When Milica Bennett from Woking started to tire of her career in economics and computer science, she went in search of a completely new and different challenge. She wanted to find something interesting to do that she would enjoy, but that would also give her an income.
On discovering Platinum Property Partners (PPP) at a business show, Milica started exploring the idea of franchising. After quickly disregarding what she describes as ‘borderline opportunities’, Milica came to the conclusion that PPP was the company for her and joined with her husband, Tony, an organisational change consultant, in March 2013.
Now the couple have a portfolio of fourHouses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) across Guildford and Woking and are working on their fifth property. Both Milica and Tony are delighted with the financial returns and added benefits of being PPP Partners, however, they have experienced very different journeys.
Here, Milica and Tony share their stories on joining PPP, setting up and running their property business and the way it has impacted them individually.
“Prior to the year 2000, the computer industry was really interesting and you were able to do just about everything. But, with my most recent company, I found that the roles were very narrow and I became bored to tears. I had also been doing the same thing for so long in a big corporate environment with a lot of bureaucracy that I decided it was time for something completely different.
I started looking at various options, but at my age, people didn’t want to employ you to do something you had never done before. So, I considered various options – starting my own business, taking over an existing one or franchising.
It was at a business show that I first picked up a leaflet on PPP. Unfortunately, this show had a lot of exhibitors that I wouldn’t describe as very reputable and had ‘scam’ written all over them. So I decided to do my homework on PPP and thankfully, there was no negative vibe. I then booked myself and Tony onto aDiscovery Day, but he remained to be convinced.
After the Discovery Day, I felt very positive about joining PPP and Tony was finally on board – especially after asking some probing questions and meeting some of the other Partners. I liked the concept of property combined with franchising because I loved the idea of property but had no proper experience of running my own business, nor did I want to get involved in anything that required hard selling.
However, what I really liked about PPP was the sheer breadth of opportunity to do lots of different things. In property, you have the business side, the refurbishment side, the development side and the lettings side. So, even five or 10 years down the road I would still be learning and it would still be fun. It also offered us the opportunity to get our family involved if they wanted to or build a portfolio of assets that could be passed down to them because you owned the property yourselves.
Just over two years have passed since we joined and I’m delighted to say that it has exceeded all of my expectations. It’s given me a career change and a steady income (which is higher than I originally expected), something which we can pass down the family (which is not something I had set out to look for) and I’ve learnt some invaluable skills.
Despite having a holiday apartment in France that was managed by a letting agent and having to refit my bathroom because of a leaking shower, we had no real property experience whatsoever. It has been a huge learning curve and I could definitely not have been as successful if I had done this on my own. We wouldn’t have even had the impetus to get going let alone the knowledge or network of people to turn to when we needed help.
Being part of PPP has also opened my mind to lots of other interesting areas in property – commercial developments, buying property at auction or doing a joint venture. I have a feeling that if I need something interesting to do, I will be able to find something, either because PPP is already doing it or because some Partners will be doing it.”
“Joining PPP was very much a journey driven by Milica wanting to do something different with her career. When she first discussed the business proposition with me, I have to admit that my initial reaction was extremely sceptical.
I didn’t know why we were doing this. We knew nothing about property. But then, after attending the Discovery Day, I very quickly changed my attitude from being largely dismissive to becoming very interested and wanting to know more. I was particularly intrigued by two things – the financial aspects and solid looking nature of the returns, and the people that I met. They were good people that I liked, trusted and could see myself working with.
It was always planned that Milica would play the major role in the running and development of our property portfolio and I would continue to do other things as well as being a PPP Partner. However, I have also learnt so much.
One of the biggest learning curves was understanding that you’re not buying and developing or converting and refurbishing a property for you to live in. You’ve got to put yourself in the mind-set of your potential tenants and I have been quite surprised that the things that we might think are very important, our tenants do not. I’ve realised that it is also important to make sure we have the right mix of tenants in the house and we often look at it from the perspective of would we want that person living in our own home if we were live-in landlords?
Another thing that PPP has done is totally changed my attitude to mortgages and refinancing. I had been brought up to pay off my mortgage as quickly as possible so that whatever else might happen, I’d be OK. But, if truth be told, that was an absolutely terrible piece of financial advice. Having all that dead money in our property meant it wasn’t working hard for us. By taking a proportion of our equity and investing it into developing a property portfolio with PPP, we have produced a long term income stream which significantly improves our financial security.
The biggest benefit for me though, without a shadow of a doubt, is that Milica has loved every minute of developing and managing our PPP business. She has gone from having a job that bored her to tears to being totally energised and enthused. This is also the first time that we have worked together and that’s been one of the most enjoyable aspects of the business. We’ve both had very busy careers and Milica took a minimal amount of time off when she had the two boys and was back to work very quickly. So effectively, all our working lives, we’ve both been busy working and doing entirely different things and actually, we now have the opportunity to make better decisions because the two of us are thinking about the big issues together.
Personally, joining PPP has made me realise that I want to be busier at work and do more, not less. I thought we would create a portfolio that would act as a second pension fund and then sit back and enjoy life but I now see myself working for longer. I know that I can invest more time in getting where I want to go with my work because I know I have the financial security of the PPP income behind me. The old pressure has been replaced with the newfound freedom of choice and while Milica will continue to focus on the development of the portfolio, I will start looking at other opportunities in transformation and change management, which I am very passionate about.
PPP is certainly not for everyone but if you have access to sufficient funds (easier to find than expected) and time to work on developing your portfolio, then PPP offers not only remarkable short and long term financial returns but also access to a great network of supportive and friendly Partners. For Milica and myself, PPP has delivered everything it promised and more”.