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What got me into the ROOMS® business

With change comes opportunity.

In late 2011, I was looking for a business to invest in. Aged 42, I wanted something I could grow and develop into an exciting enterprise which would satisfy a healthy ambition for success and time no longer appeared to be on my side.


Property had always appealed, although continued price rises appeared to make the acquisition of a good-sized portfolio far out of reach. In my early 30’s I’d owned a bespoke furniture and joinery company, and we had supplied lots of goods into some fantastic building projects. The seed had been sown and there was a latent wish to be involved in property.


Although I had some money and access to additional borrowing, funds were quite limited, so I needed to find an opportunity which was not capital intensive and which generated a good return. It was by surprise that I came across rent to rent/HMO management. I hadn’t thought of a property management business since development had always appeared more glamorous, and for that matter, more profitable (or so I thought).


However, as a sideline, while looking at several other opportunities, I had started to rent out rooms in a property I owned to bring extra money in. The demand for the rooms was high, and the prospective tenants were of a good quality. Having recently refurbished and extended the house, it was of a good standard, and the rents the rooms achieved were good. The margins were enough to get me thinking about whether there was an opportunity to scale this. Scaling the management, without owning the property.


As I researched the local and regional markets, I began to read avidly, any material I could find on property management and HMO’s,  a business model was under development. There was a flutter of excitement, because the more research I did, the more opportunity there appeared to be. In particular, because the market for shared living has grown but has also changed. The demand is high, but the traditional shared housing offering is of a poor standard, while many tenants now are looking for a better standard and don’t mind paying a fair price for it.


Old school landlords continue to serve up magnolia walls, cheap saggy carpet and bathrooms with half a dozen tiles and yellowing vinyl flooring, however, now that rents have risen so much this no longer hits the mark. Even when renting house shares, the money a tenant spends on their rent represents a large part of their hard-earned income, and it seems a fair trade that the standards inside should be better.


By Gary Winter

gary.winter@rooms.life

My love affair with the property and financial services industry started when I left university knowing only that I wanted to run my own business but as yet not knowing what business. It was the early 80’s and with property booming it seemed the logical step to be part of the Mortgage and Property success story.

My first flirtation with franchising was in 1989 when I developed a network of mortgage brokers supporting Estate Agents throughout the UK between 1988 and 1992. This just so happened to also be my first time in starting and running my own business.

Fast forward 20 years, having run successful Financial Services, Property Investment and Estate Agency businesses, developed the largest buy-to-let mortgage franchise in the UK , being hit by the credit crunch, I became Sales Director of one the largest lettings agent franchises.

During my years at this lettings franchise I re-engineered the business to become a full estate agency, implementing the required state of the art I.T. and digital marketing system making it ready for listing. With more that 185 offices and £40 million turnover it listed early 2014.

Now I’ve turned my attention to developing franchise networks with companies that due to their innovative models are fast growing and highly profitable. A recipe for success for all people that join them as franchise owners.