Well here we are again looking back at another year gone by with another one ready to go.
Reflecting on our business year we would both summarise by saying it was great, but we wouldn’t want it back…
We kicked off the year with the three businesses all doing their thing.
Investments was fine and we were at full occupancy on the single lets for of own portfolio of buy 2 lets and our Lease Option portfolio. We weren’t pushing hard on this business and the intention was just to keep them rolling as we were considering moving away from single let AST tenancies and more into the serviced accommodation business. With the exception of one bad tenant debt we are pleased to say that we made our target.
Coming into 2017 the coaching business was exceeding our expectations by a country mile. We had worked very hard to produce our Bootcamp programme and we were getting results. We’re pleased to see that some of our ex clients have continued on their path and we see them posting their activities on social media. We have clients who now have their own business sourcing and running their own serviced accommodation business. Perhaps the highlight of our coaching for 2017 has been Benjamin Clare who hit his life changing target and has now relocated back to Leeds with Hailey and their kids. They have three property businesses, and have now taken the plunge on final independence to concentrate on the businesses.
However as much as we have enjoyed the coaching business we made a decision to scale back what we were doing. We have very mixed feeling about the property coaching game as we read, and hear, the negative stories that have gone around over the past few years. Coaching was never going to be our main income so we have taken a decision to market quieter than the usual pushing of courses that we see all the time. We felt all that the pushing of course after course could taint our main business activities, and our reputation, which neither of us would want. But more than that we enjoy doing the business thing for real. Any more increased coaching would mean that we would be walking away from what we really love – the property business.
The big move of 2017 was the expansion of the serviced accommodation business which was expanded by 400% over the year along with the formation and start of Clarus Manage (our SA management business)…
During winter period we negotiated a deal with a developer whom we used to sell investment units for when we first started out in property professionally. During Spring we took the top floor of a new development in Leeds city centre which would more than double our portfolio in one go. Whilst it was tough getting so many units ready and on the market, we were given the opportunity to take two further huge three bed units lower down in the building. We took those too.
We had planned to expand into Manchester but not until late 2017 / early 2018. However when our partner developer came to us with another top floor of penthouses we couldn’t say no. Just like Leeds, we then took a further two huge three bed units lower down in the block.
The deal is that we have exclusivity on the SA model with our developer. We probably weren’t ready to go into Manchester in July but with what plans are on the drawing board for the next three years we had to react to maintain our exclusivity.
As we took on each development we took on the communal cleaning contract which would slot under our new company – Clarus Manage Limited. This was a real benefit for us because it gives our housekeepers additional hours, we get paid to make sure the development is clean and tidy, and it enables us to take much needed storage space in each location.
However this hasn’t been as easy ride and as anyone who has read Amanda’s posts will understand this business takes a lot of management, systems, and organisation.
Finding good housekeepers has been a nightmare. We have gone down the contractor route which was a disaster, and we have gone down individual cleaner route which proved very difficult.
In the Summer David got to the fuck it stage of keep being let down and for several months he ran the operations himself working 12 – 14 hours days, 7 days a week, getting everything in place and new cleaners trained up. It was tough but it was something that needed to be done. Thankfully (we cross our fingers and toes) we now have good staff in Leeds, Bradford, and Manchester.
Amanda has been working hard on the systems and having been conned too many times with stolen cards, charge backs, theft, damage, smoking, and drugs we have a very robust system to deal with almost anything that comes our way.
One of the highlights of 2017 had to be being approached by YPN magazine to be interviewed. The interview was published in August. Personally this was cool because YPN was the first property publication we subscribed to way back. Being featured in it felt pretty good.
Finally our new Clarus Manage is already buzzing. We are looking after a new SA associate in Manchester, our two developments, and a new associate for the new year with the first five apartments.
So what is coming in 2018….
The investment company will continue as it is. We will take suitable properties as they come but we won’t be pushing hard on any new acquisitions. The target is to keep the properties tenanted with decent paying tenants.
Coaching will continue to be very low key. Producing webinars, free ebooks, blogs, articles, free calls, answering messages etc etc takes a huge amount of time. We are both too busy doing the business for real to keep on top of all that. We do have clients on our books who will continue on their mentorship and for anyone wanting to come onto Bootcamp or work 1-2-1 with us then ping us a message and if our expectations align then we can chat. We now only work with clients who we believe will consistently step out of their comfort zone to get where they want to be, and have a real desire to succeed.
Clarus Living expands into Liverpool early 2018. We are very excited with this expansion and look forward to showing off some of the most amazing penthouse apartments on the market. The apartments are in the heart of the city and the views are incredible.
Whilst we pick up a new unit in Leeds in January the concentration there will be getting the occupancy levels and rates up with longer term corporate bookings.
In Manchester the sister development to our new development will be ready around Easter. We expect to be picking up a number of units which should position us nicely for summer. This works out perfectly as both developments are only 200m door to door.
Working with us is Lee Pemberton who is now in his 19th year of serviced apartments. Lee is helping us move into the next phase of expansion. Ultimately our five year plan is to control bespoke apart hotels, and hotels. With Lee’s help there is no doubt this is going to happen.
The big push for 2018 will be Clarus Manage. Clarus Manage is our serviced accommodation management business where we work with landlords who want to benefit from our systems and team to move from traditional ASTs to the SA model. We operate the full package of bookings, housekeeping, linen, and consumables.
For landlords who wish to scale then we offer an associate package whereby we source the property for them. I’m super excited about this as my true passion in this business is property sourcing. The units we source are free of lender and freeholder restrictions. If you are interested in working with us, then give me or Amanda a nudge and lets have a chat.
We’re also very excited to be able to offer existing SA units to investors who will enjoy the returns on an established business with bookings, returning guests, and up and running systems already in place.
So that is where we are at for 2018.
We hope that you have a wonderful New Year and I wish you all the success for 2018.
David and Amanda