From reluctant franchisee to property franchise mentor
Back in October 2007, Mike Dixon found himself reluctantly attending the National Franchise Exhibition at the NEC in Birmingham with his wife, Carol. After a long and successful career taking in spells in the record, computer games, finance and sports broadcasting industries, a failed business deal left him with a desperate need to generate an income, and quickly.
With no desire to even attempt to apply for high-powered jobs and valuing his independence too much, Mike wanted to set up a new business with Carol.
“Out of desperation, we attended the National Franchise Exhibition, but I really didn’t expect to find anything,” said Mike. “To me, franchising was a very good, proven model for franchisors and for most franchisees but not necessarily for me as I saw it as buying a job where everything was very prescriptive. But then I came across Platinum Property Partners.”
Towards the end of what had been a very uninspiring day for Mike and Carol, they walked passed the Platinum stand and were approached by a member of the team who leaped out and asked them if they wanted to make loads of money. This was done in such an amusing way that it made Mike laugh for the first time that day.
Mike added: “Here I was having my pre-conceived notions of property investors being a bunch of sharks confirmed to me! However, after a bit of harmless banter, we were introduced to Steve Bolton who calmly told us that he was about to give a presentation on stand. If we liked what we heard then we could have a chat, but if we didn’t, then not to worry. At last, someone that wasn’t trying to ram it down our throats – so we stayed.”
Until now, Mike had never considered investing in property. His view of buy-to-let was that it was great if you wanted to build a property portfolio for capital growth but that you couldn’t expect to earn much of an income along the way. Yet, here was someone telling him that there were all these people living in shared accommodation way beyond student years which meant you could earn a very healthy profit from this business model as well as building a portfolio for capital growth.
After listening to the presentation, Mike and Carol went home to carry out some due diligence. If what they’d heard was true, then this really could be the business they’d been looking for. Much to Mike’s surprise, he couldn’t find any dirt on either Steve or Platinum Property Partners and it became apparent that there really was a market for high quality shared accommodation.
The following week, he made the long trip from where he lived in rural Monmouthshire, Wales, to see Steve in Bournemouth. In those days, Platinum Property Partners consisted of five members of staff, including Steve, working from his home office and there were only nine Franchise Partners.
“Everything Steve said just made sense to me,” said Mike. “Not only did the property investment model work, but there was a wonderful support network that would teach me everything I needed to know without telling me what to do. There was an element of freedom. We were actually encouraged to be our own business people and to also have multiple streams of income, so if we wanted to do something alongside it, we could do.”
Mike likened it to the old saying, ‘if you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day but if you teach a man to fish, you feed him for life’. This is how he felt Platinum Property Partners operated and he was attracted to that.
In early 2008, Mike set about building his portfolio of Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) in Gloucester and Cheltenham. Even during the financial crisis that hit, the model was so robust that his portfolio remained profitable because of the high level of rental income. That enabled him to weather the storm and continue to build his property business.
Today, Mike manages eight properties with his wife Carol, earning a healthy income from the portfolio. However, the time freedom this has given Mike has allowed him to do other things that bring in additional income streams, which includes mentoring other Franchise Partners in the network.
Since 2010, Mike has been a Purchase Mentor, helping new Partners with the sourcing, analysing and purchasing of their first investment property. In any one year, he will view over 500 properties up and down the country, reviewing their suitability as an HMO in line with the individual’s goals for their property business.
“Helping people gives me the biggest buzz,” added Mike. “I love meeting new people and shaping the mentoring to suit their needs. It also means I’m staying active in the market and keeping on top of changes in localised property markets.”
With regards to their own portfolio, Mike and Carol have stopped actively investing, not feeling the need for further expansion.
Mike concluded: “Joining Platinum Property Partners has given me freedom to run my own business and yet being part of support structure and giving back to help others. I saw the initial franchise fee as a shortcut and it paid off. I have a solid income but the choice and opportunity to generate other sources of income by doing things I want to do and in my own way.”