Nat Daniels, CEO of Angels Media and The ValPal Network tells us about publishing leading online news and the property market.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Nat Daniels: It’s been tough, but we have all settled into the work from home status. Fortunately, we implemented Teams just before the lockdown, so all of our staff are working very well on that. Obviously, I will claim I had knowledge of the lockdown, hence putting in TEAMS!
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Angels Media and The ValPal Network.
Nat Daniels: The company, Angels Media, morphed out of another business. I had a mortgage lead generation business and set up an online publication for the mortgage industry. When that got hit very hard in the previous crash, we pivoted into opening online property magazines. Estate Agent Today is now the number one trade magazine for estate agents in the UK.
I was initially in mortgages and financial services and went online in 2000 with online lead generation for estate agents and mortgage advisers. Of late, we have created www.valpal.co.uk, a widget that sits on agents’ websites and offers instant online valuations to their visitors. This is essentially an online lead capture form. We generate around 75,000 valuations per month for our agents and have 4,000 member branches across the country.
How do Angels Media and The ValPal Network innovate?
Nat Daniels: We create all our software in house and have a small IT/development team to create that. One of our strengths is that we lead from the front in creating new online platforms for the property industry.
How has the coronavirus pandemic affected your business finances?
Nat Daniels: Initially, it did, with the whole market shut down. But, luckily, we were one of the first industries Boris opened up because we are multipliers. This, coupled with the stamp duty holiday, has meant that we are busier than ever. I thank our lucky stars for that.
Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources, and what are the lessons learned?
Nat Daniels: Yes, we had a few staff on furlough and unfortunately had to make a couple of redundancies very quickly. We are now coming out of that situation with most staff now back.
How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
Nat Daniels: We have taken a few staff on to help with ‘customer start service’ as we have found that that is the number one thing in order to maintain our retention of clients.
Did you benefit from any government grants, and did that help keep your business afloat?
Nat Daniels: We did take advantage of the coronavirus business loan interruption scheme, as well as a furlough. Fortunately, we have not had to call on it in full.
Your final thoughts?
Nat Daniels: I guess having one’s finger on the pulse and being aware of my staff’s workload and mental health requirements. Our staff are our most important assets – if they are happy, our clients are happy.