Northwood, which is part of the Belvoir Group, marked the end of a highly successful year at the 2019 Annual Conference and Awards, celebrating the achievements of the network’s highest-performing franchisees.
A prestigious black-tie award ceremony and champagne dinner was held at Chesford Grange, Kenilworth. The awards followed the company’s high profile national conference, which had the theme “The Opportunity of Change,” and was sponsored by SDL Auctions, DPL and Jelf.
Northwood MD Phil Gee, who presented the awards, said: “I am very proud of Northwood’s franchisees who continue to operate extremely successful businesses and achieve incredible results. This year a record number of franchisees and senior staff members attended the conference, which provided ideas, inspiration and new business strategies for everyone. A total of 15 awards were presented at the Annual Awards and I am delighted that this year’s top award of Northwood Franchise of the Year 2019 went to Northwood Aberdeen.
“Laura and Steven Mearns opened Northwood Aberdeen in January 2009 and are phenomenal business owners. Laura took over the day-to-day operations of the business in 2013, working very closely with Operations Director Matt Pullinger who joined the business in 2009 and became a Director in 2013.
“Last year Northwood Aberdeen won top Scotland office, but this year they have risen to another level – achieving the highest turnover of any other Northwood franchise. This achievement is all the more remarkable when you consider how badly Aberdeen was hit in recent years by the dramatic fall in oil prices, which crashed the rental market. However, very much in line with the theme of this year’s conference, out of adversity comes opportunity and the team at Northwood Aberdeen have clearly demonstrated just how much can be achieved with hard work, determination and ambition – as well as the confidence to take on two successful acquisitions, which massively boosted their business. We wish them every success for the future.”
After accepting the award, Laura Mearns said: “We are overwhelmed, and absolutely delighted that Northwood Aberdeen has won Franchise of the Year! It has been a tough few years in Aberdeen, with rents falling by as much as 30-40% overnight, combined with the impact of Scottish regulation changes, but we were also aware that other agents were struggling and there were market opportunities for Northwood. Even though rents fell dramatically we were determined to honour all of our Guaranteed Rental Income contracts, which our landlords appreciated, and as a consequence we retained them. Client loyalty proved to be a huge boost for the business during a very challenging period. Our unique guaranteed rent offering minimised the risk for our landlords as it ensured they received an income for a fixed period regardless of rent arrears or void periods.
“With rents being so low, volume is key and so in November 2017, we took the risk of two acquisitions in the hope that we could retain the new clients, turn the businesses around, and boost our turnover. It was a massive risk but it delivered! During this period, we also identified an opportunity in the local market to provide estate agency services to our existing clients. Providing a first-class service from a local Aberdonian with an extensive network, we promised our clients that we would only charge our estate agency fee at the point of sale. The success of our estate agency offering to existing clients has given us the confidence to reach out to the wider Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire market and we are really excited to be formally launching our estate agency service at the start of 2020 – watch this space!
“None of this would have been possible without the commitment of our team, who are absolutely amazing. In the last four years our workload has tripled – in the past when a property came onto the books we could rent it the same day, but now we have to work exceptionally hard to make sure our client journey is first class and properties are presented to a high standard thus ensuring a quick turnaround of vacant properties .
“Thankfully the Aberdeen market now seems to be stabilising, having hit rock bottom. We have worked very hard to improve the tenant journey, taking immediate action whenever we get a tenant enquiry, and simplifying the application process as much as possible. We have also been very proactive in communicating market conditions and providing an added value service to our landlords to help them improve and upgrade their properties to ensure they will rent in a very competitive market. We have also invested in first-class software to enhance our processes and provide our clients with a first-class service.
“This year is Northwood Aberdeen’s 10th anniversary. We are celebrating our birthday on 6th December with a team-building day out followed by a charity ball in support of Charlie House in Aberdeen, which is our chosen charity, supporting local children with life-limiting conditions. Now we have even more to celebrate – winning Northwood Franchise of the Year 2019! I would like to personally thank my clients and my team for their continued support as achieving this award would not have been possible without them; a huge heartfelt thank you.”
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