A QUESTION WE ARE OFTEN ASKED IS;
“What was it like opening a new business during a global recession?”
Well on our 10th anniversary here’s a potted history of Rampton Baseley.
We signed the lease on the shop pretty much the day Northern Rock began to slide down the pan in September 2007. We opened the doors in Jan 2008; the bleakest of bleak months. We had a handful of properties on loan from friendly agents and mates who’d taken a punt on selling or renting through us.
So we switched on the lights and the market duly slid off a cliff. God, it was horrific. No one knew quite what was going on, as we all shuffled the deckchairs around the listing deck of the good ship London property.
We sold a good 4 bed house off Northcote Rd for £700k for a city analyst who’d said we were only half way down the dip; it had been worth around £925k the year before…..
That spring we framed our first commission cheque and gradually began to cash in others, but as the year progressed things got worse. By autumn, Lehmans had gone and taken most of the market rationality with it. By winter 08/09, we were down to 3 staff and had switched off the heating.
So we smashed open the framed cheque and hurried down to the bank.
THAT DARK, DARK WINTER THINGS WERE REALLY BAD:
- Joel and I fought daily, sometimes physically (generally I won)
- We ate beans on toast for tea
- My family and I moved to my parents place, Joel’s to a one bed flat in Wandsworth
- We ditched our cars and bought scooters. The company car became an eleven year-old bright red Rover, obtained from Joel’s Dad’s rugby club
- We spoke to therapists
- We spoke to investors
- We got onto first name terms with the bar staff at The Eagle
However, as the market bounced along the bottom of the trough, there was an awful lot of goodwill coming from the good people of Northcote Rd (they like their independent retailers they do) and bits and bobs came our way. We survived. And then the market turned, and we turned with it. We began to grow and were able to rebuff further approaches from investors.
In 2012 we were up to 11 staff and The Digital Property Group did some research.
They calculated that in 2011 we had sold just over 40% of all houses between the commons (our nearest rival sold around 15%). We were top of the heap.
In 2015 we did some more research based on figures obtained from Rightmove. Very little had changed, we were still top of the heap despite more top-end Multinationals opening on Northcote Rd.
ALL JOLLY FINE AND DANDY, BUT WHAT DID WE LEARN FROM IT ALL?
- Only ever go into business during a global recession with a very, very good friend, and one who’s not that good at fighting.
- All agents have pretty much the same marketing tools and website memberships, but like any business it’s your staff that really matter.
- There really are an awful lot of nice normal people living Between the Commons.
- Nobody can call the market – that City analyst’s house is now worth around £1.4m
- Flash cars aren’t important – people LOVED the Red Rover.
- We wouldn’t have missed it for the world.