It was a cold, rainy day – the kind of rain that drips over your nose and down your clothes and makes you sopping wet even before you’ve stepped outside. You know the kind I mean. A fairly typical summer’s day in England!
I was sitting in our home office, when Andy walked in, cup of coffee in hand. As he sat down, I glanced across at his desk. The contrast between his desk and mine was stark. Mine – covered in all sorts of paper documents – bills, mortgage statements, letters, post-it notes of to-dos that hadn’t been done and should have been done last Friday. His – a monitor, wireless keyboard, mouse and speakers. No paper, no mess, no distraction.
He sat down and put his wireless headphones on, and I started to hear the muted ‘thud, thud’ of The Gorillaz latest album. I muttered under my breath ‘GEEK’ .. and proceeded to wade through the paper on my desk, deciding the quickest way to deal with the pile was to push it all onto the floor and use it as a new form of carpet tiles. At least that way I didn’t have to look at it. And my desk was then as clear as my darling nerdy husband’s.
‘Do you have the mortgage offer for Gainsborough Road somewhere?’’ Andy asked as he moved one earpiece to hear my response.
‘Um, yes, er, definitely, I saw it this morning’ I said, knowing that it was definitely here, somewhere. The only thing was which foot was it under?
After a search of about 10 minutes I enthusiastically pulled it out from underneath the pile and placed it ceremonially on top of his keyboard.
‘Wendy we need to talk’, Andy turned to me with a serious look on his face.
‘Oh, is the offer not what you hoped for?’ I replied.
‘No, it’s not that’ he said.
‘Ah so is it that we need to buy more coffee when we’re out?’
‘No, we’re fine for coffee.’
‘So what’s bothering you babe?’ I prodded.
‘Well, you know I love you very much Wendy, but there is one thing that is starting to drive me crazy’ he said.
‘Well I know I have that effect on a lot of people’ I said, with a cheeky grin. ‘What’s the matter babe?’’
He took a deep breath, and looked me straight in the eyes, ‘the truth is, unless we sort out our systems, this office and all this paper we simply will not be able to scale up. Your desk is a tip, you can never find where anything is and you are wasting not only your own time but mine too’.
I sat in my chair, feeling totally deflated. I had worked so hard to create a portfolio of HMOs that had given us financial freedom. We now had a regular passive income of £6k per month. The last three years had been nothing but hard work and I had the evidence to show that taking massive action, managing risks that many other people wouldn’t have the courage to do, and using other people’s money could create financial freedom. I had left my job and wound down my other business to focus on this one. Andy had also been able to leave his well-paid role as a contractor.
We were supposed to be happy.
But right now, at this point in time, the last thing I was was happy. I felt annoyed at myself, annoyed at him, and annoyed with the business.
The thing is I realised that Andy was right. Deep down, I absolutely KNEW that my entrepreneurial skills were great when it came to new ideas, growth, and creating income. But on the other hand, creating a system that someone else could pick up and use and freeing up my side of the office from all that paper that I had grown to know and love – well that was NOT within my gift.
I knew I had to change, I knew the business had to change and I knew that the only answer was to systemise.
So over the next 12 weeks, Andy and I set about looking at ways that we could create a leaner, more automated, systematic and ultimately leveraged business. We wanted to employ staff, or outsource the things we didn’t like doing. But to do this we had to start moving our erratic business practices onto a much better platform.
Immediately we began to notice a difference. First in the time we had. We had much more of it! The little jobs, the things that I would have had to write on a post-it note and stick on the edge of my monitor just to remember them, were gone. They were contained within a system. As long as I remembered to go to the appropriate tool, I could find exactly what I wanted when I wanted it.
Soon, this impacted our profits. We had more time so we had more time to do better deals, and more deals, and find more investment. In fact in that year alone we raised over £500,000 for further HMO projects. We bought another 9 properties, and added another £3,700 to our monthly income. There was no way we could have done that if we had been stuck behind our screens or on our phones managing refurbs, tenants or payments.
Our quality of life started to improve as we had more time to exercise, to do more with our family and to R-E-L-A-X.
This was all because we had systems.
Then the best part began as we realised that with the systems we had implemented, we could create a team to manage our properties, with marginal involvement from us. So we began to recruit – first a Lettings Manager who would run the lettings side of the business, then an Operations Manager who would run the day to day aspects of the business. This then, in turn, freed up mine and Andy’s time to do other deals and to speak with investors and to pursue some of our other passions.
So HOW EXACTLY did we do this?
In systemising our business, we both agreed that the key principles we needed in a system were that it had to be
What were the tools that we needed and how would we decide?
We realised that the process would be a three-step process. First we had to SCOPE the business and decide how to breakdown each area, then we had to SPECIFY what our business did in each of these areas, then we had to SYSTEMISE. Most of all it had to be LOW-COST or NO-COST so that we could free up our time without taking up all of our profits.
Although I can happily use a computer and mobile phone, I am not the most technical person in the world so our system had to be easy to learn and implement. The last thing I wanted was anything that needed multiple log-ins or a computer science degree to operate.
After a few weeks of searching and analysis, Andy suddenly rose up one day from his computer chair and shouted ‘Eureka’! I’ve found the exact tool that will work to help us
- Find properties
- Fund projects
- Finish refurbs
- Find Tenants
- Future-Proof our portfolio
And that tool is…. ? If you’d like to know EXACTLY what that tool was and HOW we used it to run and grow our business (and still do to this day) and how YOU can too ….
Click here to find out more …
To your success!