Today, I’m delighted to sit down with two people in the industry that I really admire. Chris Shaw, an almost high-school dropout who shunned the family construction business to pursue a career in broadcast media, before coming back to this world during the 2008 recession and ultimately going onto build one of the largest construction companies in the north west.
The second voice you’re going to hear is Alex Riddick. Alex is an electrician by trade who spotted the potential for student accommodation while working as a contractor on other people’s projects. He then went onto buy his first HMO in 2016 and, as most trades tend to do, he got very hands on with that first project. Since then, he has systemised his business and has built an enviable portfolio with some of the highest standard student properties in Liverpool.
The real beauty of their story comes when the pair met, and by bringing their collective experience and complementary skills together, they are braced for huge growth in both sides of the business, the construction side and the investment portfolio side. It’s early days for them working together as a team and only time will tell how this story ends, but from my perspective, they’ve got a lot of value to share and I’m sure you will enjoy the discussion as well.
Listen to this episode below:
Here’s a sneak peek at what discussed this time:
5:00 – Alex talks through his background, his work as an electrician and business before he met Chris. Touches on starting out in the recession, his move to London and striving for bigger schemes and plans.
7:20 – How Alex’s eyes were opened to the student housing market.
8:20 – His processes for finding the target market and target location in Liverpool, and finding his first HMO property buy.
10:00 – He talks us through the setbacks with renovating the property, juggling it with full-time work and his desire to provide something different.
12:09 – Alex discusses the problems faced when refinancing with no experience.
15:00 – Chris talks through his back-story, his family business of construction and how he found himself working in media at ITV.
17:12 – He tells us about his light bulb moment and how he knew he wanted to be more entrepreneurial. Mid-2008 recession, Chris decided to move back into the construction industry and set up a new handyman business.
20:00 – How the business took off to where it is now, a one-source solution for everything in the construction industry from extensions, drains, roof for professional investors to bigger players in the HMO market. They can do everything and have specialists in all elements of the industry.
21:30 – Chris discusses his £3m turnover and how the business has accelerated.
22:00 – He talks about how, 12 years in, he started looking at buying property as well.
24:01 – The importance in the property industry of accepting that you work hard and, often for free, but for a long-term pay-off. It’s not as easy as it looks – you need a lot of persistence and patience.
27:20 – Alex and Chris discuss how they met.
29:00 – The importance of outsourcing so as not to throttle your growth.
31:30 – How and why they decided to team up and work together, and how Alex has bought into Chris’s company.
34:55 – How finding someone else to partner with once you’ve reached a certain level of success can be a brilliant idea. They discuss what individual qualities they bring to the business.
38:53 – They discuss how they are moving into the new-build and land development market.
42:40 – The importance of remembering your own goals and ambitions when working with investors and other people’s money, otherwise it can be easy to start working solely to their agenda.
43:38 – They talk about their different roles in the business and how it works operationally, with Chris running the construction and marketing side, while Alex works the property side.
45:20 – How they are working on improving existing HMOs and moving into the new-build market.
46:20 – They discuss whether they will retain the new-builds or sell them on.
47:00 – They talk about how many more restrictions there are on new-builds and that the finance doesn’t always stack up as well – they are inundated by HMO opportunities that stack up. But, they are excited about the challenge and know the opportunity for new-build is out there.
48:12 – Talking through the biggest challenges from a company growth point of view.
52:37 – The importance of knowing your area and how location can prevent you, at times, from scaling up.
53:40 – There are lots of opportunities out there for construction at the moment. The beauty of their business is that they have a good mix of property and construction to always fall back on.
56:10 – Both of them talk about how excited they are about the future and how passionate they are. To wrap up the podcast, they discuss how important social media has been in building the brand and the business. The possibility and reach is endless – can help you to attract investors.
56:52 – Make the most of visual marketing in both property and construction. Once you have key customers, people want advice too. The importance of 3rd party endorsement.
1:01:57 – Equate the number of engaged followers to the number of people in a room for an idea of how impactful it can be.
I recently came across a company called Hammock and immediately knew they had a service I had to share with you. At its core, Hammock is a challenger bank that provides current account services designed specifically for landlords and property managers. Hammock combines property management with financial services to automate things like rent collection, simplify your bookkeeping and ultimately save you time and money.
They bridge the gap between your traditional bank account and your financial management system – and the results are awesome. First of all, it tracks your income and expenses, either through your Hammock current account or whichever bank you currently use. It will then automate your rent status, alerting you to any missed payments across your portfolio so you can quickly follow up with tenants. And it also provides live analytics, at a property and portfolio level, so it can show you insights such as profits and loss, arrears, your occupancy rates, yields and much more.
It’s a single app that can replace multiple different tools that you currently use in your business – many of which your probably paying monthly fees for. This can reduce your outgoings but the value it provides goes way beyond that with the real time overview of your portfolio finances. I love what I’ve seen so far! If you’re on the hunt for a new current account for your property business, or if you’d prefer to make the most of open banking and connect your existing bank accounts to Hammock, then check it out with a 30-day free trial at usehammock.com/insidepropertyinvesting.
For more information on their construction company, visit tdgcontracts.com or @every_trade on Instagram. For Alex’s Emperor Property, see their Facebook page facebook.com/emperorpropertyholdings or his Instagram page @emperor_property