11:40 AM, 24th October 2011, About 10 years ago 1
Having been a relatively “hands off” landlord myself now for over 20 years with a very well spread portfolio in geographical terms, I totally understand how frustrating it can be when you call your trusted contacts and they don’t answer the phone because they are too busy or they’ve gone out of business.
You may just want somebody to fix a broken window, a leaky toilet or just want to ask for a quick bit of advice on tax, mortgage rates or tenancy law. If you can’t get a response it is frustrating to have to resort to a search engine, a newspaper or a paper based directory. To quote a character from my favourite film “life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get”.
The Private Rented Sector provides 4.3 million homes and the sector is growing. We are not alone! There are 1.5 million landlords in the UK and we all use these trades and professions to varying degrees. Some are great, some are not and between us all we know who’s who. The problem is we don’t have a window into each others minds and experiences.
I meet lots of landlords at both structured networking events and in social forums and one thing that stands out like a sore thumb is that very few of us know each others’ trusted contacts. When we get stuck we ask our peers to provide suggestions but that can be hard work too. Plenty of phone calls lead to other landlords we know which leads to more phone calls to find the ‘holy grail’ known as the reliable, cost effective “Can Do Man” or indeed Can Do Woman if I’m to be perfectly PC.
For over a year my mission has been to attract the interest of landlords to the Property118 website by providing news, industry insight, controversial opinion and easy to use financial tools, all for free. That goal (attention) has been achieved. It was part of a bigger plan. Our servers are now sending over 1 million emails every month to our subscribers. There was no point in creating a fantastic tool for landlords if nobody had ever heard of it or couldn’t find it. That would be like Tesco building a superstore at the North Pole.
I, like all good landlords, am happy to share successes, tips and useful contacts. I also believe in rewarding good work with praise.
Therefore, I assembled a small team to create a Testimonials based Property Services Directory. It’s been trialed and there is certainly interest from the suppliers of trades. On the back of the attention we’ve created for the website and the obvious need to provide something that all landlords need and can benefit from we have secured substantial backing to make our Property Services Directory the most comprehensive tool for landlords of its kind.
Our Testimonials based Property Services Directory will be fully launched, in association with our new strategic partner, on 9th November. The new Directory will have over 250,000 contacts for all types of service providers you are ever likely to need to engage with as a landlord.
It will be free to use.
You will be able to search by area, sector and profession for the trade or professional contact you require. Search results will be displayed by number of testimonials left for those businesses in the last three months. The businesses with the most Testimonials left for them by landlords in the last three months will appear at the top of the search. You will be able to see who has left the testimonials too so you can check their validity. The businesses themselves will decide whether to allow the Testimonials to be displayed. This is to avoid spiteful comments from competitors. We will, of course, monitor discarded or unpublished comments and take action to remove businesses from our Directory where necessary.
To prevent you having to make lots of phone calls you will be able to direct message up to six businesses per search. This could be a message as simple as “please call me about fixing a fence that’s blown down” or a far more detailed request. Obviously you could just use it like any other directory and simply telephone the businesses if that’s what you prefer to do.
It’s not live yet but rest assured you will know about it when it is.
When we do re-launch, everything that people love about the website will remain. We know what our users like and what they use because we can track what people click on, read and engage with. You will, however, see completely new branding. It will be far more professional and will reflect the branding of our new strategic partners. The website will also function a lot quicker and navigation will be far more intuitive. Until now, look and feel of the website has not been important to us. We’ve focused on providing interesting and useful content. The latter will not change, however, the time has come for us to up our game in terms of image and presentation. Having the backing to do it has helped too 🙂
And to quote another phrase from my favourite film of all time “that’s about all I have to say on that”.
Mark and his family have been investing in property since 1989, initially in the Norwich area but more recently across the length and breadth of England. Mark created Property118.com as a social network for landlords with a vision of becoming the UK’s largest online property investor directory.
Mark’s experiences and strategies as a landlord are shared here
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