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From Uninspired And Out Of The Property Business To Highly Successful Serviced Accommodation Business!

James Clack came to Touchstone in 2019 in order to get himself back in the property game. Having previously lost 3 of his four buy to let properties through divorce, he was looking for an innovative new direction for his property business. He attended our two-day Wealth Through Property event, with a focus on Serviced Accommodation.

Now he owns a successful Serviced Accommodation business strong enough to thrive during the COVID pandemic, receiving income from 9 properties as well as managing serviced accommodation properties for others.

We spoke to James to find out more…

James Clack

“I was inspired to pursue Serviced Accommodation after I was intrigued by a fellow investor who had converted an old council building into serviced accommodation units. This investment was opposite Trent bridge Cricket Ground and he was letting it out by the night to umpires.”

James said “After Wealth Through Property, I was filled with enthusiasm and drive to put the information I learned from Paul Smith into action. I took action and in 2020 purchased my first holiday let cottage near Llanberis in Snowdonia. From there, my company Rolcor Property was born, providing quality short term stays in areas close to national parks, coasts, and nature.”

James could not have predicted the worldwide pandemic that would occur at the conception of Rolcor property. When many new businesses failed, James managed to find a useful niche, achieving success against the odds. 

“Despite the challenges presented by COVID-19 lockdowns and uncertainty, my team and I were proud to able to maintain 70% occupancy by pivoting our business strategy to focus on essential and NHS workers.”

Since then, Rolcor Property has gone from strength to strength.

“Studying with Touchstone education has prepared me to explore a diverse range of funding options to rapidly expand my portfolio, for example using SSAS loanbacks on my own projects and exploring joint venture financing opportunities. “

One example of a successful project is a 3-bed terraced property we purchased on the west coast of the Lake District, in walking distance to an amazing beach. The purchase price was  £100k and I spent £20k on refurbishment. Six months later,  we had it revalued for £145k (2021). The property now produces £700-1200 profit per month.

I bought my latest project, Daffodil House in Cockermouth for £180k. After spending £40k on new roof, bathrooms, heating, and redecoration, I had it revalued and refinanced it for £245k – releasing £25k profit whilst retaining the property to make additional monthly income. I currently let it out as a holiday let.”

Reflecting on James’s achievement with Rolcor Property, he has the following words of wisdom:

“Big learnings are not to try and set up a property whilst in your busy guest period.

It isn’t as easy as just deciding one day that a property is going to be serviced accommodation, you have to plan it carefully, ensuring that you setting up correct permissions, utilities and other services. You also need to renovate and furnish the property. You will be thinly stretched doing these things as well as ensuring that all your other properties are looked after and by the time your new property is set up you will have missed much of the season.”

He continued: “It’s also important to have the right people behind you. We have great teams (sub contractors) on the ground and Lucy and Rachel in the office making it run smoothly. 

As well as that, solid systems that are automated as much as possible are vital to reduce workload and ensure easy scaleability. These are all things that I learned about through the Serviced Accommodation portion or Wealth Through Property.”

“Even within a strategy like serviced Accommodation, it is also important to diversify. We mix holiday makers, contractors and professionals in our properties, rather than target each one, which seems to work well. Rather than focusing on only one size of property, we have a mixture of 1-3 bed flats and houses.”

James also emphasised the importance of guest experience, to maintain high occupancy:

“As there are so many short stay options out there, you need to go above and beyond to appeal to guests; we design our properties to make them stand out from the crowd. We also add value for our guests with personalised communication and by creating friendly relationships with neighbours.”

“It’s been hard to create a successful business whilst working full-time as a PLC Director. You can make a difference with quality service and product, demand, cash flow and automation.”

After realising he could monetise the formula to Rolcor’s success, James expanded Rolcor Property’s offering to property management. They now manage other owners’ holiday lets in the Western lakes, helping them to refurbish, set up, manage, and market them. 

“That doesn’t mean that my own portfolio has taken a back seat though, more recently I have set up my first R2SA in Oxford and am currently getting two flats in Newport ready for guests too.”

“Touchstone Education, especially some of the people that I have met, has been my inspiration.”

“I’m working towards having 12-15 properties by the end of this year and I’m confident that I’m ontrack to do this and attain the complete financial independence that comes with it.”

Sleeping six, Daffodil House is James’s latest property in North Cumbria, you can view it here.

James Clack

What Can Touchstone Education

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If you want to follow in James' footsteps and take those all important first steps on your property investment journey, download your complimentary copy of our founder Paul Smith's best-selling book, Wealth Through Property now.

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