Louise Thompson joined Platinum Property Partners (PPP) in 2013 and now has a property portfolio of four Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) in and around East London.
What did you do prior to franchising?
After leaving school I went on to train as a fashion designer at St. Martins College of Art and Design. Fashion had been a passion and a dream from an early age.
After my degree I went on to do all sorts of jobs in fashion; from designing and styling for Virgin Records, working with Victoria Beckham and Atomic Kitten to pattern cutting for a high street multiple and production and studio management. My final role was in the super luxury end of the market for London Fashion week designers.
What/who inspired you to go into franchising? How did you come to invest in a franchise and why PPP in particular?
It was an ex-boyfriend who encouraged me to look at McDonalds. Being a life time vegetarian and health freak I wasn’t so sure, but went to a franchise show and had a look. I looked at lots of franchises, including McDonalds and organic food delivery. I saw PPP but discarded them as I didn’t think I needed help to build a property portfolio. But then I looked into it a bit more and realised it was a lot more complicated than I had initially thought.
Looking at my life, I realised that all of my money had been made just by buying a house, holding on to it and trading it up. It hadn’t been terribly difficult and it had kind of just been happening in the background after refurbishment. So I knew I wanted to do something in property and not have a 9-5 job again. At the time I’d bought a very big house in Hackney and had rented out a couple of rooms, effectively not paying my mortgage for about eight years so PPP felt like a natural progression.
The other massive difference is that with PPP, you own the assets, you’re working their model and making a really good return and it really sets you up for life if you do it correctly. At the end you still own these assets. No other franchise I looked at left you with something tangible.
How does your previous experience assist you in the running of your franchise?
I had been freelance for much of my career and I quite liked periods of intense work mixed with periods of down time so refurbishing and renting property seemed quite a good fit. I was also used to managing my own time, budgets and setting my own targets within a production cycle and all those skills are very easily transferable.
How is it being a woman in a male-dominated industry? Has being a woman presented any difficulties?
A lot of the world is geared towards men but I’m not really aware of this industry in particular presenting me with additional difficulties that don’t already exist elsewhere. It can feel uncomfortable being in a minority but you get used to it! I quite like it, it makes me more memorable. For a female, I think the idea of working with a lot of trades is daunting but it’s the knowledge that counts. It’s down to me to do the research into how much a job should cost, gender makes no difference to the ease of this. I have to say that generally, I have had quite a good experience with the majority of builders and trades.
How has your life changed since investing in a PPP franchise? Do you have a good work-life balance?
My life is completely different from working 14 hour days in fashion and being on that treadmill of fashion shows two times a year or more. I have a better work-life balance. During refurbishment, I am very hands on and it’s very much my business and I am working in it. But then you get nice downtime. Personal growth has also been exceptional. It has made me look at other areas of life that I was oblivious to, like finances. I feel much more confident going forward. I’m more in control of my destiny. You lose sight of that being in employment because you are just working for a pay cheque. Now I’m building something that will support me for the rest of my life.
What advice would you give to women considering a franchise?
Don’t feel it will be more difficult because you’re a woman. Some things will be difficult and some things won’t. It’s was a daunting prospect, but mainly because I hadn’t done it before, not because I’m a woman. It feels easier as you get better at it. What felt like I was pushing boundaries now feels almost common place. I think PPP is a great place to have a great network, lots of dynamic role models and access to people you would otherwise possibly never meet.
What is the training and support like?
In a word, excellent. The first few months can be very intense, where you start learning how to find the properties, what to look for and the analysis of the investment area you are considering. It doesn’t stop once the house is bought, with the refurbishment and lettings you need to learn to don a different cap. Despite the first 12-18 months being a very steep learning curve, I also found the support network great. The team at head office have always been great at helping me with lots of things from potential planning issues to tenant queries. We also have an online forum where we can post issues and concerns and receive the help and knowledge from other Partners.
I remember someone saying when I joined that it was running your own business but not on your own. I’ve found that very much to be true.
Describe a typical day.
There is no longer a typical day! So here’s a snap shot of 24hrs.
I’m working from my parents’ while my car is being serviced and work a little on a book I’m writing about my transition from the fashion industry into property and work on it wherever I am.
I then have three viewings in one of my houses so head there at around 6pm.
The following day, I awake a little late, have a vegetable smoothie and skip my normal 45min run. I log on and check my bank balance and my emails. I have two rooms advertised so send a couple of emails to a couple of potential tenants and skim over a contract for a joint venture that’s just arrived in my inbox – I’ll come back to that.
I leave at 10am to get to my first house at 11am where I have to meet with pest control as we have had a few bugs in the kitchen. The treatment takes just under an hour. Then it’s onto the tube. I arrive in the city a bit early so pick up some essentials for an upcoming ski holiday. Then I have a lunch booked with the lovely London PPP ladies. There are seven of us today, among which is a close friend who will be my first joint venture partner.