Coping with Business Grief

after Covid-19

I recently came across an article describing the variety of emotions that people had experienced over the coronavirus pandemic.  There are the obvious stories of grief from those who have lost nearest and dearest. Their feelings are raw, real and still tumultuous. There were also stories of those deeply concerned about their future employment and job prospects, now that they were on furlough. Fear, doubt and worry were their core emotional reactions, which some struggled to manage healthily.

But what resonated with me most was the impact that coronavirus has had on small business owners – particularly those of us whose sector has been affected time and time again by state intervention. The author discussed the feelings not just of loss but also of grief that were being experienced by these entrepreneurs. I could so relate.

Over the last few days I have felt wave after wave of anger, disgust, resistance, abhorrence to those who are in government and beyond. The protest marchers have my sympathies (although not always my agreement with their arguments) in that they feel that their personal freedoms are being eroded in the name of covid-19.

As an entrepreneur, property investor and business woman, I too feel a deep loss – that over the last few years, the foundation of all I believed to be strong and true has been slowly and steadily eroded and dismantled: the right to own and occupy property; the law of contract; Human Rights to peaceful enjoyment of property (whether tenant or owner); even the procedural understanding and constitutional premise that laws have to be passed by Parliament – not by a Minister sitting in his drafty Westminster office on a Friday afternoon after reading yet more of his Twitter feed bemoaning the price of rental property and the very fact that tenants are required to even pay rent (perish the thought)!

My reactions may not garner sympathy from tenants who have lost their jobs or worked supremely hard and risked their lives to care for others. I haven’t experienced either of these situations so I can be humbled by their suffering, and yes I have great compassion for those who have borne much of the burden for a pandemic that was not of their making – doing the tough jobs that are deemed only to be as valuable as the minimum wage. I also recognise the difficulties of those who are in a far worse economic position now, just when they were scraping to get by before the pandemic.  

I can relate to this as I know what it is to be poor. I know what it is to have less than £25 to feed a family of four for a week. It is excrutiatingly difficult, and desperately embarrassing. You don’t want others to know just how hard it is so you pretend that you are saving up for something very, very special, which is why you can’t go out for a cup of tea with your friends, or buy some new leggings, or get a nice bottle of red for Saturday night.  Your money is going somewhere else. Yes of course you have the money – you just choose not to spend it on fripperies. Or maybe you don’t really have it and can’t face the explanations.

I fear that soon we will see this kind of poverty re-emerging in our society. My experience of it was in the early 1990s, way before working tax credits, Universal Credit or free childcare. The only way out of poverty at that time was grind, and possibly a bit of good luck. Now there is far more state help than ever, yet the country is deeply in debt as a result, and therefore I’m sure that we will see even higher rates of poverty emerge.

You see, state help doesn’t help anyone ultimately. It is a short-term anaesthetic. It nulls the immediate pain and belies the impact of the truth. But it alters the relationship between provider and receiver – producer and consumer. It dulls the fire in your belly to make a better life.

In those days of the 1990s, the fire in my belly burned and burned until I was able to change my situation.

It still burns today, but now I am incendiary with disbelief at the decisions the government is making to control everything around me. My business, my income, my trade.  Everything I have worked for; to raise myself and my family from their poor beginnings to where we are now.

When what we need is greater freedom and opportunity – not state strangulation. Landlords need it, tenants need it, people need it! For it is from humble and poor beginnings that many people rise when they realise they can. Tenants can become landlords. A few of mine have! When we equalise society not through state winners and losers, but by what we are born with – the ability to graft, the will to achieve a goal, the fire in our belly that drives us forward. This is what allows people to improve their lives – freedom so to do. Freedom to trade with limited regulation; freedom to exchange goods and services for a fair price (measured by the market); freedom to fail and to win. In return, consumers (customers, tenants) get choice – they get to pick the winners; they get to say who should earn their money, and rightly so! They also should get to reject the goods and services which do not serve them. If this means business failure- so be it. That is the free market. When it is allowed to work cleanly and properly, it works well and serves those it is supposed to serve.

