We think working at Touchstone is fantastic – but we don’t rest on our laurels. We've surveyed every colleague to find out how we can make our business the very best. We have an ongoing Brilliant Place to Work project, led by colleagues, which responds to the ideas raised and helps us to continually become even better.
It’s important to us that everyone feels involved in our business. We make sure colleagues across all our offices receive regular communication and updates, and we get together at colleague roadshows.
We do a lot of charity work, it’s a fundamental part of who we are and what we stand for. For the last two years many of our colleagues have been involved in our partnership with Habitat for Humanity. Teams from Touchstone have been out to Malawi to help build homes for orphans. The impact our work has made for these families has been incredible, and has been a life-changing trip for our colleagues too. Each office also selects a local charity to support so the local community can benefit and we have a volunteering policy where we match up to two days annual leave for charity projects.
We offer great things like enhanced maternity and paternity leave, cycle to work schemes and the ability to buy and sell holidays, but we’re into 'the little things' too - like chocolate eggs at Easter for everyone and ice creams when the weather is hot!
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Meet the manager…
Name: Rachel Trew
Job title: Systems Manager
Rachel is Touchstone’s Systems Manager. She’s a good person to know as she comes up with systems which can save her colleagues time and generally make everyone’s life easier!
What does a typical day look like for you?
I look after the in-house database for Touchstone. It’s big and there’s a lot of information so keeping it up to date is important.
I’ve been working on a new online customer portal for the past few months, which will make the whole payment and reporting system simpler for our customers and clients. I’ve worked closely with a lot of other staff within Touchstone to make sure all our processes support the new system. It’s been great as everyone is really helpful and supportive. We all want to do the best job possible which is a lovely feeling.
When you work at Touchstone, you work in such a positive and encouraging environment. It’s just the loveliest atmosphere.
My job is varied too. One day I can be creating the first system designs for a brand new development like The Keel in Liverpool, the next I could be profiling potential customers so we market our homes to them in the best way possible. Meeting the needs of people moving to the redeveloped Olympic Park we look after is totally different to those moving into a flat above Lloyds Bank, who are another of our clients. We have to get it right so we have happy customers who want to stay in their homes longer.
What do you love most about your job?
I’m a self-confessed nerd really! I get great satisfaction from coming to the end of a project and knowing that everything has come together just as I pictured it. I felt a real sense of achievement recently with our tenant portal when something worked exactly how I wanted it to.
When someone comes up to me to say I’ve saved them time in their working day, or something I’ve done has benefitted a client or a customer, that’s really rewarding.
What about the future?
I want to keep my knowledge current so I can recommend the best systems for our clients and continue to make Touchstone more efficient. I’m currently looking for the right course to sign up for – there are so many out there but I’m lucky as Touchstone will support me to develop in my role. It’s a great company to work for.
Can you see yourself doing anything else?
It’s an exciting time to be working in systems. There’s a global increase in demand for information and data. That’s a good thing for me professionally, as there’s an opportunity to grow our database and make sure the information is stored and presented in an accessible way, and personally, as it will be a challenge and I’ll be happy when I figure out how to meet this growing demand.
Meet the (former) apprentice…
Name: Megan Crumlish
Job title: Compliance Coordinator
Megan works as a compliance coordinator. To you and I, that means she plays a big part in making sure our homes are safe for customers before they move in and for as long as they continue to live there…
I joined Touchstone as an apprentice. I was offered a place at university but I learn better by actually doing things so I decided to look for an apprenticeship.
The Touchstone role stood out as it looked comprehensive. Some of the roles I saw looked too simplistic but I liked the idea of being given responsibility early in my career.
I genuinely had no idea what to expect from working in the private rental sector but I think I’ve found my niche in compliance. It was natural for me to progress to my current job when my apprenticeship finished.
Best thing about Touchstone?
Everyone at Touchstone is just so supportive and friendly. It doesn’t matter which floor or office you visit, there’s a positive atmosphere and the staff are all really nice!
Touchstone supports me with my training and development too. Compliance is such a wide field; I always feel like there’s more to learn. I’ve recently completed IOSH training which was really useful. I’m encouraged to learn about other roles within the team too and am trusted to pick up other people’s work when required. I’m still learning but I like compliance a lot.
What does a typical day look like?
My job is varied. I’ll speak to our customers and contractors to set up appointments, for example gas safety checks, then make sure that the jobs have happened and the gas certificates are in place.
I undertake a review of a property in good time prior to a new tenant moving in and ensure that all necessary compliance work is complete prior to the tenant moving in
It is a lot of responsibility but I enjoy it.
Most memorable working moment?
My first day was memorable. It was my first ever office job and I was nervous but from the moment I was introduced to everyone I felt welcomed and supported. I had no idea what to expect but my colleagues were so helpful. I’ll always remember the first office Christmas party as well – I was amazed at how many people I knew and how many friends I’d made in a short space of time.
What about the future?
Personally I want to keep learning. Touchstone are so willing to help you improve your knowledge and get further in the company which is great.
Renting is becoming more popular which means there’s an opportunity for us to manage more properties and in different locations. The challenge for me personally will be picking up the extra work and making sure properties are up to the high standards our customers expect.
**Touchstone is recruiting a new apprentice who will start this Autumn**
Director of Health, Safety and Compliance
Director of Health, Safety and Compliance
Meet the director…
Name: Tristram King
Job title: Director of Health, Safety and Compliance
Tristram is one of Touchstone’s directors. It’s an impressive feat considering he’s been with us for under four years, but also a great example of how we like to recognise talent and promote our staff when they shine…
Tell us about your role
It’s ultimately my responsibility to make sure our properties meet legislative requirements – so they’re safe for people to live in. There’s a lot to it, anything from advising on refurbishments and build projects, negotiating service agreements, carrying out internal audits and centralising our processes. It isn’t always easy getting people enthused about health and safety, so a big part is coming up with imaginative ways to train staff too.
Is this what you always wanted to do?
I actually wanted to be a solicitor and studied law at university. I enjoyed it but decided it wasn’t the career for me. I worked for a student housing provider while I was at uni doing viewings, inspections, even cleaning rooms sometimes. I carried on working in property and it seems I made the right decision! I’m really grateful that Touchstone have allowed me to manage and shape my role and let me progress so quickly.
What’s the best bit?
I enjoy dealing with people – my own team and wider Touchstone colleagues. I’m a remote worker and spend a lot of time travelling so it’s nice to have that interaction.
Managing a team of eighteen staff from home can be a challenge but I don’t micro-manage, it wouldn’t be possible. My staff have the freedom to run their own diaries and we use video-conferencing a lot. I make them feel appreciated by nominating them for our STAR awards, or just picking up the phone to say thanks. Having a happy team is really important to me.
At Touchstone, the directors are really approachable. I came from a company where you rarely spoke to directors so it was a refreshing change for me. There’s no ‘them and us’ culture.
We genuinely want to make Touchstone a brilliant place to work. It’s a company that cares about staff – we ask questions, listen and improve. Just last week I was running around the office leaving an Easter egg on everyone’s desk, then we told colleagues they could go home earlier and have a lovely break. Touchstone has also raised the entry salary and given everyone extra holidays at Christmas. It’s already a great place to work!
Thoughts on the Private Rental Sector?
The housing crisis isn’t going away, we’ll see more and more people renting. I think this will lead to more investment in build to rent schemes and also more legislation to protect renters. Touchstone is established and we’re good at what we do; we’ll continue to differentiate and offer more services which will benefit of our clients and customers.
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