Principle triples in size as it celebrates second year in business

Principle Estate Management has tripled in size in the last 12 months, with the number of units it looks after rising from just under 2,000 to nearly 6,000.

The latest figures come as the Birmingham-based company celebrates its second year of operations since launching on 1 June 2018.

Principle continues to be the UK’s fastest growing residential estate management business since this time last year, with staff numbers also rising proportionately from seven to 20.

The company’s growing portfolio of properties now totals 5,803 units in 234 developments spread across the Midlands and in all nine English regions including across London, plus more in Wales.

This is a huge increase from 1,957 units in 102 developments this time last year, and there are many more  confirmed instructions in the pipeline and also proposals awaiting confirmation.

Brett Williams, founder and managing director at Principle, said: “As we celebrate what is just our second anniversary, our continuing expansion has far exceeded our business plan, which is a very healthy position to be in.

“We were looking after nearly 2,000 units in more than a hundred developments after our first 12 months, and so to have seen this and our staff numbers nearly triple is both a thrilling and satisfying experience.

“We firmly believe this swift growth is down to our reputation for delivering the highest customer service standards, backed up by our continued investment in the latest technology which automates routine processes and frees staff up to communicate with clients on a daily basis.”

Mr Williams added: “What we’re really proud of is our consistent appointments in the last year: we have recruited at rate of one new starter each month over the last year, and all have been of high quality.”

Principle’s staff of 20 includes Mr Williams and co-director Joe Jobson, four property managers, three finance staff and a compliance and integration manager.

There are then three property inspectors, two customer service staff, two apprentices and three consultants – one covering finance, and two valuing lease extensions for freeholders and leaseholders.

Although Principle’s staff numbers are expanding rapidly, Mr Williams said the company continued to insist on qualifications, led by himself and Mr Jobson who are both property professionals and chartered surveyors.

Mr Williams himself has a degree in Estate Management and is a fellow of both the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and the Institute of Residential Property Management (IRPM). He is also a past chair of the Association of Residential Managing Agents (ARMA).

Mr Jobson also has a degree in Estate Management and is a member of both RICS and IRPM.

All the company’s property managers and customer executives are either IRPM-qualified or enrolled to take exams, while property manager Danielle Lannon is training to become a chartered surveyor, having recently completed a BSc (Hons) degree in Estate Management.

Mr Jobson said: “The great thing about our staff here at Principle is that it’s large enough to separate our specific functions into specialist teams, but small enough to all muck in and to care about every client.

“All our people truly understand customer service, with property managers and members of the finance team all willingly answering the phones if the customer service team is busy, as everyone wants customers’ calls dealt with immediately, not left for call-backs.

“Our business model has matured as we’ve grown, but it’s still simple. In short, our property managers know their stuff and know all their sites, clients, contractors and customers.

“The activities of our property inspectors mean the property managers are able to spend more time in the office getting stuff done. Meanwhile, the customer services team is experienced and able to take a lot of routine tasks off the property managers.

“Importantly, customer service staff are not allocated to specific property managers, but operate as a team which means it’s easier for them to be flexible with their workloads.”

Principle now has 52 clients of which several hold more than one property and 13 are group clients with properties held by more than one company.

The company’s clients include all major freehold investors, several smaller investor clients, many resident management companies and right-to-manage companies, regional housebuilders and recently some national plc housebuilders.

The properties now managed include those that were previously handled by more than 40 other agents which Principle has taken over from since the company was launched.

The properties in Principle’s portfolio are mostly traditional blocks of flats, modern apartments, mixed-use residential and commercial buildings, and housing estates, as well as various commercial buildings, ground rent collections and rented properties.

Unlike some agents, Principle does not charge suppliers to be on its list of contractors, with an approval process based on experience and qualifications, locality to developments, relevant insurance cover and health and safety standards.

Mr Williams said: “We look after our contractors by giving them clear written instructions with each purchase order, providing relevant property and contact details, and we pay them weekly – unlike many agents.”

On the technical side, Principle has always invested in the latest developments, including the purchase of the MRI’s Qube Property Management software prior to the company’s launch.

There is a site survey app integrated into Qube which feeds into the system directly in real time, and a customer portal which allows online card payment and maintenance reporting, as well as acting as a document store.

Reflecting on the reasons behind Principle’s success, Mr Williams said: “Both myself and Joe are very well known in this specialist sector.

“We are an owner-managed business, which means we’re agile and able to quickly adapt to meet all client and customer needs.

“We have a large business capability but are small enough to care and deliver. Plus, what’s important to me is that all our staff actually want to work for Principle and this shines through in their enthusiasm to follow our mantra of doing property management properly!”

Mr Williams also thanked Principle’s supporters: “There are so many property-related professionals who we count as our friends and supporters.

“These range from contacts who just like or share our posts on social media to those who refer us to their clients where property management is required.

“And we’re also grateful to those who invite us to functions, mention us to other industry peers and to those property and business publications who find our news stories interesting enough to use.”

Mr Williams added: “When we look back and see how the business has nearly tripled in the last 12 months, we are excited to see how we can continue this growth in the next year.

“Finally, on behalf of all of us at Principle I would like to thank our clients who continue to support us providing new instructions on a regular basis.”