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Leap of Faith

Buy to Let Leap of Faith Property Sourcing

So far so good!

It’s 11.17 pm on Friday night, and I’m sitting on my bed in a hotel in Milton Keynes (I know, the glamour, right?!)

It’s ages since I blogged, I’m so sorry. Partly this communication failure was due to my laptop needing to go to the mender’s, partly it was because everysinglefrickindayseemstolastabouttwosecondsatthemoment.

Seriously. The alarm goes off at 6.02 am, I take a couple of deep breaths, spin around, eat something and suddenly it’s 11.17 at night and I’m finally blogging.

(Where do those days go? I seriously need to start taking more control of my days. Plans are needed. Ok, more of that later, not now when I’m too tired to think.)

Back to my lack of blogging. Actually, my blogging blackout has been a good sign.

Last time I scribbled my thoughts into the universe it was the day before T was due to join us, our new sales director/project manager type. It was a true leap of faith and I had NO idea here how it was going to go.

OMG folks.

It has been AMAZING.

It could have gone two ways, but I am so delighted to say that it went the right one. We are six weeks in and already things have turned around unbelievably.

I’m giving myself a quiet pat on the back here, because I followed my instincts and brought him on board, even thought it was a huge financial risk to do so. It still is – I mean, it’s early days – but it seems to be paying off.

On his second day he went round all the suppliers and potential suppliers, negotiating discounts with them on bathroom products. I mean, I don’t even know how to do stuff like that.

In the past week he has gone out alone to do price ups. There was me thinking he would be doing that six months down the line.

We are booked up until August, with deposits received from customers which means there is money in the bank like never before.

We’re not rich. Yet. Far from it. But the signs are there. Not that we’ll all be driving around in brand new Mercs by Christmas, that’s not really us – more that there is now the possibility that we will be able to build up enough reserves so that the business will still be around in a year’s time. Less of the luxury profits, more of the actually building some decent foundations.

And the very fact that I’m here, sitting in this overheated Novotel is because tomorrow I’m due to attend a course on sourcing properties. Because after cutting back on all my other business interests to focus on the main one, I have finally felt that I will be able to make some headspace for another income stream.

And because our bathroom and building businesses bring us into contact with people constantly, we are in a great place to take advantage.

So I’m hearing you ask what a property sourcer does. The answer is simple – they source property ‘deals’ for other people, usually investors.

Say someone has a pot of money they want to invest but nowhere to invest it. They might approach a property sourcer to find them a decent property at a bargain price, they then pay the sourcer a fee for that ‘bargain’ and they keep it as an investment. Or do a refurb and sell it on for profit. The key is in the sourcer fee – it can be a nice little earner, in fact I know some people making a very good living out of property sourcing.

But how on erath do you find bargain properties, I also hear you ask. That’s where the nice bit comes in. Property can be bloody brilliant but properties can also be a nightmare. Inherited houses, houses that won’t sell, houses that need refurbing etc etc can all become real problems for people. Then there are issues like divorce, relocation, downsizing etc etc which can make people want to sell fast. For these people, the property sourcer can be a huge help to get them out of a problem situation, and if that means dropping the price then for many it’s worth it.

I already work with investors and I know a bunch I haven’t worked with yet, so I know I will be able to sell on deals.

And I already know of people who have told me of their own ‘problem properties’ – so I know they are very much out there.

So I reckon I’m going to do okay at this property sourcing.

And if it brings me in a salary then that will take pressure off the business, while allowing me to split my time between the two.

I have so many ideas and plans it’s hard to contain them all. But I will, I have to!

Right now there are four people’s salaries balancing on one small job. So the foundations absolutely need to strengthen. And I’m hoping sourcing properties will compliment our family business, not distract me too much from it.

I’m hoping that T will continue to take more work away from me, so that I can do more like this, sit in the Novotel and blog about exciting things happening tomorrow.

I can’t wait!







And the business evolves... Becoming employers Hiring your first employee Leap of Faith

The Big Goodbye – and New Beginnings!

Crazy times! An ending, a beginning – and a leap of faith over a canyon so wide I can’t even see the side I’m supposed to be landing on.

So we’ve done it. As every evolving, growing, business needs to, we have crossed a huge employment milestone. We’ve dismissed our first employee.

We took C on in July 2016, back when we were general builders and knew that to grow we needed someone. But who? The very fact of being general made it hard to recruit anyone. Taking on an apprentice wasn’t an option for that exact reason. We knew few people around here and because we didn’t have much money we knew we could only afford to pay our employee minimum wage.

