Estate agent has strong nerves
Most people would think strong nerves were needed by anyone opening an estate agency in these troubled times but Nick Coffin, pictured below left, did that a few months ago and remains upbeat about his decision.
Business consultant Phil Edwards, pictured with Nick, surely felt a little trepidation about the move too because his advice gave Nick the confidence to restructure his company but he looks ahead with calm confidence.
Both men are happy with what has been achieved. Mortgage broker Nick is ready for action when the housing market creaks back into action and consultant Phil believes Nick's business is operating efficiently and able to take full advantage of any improvement in trading conditions.
Phil, of Uckfield-based Weald Business Solutions, was approached following a presentation at a meeting of Tunbridge Wells BNI where he talked about common problems faced by business owners which, with just a little help from him, could be alleviated.
Nick identified with the symptoms. He was spending a lot of time outside the office and would get back to find his desk full of Post It notes and people desperate to ask him questions.
He knew changes were needed, bit the bullet and asked for help. Phil spent two afternoons talking to staff employed by Nick’s business, Mother Goose at Southborough, and quickly identified areas which worked well and those which could be improved.
Part of the problem was that when Nick set up his mortgage brokerage he opened a separate administration centre which became a drain on resources and made communication difficult.
Phil’s report spelled out what Nick already suspected and provided the impetus for him to take action.
Now the admin office and associated staff have been integrated into the Southborough shop.
On top of that space has been found within the building at 144 London Road to accommodate an estate agency and two additional members of staff following closure of an agent’s a few doors away.
‘The infrastructure was in place and opening an estate agency was a natural extension of our mortgage-broking business,’ said Nick.
Fresh pair of eyes
Activity started picking up in January and since mid-February Mother Goose Estate Agents has been busy with house prices showing signs of sticking rather than continuing a decline.
Demand is starting to stabilise but the supply of new homes to the market remains tight.
Phil said sometimes all that was needed was a fresh pair of eyes to review business procedures and highlight ways of improving efficiency and service to customers.
‘Some of the people I work with have been turning problems over in their minds for years without finding solutions little realising that an outsider can help them make simple changes which lead to a much improved business.’
Nick said he was very pleased with all that had been achieved since Phil was called in. ‘If we had carried on the way we were going we would have been in a much worse position financially than we are now. It would have cost us thousands of pounds. We took the advice at just the right time.’
(Added to site Tuesday, April 21st, 2009)