Franchise Owners: Steve Latham
Branch Territory: Concentric Sales & Lettings Crosby, Liverpool
Launched: August 2010
Steve Latham took on his Crosby Liverpool Concentric Sales & Lettings franchise in July 2010. He was already a successful landlord, with over 150 units, but this had left him with a property management issue, that was draining his time.
His solution? He decided to invest in Concentric Sales & Lettings as a flexible property franchise option that allowed him to freely manage his properties and build a successful income generating business at the same time. While some other franchises imposed limits on the number of rental units he could “put through” the franchise, Concentric Sales & Lettings impose no such restrictions on this.
In his first year Steve and his small team managed to clock up 115 lets and then things really took off in his second year, when he decided to increase his team, and take on shop premises too. Steve took on a negotiator and an administrator in his first year, but then in the second year he expanded by taking on a second negotiator, receptionist and a lettings manager. In a matter of months Steve’s business exploded, and his lets increased from doing 10-12 per month to doing 30 per month as the norm.
In building his team, the Concentric training and support team were there every step of the way – working with Steve on all matters including recruitment, staff terms and HR, salary packages, structure of departments as they grew; even the KPIs and expectations of the team. For Steve it was a whole new experience managing a team of office workers, having come from the construction industry where things run a little differently. The support was paramount. In the summer of 2012, Steve made the huge investment of turning round a shop unit into Merseyside’s largest letting agency by floor space, with a large investment into the fitting out and presenting of the brand to the local market. Steve wanted to send a message to the local market that he had arrived and meant business – and it worked. On top of this by his 36th month of trade, he was raising income of over £35,000 in one month alone.
Only 3 months after opening his shop front, in October 2012 Steve’s lettings manager, Rebecca, took on a whopping 32 properties in one month, beating the previous Concentric record of 31 instructions (a record from over 22 years of trade across the group). This and the overall performance of the team for the whole of 2012 led to the Crosby branch winning the Concentric award for the Top Performer for the year.
Steve appreciates the invaluable help he receives from his franchisor. He says: “Since starting my Liverpool Concentric Lettings franchise in 2010, my business has expanded so fast that Concentric’s ongoing support has been invaluable to me. Their extensive and professional team, along with their comprehensive training, processes, procedures, operation manuals and business development support, have had a major impact on my amazing success.
“The fact that I can send my growing team of new staff members to head office for their training has taken a huge weight off my shoulders. I must say, expanding as rapidly as I have does bring its own challenges, but with Concentric behind you, with their reassuring expertise, they’ve made my expansion so much more manageable as a business owner, especially with their undeniable experience of how to grow and maintain a successful lettings agency.”
Having all the property management and the client accounting taken care of from the head office hub allows Steve and his team to focus purely on marketing his business, getting new clients and growing the business, a great combination for success.
With Steve’s, expert status locally, he now gets asked regularly to appear on BBC radio, has been approached by channel 4, he is a regular to local property shows and has recently been acting a the landlords champion of Liverpool lobbying the council against their proposals for mandatory licensing across the region.
Franchise Owners: Dawn Bennett
Branch Territory: Concentric Sales & Lettings Wolverhampton
Launched: September 2011
Dawn was already a successful Letting agent, but decided to take the leap of setting on her own with the support of a franchise. With all those years of experience, why did she feel the need to join a team already with structures in place?
Having worked in letting agencies, but never having run her own business before, Dawn felt she needed support in this area, she had also worked from some very badly run companies, and felt that she needed to make sure that what she was doing was right.
In September 2011, Dawn started trading her Concentric Wolverhampton business and it was quite a wakeup call at how different it is working for yourself as opposed to working for someone else and having to make it work to get paid.
First of all the initial shock was that the phone didn’t ring! At all of her previous companies this was not something she had encountered before, the business just came in... Of course there was marketing to do etc, but naturally business would also come from recommendations and referrals and established advertising methods in place already but this was different. Dawn had to generate her own enquiries, from nothing, market and promote her own business and nurture those brand new connections, not something she would admit she was quite expecting, even though it may seem obvious, it never does.
