022: John Paul started a letting agency so he could manage his own portfolio for free, but has succeeded in building one of the most respected businesses in the UK property industry

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John PaulJohn started investing 10 years ago and has built a mixed portfolio of 50 properties covering Local Housing Allowance, HMOs, lease options, and commercial.

4 years after that he took the plunge and opened The Castledene Group, which quickly became the most respected sales and lettings agency in the North East, winning the Sunday Times Letting Agency of the year award, achieving Investors In People Gold accreditation, and was recently featured on Channel 4’s Britain’s Benefit Tenants.

He now has 6 branches, with 3 more scheduled to open, and employs 34 people managing over 2000 properties across the North East of England.

What’s Your Favourite Book?

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John Paul is a voracious reader with an almost photographic memory, and he shared his top 6 books – 3 on systems and 3 on customer service.

Systems

The E-Myth Revisited – Michael Gerber
The Toyota Way – Jeffrey Liker
The Richer Way – Julian Richer

Customer Service

Five Star Service – Michael Heppell
Customer Mania! – Ken Blanchard
Raving Fans – Ken Blanchard

Biggest Success

Four years ago John bought an old pub that he refurbished and turned the ground floor into his head office, whilst renting out the 5 offices on the first floor to other businesses. As those businesses have moved out and John’s has expanded, he’s taking over more and more of the building, with only 2 offices now not used by The Castledene Group.

He makes a 12-13% yield on it, and is paying off the commercial loan over 15 years so his income continues to increase. And the best thing is, as his own tenant, he can be sure the rent’s going to get paid.

Biggest Difficulty

A member of staff put a bad tenant in one of John’s own LHA HMOs (a drunk who used to bring his friends round for parties) and the property quickly went from being full with predominantly great tenants to only having one tenant left in the space of 4 weeks. To make matters worse, there was around £4,000 in damages that needed addressing as well, but it taught John the value of taking his time to find the right tenant for the property rather than rush to fill his rooms.

John’s Links & Resources

thecastledenegroup.com – John’s main business website
Email John – Got a question or looking for some advice? Send John an email.

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