Sunday, 21 April 2019

Let's Get Down to Business: Nick Warner, Knight Frank

Let's Get Down to Business: Nick Warner, Knight Frank

NICK WARNER is a partner of Knight Frank estate agents and head of the branch office in Thames Side, Henley. He was born and raised in Surrey and educated at Hurstpierpoint College in West Sussex and the Royal Agriculture College in Cirencester. He sent half his gap year in Australia and the other half working at his father’s garden centre and then spent a year working on a farm in North Yorkshire. His career in property began in Cranleigh, Surrey. He and his wife Margot, a conference organiser, have lived in Skirmett for 18 years. Nick’s hobby is sailing and he has sailed the Atlantic and twice participated in the Fastnet Race. He is also a keen open water swimmer and once rode a bicycle from Henley to Istanbul.

Describe your business

We are a classic high street estate agent striving to offer a first class service to a wide variety of property owners across all market sectors.

How many people does it employ?

There are six of us in the Henley branch but Knight Frank prides itself on being the largest privately owned partnership globally.

What did you do before?

I began my career in property at Hampton & Sons and then joined Savills in Guildford. However, I was made redundant in the recession of 1989/90 (a case of “Last in, first out”), so I got a job with Harley Mullion &Co, a shipbroking company in London. I actually sold a ship but I missed the people contact. My father’s business involved lots of customer contact, my grandfather was a GP and my great grandfather was a land agent, so dealing with people was something I really wanted to do too. I went back to being an estate agent in 1993 at Cluttons in Kensington. My heart was in the countryside, however, which led me to Savills in Henley in 1994. I opened a new office for them in Beaconsfield in 2004.

During the 2008 recession I became a buying agent for Prime Purchase, a Savills subsidiary, sourcing houses for high net worth individuals. I did this for two years but missed the volume of activity so went back to Savills in Henley. When the opportunity at Knight Frank arose I was delighted to move.

When did you start?

Only in February.

What was your objective in the joining the property industry?

To provide the right balance between my genuine interest in property and dealing with lots of people and not being deskbound all day.

Do you have a mentor or role model?

My uncle, who has an entrepreneurial spirit and was never frightened to start something, influenced me.

What would you do differently if you could start again?

I would have studied harder and got my chartered surveying degree.

How is your business doing?

We have an exciting group of experienced people here and once the uncertainty of Brexit is resolved I’m confident that this will be a good year.

Do you compare on a regular basis?

We have a highly organised and excellent financial reporting system which enables us to look at our business in great detail.

Do you set goals at the start of the new financial year?

Always.

What’s the best thing about running this business?

I feel a degree of ownership and control as well as responsibility for its success.

What’s the most challenging aspect?

Constantly striving to meet the ever-rising expectations.

Where is your business headed?

There is a great opportunity to grow the business as the market recovers in the next two to three years.

How do you market your business?

We are fortunate in having a historic and aspirational property brand. We market via traditional media, social media, a network of contacts and maintaining customer relationships.

How important are online sales?

Online accessibility is critical as we get lots of online enquiries which lead to sales.

What’s the most valuable thing you’ve learned?

Honesty and hard graft will never let you down.

What would you advise someone starting a business?

Having done your research, you need to be very clear about what is possible in the market you are entering and how realistic your forecasts are.

What three qualities are most important to success?

Courage, clear mindedness and having conviction.

What’s the secret of your success?

Working hard, being honest and getting results for our clients.

What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made?

Being judgmental too quickly.

How organised are you?

Very.

How do you dress for work?

I’ve never really embraced the “dress down” culture, so wearing a suit and tie is important to me.

What can’t you be without every day?

A shower and my iPhone.

Lunch at your desk or going out?

Proper lunches for me rarely happen so it’s a case of snatching a sandwich on the run.

Do you continue to study?

I recently went on a hot and cold food smoking course which my wife arranged.

What do you read?

The Telegraph on Saturdays, yachting journals and biographies.

How are you planning for retirement?

My great dream is to one day own a yacht and do lots of sailing but at the very least to do lots of adventure travelling.

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