One of the most powerful incentives I relish in being an entrepreneur is that it matters not your educational background, your previous failures or your qualifications. Anyone can do it, and anyone can succeed.  There are risks and skill is needed, so those of faint heart should tread carefully.  You might win and you might lose. But now we have a state who wants complete control, and it is that steady loss of freedom which I grieve for.  I believe in time, we will realise just how dangerous it is to have such overarching state control , and just how much the erosion of freedom will have cost us. It may feel comfortable and good that the government is helping everyone out, but in time this will be the noose that hangs us all.  I just hope my grief is an awakening and not a premonition of worse to come.

The 5 Most Common Mistakes Made by HMO Landlords

Wendy Whittaker-Large

  1. Not Understanding Your Tenant Type 

Understanding what your tenants need and want is crucial if you are going to consistently and regularly rent your rooms.  Many tenants move into an HMO for reasons of convenience – they like the benefits of an all-inclusive rent (particularly professional tenants), regular cleaning, and of course superfast broadband. Professional or working tenants might be moving into the area to take up a new job role. They may be earning a basic income, or living away from home. In which case finding cost-effective and convenient accommodation which is also easy to rent is top of their priorities. HMOs provide an affordable and social form of accommodation, which avoids the hassle of organising utilities. However, communication, management and understanding what your tenants need is also key to ensuring low voids.

2. Non- Compliance with HMO Regulations

Did you know that there are over 170 pieces of regulation and legislation when it comes to managing property, including HMOs! These cover all aspects of property management including licensing regulations, landlord and tenant legalities, money management, building regulations and planning permission. Being compliant with the government’s and local council’s requirements is vital, as failure in any area could result in a heavy penalty. If you’re not sure what you should be doing, the first place to check is your Local Council housing standards team. They can advise you on licensing rules, room sizes, and fire & safety features that you will need to install.

Another consideration is whether your HMO will require planning consent. Article 4 directions (Town and Country Planning) can require planning permission to change a property from a C3 class which is a single household dwelling to a C4 class, which is what most mandatory HMOs and additional licensable HMOs would fall under. Any HMO occupied by more than 6 people will be in a class of its own, also known as Sui Generis. If you’re a first-time HMO landlord, having experts at hand who know the regulations and local council’s specific requirements, is a huge benefit and extremely reassuring. 

3. Property Maintenance

HMOs require a higher level of maintenance than a single buy-to-let because there are more people living there and using the facilities on a daily basis. In addition, because the responsibility for almost everything falls to the landlord, even cleaning communal areas and changing light bulbs and smoke alarm batteries becomes a headache. Having regular proactive checks is crucial as  poor maintenance procedures can cost you dearly, especially if it leads to a penalty through non-compliance. A few tips to help you manage your properties more effectively:

  1. Use a suited keylock system that gives you a masterkey and sub keys. This will save you huge amounts of time managing keys
  2. Install a small key lock box outside the property – somewhere discreet. This will allow trusted tradesmen to enter on receipt of the code rather than having to meet you there in person
  3. If you are bombarded with calls from tenants, set up an out-of-hours answering service who can take your calls and send you a text and email. 
  4. Note down all the maintenance issues that crop up. In future you can use this as a tool to predict certain issues that regularly occur and take action to reduce them. 

4. Doing Everything Yourself

Many landlords believe that they can deal with HMO standards, find tenants and carry out repairs themselves. This can lead to an unmanageable amount of work. Well-run and well-maintained HMOs have good teams in place to be able to deal with everything. For a landlord who is looking for passive income and financial freedom from their property investments, working hard to keep on top of everything means that this is not the dream they originally set their sights on. Developing a power team around you who can help with the practical side of the business is critical to ensure you work on and not just in your business. 

