Who are you?
What does it say on your business card?
Managing Director of GK Signs.
How long has GK Signs been trading?
How can I forget! I left school aged 16 at the end of June 2011 and bought GK Signs the very next day. Everyone said I was bonkers and that I’d go bust very quickly. But within a few months, I’d won all the customers back and some. We’ve had to move to bigger premises twice since then and I’ve gone from one employee to 50 with more recruited in the New Year in the new Birmingham office.
How does it feel overseeing a business of 50 employees aged just 20?
I’d like to hope it would feel the same if I was 40 or 60. You just get on with the job. It’s all about determination to win the business, deliver good quality work and get paid. I learned that when I started out selling stickers to my friends and on eBay, working out of my bedroom when I was 13.
How do you see the role of signage for estate agency brands developing over the next few years?
I think it will be increasingly important. People still drive around areas they would like to live in and see the boards. Potential sellers clock the sales boards changing to sold boards too. It’s the cheapest and most effective form of advertising, when you analyse it. Much quicker than ploughing through websites particularly if you know roughly where you want to live.
What is the biggest challenge facing estate and letting agents at the moment?
The effect of pensions being more accessible is still, I think, bottoming out. I’m already investing in property and I don’t think I invented that concept!! I know we have to have pensions but I like the idea of being in more control of my investments. I also like the idea that we are in a period of fairly steady growth. That has to be better than all the ups and downs we have had in the past.
What is your greatest achievement in your current role and what made it so special?
For me, it’s still all about the buzz of winning the business and then doing it well. Winning contracts with household names like Royal Mail, Persimmon Homes, B and Q and Countrywide PLC gives me a thrill. I’ve been on ITV talking about my business, I’ve won a business award and I’ve even sponsored an award. But winning the business is still the very best bit.
What is the most satisfying part of your job?
When clients ring to say thanks is obviously and always will be, the best bit. But on a personal level, knowing I’m not at university, not up to my ears in debt, nor doing a course that doesn’t interest me is very satisfying too.
What is your property prediction for the remainder of 2015?
More of the same, I guess. I hope growth stays steady as everyone knows where they are. All the agents I talk to are saying they are busy. That has to be good news.
House or apartment?
House, no contest. Better investment. I have bought my first home in Exeter and I also have a share of a big farmhouse in Charente in France.
City or countryside?
Both! City to commute and countryside to chill.
Modern and stylish or period and original?
I’m still working that out.
Rent or buy?
Rent? You must be kidding…
Kirstie Allsopp or Phil Spencer?