If someone had told me back in 2007 that Lucie White & Company would grow to become the successful business it is now, I think I would have found it pretty funny! Sitting at my kitchen table with little more than a laptop, an address book and the details of a couple of rental properties, I had no idea that I was taking the first tentative steps towards building the company that I am so proud of today.
Did I know what I was doing? Actually, I probably did. My career in property had begun at the ripe old age of 21. Fresh out of university and keen to prove my worth, I secured my first job with John D. Wood in Wimbledon and then worked my way up through the ranks of various big-brand agencies. I had a company car, a smart office to work from, sophisticated software at my fingertips and the power of a big brand behind me. I became ARLA qualified and stuck to the rules, following company policies and working within the ‘customer service’ framework on which I had been trained. Companies like the ones I worked for won prestigious industry awards for service and printed their accolades all over their glossy brochures.
It was invaluable experience, but in my day-to-day dealings with landlords and tenants I had gradually realised that amongst all the noisy bravado we were missing the real point. Every single property, landlord and tenant is different – so how could such a ‘one size fits all’ approach ever suit each of them? How could an all-singing, all-dancing CRM system replace the honesty, flexibility and trust that come with a personal relationship built through regular, proactive communication? I knew property, I knew landlords and I knew that there was a better way.
So I took the plunge into going it alone, putting my hard-earned years of knowledge and expertise to the test alongside a more personal, hands-on approach to looking after my customers and their properties. Thanks to those first two clients, word began to spread. Almost overnight, my portfolio grew as more and more people recommended me to their friends and business associates; before I knew it, there were three of us sitting around that kitchen table.
A few early triumphs reassured us that we were heading in the right direction. We found a house for a family relocating to SW19 and when they decided to buy an investment property, they came straight to us. When the garage door of one of our properties blew open in the wind and damaged the neighbour’s car, that neighbour was so impressed with how we handled things that he dropped his existing lettings agent and moved his properties to us. Our efficient dealings with a leak from a flat in Richmond soon resulted in us managing the entire block.
By 2010 we had most definitely outgrown the kitchen table, so we moved to our first offices in Coombe; and then on to our current address five years later. Lucie White & Company now manages more than 80 properties at any one time across South West London and further afield; we have a trusted network of suppliers and contractors at our disposal and a fresh, bright and welcoming office to work from. Not bad going so far!
What has not changed is the gut instinct that set the ball rolling in the first place – that every property, every landlord and every tenant is unique. At Lucie White & Company, one size definitely does not fit them all.