Business News wales interviewed Ross Hooper-Nash of Jeffrey Ross estate agents. He shares his views on the housing market with our readers as well as his professional opinions. He also gives advice on making businesses a success.
Can you give our readers a little background into yourself and your role within Jeffrey Ross Estate Agents?
I was born and raised in Cardiff and went to school in Cowbridge. Initially, I wanted to become a P.E teacher so did a sports degree in Cardiff. I have always had a passion for property and was given an opportunity in the industry in 2002. Following a successful period at two large corporate estate agencies, I took the plunge in October 2007 to set up my own business alongside an already established brand in Pontcanna. We were called Abode and later changed our business name to Jeffrey Ross estate agents.
I am the Managing director with a hands-on approach and I’m fortunate to have my family working within the business, as well fantastic employees with a lot of industry experience. I’m a firm believer in getting out in the field and speaking with customers on a daily basis and leading by example.
What are your plans for the next five years, and where do you see your challenges and opportunities?
We have had challenges since day one, after all our first year in business was the start of the financial crash. I am proud to say we expanded during that time.
Our plans are to continue to expand covering wider areas from key branch locations. We’ve identified several new locations in North Cardiff and the Vale as well as improving the current successful branches we have.
In today’s climate, you have to embrace technology and focus on continual development of staff. We aim to employ people who focus on delivering excellent customer service as opposed to being a proverbial door opener!
The online competitors will command a small section of the market, fees will inevitably increase for them and the high-street fees will reduce unless we can demonstrate how we add value. There is certainly a place for both, and I think the sooner some traditional agents realise that the better.
I believe the number of estate agency branches in the UK will reduce over the next two to three years and more will take up a hybrid model and try to cover more locations from fewer bases, which I don’t think will be a bad thing.
In February, we will be one of the first agents in the UK launching a virtual reality viewing service. Clients will be able to visit one of our offices, look at an interactive 360-degree tour or even strap on a set of VR goggles and view as many houses as they like without leaving the office. This will result in fewer time wasters, reduce the disruption to some of our clients and introduce better informed buyers – we envisage it being a virtual second viewing.
Looking back at your career, are there things you would have done differently?
As I started my own business at 25, there isn’t too much to look back on to be honest, but what I am extremely proud of is the working relationship I have with my family, who not only keep me in a job, but they are also people I would not want to run the business without.
What do you think are the most important qualities for success in business?
It’s not for me to lecture people on what qualities people should have to succeed in business as every business and every person is different, but if I was to say anything it would be the same old cliché, hard work and being able to switch off after work – which I know is never easy to do and something I struggle to do every day.
I am also not averse to taking risks to improve the experience for our customers as well as to grow the business. I also have a strong sense of personal and professional integrity – believe it or not as an estate agent – I like to treat people and other businesses as I expect to be treated.
What are your top three tips for success?
- Surround yourself with good people;
- Identify your market and stick to it;
- Employ people who care about your business and who take personal pride in their work.
Are there any innovations within your sector that you believe should be adopted by the wider Welsh market?
Innovation in the housing market it really important, from building, to buying and selling. For too long our sector has been very traditional. The internet has had a massive impact on our market and will continue to do so.
Do you have any predictions in regards to the impact of Brexit on your sector?
Brexit will undoubtedly have an impact in some parts of Wales, but we are not seeing any effects in the housing market in Cardiff yet. Demand is still as strong as ever, but lack of houses being built is our biggest problem.
What can Wales do to attract more inward investment?
Incentivise larger companies to relocate to Wales, this would mean having greater control of our taxes. Improve the transport infrastructure, particularly the airport.
What skills should the education system be promoting to the next generation?
I think there needs to be more done to promote traditional trades and skills such as plumbing and carpentry. Trying to find a person to weld lead is virtually impossible these days and we are in danger of losing these skills if we don’t encourage the younger generations to see them as a lucrative career choice. Colleges need to establish courses that offer real and respected qualifications in these trades, that also offer business, people and accounting skills alongside the actual craft to ensure that future tradespeople run professional and viable businesses.
How important is it for there to be a close relationship between business and higher education in Wales?
It is extremely important as higher education needs to cater for what the business world needs in future workforces and business needs to know that it has a good supply of suitable people to fill positions.