We are very proud to announce yet another success in franchisee Rachel Farr’s career with No Letting Go. Rachel has been handpicked as a finalist for the Woman Franchisee 2017 EWIF Awards. Being shortlisted for this prestigious award comes only months after she won the NLG franchisee awards for Best Regional Office, Busiest Office, Customer Service and Franchisee of the Year. Here’s her story so far.

The Beginnings

Rachel initially purchased the Bath franchise in 2014. Originally attracted to the reporting technology, Rachel saw an NLG franchise as an opportunity to step into a management role and quickly grow her business.

By 2016 Rachel was running the top performing office for No Letting Go, delivering over 200 property reports every month. She quickly saw the growth she was craving as her team soon grew to five members. Rachel developed her own mentoring and quality checking programme on top of that already provided by Head Office. This reiterated the core values of No Letting Go, and delivered a service that’s consistent, reliable and accountable.

A Motivated Team

Rachel’s ongoing care and attention to the service her team provides has led to a consistent and motivated team. Something which isn’t easy for solo workers to achieve. Each individual working for Rachel knows exactly what’s expected from them and are confident in her ability to guide them through any issues they encounter.

Each of Rachel’s team is self-employed. This adds an additional responsibility to her position. She must ensure each member has a consistent workload to support themselves. Rachel understands these needs and as a result ensures everyone supplies the very best level of customer service.

Business Development

Rachel takes an impressive approach to business development. In 2016, she completed a database of every letting agent within a 50 mile radius. She also maintains regular contact with all members of this database. This not only boosts NLG brand awareness massively but has led to an impressive reputation in the area. Being widely acknowledged for her reliability and quality, Rachel’s business development actions have led to a 39% increase in active clients in a year. The majority of which came from letting agent recommendations.

No Letting Go Development

Rachel’s key approach to business development doesn’t only stop with her personal ventures. She has also been a key player in regional improvements. She works closely with her three neighbouring franchises to support each other, share ideas and attend regional conferences. She has also worked with NLG Head Office to aid in the ongoing development of our technology. Rachel not only invests her time to understand her customers but does the same with her team and business too.

Family Life

All this is made even more impressive when hearing that Rachel welcomed her second baby into the world last year. Working through her pregnancy, Rachel continued to strive for building her business, reputation and team. Moreover, four members of her team also have to juggle their work with young families making their achievements even more remarkable.

The EWIF Awards

The EWIF Award ceremony will be held on Tuesday 16th May 2017. We will be sure to notify you if Rachel wins the Woman Franchisee Award. Everyone at No Letting Go wishes her the very best of luck.

If you’re interested in mirroring Rachel’s success and getting involved in a No Letting Go franchise, we want to hear from you. You can find out more about becoming a franchisee here.

How did you first hear about NLG? What was it that appealed to you about them?

The NLG franchise was on a business website called Daltons which I came by in late December 2014. Initially it was the name that appealed to me as it’s a double negative which is usually a marketing faux pas. I liked the fact that it was counter intuitive so thought the company would be original and open to input from a range of different people and ideas. I’ve also done property development on a small scale since 2002, so have experience and knowledge of how the sector works.

Have you owned your own business before?

Yes. I’ve had a bakery and two retail shops in the early 90s. More recently, over the last 15 years, I’ve worked as a self employed business consultant and project manager. I’ve been involved in a range of things from sourcing products for TV shopping channels to helping to set up a local branch of Jamie Oliver’s Ministry of Food. In the last four years I’ve worked on the launch and promotion of luxury Alpaca and Mohair coats and jackets from Steiff Schulte in Germany, under the Teddy Bear Coats brand.

Obviously taking the plunge into self employment is a big risk, what made you do it?

This actually didn’t pose a huge risk for me, having been self employed for a long time and working from my own office at home since 1999. Most of my work has been customer facing and service orientated so I have a wide ranging skill set which is transferable across different industries. You need to be self motivated and self reliant with an attention to detail. It’s not just being able to do the job; you need to be able to talk to people when you’re out selling yourself and your business. Then there’s the back office function, carrying out administrative duties and accounts. I guess you could say I’m a Jill of all trades!

What have been the biggest lifestyle changes you have noticed since becoming a franchisee?

Having been self employed for such a long time, the changes to my lifestyle haven’t been wholesale. My working week has changed as I will be working at weekends but it is important to be flexible when you work for yourself, especially in the initial stages. I intend to develop the business to the point where I can employ people to work for me so that I can concentrate on expanding my operation. I prefer to be an entrepreneur rather than simply ‘self employed’. There are no plans though to take over the world (yet!), the Yorkshire region is plenty to keep me busy for now!