5. Not Using an Agent

Many property investors start out with a dream of having a portfolio that will make them money and give them more time. With HMOs, there are so many specialist areas of management that you can find that self-managing your portfolio is just not worth it. In these cases, enlisting the services of a specialist HMO letting agent is almost certainly the best option. With experience and knowledge they can advertise, tenant and maintain your shared house more effectively and efficiently than you. A good agent will have a team already on hand, complete with the necessary advertising platforms, tenant application process and checks, a 24/7 phone and maintenance reporting service, and cleaning companies. They are required to know the law around rent arrears and evictions and can advise you about what to do if your tenant gets into difficulties. Overall it makes sense for you to hand the hardest and most intense part of investing to a company who knows what it is doing, leaving you to do what you love!

Learn to run your business as a business and it will pay you well!

For more information about HMOs and how to make money from just a handful of properties please go to www.hmosuccess.co.uk


Fill Your Rooms, and Reduce your Voids Forever

Are you struggling to fill your rooms after the Christmas and New Year lull? Have your tenants moved out, leaving your HMO rooms suddenly empty? Or maybe the New Year has brought your tenants new job opportunities in other parts of the country, and now you’ve got a whole series of rooms that need to be filled. Maybe you’ve been in the HMO game for a while now, but are finding that your voids are getting longer, and therefore your profit is slowly dropping?

If that’s you, don’t start panicking. This is the time to take action, re-educate yourself and get a grip by being creative and clever. It’s easy to blame the competition, the economy, Brexit, or other reasons for not filling our rooms. I’ve learnt though that getting out of BED is the best way to avoid that trap. What do I mean?

Getting out of

Blame

Excuses

Denial

Facing the facts, dealing with reality and tackling your voids head on. I can assure you that if you do this, you will be ahead of the competition, and you’ll be learning to flex that business muscle that needs tension from time to time to make it stronger!

I’ve got some tips to give you some quick wins and some longer-term strategies that will help you fill your rooms immediately and keep them filled for longer (thus avoiding voids).

  1. Review the room. This may sound basic, but a lot of people just think they can re-rent the same room again and again without actually checking the standards of paintwork or overall décor and furnishings. Is the house starting to look a little bit worn? Do some items need replacing? Could it do with a bit of an uplift?

A lot of rooms suffer from a bit of faded glory once they’ve had a tenant living there for a couple of years. Upgrading a wall to a feature wall, adding some new pictures or a large mirror, and re-dressing the room with coordinating soft furnishings (cushions and accessories) could do the trick. Take some brand new photos and get some feedback from others. Why not do a video while you have the chance? Getting a 360̊ view of the room not only helps to sell the room, but also captures the standard that you have achieved.

  • Analyse your advertising. Have you ever asked anyone to be a secret shopper on your website or on your SpareRoom ads? Ask a few friends to pretend to be a tenant looking for a room (they need to be able to put themselves in the shoes of an HMO tenant)!  After a few days, go back and ask them what was their experience of trying to book a viewing? What was their experience interacting with your website? Did the advert give them the information they needed? What did they like / not like? What could you change as a result?

Does your advertising follow the four-step AIDA principles?

  1. Attention – getting your potential market to take notice of your advert through pictures, a great headline and maybe a special offer
  2. Interest – raising your audience’s interest through the logical information you provide, and the response you give to their enquiry
  3. Desire – using emotive words and phrases to create desire for living in  your accommodation
  4. Action  – giving your tenant clarity about how to take action to book a viewing or reserve a room.

If your advert is missing one of those steps, you’ll find that people might be interested, they might look at the rooms, they might think your photos are beautiful, but they won’t do what you want them to do: Which is to pick up the phone and text or call you to make a booking.

