Our Business Model.

I bang on so much about the difference between a Strategy & a Business Model… so I thought it was time I brought ours to life!

We buy blocks of flats. Exclusively.

Why?
For us it is the right Balance of Risk vs. Reward.

We buy existing blocks of flats, we don’t do the conversion.
Some blocks we buy in good condition and they are let from day one that we purchase them, others are in poor condition and we complete a full refurbishment before they are let.
– If it’s the former, we are able to be on buy-to-let style finance from day-1, which greatly reduces the risk when compared with a conversion or development opportunity
– if it’s the latter, the refurbishment works are purely cosmetic so they are quick – so you can get onto a low interest rate, long term finance product within 3-6 months of purchase

After refurbishment we refinance and retain the units which provides a quicker and more certain exit than a lengthy sales process

Understanding how to buy blocks of flats is a very specific niche, and there are a number of complexities to doing this that mean by us really choosing to focus in this area we have learnt how to navigate these. By building good relationships (with vendors & agents) and maintaining a healthy deal pipeline we are able to acquire these properties for prices that mean we still have scope to add significant value, which again helps to balance the risk.

For us having this focus onto just one Business Model, and replicating over and over again means less surprises each time we do it! Which means there are less unknown variables, less things can go wrong and so ultimately this really helps to manage the risk.

Which starts to bring us nicely into our strategy… Consistency! Creating a business that is Consistent across all areas is one of the key aims of our Long Term Strategy.

Business Model vs. Strategy. It’s crucial you have both!

The Tomes Homes Team

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We are really excited to have hit a new phase of growth here at Tomes Homes. With nearly 50 units owned & managed in the Group, and a super-talented team of 8 of us (need to update our Team 1 pager!), we are now able to really knuckle down and focus on delivering a superior service to the Private Rented Sector, whilst continuing to scale up.

We are continuing to acquire new blocks of flats (in the Thanet, Kent area) that will be managed by our in-house team.

The Tomes Homes Group has only made it to this point by working with our awesome investment partners who have received great returns along the way. But we haven’t been able to serve many investors, as the business was very reliant on David & me for things to happen. This meant we had to be very selective of who we worked with because for us it is has always been essential that we deliver on the promises we make.

We are excited we now have capacity to take on additional investment to facilitate the next stage of growth (whilst continuing to serve alongside our existing investors).

Now that the foundations are in place, we are ready to take the business to the next level of scale so we can really add value to the communities we operate in, the Private Rented Sector more widely and our Investment Partners.

If this is something that sounds interesting to you, feel free to drop me a message!

A new Vision for Tomes Homes!

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To make renting where you live better than owning where you live.
A property business designed to serve those who rent from us.

For those that wish to rent, we want to make this a great choice, where it offers benefits that you just don’t get with homeownership:
– a swift easy & efficient move in process without hassle or chasing
– great quality accommodation that is ready to become your home straight away
– one call and that maintenance issue is swiftly rectified!
– flexibility to move quickly into a home you’ll be happy and excited to live in

Bringing our Lettings in house this year has been a big part of the first step in making this happen. Important to say, this is not a Lettings Agency, as we will only be managing the properties that we also own or co-own with our investors. This is crucial to being able to provide the highest levels of service that our Vision demands.

We are so excited to finally be able to articulate a Vision that really puts our customers (those that rent from us) at the heart of everything we do. Where we can also play our part in refining the image of the Private Rented Sector, which continues to get such a battering.

As we start to implement this Vision, this approach is of course also serving our investors who are already benefitting from streamlined lettings costs, quick tenant changeovers and improved rents.

There is lots of work to be done to make this a reality! But we have a fantastic team, a great bedrock of systems (that are improving every week) and we are ready for the next level of scale and adding new properties to the portfolio that can then go on to be managed to the highest standards towards this new Vision.

If this Vision sounds like something you would be interested to be involved in, then get in touch as we would love to hear from you!

(Don’t) GO HARD OR GO HOME!

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Not everyone wants to build an epic business. Not everyone wants to have a massive property business. But there’s a lot of stuff out there encouraging you to go out there and smash it! To go hard or go home! Or to 10 X it!