Then we met C, working behind the counter of a local builders’ merchants. I could see he was good with customers, reliable, appeared to work hard. Over the months of being served regularly by him I learned he wanted to do more. It was a case of why not him?

He has been a great employee in many ways. Loyal, steadfast, reliable. He’s been generally very amenable and done most of what we ask. He claimed to be an experienced decorator but it soon turned out he wasn’t, in fact he had little experience in most areas, but after years of working alone it’s probably fair to say D was a control freak and so they were probably well-matched. I am really grateful that our first experience of employment was such a positive one.

The problem is, as we have grown, and as D has evolved, C hasn’t really.

He promised us he would be learning to drive soon, which hasn’t happened.

He is slow and steady, but sometimes sloppy, which has been frustrating.

Last year, as we specialised in bathrooms, we took a gamble on him and paid for him to go on a course. Before it began we spoke about how we didn’t want him to stay on minimum wage forever, we were looking for someone to become an equal member of the team, to work hard and fast with us and to earn decent money once the business was on its feet.

He did well on the course, but his performance since then hasn’t been great. Constant, regular, mistakes. Working so incredibly slow. And no progress whatsover on the driving.

So, after the fourth job in a row where sloppiness caused a major issue, we had a serious talk with him. We gave him a month to improve – to get faster and to get better. Beginners’ mistakes are one thing, not doing what you have been told to do several times is another. He is a fantastic second man, but as a small business we only have room for first men right now, and so on Wednesday, after two more major mistakes, D verbally gave him notice. Contractually we only need to give him a week, but because he’s been so good in other ways he gave him two weeks from Friday – just under two and a half weeks.

I followed it up in writing the next day. It has all been very good-natured, but I know things can change when you’re working your notice so I am a little nervous about the next couple of weeks and I will be glad when he has gone.

He has also always been a little bit weird around me. He worships D, which is fair enough, but often I have arrived on a job and he has ignored me. It’s strange as I am his boss just as much as D is, and it’s frustrating. Iย  don’t want to turn this into a rant about sexism, because it might not be, and some men are weird around women, like the guy I blogged about here, but he has definitely seen D as his boss, not me, which is odd because it’s me who runs the entire business.

On Thursday he was working alone in the yard, filling the skip. I asked him to come and talk to me – clearly I was going to discuss money and what was owed/owing – and he refused, saying he and D had sorted it. I asked him to talk to me three times and every time he looked at me, shook his head and said there was no need, he and D had sorted it all. I even said D doesn’t know about money, how can you have sorted it and he shook his head and said no no, it’s cool. It was strange. Rude. And totally not anything I have ever come across before – I have never in my working life refused a conversation with my boss.

So part of me is glad he is going, because I will definitely feel more comfortable going to sites knowing that he won’t be there.

So, you might be wondering, what are we going to do now? Believe me, much discussion has gone on about how we would cope, and both D and his eldest son, C2, who joined us back in November, felt that C1 has actually been holding us back, slowing us down on jobs and stopping progress. They both feel they will go faster as a twosome, which is crazy!

I wrote here about how one of our suppliers, T, a showroom manager, had been made redundant, and how a couple of months earlier I’d mentioned to D that I thought he would end up working for us at some point.

I’m not sure how we are going to do this, but we’ve recently been talking and I am absolutely of the belief that we NEED him. The business NEEDS him. We cannot afford NOT to take him on.

So, somehow, it will happen. We will let the dust settle after C’s departure and then he will join us – taking over the parts I’m finding hardest, pricing, selling products, project managing. Possibly part time very very initially, but he doesn’t want part time for long and so maybe he does several jobs – sales, ordering products, managing the orders, project managing the job and also mucking in manually where required.

I am in effect doing myself out of a job but that’s fantastic, I’m really not enjoying that side at all. Weirdly, for someone who has never been good at numbers, I am finding the accounting/finance more and more of interest, and so I may go down that avenue.

And if T takes over the things I’m finding hard, and I’m soooooooo slow at, that will free me up to crack on with the things I am best at – thinking big picture, coming up with new ideas, marketing, networking, building us up. Because this business, passionate though I am about it, is only the first of many. There are so many ideas in my head!

And although it seems crazy to be talking about taking on someone expensive when common sense says I should continue doing it and learn the trade, my heart tells me that taking this gigantic, terrifying leap of faith is the best thing we could be doing.