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Exclusive Interview:Joe Nicholson, Lettings Manager at Adore Cardiff

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joe2As part of Business News Wales ongoing series of interviews, we had the chance to speak to Joe Nicholson of Adore Cardiff.

Adore Cardiff was started in 2013 by Taff Housing Association and exists to deliver the highest level of customer service to landlords and tenants in order to support Taff’s community investment initiatives. Always honest, 100% transparent and fiercely competitive, Adore Cardiff helps landlords make the most of their property investments’ while returning 100% of profits back to the local community.

  1. Tell us about Adore Cardiff

Adore Cardiff was started in 2013 by Taff Housing Association. Adore is Taff Housing Association’s first venture into the private sector and exists to deliver the highest level of customer service to landlords and tenants in order to support Taff’s community investment initiatives.  Started with Taff’s customer centric ethos in mind, Adore Cardiff delivers an honest, transparent and extremely competitive lettings service. Our vision was to transform the reputation of the lettings industry one satisfied customer at a time and three years later, we have started over 100 tenancies with an unblemished 100% customer satisfaction rate! Such is the demand for Adore’s services we have recently entered the sales market and have even picked up a nomination in the “Community Champion of the Year” category of the upcoming Negotiator Awards in London.

  1. What are your plans for the next five years, and where do you see your challenges and opportunities?

Keep doing what we are doing – If it ain’t broke don’t fix it! Adore delivers an extremely personalised service blending industry leading knowledge with a genuine desire to ensure customer satisfaction. With an exceptionally loyal customer base generating organic growth through referrals, we have a very solid foundation which will allow us to grow into new areas both in terms of our service offering and geographic coverage. While there are numerous challenges; Brexit uncertainty, Stamp Duty and Land Tax changes and landlord tax reforms to name a few,  the property market remains incredibly strong, especially with “generation rent” supporting numerous small landlords and businesses. As well as entering the sales market, we have also been approached to do block management for leaseholders. We feel this may be a growing market, especially for leaseholders who are getting older and may no longer want the hassle.

  1. What do you wish you had known when you started out in business?

Being different does not mean you are out on a limb, away from the rest of the market and taking an unnecessary risk. Managed properly, being different means you can carve a niche even in a well-established market and compete with incumbent organisations on factors other than price, creating trust, personality and long term business relationships.

  1. Looking back at your career, are there things you would have done differently? 

Having left University at the start of the recession I took a job in sales as there weren’t that many jobs going at the time! While I enjoyed my time in sales and the skills I learned have proved invaluable, I always wanted a career that was more than about just earning money, I wanted to be part of an organisation that helped others. Any profits Adore makes go back into Taff Housing Association, helping customers and the wider community which for me is the perfect situation, I just wish I had made the move to Adore sooner.

  1. What do you think are the most important qualities for success in business?

Honesty in dealing with customers, negotiation in dealing with suppliers and a core focus on nurturing all relationships to ensure long term business partnerships and a strong referral network.

  1. What advice would you give to anyone thinking of starting a business?

Clearly define a realistic goal, create a strong strategy that is as resilient as possible to external threats and develop your Unique Selling Points. If you believe in your USPs and they are TRULY unique, with careful placement and time, the market will respond. It took nearly 5 months of chasing customers and demonstrating how different Adore’s service level truly was before we had our first, inbound enquiry. Ever since that first enquiry though, we have had no less than 5 or 6 a month, purely from referrals.

  1. What are your top three tips for success?

Give your business a real personality, learn from those who have more experience and enjoy what you are doing.  The old adage is “people buy off people”, customers are more likely to like your business if you do!

  1. What’s your thoughts on the EU referendum results?

To be honest it was a bit of a shock! While the housing market is stable and should remain so by all accounts, I fear the wider ramifications are yet to be felt. There is a housing shortage in Cardiff, particularly for rented property, so even though there was initially a dip in confidence, demand is still very strong. As the pound is weak, we may see ex pats re-investing in this country if uncertainty about free movement is not cleared up soon.

  1. What do you think Wales’ strengths and weaknesses are as a place to do business?

Wales is a great place to do business, being a relatively small geographical area, the networks are superb. It is not hard to find people and organisations with similar goals, and most are willing to share their skills. This makes business agile in Wales, which maybe people from outside don’t realise. Access to decision makers is also unparalleled – Cardiff Bay is literally just down the road! There is a downside to this close business community, in that sometimes, we don’t look outside enough.  We’re looking forward to the Negotiator Awards in London, so we can learn from the best the UK industry has to offer.

  1. What can Wales do to attract more inward investment?

The City Deal is a great start for attracting further investment, it is a clear statement that Wales means business. The potential of both the Metro and the lagoon projects will attract large companies from outside Wales, but there will be opportunities for smaller companies either as sub contractors on big projects, or in their own right. For example, Adore marketed short term lets during the Rugby World Cup, and we are more than happy to work with our landlords and in-coming companies to find accommodation for the length of City Deal contracts. We all need to be open to new ways of working!