  • Maximise your organic reach on social media before paying for ads. If you’re on Facebook Marketplace, or Instagram and have a website listed on Google, you can use the power of pixels and organic keywords before you have to pay for advertising. On SpareRoom it can be worthwhile from time to time to boost your advert. But the problem is that it can be very expensive, and it is unpredictable. What tenants are mostly looking for when they come on to any organic post or advert (including SpareRoom) is a fast response time. If you’re responding quickly, and you’re booking in viewings, you will fill your rooms. Good advertising copy is one part of that, but it’s not the only factor. If you’re responding quickly, and you’re booking in viewings, you will fill your rooms.
  • Referrals. Having a referral system for your current tenants is invaluable. By incentivizing your current tenants to find other tenants equally as good as them, you will save time and money and fill your house easily. The problem is the incentive needs to be really good!  You know yourself, if you bought something that you thought was really great, such as an amazing product or service, you’ll tell everybody else about it. If your tenants are having a great experience living in one of your houses what could you do to encourage them to share this with their friends too?
  • Partnerships in the community. There will be organisations in your local community who will offer services to your tenant group, with whom you could create a mutually beneficial arrangement. You’re offering accommodation, but are they offering something that tenants might also be interested in? By sharing each other’s services you each benefit from free advertising and additional reach. 
  •  Sales technique. Whether or not you personally sell your rooms, whoever is actually carrying out the viewing needs to be great at sales. Are people making appointments to come and view but then you’re failing to close the deal? Do people book viewings and turn up, but you never hear from them again? Your ability to close the deal – that is, to get commitment from them there and then is vital to reduce voids.

Don’t be scared to ask people for a down payment in situ to hold the room. It could be that you ask for them to complete an application for plus a payment of £50 which then comes off their deposit. It’s a completely legal way to get somebody to sign and seal the deal there and then, filling one of your rooms, and making their decision much easier. Send a receipt for the amount you have collected, along with any terms and conditions.

I’d love to hear how you get on implementing these tips to help you reduce those voids and fill your rooms – not just for now but forever. There are lots of people looking for rooms so let’s get that message out there to the marketplace!

If you’d like to follow my hints and tips for successful HMO investing please join my Facebook group – The Ultimate HMO Success System – https://facebook.com/groups/TheUltimateHMOSuccessSystem/

My training company HMO Success offers courses starting from just £47  (+ vat). If you’d like to receive my regular newsletter with offers, special deals and competitions, please email hello@wendywl.uk and we’d be delighted to add you to the list! 

www.hmosuccess.co.uk

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Why savers are losers!

This is a quote from Robert Kiyosaki and I must admit I was shocked when I first read this. I was brought up to save money, and to be frugal. I always had savings – even a small amount for a rainy day. So to hear the words that I was a loser because I was a saver, was quite distressing! I wondered what on earth he could possibly mean. After all, we all know that savings give us a back-up should the need arise. An unexpected car repair or a higher than average utility bill, or another new pair of sports shoes for your child who’s growing like a beanpole, means that savings are a very good idea! Surely, having some money in savings makes sense?

Well, I think that the answer has to be yes, as long as you understand the terrible downside to cash savings. Savings are inert, and in today’s economy are actually costing you money. 

Take £1000 for example. If you put this in a higher rate savings account (not your bog standard current account, it has to be the highest rate available), the most you will probably receive in interest is about 1.5%. After a year you’ll have the princely sum of £1015. You will have made £15 in interest. £15!

Not only are interest rates depressingly low, but the other fact that we have to face is the effect of inflation. The government assesses the rate of inflation each quarter. Inflation basically erodes money as it describes prices going up, and therefore how much reduced is your money purchase power. Currently, the UKs stated rate of annual inflation is about 1.5%. Ironic that it matches the interest rate, isn’t it?!

Which means that just as you make £15 in your bank account, the £1015 also loses 1.5% in value over that year. 

This equates to £15.22. 

So in fact, your money which has been in a HIGH RATE savings account all year, is now worth £999.78

Yes it’s only 22p. Nothing too frightening…yet. Multiply that by many thousands of pounds sitting right now in other people’s bank accounts and you can see why Kiyosaki was right – savers ARE losers. 

And this is before we see inflation rising and interest rates in bank accounts dropping.

So what’s the answer? That’s where financial education comes in. What other medium you choose to invest in is down to individual choice, personal belief and how you educate yourself. For me, I choose an asset class whose value increases as inflation grows; pays me in cash regularly; and has some utilitarian benefit to the wider world. 

