Redstones Goes From Strength To Strength

As the property market continues to strengthen in both sales and lettings, the Redstones brand continues to thrive. So far in 2014, we’ve welcomed a number of new franchisees to our expanding network:-

Sidcup – February

Wolverhampton – May 2014

Newcastle-upon-Tyne – June 2014

Thanet – July 2014

We also have two further office launches scheduled for the next few months in Ilford and Richmond respectively. We look forward to welcoming both of our new franchisees in due course.

With the boom in property sales combined with a buoyant lettings market, increasing numbers of start-ups companies are entering the sector. Inevitably this has resulted in concerns being expressed over rogue estate agents entering the market. On top of that, for an inexperienced entrepreneur the estate agency sector is littered with obstacles which often leads to early closure of businesses.

Investing in a Redstones franchise helps to remove those barriers to success in a competitive and often cut-throat market in several ways:-

Operate a business under a proven brand name : Redstones is recognised for its attention to detail, its superlative levels of customer service and its ability to provide property owners with comprehensive advice on their local market. As a franchisee, you benefit from our brand message, giving you a head start against other businesses in your area.

Unique marketing tools offered by Redstones : When our customers speak, we listen. For example, our Switch Agents service provides property owners with a straightforward way of transferring their portfolio to Redstones from their existing service provider.  Our Platinum Total Care Service addresses the concerns of property owners concerned about their tenants making timely rental payment.  For clients wishing to sell their property quickly, we operate an online auction service.

Full training in all aspects of running a Redstones franchise : We provide full training on every single aspect of running a lettings franchise. Furthermore, we constantly review and update our procedures to ensure all of our franchisees are equipped with the tools they need to succeed. For more information on what it takes to succeed as a franchisee read our previous article.

Ongoing support : From the day our franchisees launch their business, they have access to Redstones’ unrivalled expertise.  To help our franchisees to secure their first customers quickly, we also attend the first client meetings when requested.  We are committed to your success.

State-of-the-art marketing : Our commitment to a comprehensive marketing strategy is evident in our walk-through sales brochures and 3D floor plans, giving our franchisees another great asset as they build their businesses.

Larger than average territories : Using our unique mapping service our territories are equally designed for all our franchisees to succeed. Furthermore, these larger than average territories enable you, as a franchisee, to open multiple offices as your business grows.

Lower overheads : Unusually among lettings franchises, Redstones does not insist that its franchisees launch their business from a high street premises.  We understand that the first year in any business is the most challenging and work with our franchisees to ensure overheads are kept to a minimum.  Combined with a competitive initial franchise investment, Redstones offers a low-cost entry to the market.

Of course, we don’t expect you to just take our word for it. Click on this video and listen to what our franchisees have to say.

The difference is Redstones.

Do you have what it takes to succeed as a Redstones franchisee? Get in touch today, we look forward to hearing from you.

Redstones Branded Car with Dean Caldon - Redstones Brentwood Franchisee

Fulfilling Your Dreams With Redstones

Continuing our series of introducing you to Redstones franchisees, this week we meet Dean Caldon, our franchisee for Brentwood, Chelmsford and Billericay in Essex.  Dean launched his business in May 2012.

Dean, tell us about your career before Redstones

My career isn’t a typical franchisee background from what I understand.  After achieving a BA (Hons) degree in Accountancy in 1995 I trained to be a Chartered Accountant with Coopers and Lybrand. You’ll know them better now as PwC. It wasn’t long before I realised accountancy wasn’t for me so I moved into investment. I spent ten years as an equity dealer working with asset managers and hedge funds.  Just before I joined Redstones I enjoyed a successful role as an Emerging Market Equity Sales Trader.

That sounds impressive! The obvious question is, why would you want to become a franchisee with such a successful career?

After 16 years as an employee I always aspired to run my own business, and buying a franchise was the perfect way to fulfil that dream.  It really hit me while I was on holiday in Cornwall with my family and we began to assess our quality of life. It may have been influenced by the red wine but this was the moment we seriously considered the possibility of buying a franchise.

What did you know about the franchise industry?

Not much, apart from the fact that a very good friend of ours had invested in a lettings agency some years before and turned it into a hugely successful business.

What prompted you to explore the franchise route to market rather than go it alone?

