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Recruiting Your Team

This month, Ritchie Clapson, co-founder of PropertyCEO, looks at how to go about recruiting the perfect team of professionals for your new development enterprise.

Working in the property training industry, one gets to hear all sorts of rather grand terms for what are, if I’m honest, fairly mundane things. The term ‘Power Team’ is a case in point. The image that springs to mind is one of a muscle-bound, Lycra-clad group of superheroes who perform heroic acts on your behalf. There’s certainly a grain of truth in this interpretation, but as I think of my own power team, I feel muscle-bound would be stretching a point. And mercifully, there’s been a complete absence of Lycra in my dealings with them, although who knows what dark secrets may lurk beneath. But superheroes they may well be, for, in property development, they can certainly work wonders when it comes to delivering both your projects and your profits.

So, who’s on the list when it comes to your property development team? We’re talking here about the broad range of professionals and tradespeople that will be involved in your projects. Architects, structural engineers, planning consultants, accountants, solicitors, estate agents, project managers, contractors, to name but a few. It’s quite a long list, with around two dozen different disciplines that could potentially be involved on a project. Now, I’m only two paragraphs in, but there’s something I’ve got to get off my chest. There’s a common misconception that being given access to someone else’s power team represents a benefit or shortcut. In reality, it’s usually a terrible idea. The reason my own team is so powerful is not just because they’re good at what they do; there’s a whole host of other factors involved. This includes the personal relationship and goodwill I have built with each of them, the fact that they specialise in the types of development I do, and that geographically they are based close to my projects. My preferred contractor is a very amenable chap, but even he would struggle to say yes to a project proposal from someone he doesn’t know from Adam, wanting him to build a type of project he doesn’t usually work on in a completely different part of the country to where’s he’s based. You won’t be at all surprised to learn, then, that we teach students how to create their own power team that has a direct relationship with them, rather than with someone else. Sounds sensible, but how should one go about it?

The first thing is to ensure you’ve got your branding sorted, something I covered back in part 1 of this series. Having a brand, a website, and a business card is the best way of making a good first impression, and it marks you out as a professional. Turning up without these things makes you look like an amateur. Similarly, you need to be able to speak eloquently about what your business is looking to do and the sort of projects it’s looking to take on. Make sure you have a niche or specialism; the ‘I’ll look at anything that makes a profit’ approach is a quick ride in the down elevator when it comes to credibility.

Next, you need to put some names in the frame for each key discipline you need to recruit. A critical factor to bear in mind is that it’s a case of horses for courses. I have an architect friend who designs award-winning, high-end offices. Could she design my five-unit industrial to residential conversion project in one of the less prestigious backwaters of Southampton? Technically, yes, but she’s got no experience with that type of scheme, so she’s unlikely to do the best job. The same rules apply to your contractor. So, make sure that your professionals have a proven track record in delivering the type of project you’ll be building. Be assured that your commercial lender will also want to tick this box before they part with any cash.

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