Is there any particular way you are going about things or is it just a case of hard work and perseverance?

It’s a mix of both really. The key thing is local marketing; it’s all about networking and this can turn on the smallest thing. A phone call, chance meeting, someone leaving and moving to a new company can all generate a lead with the power to transform your business. Businesses like to deal with local suppliers who they feel know their area so this should always be considered a USP of ours. It’s a relationship building exercise and that’s where the perseverance comes in. It is important to not take a knock back as a rejection as you never know where work will come from again in the future. In my own experience, work can come from the most unlikely source. You never know the person’s situation that you are talking to; while you may think they don’t want to know about you, they may just be having a bad day. I don’t take it personally, it’s business not a popularity contest after all!

Have you ever wondered how the life of a professional inventory clerk is? We decided to ask directly to our franchisees and share with you their professional experiences but also any light hearted or intriguing anecdotes. The first ones to answer our questions are Alison & Mark from the No Letting Go Swindon & Cotswolds local branch.

1) Some of our readers may be unsure as to what is involved in your line of work. Shed some light by telling us about a typical day in the life of a professional inventory clerk.

Independently and impartially carrying out a detailed inventory of and reporting on condition and cleanliness of properties primarily in the residential lettings sector before, during and after a tenancy has taken place. A typical day will involve liaising with letting agents / landlords and tenants in order to make this happen!

2) As a professional inventory clerk it is essential that you have an eye for detail; what other skills would you consider essential to do the job well?

Empathy, enthusiasm, resolve, impartiality, flexibility, initiative and resilience!!

3) How might a landlord prepare for an inventory?

Ensure in good decorative order with carpets professionally cleaned and vacuumed, all rubbish/ unwanted items removed, kitchen and bathrooms , flooring and woodwork all professionally cleaned throughout.

4) When moving house, stuff is constantly being shifted about from place to place and it is all too easy to overlook the odd item when packing. You must have come across some oddities during your time as an inventory clerk. What are the five strangest items you have found in a property during check out?

Wardrobe novelty door knob decorations such as soft toys/ hearts etc, a leather whip, , a straw boater hat and recipe cards to name a few!

5) Property is hot business at the minute, often seen as a great investment if managed properly. If you could offer three tips for new landlords wanting to let their properties what would they be?

Maintain it. Have it professionally cleaned and arrange a detailed, impartial and professional inventory make.

6) Landlords and tenants are two of a kind; they can be great, a perfect match but they can also be high maintenance, occasionally apathetic and sometimes complacent. What are the three most typical complaints landlords have in relation to the inventory market?

  • Poor quality reports from previous inventory providers
  • Tenants leaving the place in a worse condition than taken on, most of the time not technically correct as they often have a ‘rose tinted view’ of their own properties
  • Missing / damaged items or appliances

7) And what about the tenants, do you ever receive any complaints from them if so what are typical complaints and are they always justified?

  • Non- completed tasks / actions by landlord or through letting agent such as phone points that were supposed to have been installed
  • Grass cutting before tenancy
  • Cleanliness or lack of it! in relation to the property

8) Animal lovers can often be dismayed when moving into rented accommodation as many landlords do not allow pets to be kept within their property. In your experience, what implications and issues does owning a pet have on a property?

  • Wear & tear on carpets
  • Build up of pet hair
  • Smell
  • Cleanliness

9) You must have held the keys to a fair few houses in your time: from the elegant to the beautifully designed to the stunningly decorated. Can you tell us about any interesting houses you’ve come across?

48 room 138 page inventory on an 11 bedroom, 7 bathroom country house with swimming pool, tennis courts, changing rooms, walled garden and stable blocks & outbuildings. A number of large farmhouses all with seemingly single people moving in!!

10) On the No Letting Go website it states: “No Letting Go will provide peace of mind and ensure no horrible surprises”, give us an example of any “horrible surprises” you’ve encountered.

  • On a job in a rural location everything was prepared meticulously by the both agent and landlord with carpets professionally cleaned and even re-stretched,  yet when we arrived to carry out the inventory make , overnight a Jackdaw had fallen down the chimney and marked the carpets again with loose carbon from the chimney and had several accidents shall we say, scared in a corner we managed to get him outside and contacted the agent  bringing the tenants attention to it at check in but adding that additional cleaning was being arranged as we carried it out!
  • Upon carrying out a inventory on a newly renovated property the landlord said would be clear but they had still been living in the property , were pulling cables through the ceiling still for inset spotlights and even though there were ‘glass walls’ upstairs  the landlords partner was running around half naked !!