We had no prior knowledge of the sector itself and it made sense to invest in a franchise with the training and support on offer from a franchisors.

Why choose Redstones?

When we first explored the lettings agency sector we were overwhelmed by the number of franchisors in the sector.  When we narrowed it down and researched the brands, none of them came close to the complete package on offer with Redstones. For a relatively low initial investment we were able to secure a much larger territory than we would have been able to with anyone else.  We were also able to speak directly to Manjit Virdi, the owner of Redstones, which gave us greater insight into the business. We loved the ethical way in which Redstones operates, as well as the vision and developments Manjit and his corporate team had planned for the network.

How would you rate the support from Redstones?

From the initial 2-week training course at head office, the Business Development Course, and the ongoing operational support, Redstones have been there every step of the way with endless enthusiasm.

What have your biggest challenges been so far?

Without doubt it was studying for the NFOPP Technical Award in Residential Lettings and Property Management, which I’m delighted (and relieved) to say I passed! It was by no means easy, especially as the last time I studied for anything was over 15 years ago! Gaining this qualification allows our business to register with ARLA (The Association of Residential Letting Agents) and proudly display the logo, giving landlords and tenants the reassurance that we operate under a strict code of conduct.

What are your top tips for anyone considering investing in a franchise?

If you are relatively new to a particular industry and are not entirely confident in setting up and running your own business without support, then a franchise is the perfect solution for you. As with all things in life, there are always pros and cons, so be sure to research the market thoroughly, explore a number of different options, choose the most suitable and go for it!

To find out more about becoming a franchisee with Redstones, contact us today

Images shot on location at Hylands House

Redstones Residential Sales

Thinking of Selling Your Property? Ask Yourself These 5 Questions First

House prices across the country are continuing to rise, with a recent report from leading accountants PwC suggesting that average house prices in the West Midlands will exceed £200,000 by the end of 2014 (up from £184,000 at the end of 2013) and rise to £256,000 by 2020.

At Redstones, we are seeing a growing number of enquiries from property owners about selling their homes.  We appreciate that even with soaring prices, making the decision to sell is not straightforward.

The following questions will help you during the decision making process:-

Should you sell your property?

The most common reason people sell is because they need more space or to downsize. In the current market this is an ideal time to downsize and realise any equity in your home.  It’s not such an easy choice if you are either in negative equity or may not be able to afford a much larger home than you already have. Additionally, you will need to factor in moving costs and stamp duty. Depending on the reason for your move, another option is to rent your home out rather than selling it.

We appreciate these choices can be somewhat overwhelming. To understand the implications more fully, we recommend discussing them with an estate agent who understands the issues affecting your local area. At Redstones, we deal in both sales and lettings and can advise you on the current trends relevant to you.

Do you understand the financial implications of selling?

Before you place your property on the market you must advise your mortgage lender that you intend to sell . This is important in order to understand the value of your outstanding mortgage, as well as confirming whether or not you will incur any early redemption penalties.  Before purchasing a new property you must also ensure you can afford to buy a new home (if appropriate) as the criteria for new mortgages is still stringent.

Redstones Financial can help you with your finances.

Will you immediately buy somewhere else or rent?

Some of our clients opt to move into a rented property after selling their house, in order to give them time to plan their next purchase.  While it may increase your overall expense, short-term renting relieves the pressure on house sellers to buy a new property in order to meet contract completion dates.  It will also give you an advantage when you eventually purchase a new property.  At Redstones, we are ideally placed to offer advice on both the local lettings and sales markets.

What price will you sell your house for?

With house prices rising rapidly on an almost daily basis, seeking advice on most appropriate price range for your property is essential.  A reputable estate agent will advise you on current prices. The final decision will also be influenced by how quickly you need to sell.

How will you sell your property?

Selling your property through an estate agent remains the most popular method.  With concerns over the number of rogue estate agents taking advantage of the current market, however, choosing the right agent is not always easy.  At Redstones we pride ourselves our state-of-the-art marketing, in-depth knowledge of the local area and our trademark commitment to outstanding customer service.  We also offer our Switch Agents programme for customers unhappy with their existing service.

For advice on selling your property, contact Redstones today.

You may also find our previous article on selling your property with Redstones helpful.