Whilst that is right for some people (albeit I actually think a relatively small number of people) what I find that most of the business owners that I serve want (and indeed what we wanted when we started) wasn’t an epic business.

It was 6.5 years ago that we were away on a holiday skiing in the French Alps and Dave & I sat there just thinking that we didn’t want to have to go back to work! We just wanted to be able to go on adventures to go on holidays and to generally have an amazing life, which we didn’t have the freedom to do at that time.

It was that moment that was what set us out in property and to actually building this business… but it has been so very hard to hang onto that driving force and that reason. We’ve been swept up in other peoples’ versions of success more than once, and have ended up on the path to building some massive business that we just don’t want, but that many are telling us we should have!

Don’t forget why you started! For us we started because we wanted to have more holidays and more adventures, and I’m so grateful that we are living the life where this is our reality. But it REALLY didn’t happen by accident – we didn’t just hope for it, and then one day it magically appeared. It has been so many small day-to-day decisions compounded to get to this point.

So if you want to go hard or go home or if you want to have a massive business, if that is what your vision is, for go for it. But if that doesn’t resonate with you, know that it does not have to be like that. You can find your own way to make sure you’ve got the business that gives you the lifestyle that you want.

Now I’ve got a caveat! That this doesn’t mean that if you’re just starting out in property you can just think I’m just gonna take it easy right now and from day one I’m gonna be able to go on holiday every six weeks… you have to put in the hard work first of all! If you’ve already got a job and you want to find another stream of income to replace that job you’re gonna have to work harder at first before it gets better… But don’t keep working hard indefinitely if that isn’t what you genuinely want – make sure you stop and actually start enjoying it at some point.

So there you go… don’t 10x it if you don’t want… to don’t smash it if you don’t want to… go out there and build a business that is serving you and your reasons for actually starting this in the first place. Sounds so fricking obvious… but in reality it is hard to achieve, unless you really focus on and prioritise it.

Business Growth Indicators (BGI’s) vs. Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s)

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Knowing your numbers is fundamental to understanding the Health of your Business, and to being able to make good decisions. It’s even more important as you scale and become less involved in all areas, so that you can keep a beady little eye out for if things change / stop working, so that you can take quick remedial action.

BGI’s are different to KPI’s. Generally BGI’s will be numbers that get larger over time, where as KPI’s are more likely to be a static number. In fact a BGI can actually become a KPI over time…

Some examples of BGI’s could be…

1 – Size of portfolio
2 – Monthly net profit
3 – No of viewings this month
4 – No of deals analysed this month
5 – No of offers this month
6 – No of deals in the pipeline
7 – No of deals agreed this month
8 – No of investor meetings this month
9 – Amount of investment raised to date

…Just examples and will really vary depending on what your business model is and where you are at in the life-cycle of scaling this up.

It might be at the moment that you don’t have enough deals, because you aren’t doing enough viewings or analysing enough deals… so you could have ‘No of Viewings this month’ or ‘No of deals analysed this month’ as a BGI. Over time doing the right number of viewings or deal analysis becomes normal. Then it can become a KPI. This could be a KPI for you or another team member.

The more you step back from the business the more important it is to know your numbers (and ensure you have systems in place that regularly deliver these numbers to you). These numbers will indicate where the business is either running smoothly or not, so that you can take decisive action to sort it out.

We’ve recently started measuring Actual Monthly Turnover (AMTO), compared to what we’ve called ‘Max Available Turnover’ (MATO). So that we can see how much rental income came in, compared with what we know is the maximum available income that we could generate from those properties. So essentially this gives you the cost of your inefficiencies – sometimes it’s easier to streamline the costs of your inefficiencies rather than just do more deals!

So it’s all about the AMTO vs. the MATO in the Tomes Homes world right now (I never said we were cool!!)

So what are the key numbers for you to measure?

 

Why I don’t JV with my clients.

I made the decision a while ago not to Joint Venture with my Property Strategy clients.

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I feel that it creates conflict of interest.

In my opinion to be a great mentor/ strategic guide you need to be IMPARTIAL. As soon as you have active business interests with that client there is a real danger of that water becoming muddied. I’ve seen it happen in         other mentor/mentee relationships, and it saddens me.

