Stephen is a long-standing Northwood franchisee having owned Northwood Norwich for 14 years, during which time he has built up his lettings portfolio to 690 managed and guaranteed rent properties. Stephen’s first acquisition was over five years ago for 80 properties, and the largest, in December 2017, was for 300 properties.
Also in 2017 Stephen decided to acquire a second territory through the resale of the Northwood Ipswich office, which had a portfolio of 200 properties. Stephen is now looking to expand this further through acquisition.
The growth by acquisition in the last five years has seen Stephen’s business grow by 60% in size with turnover more than doubling.
“I realised that acquisition was more cost effective than advertising for organic growth. I decided to focus on acquisition and have completed five portfolio purchases in as many years. As a result I have grown twice as fast in the last five years than I did in the previous ten. Only through acquisition could this have been possible.”
Laura and her husband, Steven, opened Northwood Aberdeen in 2008. Trading in Aberdeen has been extremely tough in 2017 due to long-term falling oil prices dramatically changing the dynamic of this unusual city. The difficult trading conditions presented opportunities which Laura has fully taken advantage of, with two acquisitions in quick succession in November 2017 bringing over 300 additional managed properties to Northwood Aberdeen. To make her achievement even more impressive, this was all done just after Laura had just given birth to the couple’s third child.
“2017 was an exciting year for Northwood Aberdeen. As the rental market experienced a huge shift in rental values following the oil crisis and, in addition, as significant legislative changes were being faced, it was an opportunity for us to consolidate with other agents during this period. This growth is really exciting for Northwood. However, it is important to highlight that, although we have grown the portfolio, we continue to be a small, family run, local business, ensuring our landlords and tenants receive a personal service.”
Clayton Foston joined Belvoir in 2011, when he purchased a cold start office in Nuneaton and Hinckley. In 2014 he was one of the first franchisees to benefit from the Assisted Acquisitions programme when acquiring a local lettings portfolio. Subsequently Clayton joined forces with two new business partners in order to purchase Belvoir Tamworth as a resale in 2016. In 2017 Clayton took over the previous corporate-owned office in Burton and made a significant acquisition comprising 293 managed properties and 200 let-only properties. He is currently embarking on further grand plans for his existing Nuneaton and Hinckley business.
Clayton is a very progressive franchisee and fully appreciates that a successful business must evolve and develop in order to remain relevant. A new shopping centre in Clayton’s territory is about to change the dynamic of the traditional town centre, and rather than waiting and seeing what impact a lack of footfall will have on his business, Clayton is taking an unusual approach for a high street lettings and estate agent and is moving his business to the shopping centre to make the most of the opportunity. Clayton is looking to maximise this opportunity even further by working with the Belvoir Central Office to create a new, updated version of the Belvoir shop fit that is vibrant and modern and fully embraces technology. He is also creating a one-stop-shop for customers, incorporating a MAB mortgage advisor and a range of other services to help make his new office a destination for Nuneaton and Hinckley’s property needs.
“Traditional lettings and estate agency must adapt to meet new challenges in the sector as the disruptors such as Purplebricks have clearly shaken up the market. For me, differentiating myself from all of the numerous agents in town is an essential part of this evolution, with premises designed to meet the challenges of the next decade in a location of high footfall where we can showcase new innovations and ideas.”
Belvoir believes that employee engagement and human capital management is key to ensuring that we have the necessary team to deliver future success. In order to attract and retain professional staff with the requisite skill, Belvoir invests in a high level of employee engagement through regular staff reviews setting out and monitoring performance against an agreed personal development plan. We also invest in professional training to enable our employees to develop in their roles. We currently have seven members of staff undertaking professional qualifications, encompassing lettings, accountancy and project management. This includes the sponsorship of two very successful accounting apprentices taking their AAT exams within the Group finance team.
Accounting apprentice Catalyn wins two local awards In 2017 accounting apprentice Catalyn Bavister, who works in the Belvoir Group finance department, won both the Grantham College Advanced Accounting Apprentice of the Year award and the Grantham Journal Apprentice of the Year award.
Catalyn was nominated for the Grantham Journal award by Chief Financial Officer, Louise George: “Catalyn is a perfect example of how the apprenticeship qualification provides young people with the opportunity to achieve their ambitions and potential given the right mix of academic and work-based experience and support. She has grown in confidence over the last year and we look forward to supporting her professional development and future career progression at Belvoir.”
Catalyn was ecstatic with her success, stating: “I was over the moon! It was a great feeling just to have been nominated and I am so very proud to have won.” Catalyn believes that the apprenticeship was the right path for her to take: “I get to both earn and learn at the same time, gaining a professional qualification in a well regarded company.”
Catalyn has recently progressed onto level 4 of the Accounting Technician (AAT) exams. Her original purchase ledger role has been taken on by the latest addition to the finance team; accounting apprentice Adam Egner, who is working towards his level 2 AAT exams and has a 100% record on both exams taken to date.