Coronavirus and your HMO and the economic outlook – a summary

This piece is taken from my Youtube video which you can watch here – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a9QFmQC9dtk&t=49s

Coronavirus and your HMO and the economic outlook – a summary
There is no crystal ball in property. All we can do is educate ourselves and learn how to read the signs. Financial education will help you understand what is the best course of action for you to take for your circumstances at this time. 

Being an experienced investor (I’ve been investing for over 23 years) has shown me two things

1) People always need homes

2) There are always opportunities to serve others and make money
Financial education will help you protect yourself, your tenants, your properties and your business. It will also help you make wise decisions. There are some key economic factors that we as investors need to understand

  • Inflation
  • Interest rates
  • Debt and borrowing ratios
  • Cashflow
  • Spending

These apply to nations, business and property. National income and turnover is called GDP – Gross Domestic Product. The current biggest threat to our GDP right now is Coronavirus. Tax receipts will go down, and spending will go up – leading to more borrowing. Will this lead to higher inflation? What will that mean to us as investors?

3) Only 34% of the UK’s income is from tax receipts. That means that spending, leverage and borrowing are fuelling the economy. Tax receipts will go down and spending will go up due to Coronavirus. Equally the government has borrowed huge amounts of money to get us through this time, leading, inevitably to higher inflation (eventually). 

Over time, this will affect you if you are a borrower or have leveraged your property with debt because inflation erodes debt. It also causes prices to rise and house prices to increase. This could be good news for investors. However, if the government raises interest rates to slow the rate of inflation, there will be an impact on mortgages. Monthly rates will go up and reduce cashflow. 

4) House prices are more linked to money supply than demand. 

  • The government has recently started a further round of Quantitative Easing recently which has added another £500bn to the money supply. What will this do to inflation in the long run? If this money starts to circulate (as it should) then inflation will be the result. This will result in higher house prices and capital growth. 

5) What does this mean if you invest in HMOs?

Use a cashflow forecast to create a tight handle on your income and expenditure.

Keep a tight control of your finances. 

Communicate with your tenants regularly to ensure cashflow – they still need a home, and you need an income. Create a compromise on rents so that you can both get what you need. 

Now is the time to plan and learn so that when the opportunity arises you are ready to pounce!

6) Keep up to date with advice and information from the government. Set aside a few minutes per day to understand what the advice means for you. Reduce overwhelm by addressing your immediate issues and then blocking out time to look at the stuff that’s important but less urgent. 

7) Making Decisions during Coronavirus

Make decisions calmly and on a risk-based scenario (impact and likelihood)

Analyse how you are making decisions (fear based or information –based)

Sound out any particularly big decisions with a friend, business colleague, mentor or trusted individual.

Create a Plan B should the worst happen

Set time aside every day or other day to stand back and analyse key performance metrics (income/ expenditure/ room sales/ rental income/ arrears).

Don’t bury your head in the sand! Reach out if you need further help. 

8) Should I carry on with my HMO purchase?

If you are currently buying, consider renegotiating price or delaying purchase

Worth keeping any finance deals on the table as they could be harder to get later

Soon there will be some great deals

Work with investors as savers are losers

If you are currently buying – take a RISK BASED APPROACH – do the maths on the deal 

Keep an eye on auctions

Otherwise wait


9) Your Own Health and Wellbeing as an Investor

Look after yourself and your family

Take action and use tools to run your business properly

Make sensible decisions

Be responsible, not selfish

Be patient and have faith

If all else fails – remember, this too will pass

Tax Breaks for HMO Investors

Here’s a list of things you can claim in your property business to reduce your tax (thanks to Billy Turriff for compiling this).

1. Pay yourself the most effective salary so that you stay under the employer NI -£8628 pa also the min needed for credit for the state pension

2. Take dividends. £2K tax free. Lower rate tax payer – 7.5%. Higher rate tax payer – 37.5%

3. Reward family with salary and dividends as long as they are a shareholder too

4. Pension contributions qualify for either employer or employee tax relief

Can make contribution of up to £40K pa

Tax effective up to about £1M – you can withdraw from pre-tax profits

For IHT planning, a pension is treated far more favourably than company shares

Pensions are a great way of saving on corporation and income tax

5. Electric cars get a large benefit from April 2020

6. Health insurance – entitled to 1 health assessment per year. Make sure that you are fit and well. No limit on what this can cover.

