the company significant overheads, allowing it to invest in more property and expand the business.

“Without Bing, we’d need a call centre in the UK and an army of people to carry out the number of functions it does,” says Janet Schofield, IT business manager for the Nicholas Group.

“As it is, we have just four UK staff and have managed to create a valuable sales tool that enables owners to manage every aspect of their property from anywhere in the world. It’s eliminated a huge amount of overheads in terms of premises, administration staff and marketing.”

Fenner Pearson is Meantime’s managing director. “The work we did with Nicholas was a great example of how we can assist a business through the very process of building them software,” he explains. “The customer relationship management system (CRM) we built enabled Nicholas to get all their customer data organised and in one place and gave them an opportunity to re-engage with their customers; the property database we developed became the underlying driver for their sales website; and finally the contracts database connected the customers to their properties. From here it was a small step to build the applications to support customer services, with respect to the maintenance of customers’ properties. Long before the system was completed, we were adding value to Nicholas Group’s business.”

The sophistication of the Bing system gives Nicholas Homes a clear advantage over competitors. “We are not aware of any other property developers that have an owner’s website or anything similar,” says Janet. “It’s a great USP for us, and prospective buyers are always very impressed by it. If you own a property in Turkey and live in the UK you can’t be on hand to deal with every little thing. Our system gives owners the confidence to know that they can still be in control of their property, wherever they are.”

Nicholas Homes Group has grown rapidly from its humble beginnings, and Janet credits Bing with sustaining that growth. “We simply wouldn’t be where are now without it,” she says. “Take the holiday bookings, for example. It would take hours for each booking. Last year, we had 1500 owner bookings, each booking one or more services for any point over the next 12 months. If it wasn’t automated, we’d need a massive call centre and an army of people to handle the volume of calls and arrangements. Then on top of that we’d need a huge marketing budget just to get the calls coming in. We’ve moved away from that and focused everything purely on the website, where everything can be done in minutes.

“I can quite honestly say that without the Bing system we just couldn’t run our business.”

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