Businessman Chris Hind has seen his independent estate agency go from strength to strength since he decided to take the plunge and go it alone in 2015. Here he tells us more about the growth of his business, Next2Move, and his plans for the future.
Five years ago, Chris Hind decided the time was right to take his 15 years’ experience of the North East residential property market and go it alone.
The dad-of-two had worked within the industry since the age of 21, when a chance advert caught his attention and saw him move from his job as a postman to become a property negotiator. Back then he and his wife-to-be Julie were living down in Surrey with Chris’ aunt, but were keen to relocate to the North East so they could buy their own home, get married and start a family.
Chris said: “I was walking past a shop window one day and saw an advert for a negotiator, which I thought seemed interesting, I didn’t drive back then but had my test the following week, so the owner of the business said if I passed my test the job was mine. I passed and ended up working there for four years, until Julie and I started thinking about our future. We loved Surrey but it’s very expensive to live there and we wanted to get married and settle down, so we decide to apply for jobs up here.
“I managed to get a job at Halifax in Sunderland and Julie was a trainee solicitor, so we moved back to the North East and bought a house together.”
Over the coming years Chris worked for several established estate agents, as well as marrying Julie and becoming a dad to Eve, now 10, and Charlie, six. So, with young children and a mortgage to pay for, what made Chris decide to give up the security of employment and go it alone?
“Working for myself is something I’d thought about in the past but the timing was never right. However, in the job I was in things changed and it give me the push I needed to go for it. Julie was so supportive and we got ourselves in the financial position to get the business off the ground. In fact, I think the hardest job was picking a name for the business. I really like Next2Move as I thought it was catchy but it was universally the most popular choice. However, I stuck with it as I thought it worked, and I’m pleased it I did.”
Next2Move formally launched in 2015 with Chris initially working from home while he built up a stock of rental and sale properties. Today, he has an office at Novus Business Centre in Peterlee, avoiding the unnecessary overheads of a high street branch, and last year, to support the continued growth of the business, Chris took on his first employee, Debbie Callender to free up his time to increase his presence in the area. The company now manages a portfolio of around 65 rental properties, of which only 10 are currently available, and a stock of 35 properties for sale at any one time, with a ‘sale to stock’ ratio of 30 per cent, which he tells me is pretty impressive.
Now firmly established on the residential property market, what would Chris like the future to hold for Next2Move?
“Of course, I want to grow the business and see the main area of development being the lettings side, which is thriving. I’d like to increase our stock from 65 to around 120, which is ambitious but certainly do-able. However, I’d be lying if I said I had ambitions to take over the world. I’m a family man and the main aim for me is that the business continues to provide a healthy living with the flexibility that means I can work hard but also spend time with Julie, Eve and Charlie.
“Having the office in Novus Business Centre is perfect too, and it’s exactly what we need – people have asked why we haven’t moved onto the high street, and my answer is ‘why would we?’.
All we’d gain is increased overheads which would put unnecessary pressure on the business. I’ve seen much bigger companies than Next2Move suffer because they’ve over stretched themselves, and I’ve worked too hard to get the business to where it is now to take chances that I just don’t think are needed. It’s a very modest approach but one I can certainly relate to – success can be measured in all shapes and sizes and sometimes, running a business that provides a healthy living, flexibility and plenty of reward is all any of us need.”