Meet the Team: Q&A with James Brown
UnderTheDoormat isn’t only blessed with brilliant homeowners and properties – we’ve also got a stellar team. This week we’re introducing James, our fantastic Operations Manager; we hope you’ll enjoy getting to know more about his routine at UnderTheDoormat, as well as some of his top tips for anyone thinking about short letting...
Hi James! Thanks for finding the time to sit down with us – we know you’re incredibly busy! To start, please could you describe your job in 25 words or less?
My role involves working across three major departments and business priorities, including: Guests and Enquiry Management, Supplier and Operations Management, Homeowner Management and On-Boarding.
Tell us about a typical day at UnderTheDoormat?
After our daily team stand-up, my first point of call is to tackle urgent tasks (actions from the previous day, week, to-do list or pressing emails and calls). In the Operations Department, anything could happen at any time, so you must be constantly aware of what is happening in the field and with your teams.
After this, it is important to read through the daily and weekly schedule and prepare for any meetings or events, be it internally or externally facing. I will have one call every couple of days with an external supplier or partner to discuss the relationship they have with UnderTheDoormat to ensure that we are running our partnership as efficiently as possible.
The pace of the industry and our team is extremely quick. I find it incredibly important to be aware of your Targets, KPIs and metrics (for example, bookings taken; homeowner returns; and the management of enquiries). Based on this, I know where to prioritise my time across departments. This could be assisting on the front line, or in a more development, training and supporting role.
Making decisions is an important aspect of any manager's responsibility and I am very fortunate to have such open colleagues and a fantastic workspace where we can bounce ideas off each other without prejudice.
As my role covers various departments, each day can be completely different; from training and hiring field services staff, to inquiry management and negotiation with guests, homeowner account management, or even property maintenance.
I’m starting to work on revenue management for 3 Sloane Gardens, which is one area I am interested in gaining more experience in (having experience with sales forecasting in my previous roles, I find the anticipation of reading the market with regards to pricing very interesting, but that’s the nerd in me!).
The end of the day involves celebrating any wins and ensuring that anything internal and external is prepared, checked and sent for the next day.
You recently played a key role in the launch of 3 Sloane Gardens, UnderTheDoormat’s new boutique aparthotel. What were the main challenges you faced when getting the aparthotel ready for guests, and what are you most proud about?
Launching an aparthotel in the middle of a pandemic sounds crazy! The entire world has had to learn new ways of managing the situation and we have all had to redefine the way that we do business.
Our main challenge here was time: from signing to launch was roughly two months! This process included approving the furniture design and installation; IT infrastructure and installation; marketing on our platforms and to the local area; completing the photoshoots and home descriptions and amenities list; hiring and training the serviced apartment manager; and ensuring that all statutory requirements and responsibilities were met and would be upheld to the highest standards.
I have an astonishingly hardworking team who were able to come together to drive all the above over the line.
My proudest moment was to secure a booking within 24 hours of launch and seven bookings within our first week.
What is your top tip for anyone thinking about short letting (i.e. ‘AirBnB my home’)?
I will give you three, all of which I feel are equally important!
First of all: know the standards of each booking platform - they are different.
Second: be prepared, do your research, be flexible and adaptable. You will host different guests with hugely varying expectations; you win some, you lose some.
Third: take the time to do your research. Short term rentals involves a lot more than most people realise, so it might be right for you to use a professional property management company like UnderTheDoormat, to manage the marketing, distribution and enquiries for you via Hospiria, our partnership model. We can even take on the guest check in and operational side under our fully managed London model too. It's important to do what is right for you and your properties.
What makes UnderTheDoormat special?
I have been given an opportunity to manage a portfolio across London. I have learned a lot about the industry and about myself. It is not always easy, and sometimes it can be hard to make time to appreciate the results due to the pace.
However, I am working with a fantastic team and we always celebrate the wins where we can!
What’s your favourite thing to do in London?
Going to concerts and the theatre. I find the intimate underground scene particularly inspiring. I am looking forward to that industry re-opening as soon as it possibly can! London is one of the best places in the world for the arts and it has been tough to see it constrained this year. Onwards and upwards, I hope!
Stay up to date with all things UnderTheDoormat by keeping an eye on our blog! If you missed our last profile, which featured our fantastic Business Systems and Processes Manager, Elpida Lampi, be sure to click the link and have a read now!