Chris & Julie Poulton turn a passion for property into their own business
Chris and Juli Poulton became the owners of Martin & Co Sunderland in June 2014 after Chris was given the opportunity to take redundancy from his previous job. After 14 years in the same job, he decided to take on the challenge and try something new. As Sunderland locals, the couple felt that the town was the perfect place for them to establish and grow a property business.
“As locals, we know that Sunderland is a great place to live and the rental market reflects this. The demand for good quality, rented accommodation has never been higher. This is where we come in – at Martin & Co Sunderland we are passionate about property and are here to take away the stress and uncertainty that investors can feel when they go it alone. We can offer help every step of the way, right from finding the first tenant to the day-to-day management of the property.”
Both Chris and Juli have strong business and property backgrounds having already been landlords themselves. Their combined skills and experience allow them to bring an innovative approach to buying, selling and renting property in Sunderland. Juli has always had a passion for property and so the move to Martin & Co gave them an ideal opportunity to work together as a couple and will provide their children with a more secure future.
“We actually spend more time together as a family now than we did before and our children often spend time in the back of the shop whilst we are working."
The franchise has also given us the opportunity to build a future for our six children and we now have something of value to leave to them when they’re older.
“We chose franchising because we wanted to build a successful business. With a start-up, you can often spend 10-12 years building up a reputation but I wanted to start earning quite soon after launching the business. We wanted to make a real impact in Sunderland and to be the natural choice for anyone buying, selling or renting a property in the area. We wanted to bring a fresh approach to the Sunderland property market and we genuinely believe that the service we are offering will bring something different to Sunderland."
Martin & Co is one of the only property agency franchises that offer lettings and estate agency with UK-wide recognition. With a network of just under 200 franchise offices, they are the largest property franchise business in the UK.
“For our training, we spent two weeks with the national franchise team which we found extremely useful and it also gave us the opportunity to mix with other new franchise owners. The team has provided us with brilliant support from the start and helped us secure a great location for our shop premises. We spoke to the team 2-3times a day during the early days and they’re always on the other end of the phone if we ever need any advice or have any questions. Martin & Co was definitely the right choice for us because, from the start, they knew what they were doing and had credibility as a business.”
“As well as the usual training, we also attended a few franchise owners’ workshops and have been applying some of the methods and tips that they recommended. We have already advertised in our local newspaper and we have been included in a half-page editorial in the same newspaper. This is all part of the marketing that we have been advised to undertake and it’s had an extremely positive effect on our business. With appraisals also picking up, we’re starting to see our business take off in a big way.”
With high street and online presence, the secret of their franchise owners’ success is that they can provide local property knowledge whilst being backed by a national brand. Martin & Co has been recognised time and time again for its award-winning service by their clients winning Gold for Best Large Letting Chain at the ESTAS in 2009 & 2012, as well as Silver in 2010, 2011 & 2013, and most recently Bronze in 2014.
For the future, we want to open a second office within our current territory and then after that, when the opportunity arises, we will expand into other territories.
"In our area there’s plenty of room for growth because there are no other Martin & Co franchises nearby. The market has not yet been saturated so there are huge expansion opportunities for us in the North-East."
“Our advice to anyone looking into franchising is to do the due diligence to ensure that you will be able to work well with the franchisor and their support team. Make sure that their values and vision for the business match yours, otherwise you may clash later on. Choose a company that will meet your needs. We found that most of the other franchises that we looked at did not allow you to be completely your own boss but Martin & Co were supportive without being too restricting. The franchise needs to meet the way that you want to work and the way you want to build your business.”
“Setting up our franchise has been a rollercoaster but you get a real buzz when you first open the doors and people start coming in or looking through the window! On a day-to-day basis you never know how many people will ring you or come into the shop which is both overwhelming and exciting.”
Franchise owners like Chris & Juli take share in their dedicated franchise territories through the marketing, media and public relations support provided by Martin & Co. On lettings income alone, on average, Martin & Co’s franchise owners who are high street based turnover £245k in year 3 and you can expect to build your business to in excess of £380k in just 5 years.