7. Relevant life insurance policies. These are left to trust, and therefore beneficial on IHT purposes. Important for property investors as we have a lot of debt and we need to make sure this is all taken care of to make life simple for future beneficiaries

8. Bicycles. If used for work transport. No BIK

9. Trivial benefits. Up to £50 per item up to max £300 pa. Spa treatments. Meal out etc

10. Phones and laptops used mainly for work.

11. Interest loaned into company . Personal savings allowance. £1K tax free lower rate tax payer. £500 tax free as higher rate tax payer. You get tax free money and also save on corporation tax

Better off taking the money that is loaned into the company out of the company rather than taking out income or dividends – it is tax free

12. Directors loan ISA

13. Tax free loan of £10K – this needs to be paid back at the end of the year

14. Education that is related to the work that you are doing

15. £208pa home office allowance

Are there any other things I’ve missed? What else have you done legally to reduce your tax burden?

The mistakes I made with HMOs

It’s easy to think that everyone else has it easy. Especially if you’re looking ahead at someone who has ten times more property than you have. We all have a tendency to compare ourselves with others don’t we? Even though we know it’s not helpful, if we’re completely honest with ourselves we can’t help it!
Although comparing yourself with other people is often unhelpful, it can also propel you to take more action than you would have done alone. I wanted to share with you how I took a lot of risks and made a lot of mistakes to get to the point of having over 150 rooms in ownership or management, a pub, a commercial conversion, and a portfolio of single buy to let properties.
For example, when I decided to invest seriously in HMOs in 2012, I bought a small two-up, two down. It had one shared kitchen and one shared bathroom. It was small but I loved it. I poured hours of my time into that one house. And I spent very little on the refurb – about £7000. Which is about the profit I made in my first year. It was 100% return! But I was still swapping my time for money. That house became a part-time job for me as I tenanted it, managed it and even cleaned it!
On my second HMO, half way through the refurb, my builder mentioned an idea he had to go into the loft and convert it to another lettable room. Despite not having the money, nor knowing where the money would come from I said YES to him. So he started the work and I couldn’t pay him.
When the Council’s Building Regs Control officer came round his jaw opened to the floor. Not because I was doing such a good job project managing it. Quite the opposite! He dropped the bombshell that I would need planning permission for a 7 bed HMO and acoustic insulation. I had NO idea what he was talking about so had to rapidly go home and google it.
If I had known all that beforehand, I would have saved myself thousands of pounds.
I began to see that doing it alone was costing me time, and money. And I wanted a business that saved me time and made me money.
My basic problem was that I was too proud and independent to ask for help. I wanted to show the world I could do it and I wanted to prove that I was as good as anyone else in property. Deep down, I felt second rate. In many parts of my life I had felt a failure (I failed my ‘A’ levels, my first marriage failed, and I didn’t think I had always put other people first as much as I should have). So here I was determined to change it!
Wendy was going to WIN! But my pride was getting in the way of my success.
I bought a flip that flopped.
I failed to properly investigate asbestos in a building which cost many thousands of pounds to put right.
I bought a house with Japanese Knotweed.
I bought an apartment in Portugal and rapidly had to sell it when we realised the market was flooded.
I bought a house with my JV partner which I massively underestimate the refurb costs on and we overspent by £30k (and had to leave it in the deal).
…and many more.
The reason I am listing all these admissions is to say that you too will probably make many mistakes if you are determined to get to financial freedom. But the biggest lesson I learned was not to try to do it on my own.
Once I got involved in a community, listening to experts who had already done it and could help me with my deals and warn me of upcoming likely challenges, and educating myself about property thoroughly, I started to see the impact.
And I got my time back, and I started to make money.
This is not a post to sell you mentoring or training and education. This is a post to help you see that you will probably make mistakes. And you will learn just as I have. But you could avoid many of those mistakes and go faster and better if you align yourself with the right people at the start. Learn from my mistakes, so that you can make money quicker and with far less stress than I did.
Oh and by the way, apart from the Portuguese apartment, we still have all those other properties to this day. So there is always a silver lining to the property cloud of doom.
What mistakes have you made? What is your biggest regret?

