Rick Flay, who has broken many company records in the nine years since launching Belvoir Sheffield, has broken yet another record - selling his business for a million pounds.
Rick Flay, who has broken many company records in the nine years since launching Belvoir Sheffield, has broken yet another record – selling his business for a million pounds.
“I launched Belvoir Sheffield in May 2006 as a cold start in a serviced office,” says Rick. “From the beginning I received a great deal of support from the Central Office team in all areas of the business and the training was superb. Belvoir Sheffield grew phenomenally and I was delighted when we won Belvoir’s New Franchise of the Year just eight months after opening. Over the years numerous awards followed, including twice winning Belvoir Franchise of the Year and we still hold the company record for highest turnover in a single month, which was over £100,000 in July 2014.
“The business is now in a very good place, with very healthy profit margins and is ready to be taken forward in the next stage of its development, which is why it felt like the right time for me to sell. I always knew that buying a Belvoir franchise would result in me owning a business with a high asset value, but I am delighted that it has sold for a million pounds. It’s hard to believe that less than ten years ago I wasn’t even in this country, as I was living in Australia! I am now really looking forward to semi-retirement, during which time I will sit back, take stock and decide what to do next.”
Rick, who has a sales and marketing background, returned to the UK with his family in early 2006 after living in Australia for 14 years. During his time in Australia, Rick had run his own property company and once home in the UK began looking for a new self-employed opportunity that would enable him to use his knowledge and expertise of the property market.
Rick and his wife Val first discovered Belvoir in a franchise magazine and were attracted to the success of the business model and the strength of the brand, which they felt represented the fastest opportunity for business growth.
“I’ve always had a keen interest in property,” says Rick. “I realised that franchising would offer me the speed to market that I would have found impossible to achieve as a sole trader.
“Within five months from my initial enquiry I had completed my induction training and launched Belvoir Sheffield in a serviced office. Initially Val joined me to handle the property management side of the business, but we soon outgrew our premises and moved to a shop in the city centre. Whenever I needed any help in any areas of the business this was always readily available to me from different members of the franchise support team at Central Office. This really helped to contribute to growth and development of Belvoir Sheffield.
“Within months I employed Sarah Powell to take on the day to day running of the business. As an incentive I offered Sarah share options to make the deal as attractive as possible and to encourage her to stay long-term. This was undoubtedly one of the best things that I ever did. Sarah’s management skills as a business partner and the processes she has put into place enabled Belvoir Sheffield to deal with an incredibly high volume of clients. We also have a great team of staff and everyone is fully committed to maintaining the levels of customer service that have given us such a solid reputation. Sarah is staying on, which will provide great continuity to the new buyer and also to clients during the transfer of ownership.
“When I bought the business I think I originally invested about £250,000 but a great deal of that was in marketing because back in those days the Internet was not as developed and a full advert in a newspaper cost around £3000 so things are much less costly now as so much marketing is on-line. Now I have sold the business for a million pounds, and the profit margins have been very healthy. From the very beginning I had an exit strategy in mind and Dorian Gonsalves and the team at Belvoir’s Central Office have been fantastic and very supportive in helping me to achieve this.
“There is a wave of optimism rippling through the sector and I believe Belvoir is well placed to drive further business growth in a market in which we are well respected, highly proactive and deeply knowledgeable. My experience with Belvoir has been extremely positive and the franchise opportunity fulfilled all of my expectations. I wish my incumbent and all other franchise owners every success for the future. If I had any advice for a new franchise owner it would be to use the first six months in networking as much as possible, visiting other franchise owners in the network and finding out what they have done to be so successful. This is why belonging to a franchise is such a great opportunity, so get out there and make the most of the experience and knowledge of people who have been through the same things as you.”
Dorian Gonsalves, Belvoir’s Director of Commercial and Franchising says: “Rick launched Belvoir Sheffield as a cold start and has just sold it for a million pounds, which is a fantastic achievement. He has also achieved very impressive profit margins. The addition of a sales service in 2014 was a milestone that added a natural extension to this already hugely successful property lettings service.
“Rick has been a major supporter of Belvoir and a driving force behind several key initiatives. He chaired the National Belvoir Networking Group and our Website Working Group for many years and helped on many other research and development projects. Rick has been a ‘guiding light’ for his fellow franchise owners and his contribution to the development of brand Belvoir on a national level and to Belvoir Sheffield on a local level has been outstanding. It is no surprise that Rick has won so many awards over the years.
“Now is a very exciting time for anyone who is considering joining the Belvoir network, whether this is to launch a cold start business or to buy an existing one as a resale. As Rick has proved, the potential return on investment and large profit margins is enormous for those individuals who have the dedication and commitment to follow Belvoir’s business model and are willing to fully embrace the ethos of franchising. Everyone in the network wishes Rick continued success for the future.”