I left Durrington High school at 16 and started working in the sales department of Jordan and Cook Estate Agent as a junior negotiator, later moving onto Symonds and Reading. Ironically, we have since merged with both companies in the last 30 years. I always enjoyed being out and about, selling properties and finding people a new place to call home.
What prompted you to start your own business?
I hadn’t planned to start my own company and, at the time, I didn’t have a family to provide for or any huge ambitions to start an estate agency, I simply wanted to give it a go!
My friend bought a bakery locally, so I thought ‘why not?’, so started my own company. I was only 25 years old when I started Michael Jones, my friends and family kindly provided some financial support to start the company and I secured a loan from the bank.”
Did you have any experience in running a company?
I had no business experience, background, or knowledge, I threw myself in at the deep end and learned along the way. I could see there was a gap in the market to provide a service to Worthing and the surrounding areas and for the last 30 years I have been working hard to fill that gap and provide a personal, inclusive service to all of our customers.
What were some of your firsts…employee, office, expansion etc?
The company started on May 13 1991. Our first office was 13 Chatsworth Road, Worthing. I had no computer when I started, and I would write everything down on paper. Emma, one of my first employees, and now my longest-standing employee, made me buy my first computer.
Our first sale was at 13 Canterbury Road, Worthing, our first office expansion was in Findon Valley and our first merger was with Jordan and Cook Lettings which we still manage today.
Although the number 13 is supposed to be unlucky, it has played a large role in many of the company’s milestones.
What were your key values when starting out?
I like to think that I’m a glass-half-full kind of person. I think it's important that this is positively reflected through our marketing and branding.
When I started Michael Jones, I wanted to provide an inclusive service that could serve the whole community. We started as a small family-run business, and although we continue to grow, it's paramount that we remain a personal, family-run business with employees and customers who feel noticed and important.
This is at the core of our company’s DNA and is just important to me now, as it was when I started Michael Jones 30 years ago.
What were the challenges?
I’m not someone to dwell on adversity or difficult times - instead, I will work with my team to find a solution. I’ve been fortunate to have a loyal team of staff around me that have stuck by my side for over 25 years.
During the 2008 crash, instead of battening down for the storm, we expanded dramatically, buying three estate agents – Jordan & Cook Sales & Lettings, Ashcroft & Dean and Breese Estates. Mike Smith continues to run the management department of Breese Estates which remains successful in its own right.
When things get tough, giving up isn’t an option - as a company, we push through. We have often seen our biggest growth during the tougher times that the market has thrown at us.
Despite the warning of an overdue market dip or crash between 2018-2020, we bought a further three estate agents – Easy Let, Bacon & Co and Symonds Reading.
Resilience is a huge part of the company’s DNA and I think this is displayed through our company’s achievements.
You must feel proud when you see your company logo around West Sussex?
Although I’m proud of my company’s accomplishments, I don’t associate myself with the company logo and name. When I see my name on the office fronts, I see my company and everyone who is a part of the company, not simply myself.
What drives you to continually improve?
Over the years my ambitions have matured and my vision for the company has evolved and will continue to do so. I set myself a goal for the business and once I reach that goal, I raise the bar and set another goal, continuing to grow the company.
As a company, we want to provide the highest level of personal service possible. This means keeping up with technological advances, whilst continuing to provide a personal, traditional service.
What does the future of Michael Jones & Company look like?
Over the last 10 years, I have especially grown to love running the strategic side of the company, and although I’m not on the ground floor running day-to-day operations, I am still just as involved in the company with a strong grasp of all aspects of the business.
I’m keen to continue to grow to meet our client’s needs but also to preserve the company’s DNA and keep everything personal and family-run – it’s so important. Our heritage and traditions are something we’re all very proud of, and we know they’re something we will always stay true to.