Having been told (a little more pointedly than necessary!) that my LinkedIn profile picture looked like a young person who vaguely resembled me, I started to reflect on the three years since that photo was taken and we launched Fixflo.
What are the challenges facing the property management sector?
Fixflo was first showcased in May 2013 at the Guild of Letting and Management Conference after Susie Crolla and her board kindly invited me to outline my thoughts on the challenges facing the property management sector.
The key points are below and I believe that they still hold true:
1) Property management is the bedrock of an agency’s recurring revenue and as such it underpins any eventual sale price for the business.
2) There is no divide between property and technology; every property business that wants to thrive (or even survive) has adoption of smart technologies as part of its core strategy. 
3) Customer expectations of service levels are driven by their wider consumer experiences which mean that agency service levels are benchmarked against global superbrands like Amazon and not just high street competitors.
4) The political desire to win headlines will result in constant short-term tinkering with housing policy to the detriment of longer-term housing investment and sustainability. 
5) The greatest challenge to an agency as an industry is to educate the market that it is a professional service and not a product.
Building the team
Fixflo was in marked contrast to my previous life as a property lawyer working in the City and New Zealand.
Although property repair management may not have seemed the most exciting of areas to focus on, and my plans were met with some degree of disdain from the “disrupters” of Shoreditch, having felt the pain of repair management from both sides of the fence it was a problem that I wanted to solve.
I met Duncan (my co-founder and our CTO) through an online jobs board and the spur of the moment decision to put an advert up over the Christmas period was one lucky event (of quite a few!) that allowed Fixflo to exist and grow.
Duncan was previously the CTO of Friends Reunited and other well-known internet companies. He knew little of the property sector but we clicked and set about our task in earnest.
Jon Chapman, our Sales Director, started as a client. He was launching an outsourced property management company in Bournemouth but found that the lettings agencies he pitched to were most interested in the Fixflo system that he showed them as part of his solution. Having done a sterling (but unpaid) job of funnelling leads to us, he came on board full time.
Where are we now?
Although I had a background in property, both as a landlord and as a property lawyer, I hadn’t quite appreciated the raw streak of entrepreneurialism that runs through the UK’s agency sector.
In our first few months, I had the pleasure of meeting some incredibly astute businesspeople while wearing out shoe leather in promoting our service. It was humbling to be given so much time by so many agency founders when they didn’t know me, Fixflo, or why I had turned up at their office without an appointment.
Fast forward to January 2017 and we’re a team of 25 based out of an office in Vauxhall, supporting property managers across the UK and abroad from the US to Australia.
Here are some of the stats from our first three years (taking us from May 2013 to May 2016*)
- 78 software releases/upgrades
- 400,000+ properties under management using Fixflo around the world
- 4,000+ agency branches using Fixflo in the UK
- 8 countries in which Fixflo is used
- 15 software integrations
- 1 office dog
In this series of posts, I’m going to look at the lessons we’ve learned (and are still learning) about growing a business, our approach to product development and where we are going as a company.
If you have any preference for what you’d like to see next please add it in the comments, but for now, my thanks go out to our amazing team, clients and partners.
* I really should have written this a few months ago!
P.S. Find out more about Fixflo, here.