The aim is to make both parties feel they are valued by us
With just two days to go before the deadline for entries to the Royal Tunbridge Wells Business Awards 2016 we profile two more of the companies that have put their names forward.
With an increasing number of people now having little choice but to rent their homes, it is unsurprising that both landlords and letting agents are not always perceived positively.
However, one Tunbridge Wells letting agency is determined to ensure that both the tenants and the landlords benefit.
Bright Fox was founded by Vanessa Strauss in 2013, and has seen its client base rise from just two landlords to 25 in the last 14 months alone.
Despite this, Mrs Strauss is still the only full-time employee, with just one other part-time member of the company on hand.
Drawing on her background as both a landlord herself and a former employee of Prince Charles, in a role in which she oversaw his charity projects with an emphasis on housing, Mrs Strauss has a solid grounding in the buy-to-let sector.
Explaining what led her to found the company, Mrs Strauss said: “My husband and I both had properties here to let but they were not managed well, which meant we started to lose our enthusiasm. “It made me want to build a company that supports a really optimistic, financially rewarding and ethical letting market with good corporate and social responsibility.”
Initially she worked from home in Frant and helped manage the properties of close friends and acquaintances, but soon moved to an office in Tunbridge Wells as her workload increased.
Part of her success is in making both landlord and tenant feel valued, she said. “This means treating people fairly, such as ensuring problems are fixed within 24 hours. There is nothing worse than a landlord not doing anything about an issue.”
She believes many agencies have taken advantage of people and that their size means they are hindered in their ability to respond to situations quickly.
“They are stuck with long processes as there are so many people involved, each with different roles. Authorisation has to pass through several channels.”
She said this was compounded by a number of ‘pain points’, including hidden charges, high fees and poor maintenance of properties.
However, despite the rapid growth in the number of her clients, she is aware that overstretching the company could end up making it like some competitors.
“We are a nimble company and don’t have the big processes like the franchises, although we are looking to grow. However, I am not bent on world domination and so will probably cap it at around seven staff to keep the quality. We want to stay local and be a useful part of the community.”
WHY THE NAME BRIGHT FOX?
“I live down a country lane and often see wonderful bright golden/orange foxes running across the fields against a usually dreary background. They are nimble, adaptable, independent and know their surroundings better than most. I wanted to convey a fast-thinking, quick company that stood out against the backdrop of ‘just another letting agent’.” Vanessa Strauss