Redstones Lettings

6 Common Mistakes Made By New Landlords

The buy-to-let sector is full of pitfalls, especially for new (and sometimes experienced) landlords.  At Redstones we are regularly approached by new clients who have faced a number of challenges when ‘going it alone’ with their property management. These are some of the most common mistakes:-

Failing to secure tenant deposits

Many new landlords aren’t aware of their obligation to secure the deposit received from their tenants in an authorised deposit scheme.  This can have serious legal implications as the deposit must be secured within 30 days of receipt and a tenant can prosecute a landlord for negligence in this matter.  It can also affect their ability to evict a troublesome tenant at a later stage.

Using an unregulated lettings agent (or going it alone)

Don’t choose your lettings agent based on a convenient location or a big shop front.  Do your research.  Look online, ask for customer references, find out what makes them different, ensure they are members of relevant industry bodies.  Our previous blog on the signs of an unethical lettings agent provides more information on this matter. Before choosing a lettings agent, we recommend you vet them fully to prevent problems further down the line.   At Redstones, we offer a Switch Agents programme for landlords who are unhappy with their level of service from their current lettings agent. If you choose to manage your property yourself, it is also important to be aware of the potential problems that may arise.

Failing to vet tenants

This is essential if you intend to manage your property yourself.  If you do not carry out in-depth background checks on your prospective tenants, you are not able to make an informed decision about whether or not they are suitable.  Reference checks will reveal any problems with previous landlords or failure to make regular payment.  To be sure, carry out a credit check as well as requesting a reference from a previous landlord. At Redstones, we carry out this service for all of our landlords for their peace of mind.

Failing to complete a property inventory

A property inventory is crucial to ensure there is no ambiguity about ownership of various items, especially in a partly-furnished or fully furnished property. At Redstones, our comprehensive property management service includes carrying out a full property inventory prior to commencement of the tenancy agreement.

Forgetting property inspections

Property inspections are vital for landlords to assess the tenant’s treatment of their property.  At Redstone we recommend periodic inspections agreed in advance with the tenant.  We also carry out property inspections for our landlords for their peace of mind.

Failing to insure themselves

There is no compulsory requirement for UK landlords to take out insurance, although it is highly recommended, whether it is buildings insurance, public liability or contents insurance.  At Redstones we understand how overwhelming the issue of insurance can be for new landlords getting to grips with a whole new business venture.  Our soon-to-be-launched Redstones Financial division will offer advice to our clients on a range of financial issues, including the most appropriate insurance for their property.

Redstones provides a range of lettings services to suit the needs of all landlords.  For more information on our services and how we can work together contact us today.

From Media to Property – Meet Our Sidcup Franchisee, James Frowde

Redstones Siducp, James Frowde

Redstones Siducp, James Frowde

Continuing our series of interviews with both existing and new franchisees, this week we spoke with James Frowde, our franchisee based in Sidcup, Kent.  You can also hear what James has to say in the video too.

Tell us about your career background and experience James

I spent the past 15 years in media sales, starting out as a sales executive and moving up through the ranks to the role of Commercial Director. I sold a variety of B2B titles including recruitment and classified advertising solutions.

What were you doing immediately before taking up your franchise?

Prior to investing in my Redstones franchise I was Commercial Director for EMAP Publishing, responsible for the recruitment and classified sales teams. EMAP titles include Drapers, Nursing Times and Construction News.

How did you find out about franchising?

Over the past few years I’ve carried out some fairly in-depth research into the franchise sector.  The property sector has long attracted me but while I had 15 years commercial experience, I knew nothing about the lettings market.  Exploring the franchise route to market made perfect sense.

What prompted you to choose franchising rather than remaining in an employed role?

I have always had a desire to run my own business but launching a company from scratch with no prior experience in such a competitive market made no commercial sense. Franchising was by far the best route to market for me. It enables me to the balance of running my own business within a supportive network to learn and gain experience.

Why did you choose this franchise over others that are available?

The main criteria for me was to be part of a strong, easily recognise brand that stood out from the crowd.  After meeting Chris Gillam and Manjit Virdi I knew Redstones would be a perfect fit with their ambition, support, flexibility and high standards of customer care.  The other franchisees within the network have also been extremely supportive and keen throughout the whole process which wasn’t always the case within the other franchise networks I spoke to.

Is there anything else that appealed to you?