Discussing a property deal

Ways to do more when you have less!

When you’re building a property business and also working or managing other responsibilities (childcare, domestics etc) finding the time to make it happen is really hard. Here are a few suggestions to make more out of what you have, to get better results in less time, and to scale up faster.

  1. Recognise this is a marathon not a sprint. Create a rhythmic plan (just as if you were training for a marathon). When I ran the London Marathon I did three runs a week – a fast short one, a long slow one , and a medium paced one. In your property business, you will need to block out time to do viewings, finances, and admin. Which will you do and when?
  2. Hire someone as SOON AS YOU CAN to help you. Whether this is a cleaner, a gardener, an ironing person, or a VA! Write a short description of what you want them to do and how you will measure quality. 

Examples:

 

  • ROLE: Ironing lady.

 

  • Purpose – to iron your clothes accurately and with a good turnaround time for a good price.
  • Your role: Organise a time and date for them to collect. Ensure washing is ready and in the bag. 
  • Quality measures: What is their price per item/ per bundle. What is the turnaround time? What is the quality of the ironing? Does this person save me time and money overall?

 

  • ROLE: VA – Three hours per week. 

 

      • Purpose – Finding suitable properties to view and arranging your appointments on a chosen day. Writing to local landlords and finding DTV deals. 
      • Your role: Issue a spreadsheet with the metrics inside they can use (price, area, size, condition etc). Make a video to show them what to do. Give them an example letter
      • Quality measures: How many properties do they come up with? How many are really deals? How many wasted / potential viewings have they created for you? 

 

This is not rocket science but will help you measure and track progress if you haven’t ever hired someone before.

3) Make sure you get enough sleep, eat nutritiously and exercise regularly. You are an engine and you need to feed and nourish the engine. If it means giving up sugar and alcohol and boozy nights out – DO IT! Give yourself a life-giving opportunity to have excess energy, sleep better than you ever have done, and enjoy what you do! If your downfall is lack of food planning – them create a weekly or fortnightly plan, order online and stick to it. You will also save tons of money.

4) Get up half an hour earlier to think and prepare for the day

5) Create a written plan every month to lay out your goals. Three per month is enough. 

6) Find someone to talk to about your goals and aspirations. Become their buddy and ask them to hold you to account.

7) Get as much buy in from your family as possible. Explain what you are trying to achieve and ask them to help. Can you share the cooking, cleaning, childcare ( – outsource the cleaning PLEASE)!!! Keep them in the loop with your results and activity. 

8)Focus on one strategy for 6 months. If you see no results, stand back and analyse why. Tweak, and re-set. Then go again.

9) Think of yourself as a high performance engine. Are you wasting time on things that don’t help this engine to perform? Are you putting the right fuel into the engine to go fast? Are the tyres on the engine inflated enough to adapt to different road conditions? What must you STOP doing and what must you do DIFFERENTLY? 

10) Answer emails twice a day only. 

11) Use an answering service if you are missing too many calls, or set up your answerphone properly to take calls and message you ( I use Answer4u and HulloMail). 

12) Limit your time in the shower in the morning to 5 minutes. I can get clean in 5 minutes and wash and condition my hair.  

13) Reduce complexity in your life. Buy less, live in fewer outfits, choose what suits you and stick to it. 

14) Tell your children when you are off-limits and need to work. Train them to respect your working time and then give them lots of attention and full on presence. Ditto with your partner.

 

I’m sure there are LOTS more ways to save time, be more efficient and make more from less. What have you found to be most effective? 

 

Worried about occupancy rates in your HMO?