Who agrees / disagrees with me?

Do you use this magical button in Outlook?!

If you don’t want to be a slave to your emails you need to try this – it will clear your headspace to make better decisions!

outlook offlineWhen its ‘Online’ you’ll just receive new emails as and when they arrive, when it’s ‘Offline’ it will stop new emails from arriving.

Over the last year or so, I’ve changed my habits to have it as ‘Offline’ as the standard, rather than ‘Online’. It really helps fight distraction and help keep you focused.

Also, remember that you don’t need to be the only one replying to emails – it can be a
great task to start handing over to someone else. I’d challenge yourself to do this if you aren’t doing it already.

Drowing in paperwork? Here’s a lifeboat for you!

Do you ever feel like you are drowning in paperwork?! Have you ever been away and suddenly realise you need a document that is back home in your filing cabinet (or in that ‘paperwork pile’!!) and it ends up causing delays?
I have found that if our filing is not in order I can’t focus! And if I can’t focus I procrastinate… which wastes time and money!
So we decided to take the route to a paperless (or virtually paperless!) business so that ourselves and our team can access documents remotely.
Part 1: Getting rid of the current files…
We got all our old paper files (thousands of pages) sent to a company who scanned everything in for us, and send us back a USB with all the scanned versions on (organised into files like they were in the paper files) and they then shredded the originals.
Part 2: Setting up the ongoing system
There are 3 key elements to this…
Step 1: A Virtual Office
Step 2: An Online ‘Filing Cabinet’ (aka. a cloud based software where you can store files online)
Step 3: A badass Shredder!
Step 1: Virtual Office
Being able to receive mail wherever you are in the world is key to this life! If you don’t have a physical office yourself with a receptionist that can send you mail, then this is a great (and much more cost effective!) alternative.
With a Virtual Office, you get your mail sent directly to a specific office address where there is a receptionist who receives your post daily. You can then add on the service of them opening, scanning in and emailing your post to you! We have a specific post email account that it all gets sent to, and then there is a process for post getting distributed to the right person in the team and electronically saved on the online filing system. This is great because it means you still get your post in ‘real time’ so you can still have things being processed whilst you are away.
Step 2: Online Filing Cabinet
All files that are received into the post account are then saved onto your Cloud based system. We use the One Drive. Get a good folder system set up so that you always know where things are saved (and I recommend naming files well too, so that you can also use the search function to find files if needed)
Step 3: Badass Shredder…
… to dispose of all the paperwork that you no longer need! We have killed a number of £30-40 quid shredders, they just weren’t up to the task – so invest in your shredder! We upgraded to something more badass recently, and of course Dave found a BARGAIN price on it to. Here’s the details if you want to get in on the life changing shredding action! Up to 100 sheets at auto-feeding through! Living the dream…
Not sexy stuff this I know… but the RESULTS of having this non-sexy-system working are VERY SEXY I promise! *jets off on holiday*

Have you got clarity on your priorities?

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I find that if you don’t have this clarity that it is the biggest barrier in ENJOYING building your business.
If you don’t have clear priorities on what needs to be done next and by when, then you end up feeling constantly guilty. You always end up feeling behind, like a slave to your to do list.
To get clear on your priorities you need to pause. Take time to step back and review the bigger picture so that you can work backwards to what needs to be done first.
When you’ve got great clarity on your Vision and where you want to be and you are impatient to get there, it can feel like everything needs to happen NOW (or even yesterday). But if that is making you feel behind, which is making you feel guilty, then we need to break that cycle.

To anyone going through a crap time in property right now – know that you are not alone.

There are so many challenges to be overcome, and I know that sometimes it can feel like you are the only one going through them…
But you are not.
We’ve been through them. And I know we’ve got more to come. I work closely with other very successful property business owners, and I see the challenges they go through too.
It’s normal.
When you go through TOO MANY challenges in such a short space of time it will wear you down (you may even hit full blown burnout). You’ll question why you are bothering, you’ll question whether you really want to do property deals anymore.
You can come back from this. It might take time, but you will find the fire again.
Is it all worth it?
Yes. Yes it is! It is worth all of the pain. I’d do it all again.
You can do this.