Lisa Williamson's business has proved such a success that she is now working alongside Nick Lyons, managing director of No Letting Go.
Falling pregnant with her second child proved to be just the catalyst Lisa Williamson needed to take stock of her working life.
Lisa had been working in the lettings business for a number of years and following the birth of her first child, had opted to work on a part-time basis. But having two young children to care for was going to require an even more flexible working arrangement. When her existing employer announced that the company planned to outsource the handling of inventories for clients, Lisa jumped at the chance to take on the role, which effectively launched her leap of faith to become a self-employed sole trader.
This new regime suited Lisa perfectly since she was often able to take baby Sophie with her as much of her work was carried out in vacant properties. A day would comprise undertaking inventories (producing a detailed document detailing the contents of a rented property and noting the general condition), before a rental agreement was in place. Lisa's services were also required at the beginning of a rental agreement (checking in) or as the tenants moved out of the property (checking out) – which could usually be arranged around her childcare responsibilities. Lisa started out just working for her original employer but it was not long before she was asked to handle inventories for a further two offices in the same company network. A combination of word of mouth recommendation and some basic marketing in the guise of an online presence via one of the inventory management trade organizations led to further growth in the business, and in 2004 Lisa felt confident enough to set up her own limited company.
Since the inception of Express Inventories, the business has gone from strength to strength starting off with just four clients and now providing an inventory management service to 15 letting agents covering up to 600 properties. With a phenomenal 100% increase in turnover it was evident that Lisa needed to staff up the business so Lisa's husband now works alongside her full-time, supported by four freelance inventory clerks and three freelance inventory secretaries.
"Running your own company does not necessarily give you the freedom and flexibility that so many working mothers yearn for" says Lisa "you need to identify a sector that will enable you to adapt your working day around the needs of your children – and inventory management does just that. I can fit in my visits to client properties around the school day and then catch up on all the admin and forward bookings in the evenings when the kids are in bed. Better still, setting up this business did not require me to dig deep in terms of upfront finance, the start up costs are very low as are the ongoing business overheads – once you've got your Dictaphone and a car you are ready to go" continues Lisa.
The business has proved such a success that Lisa is now working alongside Nick Lyons, managing director of No Letting Go, the UK's first national brand in the inventory management sector to launch an office in South Essex.
"I had a very lucky break setting up Express Inventories since I was presented with an excellent opportunity by my existing employer and I was already working in the lettings market. However, the No Letting Go franchise presents a fantastic direct route into the business, providing all the essential training and business back-up required to launch your own inventory management company but with the added support and reassurance of being associated with a national brand. Becoming part of the No Letting Go network provides me with access to the additional resources and potential leads to further grow and develop the business" says Lisa.
For Lisa a typical day kicks off at 10 o'clock, having dropped the children off to school. A new inventory will usually take about an hour and half so Lisa will often then squeeze in a further two check-ins / check-outs leaving her plenty of time to be at the school gates for 3.30. After the usual ferrying of children to various clubs and getting them fed and off to bed, Lisa returns to her home office at about 8.30. During the evening she will forward the voice files to the inventory secretaries to enable them to produce a formal inventory document, book in work for the next day, proof read any inventories which have recently been typed up by her team of freelance secretaries, undertake any necessary client correspondence and of course, keep on top of any invoicing.
When asked about the best aspects of her work job Lisa is quick to acknowledge that she enjoys meeting people – whether it is tenants or letting agents – and of course the undisputed flexibility that running her own business provides.
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