Upon Reflection…

As 2017 is ending and a new year is imminent it’s time to reflect on past achievements, successes, failures, and lessons learnt throughout the year. I love a quote so had a look at one that would sum up how I feel;
‘Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all, love of what you are doing.’ Pele
I love my business and after 12 years it still excites me, but I couldn’t do it alone. In August 2016 Natasha Sullivan joined Carlean and she has been a fantastic addition – we laugh a lot, we have even cried but we work very well together and get loads done. Julie Ward of The Tax Hut is my accountant and she is the grown up who keeps me in check and ensures that financially we are where we want to be – her advice and support is invaluable.
Although self-indulgent I wanted to take the time to look back at 2017 – our successes, our hard work and the hard decisions we have had to make. It’s been a good year with lots of changes and I am looking forward to 2018.

Early in the year Foordside Apartments owned and managed by Carlean, was re-decorated. Whilst the block is relatively new (completed in 2012) it has 19 apartments within it and is therefore subject to a lot of activity. It is now looking spick and span with a nice finishing touch of Carlean colours adorning the lift doors and diamond white throughout. Even the car park was treated to a professional clean and flower baskets were hung adding colour to its outside.

Looking to improve customer awareness of Carlean we increased our investment in advertising and sponsored two “Networkers Networking” events organised by Amanda Flanders of Butterfly Business Events, the event brought together truly inspirational people and some great speakers who shared their ideas about effective networking.

Carlean rubbed shoulders with the rich and famous at the Property Expo event held at the Kent Hop Farm. Having purchased various merchandise with the Carlean logo (pens, torch key-rings etc) along with a “pop-up” banner we were ready to host a stand, it was a fantastic opportunity to talk about anything related to property from insurance to pest control. The attendance of this event was a fantastic opportunity to learn about the many different facets of owning, renting, purchasing, selling and managing of property. The event was concluded with an insightful talk by Caprice whom has owned numerous properties and businesses over the years and ridden the roller coaster of market crashes.

I am a member of the FSB and regularly attend their Women’s networking events. In March of this year I was asked to give a talk to the women at the Dartford brunch telling them a bit about my life/business story and in December as the lovely Deborah Turner was otherwise engaged she asked me to host the meeting. I thoroughly enjoyed both opportunities.

In October I joined Athena Networking group which is run by Nicola Powell and meets at Chislehurst Golf Club once a month – once again a great group of women and a lovely host. I am hoping this will raise the profile of Carlean in my local area.

I am also a member of Kent Women in Business and will continue to attend their monthly meetings.

One of the events I most enjoyed was the Business Diaries organised by the lovely Lisa Settle – what a brilliant evening, can’t wait for the next one.

This year I decided to enter the Kent Women in Business Awards for the first time and was absolutely thrilled to come runner up in the Business Women of the Year (3 years +) category. It was a great evening that recognised a lot of fabulous women. I took along the girls I work with, my daughters and some close friends – our table of 10 was not the quietest I must admit.

Later in the year Hilary Steele asked me to be a judge in the Kent Independent Traders Awards – I was very honoured to be asked and enjoyed looking through all the brilliant applications and was then pleased to see some of the entries that I had judged winning awards.

Maintenance Issues
Writing this blog has made me realise that we have worked really hard over the year! There have been approximately 265 improvement and maintenance issues that have been addressed at Carlean.
Natasha and I meet every Tuesday morning, all jobs are logged onto our system and at the meeting it is checked, updated, chased where necessary and the tenants are then contacted to ensure they are happy.

Property Movements
Carlean is very pleased to have purchased 2 more properties this year and sold one. A review of our current mortgage products meant that Carlean decided to source a new mortgage for the Foordside Apartment block. Whilst this brought about numerous (a vast understatement!) filling in of forms and meetings with lenders and surveyors the painful process is nearly finished, the loan has been finalised and we are hopeful of an early January completion.
We also took on new business in 2017 with rentals acquired in Sidcup, Greenhithe and Bexley, we are very excited about these new opportunities all of which came about from recommendations.
It is rewarding to see tenants move on with their lives and start new chapters for various reasons; a growing family or new job mean that we see tenants come and go, it is bittersweet as we are always sad to see them leave but happy for their new adventures too. In total there has been approximately 20 tenants come and go throughout 2017 and we wish them all the very best of luck.

The perils of being a Landlord are well known and with regret we did have to go through the eviction process with one tenant this year, despite numerous attempts to reach a solution that worked for everyone the tenant did not want to work with us and this left us with only one possible option – eviction.
For anyone out there who thinks this is an easy option it isn’t – its time consuming approximately 7 months from serving notice to possession day, very expensive and extremely unpleasant.

Since becoming a landlord in 2005 I have continually worked at improving and increasing my self-development.

I hold the Technical Award in Residential Letting and Property Management and am a member of the National Landlords Association. I am an Accredited Landlord and this year renewed my accreditation to ensure I am fully compliant.

In 2017 it has been my absolute pleasure to attend courses by the lovely Aly Harrold. First a one-day event in May and then at the end of October I started a 3-month public speaking course called Step up and Shine. Aly gives so much and has made what is a very daunting prospect very enjoyable. I have met some lovely ladies on this course and I am sure I speak for them all when I say we are slightly terrified but still looking forward to our final day on 13th January where we will deliver a 15-minute speech that will be filmed!

In addition to all of the above I’m happy to be raising and giving money to various charities. Carlean was proud to support Crisis at Christmas again providing a hot meal for 10 homeless people on Christmas Day. At Foordside we placed a box outside the office and our lovely tenants donated items which I then delivered to Medway Food Bank.
For some mad reason I have agreed along with 16 other crazy ladies to do the Moonwalk in May 2018. I have no idea why I agreed to this and am not sure if I’m more concerned about walking 26 miles or staying awake all night.
Our team is called Moonwalk or Cocktails as it was a tough decision deciding between the two!!  I will keep you updated on our progress.

So all in all as I look back and reflect it has been a tremendously productive year and the best of all? I had fun doing it. Here’s to 2018.

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