11) There are many routes towards owning your own business, what compelled you to become an inventory franchisee, has it been a wise decision and how much did you know about the world of inventories previously?

General interest in / passion for property. Not sure yet as still early days yet love the work but need it to provide a better income level & no not really!!

12) Would you recommend inventory management as a career for others?

Yes, if you are hard working, adaptable, flexible, self- reliant and personable you’ll do very well.

Lots of people dream about running their own business – for reasons which range from escaping the commute, spending more time with family or to simply fulfill an ambition and earn more money.

And one of the best ways to begin is to become a franchisee which will help you become quickly established with a business that is tried and tested.

Having a franchise means you will get the help and support you need for your business to do well and this is where becoming a franchisee for No Letting Go becomes a win-win situation.

You don’t need expensive overheads such as an office, you don’t need prior experience of the property market – you just need a computer, access to the internet and a ‘can do’ attitude.

Nick Lyons is the managing director of No Letting Go and he says: “Running a business from home is tough but the upside outweighs the downside – there’s no commuting, there is lots of flexibility, it’s cheap to do and you do get to spend more time with your family.

“However, there’s no getting away from the fact that you will have to work extra hard in networking, getting out and mixing with client prospects and then you have the possible loneliness because you don’t mix with other people as you may have done previously.”

As a home-based No Letting Go franchise you may still have clients visiting so you can’t afford to be sat around in your pyjamas all day long and you still have to report to a regional office.

Nick adds: “Franchising is a great opportunity for the right people. The reward potential is enormous but it still requires energy, discipline and dedication to be successful.”

There are franchising opportunities for a wide range of industries and No Letting Go have become the leaders in what is termed inventory management. That is when an inventory is made at a property for the landlord which is independent as well as being fair and accurate.

Like many opportunities, franchising is about what you put into it. It is not a short cut to success and you will need to be professional in your outlook and establish a routine that works for you which means no slacking to watch TV or entertaining people to coffee on a regular basis.

It also means that you need an office space which, ideally, has a door so you can keep distractions and family on the other side of it. Everyone needs to understand that when the door is closed, then you are at ‘work’ and should not be disturbed.

It’s only natural that some people won’t understand the difference and think that being at home means you are available for chores or favours. You will have to be firm – relent once and it will become a common feature and will lead to working for longer trying to get the work done.

Some people will also struggle to get their ‘business head on’ which is to say they don’t commute and don’t have that time between home and work to focus from one place to the next. It helps to dress as if you are going out to work.

The next big issue is spending long periods by yourself. Let’s be honest: after years of working in hectic office environments, this is going to take some getting used to.

You will need to structure your day and allocate time to achieving a set list of tasks. You will also need regular breaks from the computer and to get some fresh air and exercise. Do not start playing computer games or over-indulging in social media such as Facebook or Twitter – turn them off and you will reap the rewards.

It may also be a great idea to start networking and joining business clubs (especially if you become a franchisee of No Letting Go because the potential contacts you make could bring money in).

Finally, working from home is a great way to earn a living but if you don’t take time to make friends and create new networks then who will you boast to about your successes?

For more information about becoming a franchisee with the fast-expanding business No Letting Go, then visit: https://nolettinggo.co.uk/join-our-inventory-management-team.html or call 0800 8815 366.

No Letting Go are the UK’s leading provider of inventory management services, providing check in and check out services, property inventory and condition reports and specialist on site services to landlords, lettings agents and property professionals.

With student market nearly upon us, New Student Publications carried out an interesting straw survey on Student Landlord Problems

Different categories were addressed covering areas from unpaid rent to cleanliness issues.

Unpaid rent, filthy tenants and panicking about filling your properties for next year?

The results were astounding, with over 14% of landlords saying that their current biggest problem is just finding tenants to take their properties and fill in any gaps should someone drop out during a contract, with more than 2% feeling like they are struggling just to get viewings. One agent simply said “we have unlet properties remaining for July 2011, the situation is worse than in previous years” In a similar 2009 survey finding tenants was also the biggest problem raised by landlords.

Dirty Tenants

Landlords cited dirty tenants as their second biggest problem, with 16% left to pick up massive cleaning bills, or called out at 4am to change a lightbulb. The general consensus was “students don’t take care of the property or make any effort to keep the house clean.” 3.5% of agents thought that students demanded a much higher standard of accommodation than ever before, although it seems that tenants are unwilling to take out contracts for a full twelve months, with one landlord struggling to get even shorter terms “the majority of people contact me to rent for one or two months.”

