From A 2-year-old and A Baby On The Way Seeking Certainty and A Legacy For Her Children, To Scaling A 50 Property Servcied Accommodation Business!
Claire wanted more control over her business and becoming pregnant with her second child motivated her to make a change to provind financial certainty and a legacy for her children. After joining Touchstone Education’s Wealth Academy, Claire was able to negotiate her first rent to serviced accommodation with no deposit and £500 below the monthly asking rent, making £1,500-2000 NET income per month. Now Claire and her husband own a successful serviced accommodation management company running 17 properties and are on track to make that 50-70 by 2024.
Here's what Claire had to say...
What was life before joing Touchstone Education?
“Rob and I are partners in life and in business. Rob is a GP, so it is mostly myself who is involved with SA. Before starting our serviced accommodation business I had an e-commerce business. This was quite successful, although there were some issues I experienced whereby I felt I had little control. At a time when I had a 2 year old and another baby on the way, I wanted more certainty, and I also wanted to be able to provide a legacy for our children. The saying “safe as houses” resonated with me and I started looking at various property strategies. We decided on SA as a high cash flowing strategy to get us started.”
How is life different for Claire now?
“Life is very different now! We currently operate 17 serviced accommodation properties and next month we have another 17 launching in a single month! By February 2024 we anticipate that we will be operating 50-70 properties in our serviced accommodation business. Most of these are properties that we manage, although we do have some rent-to-rent properties. I don’t have the e-commerce business any more - I clung onto it for a while but it wasn’t until I became laser-focussed on my serviced accommodation business that it really started to flourish and grow at a reasonable pace! Our plan was always to use the funds generated by the business to buy property. As such we now have 1 BTL, an off-plan investment into a penthouse duplex apartment at Park View in Birmingham which completes in February 2024 and another off-plan investment into a 2-bed apartment at Smithfield Lofts in Birmingham which completes in January 2026.”
What was her first successful property?
“Our first SA property was a 4-bedroom house in Solihull, which we acquired in August 2019, just before I gave birth to our second child! We found this property through networking at a local property event. Other people had tried to get the property as a rent-to-rent SA but the landlady wanted £1,250 rent per month, so others were walking away. I went to see her and managed to obtain the property on a rent to rent basis for £1,000 per month, with no deposit paid, for a 3-year contract. The landlady agreed to the lower rent after I told her about the reduced risk with SA use and her ability to claim capital allowances. Furnishings for the whole property amounted to £10,000. This 4-bedroom property typically generated £3,500 - £4000 gross income per month. After all rent and bills paid it typically netted £1,500 - £2,000 per month. During Covid, we thankfully managed to get a long-term guest to stay, and profit was only £800 per month but we were of course very happy with this at the time, and we went on to grow from 1-4 propertiesduring this period by focusing on contractor stays. Since we had followed Paul’s guidance and set ourselves up correctly, we were also eligible for £18,000 in government funding, which came in handy! The 3-year contract was extended by 1 year, but we sadly had to give the property back last month as the landlady wanted to sell it. We did try to buy it but she had an unrealistic view of the value of the property even despite a valuation that was in agreement with our sentiments, however this is perhaps something we can re-visit when a sale is not achieved at the amount she is seeking!”
What should other do to achieve the same?
“The training and guidance provided by Touchstone Education has been nothing short of invaluable. I can’t even begin to imagine trying to start a business like mine without some form of training. The network provided by Touchstone is just as valuable as the education. It acts as a support network for day-to-day queries in the early days, and it also enables great relationships to form in the long term.”
“It goes without saying that knowledge is pointless unless action is taken. However I believe there is also such a thing as taking too much action and I have certainly been guilty of that. Shiny object syndrome is very real - my advice would be to choose one strategy only and be absolutely laser-focussed on it. I think it is also important to be very careful with your time and wherever possible, get other people to take action for you! In the early days I did far too much myself, and if I could turn the clock back I would have employed (or contracted) team members much earlier. We now have 2 Philippines-based Customer Service Representatives (one of them has been working for us for 3 years, her standard of work and reliability is exceptional and she is now our General Manager). We also have a very capable Philippines-based bookkeeper who takes care of our day-to-day bookkeeping, VAT returns and prepares our accounts to hand over to our accountants. Then we have teams of cleaners, teams of Property Managers and teams of maintenance staff. Trying to co-ordinate them all to create a “machine” that works by itself in every eventuality is harder than it looks, but we are now getting there and the lessons learnt in the process have been phenomenal. The business is not yet passive for us, but with all the projected growth in the pipeline, we will be able to take on a UK-based Manager early next year and this will enable us to take a huge leap towards truly “passive” income from the business.
When Rob and I first attended a Touchstone event we were asked if any of our friends were millionnaires, since you become like those people you spend time with. At the time we did not know a single millionaire. However I can now name at least 20 people who we consider either friends, clients or close associates, who are all millionaires or multimillionaires, many of whom have told us that they would like to Joint Venture with us when an opportunity arises. Needless to say, we endeavour to spend our time with these people and less time with those who attempt to pull us down. This brings me to my last piece of advice. Please either ignore the naysayers or take their comments as a challenge to prove them wrong. Only take advice from people who have relevant experience and success in your chosen endeavour.”
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