If so, perhaps Google translate should be on the top of your list of tools rather than Spareroom!
WHY?
Here are the latest official UK population figures
    • UK population is growing five times faster than the EU27 average (Official ONS figures)
    • The UK population is now estimated to be 66.4 million, as at mid-2018
    • 10% increase in number of international immigrants over preceding year, jumping by 54,000 to 626,000
    • In the last year it has grown by 395,000 net (after people leaving, births, and deaths)
  • 69% of the population increase was due to immigration
  • England takes a disproportionately high level of this increase, out of all four nations of the Union
HMOs are perfect for new people to the UK because
  • they can’t get a mortgage
  • they want the convenience of all-inclusive rents
HOWEVER we as investors and landlords need to help them (and us) by
  • providing accessible information
  • explaining the legal requirements and their obligations under the AST
  • ensuring rents can be collected (if they don’t have a
  • using Right to Rent when necessary
  • checking all documents thoroughly
What other things might help you attract foreigners to your HMO and keeping them as paying tenants?

How do I maximize my profit in an HMO?

If you’ve got your first HMO up and running, you’ll know that the first 9 – 12 months are what I call the ‘teething period’ . Your bills will be all over the place, you’re still working through all the costs of the refurb, and your tenants are still settling in. There’ll be snags you hadn’t predicted, and your agent will be frustrating!
At this point you might think ‘was it all worth it, or should I do Serviced Accommodation’?!!
HANG ON IN there! Is my advice – it gets much better in year two. You haven’t yet really benefited from all that hard work you put in.
Here are some suggestions to help you maximize your profit after the teething problems have died down:
1. Create key performance indicators that you regularly assess, such as cashflow, profit and loss, occupancy rates, time on the market before rooms are filled, your monthly cost of advertising, your time input, monthly maintenance costs and yield. Some of these KPIs can be analysed annually, others quarterly and some monthly. Keep an eye on your business statistics so that it is controlled, measured and tweaked where necessary.
2. If you are using the skills and time of other people, either as contractors, service providers (such as a VA or PA) or employees, ensure they report to you their key results areas (Read Life Leverage by Rob Moore for more on this) on a weekly basis. With this information you can then identify where time and money is being lost and where their skills are most useful and effective. And remember Sheryl Sandberg’s famous words when it comes to choosing a member of your team – ‘Hire slowly, fire quickly’.
3. Each time you readvertise a room, consider adding a few pounds per week increase to the price. A small amount will not affect your enquiries, but it will increase your bottom line.
4. Collect rents on time and regularly check them with your online accounting system. Each time you create a new tenant entry, you can create a recurring invoice (which doesn’t need to be sent to the tenant). This then allows you to reconcile with actual income in your business bank account. Even a few days of late payments per month will impact your cash flow.
5. Create a late payment policy. Although you cannot charge fees to set up a tenancy, you can charge for chasing rent and late payments. Decide at what point you will go down the route of evicting a tenant, and keep abreast of the legal process by becoming a member of an accreditation scheme such as the Residential Landlords Association or National Landlord’s Association (who are due to merge soon anyway). They have helpful guides and legally compliant forms and letters you can use. Having a policy means you can remove the emotion from the process and outsource this to a member of your team.
6. Assess your regular outgoings such as utility bills, insurance, broadband and mortgage costs. Reducing bills, even by 5–10% per annum will compound your cash flow and profi ts. Does your cleaner need to come weekly or could fortnightly be enough? Are all the bulbs in the house LED?
7. Take regular meter readings to assess usage. If bills are rising fast you need to investigate and identify why. There are a number of devices available that allow you to control the heating and temperature (often the largest jump in bills is due to additional heating. Tumble dryers are a common culprit for rising electricity bills). Are there appliances that could be linked up to a coin-operated meter and cover the cost of use?
8. Keep an eye on new technological developments in the HMO industry. Whether it is a new piece of software that can help notify you of late rent payments or an app that can control your heating remotely – use technology to systemise your business, thus saving you time and money. We have a phrase ‘low-cost and no-cost’ which helps us evaluate the cost v return of any app or product.
What other ideas do you have or have you used to grow your profits year on year in an HMO?

How to grow your HMO profits year on year