Pressure From Pupose Built Halls

Many of the landlords surveyed said that they felt increased pressure from new purpose built student villages found in many city centres; more than 8% of those surveyed would eradicate those villages if we gave them one wish! 2% of landlords are afraid that their properties were not close enough to ‘hotspots’ and so would soon be abandoned in favour of more central locations.

Unpaid Rent

11% of businesses struggle with unpaid rent, while 2% note that this messes with their cash flow and although some are sympathetic to the issues caused by the Student Loans Company, most are fixed on the bigger picture; “a lot of time is spent chasing payment. Students seem to think that it is not always necessary for them to pay their rent.” This coupled with tenants excessively using all inclusive utilities means that businesses are less profitable. One landlord’s wish was simply that we could ‘undo the recession’ as 8 different landlords complained of increases to the cost of maintaining their properties to a decent standard.

Relax Regulations

Bogged down with HMO paperwork and expense? Over 18% of those surveyed would love to change or relax the regulations and the council powers to control them. One landlord stated; “there should be a national guide for HMO legislation.” Some landlords feel so strongly about HMO licensing that they named specific city councils or even actual councillors as their biggest fear for the future. 3 landlords said they had qualms about council schemes to shift populations from one area of a city to another, and how it would affect their business.

Worries Over Tuition Fee Increase

Landlords are worried about the tuition fee increase, with more than 14% saying that if they had one wish, they would fight the fees and leave the system as it stands, a worry which probably contributes to 13% of them saying that they feel the future of the market is uncertain, as some students may choose to stay at home to study. Competition from the university owned housing is a headache too, with 4% saying an increase in that sort of accommodation would be detrimental to their ability to let.

Problems With Advertising

Landlords raised the issue of advertising, when to do it and how the culture of marketing lets so early can damage the business, with nearly 5% of landlords thinking there should be a guideline that means property is marketed in January and not before. 4% thought university accommodation offices charged them too much for advertising, and 5% would like to see cheaper, and more effective advertising available to them.

Deposit Protection Unfair

Some landlords were concerned that the existing Deposit Protection Scheme did not offer them enough scope to reclaim money for damage to their properties. Eight separate landlords would like to see the entire system revised, with 1% of those surveyed listing it as their biggest problem. A case from the survey highlights the DPS’s flaws; “£1500 worth of damage but ex tenants refuse to give consent to DPS to pay the landlord.” And some feel that from a legal standpoint the law does not protect them, 3% of landlords would like to see more legislation to protect the financial interests of the landlord.

Worries Over The Potential Drop In Student Numbers

And what of the future of the student property market? More than half of those surveyed were very worried about the potential drop in student numbers next year, with one landlord summing up the problems this will create; “if student numbers drop because of the £9,000 a year course fees then we might see empty houses, lower rents or both.” A worry shared by 3% of those surveyed, who fear the contraction in the market will mean a forced reduction of rents, while other suggested offering shorter term contracts or starting to appeal to the housing benefit market was the only way to keep the business afloat.

No Problems At All

But this isn’t the full picture. Almost 9% of those surveyed have no major problems with the lettings market, their tenants or filling their properties. One landlord is more than happy with his tenants; “we enjoy our students. We pride ourselves in helping them learn how to care for and run the house. We regard them as ‘professionals-in-training’ and teach them what they should reasonably expect from a landlord and what they should reasonably do as a tenant.” One respondent would use a magic wand to change the public’s attitude towards students; “they tend to live in larger houses that are too big for modern families and therefore almost act as guardians for some of our most impressive architecture. They should be seen as a positive part of any community.”

Top 5 biggest fears for the future Number of responses Percentage
Fewer students in the future 101 54%
Student villages 15 8%
Legislation increasing workload 15 8%
Unpaid rent due to fees 10 5%
Universities moving into market 8 4%
Top 5 current biggest problems Number of responses Percentage
Bad tenants 51 13.6%
Uncertainty for the future 49 13.1%
Finding tenants 48 12%
Unpaid rent 41 11%
HMOs 17 4.5%

No Letting Go are working with a number of student letting agents and bodies around the UK to help protect both landlords and tenants from many of the issues arising from cleanliness and deposit protection. Better use of Inventory services, checking tenants in, property visits and managing the check out is critical to ensuring that potential problems are dealt with in advance and issues arising from check outs are dealt with quickly and efficiently. Contact No Letting Go on 0800 881 5366 or find your nearest office at www.nolettinggo.co.uk

Compiled by Emma Parker New Student – Student Housing Magazines – www.newstudent.co.uk