Dawn says “This was quite scary, how do you get the phone to ring! I was so pleased that Concentric had a plan for this, because I would not have had a clue, even with my years in the business, I probably would have just spent a fortune on advertising which does not work and ran out of money. Setting up from scratch is completely different altogether. I followed the marketing plan and the business started to come in, a few at first, then I got referrals from them and then it started to snowball, the real turning point was in month 15, Jan 2013, I had 6 instruction, by just sitting at my desk and answering the phone on the first day back in after the new year, just like it used to be before but it has taken 15 months of building up relationships with my landlords and giving great service throughout”
Having a staff around you at an established company means that you can focus on what you need to do, but in her own business Dawn was taken aback at how much there is to do, that she had not really given thought to before, even down to making the tea and filing, but a lot more besides, managing the finances, bills, accounts, stationary, advertising accounts phone bills and contracts etc. even cleaning the office was all new.
Dawn explains “I had to do everything; there were no juniors to make the tea, do the filing or confirm the appointments so this was also a shock and not something I would have thought about or realised before, what this actually means, so I am so glad that the management and client accounting are done for me. I am experienced in lettings and I am aware of the complexities of these two areas, and I cannot see how I would have been able to have done these compliantly and correctly as well as find time to build my business and give great service to the landlords as well”
Starting from nothing Dawn completed her first year as a letting agent business 77 properties under management, a healthy salary for herself and another member of staff from month nine too, finishing with a profit in her first year was a bonus on top of that.
Although needing less interaction and support on the lettings side, dawn has benefitted from huge support on the business and systems side.
“The HUB taking care of the management and client accounting is HUGE” says Dawn, “With all my years of lettings experience, I could NEVER achieve what I have with the restraints of managing my own properties and handling the client accounting too, it is a godsend. I am still trying to get my head around the tax and the VAT and HR continues to be a learning curve, but with the HUB I know all the support I need is there”.
in her second year, Dawn further grew her turnover by 178% on her first year and has now grown her team members to herself plus three others, a property lister, a negotiator and an administrator and is letting around 18 properties per month whilst looking to grow her turnover by 100% in her third year.
Franchise Owners: Tony Cullinan & Lisa Barton
Branch Territory: Concentric Sales & Lettings Coventry
Launched: July 2010
Tony and Lisa took on their Coventry Concentric Sales & Lettings franchise in July 2010, with a dream of setting up and running a property business and working together. Already running a driving school, and landlords themselves, this seemed a natural step and they wanted a business model that gave them the support and flexibility for wherever their own property investing choices took them.
Some lettings franchises do not support HMO- (house-share) style properties or offer support in LHA (local housing allowance), do not have a management and client accounting centre, nor allow property-owning franchisees to let their own properties through the franchise without charge; Concentric Sales & Lettings did and this was why they chose the company. Their goal was to build a healthy property portfolio, whilst building their lettings business.
Very quickly Tony and Lisa carved out a niche for themselves in the local area, working with investor landlords as they both really understood the challenges faced by landlords investing for profit in the local area. Their business grew fast in the early days and Tony, who at first stayed in his job, joined Lisa full-time after just over 12 months.
The result of Tony and Lisa’s hard work can be seen over and over again in their clients’ feedback. When it comes to customer service and receiving reviews and referrals, the dynamic duo really have this area covered. Not a bad word can be said about the service they offer their landlords, their reviews online are of a very high quality and work wonders for attracting new business to them.
Lisa says: “The training and support of the franchise team has been exceptional throughout our setting up and running of the business.
“We particularly find the quarterly lettings exchanges of great value, that is where the group as a whole gets together and shares what is working best nationwide. Some great ideas get shared and we always come away with something new to work on, but it’s great to share and help the new guys coming through too, as we can really understand where they are and how they feel.”
Tony and Lisa love working together and enjoy the fact they are not burdened by management and client accounting tasks, giving them time and space to work on giving that great service that helps them in turn to build their ever-growing successful business.
They are looking to expand both their team and premises this year, having bought some shop premises and launching the sales service to their repertoire of products on offer to their clients.
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