Without doubt the size of the territories available with Redstones coupled with their relatively low set-up costs compared to other franchisors.

How have you found the training and support you received from Redstones?

I cannot fault the training; it has been superb, with a mix of classroom learning and hands-on experience. By the end of my training I had a thorough understanding of all aspects of running a property business; from the systems and customer service to accounting and staff etc.   The training has given me confidence, I now feel like a bona fide estate agent!

What challenges have you faced while getting to know your new business?

I haven’t encountered any real challenges yet.  The challenge if anything will be to ensure I keep my costs low in my first year of trading. It’s very easy to spend in this business so prioritising on what will win me new clients is important.

What are the highs?

I’ve been trading since February 2014 and launched a residential sales division from the beginning due to my background in commercial sales.  I’m delighted to say that I’ve already sold my first property and I’m responsible for the property management for several landlords.

What are your plans for the future?

My plans are endless but to begin with I am keeping it simple by focusing on my local area and establishing the lettings business.  Within the first year I want to take on my first members of staff. Year 2, my goal is to open a shop front or multiple offices in my territory. In Year 3 I aim to be self-sufficient so I can start on a new territory in Kent. The long term goal is for Redstones to be the estate agency of choice throughout Kent.

What would your advice be to someone thinking of buying a franchise?

My top three tips are:-

  • Research the market and plan thoroughly.
  • Spend time on your due diligence.
  • Always speak to existing franchisees. I made over 40 calls to franchisees of various brands before making my final decision.

Thank you James! We’re very happy to support you in achieving your business plans.

To find out more about the opportunities available with Redstones, contact us today.

Coming Soon! Redstones To Launch A Financial Services Division

Redstones Financial

Redstones Financial

At Redstones, we are always seeking new ways of enhancing our levels of customer service while adding value to our franchise offering.  We are confident the latest addition to our brand will successfully meet both of these critiera.

Our soon-to-be-launched Redstones Financial division brings a new arm to our brand which will provide a full financial service to landlords and investors as well as tenants and house buyers.

Why Redstones Financial?

When we first launched Redstones, it was partly in response to the poor levels of customer service in the lettings agency sector.  Today, we are frequently asked for recommendations for financial service providers by our customers. Most of them share a similar wariness of this sector due to the bad press it’s received in the last few years.

The launch of Redstones Financial sees our reputation for unrivalled levels of customer service and transparency extended to this exciting side to our brand.

Redstones Financial – The Highlights

The guiding principles of Redstones Financial are:-

  • Ethical regulated firm
  • Expert independent advice
  • Professional and friendly staff
  • The best prices obtained
  • Quick and efficient turnaround
  • Extensive market of lenders and insurers
  • Professional, friendly service with outstanding customer care
  • No call centres!

Redstones Financial – The Products

The variety of financial products to be covered by Redstones Financial will incorporate the following:-

  • Home mortgages finance
  • Buy-to-let property finance
  • Commercial finance
  • Property insurance
  • Business insurance
  • Motor/travel insurance
  • Life insurance
  • Pensions and investments
  • Tax planning

 Redstones Financial – The Benefits

This innovative addition to the Redstones brand will prove advantageous for both our clients and our franchisees.

For our clients, it reinforces our commitment to provide the highest levels of customer care and continually review our service levels.  When it comes to Redstones, we listen to your concerns and endeavour to provide the solutions you seek.

For our expanding network of franchisees, Redstones Financial will further enhance the value of our franchise offering.

Redstones has a proven track record of launching unique products in response to concerns raised by our customers.

These include:-

Switch Agents – The easy way to move management of your property to Redstones, Switch Agents was designed specifically for landlords unhappy with the level of service received from their current lettings agent.

Platinum Total Care Service – Redstones guarantees that your rental payments are made, regardless of whether or not your tenants have paid on time.

This is on top of the most comprehensive marketing strategy available in the lettings sector, with on-going investment in the latest in state-of-the art technology to ensure we stay ahead in a competitive market place.

More information on this exciting new addition to the Redstones brand will follow soon.  In the meantime, to find out more about Redstones Financial, Redstones property management or about becoming a Redstones franchisee contact us today.

The Difference is Redstones

Disclaimer: Redstones Financial Services Ltd is a trading style of Acorn to Oaks Financial Services Ltd who are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority 486131