Janine Cumberland joined Belvoir in 2008 and has seen the Company grow from a family business into the corporate success that it is today. Initially employed as a PA, Janine’s skills were quickly recognised and over the years she has risen through the ranks, taking advantage of every opportunity, including Belvoir’s commitment to training and their flexible approach to employment. This flexibility enables Janine to achieve the vital work/life balance that is so necessary for a working parent in a senior management role.
“I love my job, and I’m very proud of Belvoir,” says Janine. “Recruiting and retaining the right people who can facilitate the Group’s ambitious growth plans is vital and we work very hard to achieve this.
“As the Group has grown, so has the role of HR, and in 2018 we recruited an HR apprentice, Sara Lenkiewicz, who is now a valued team member.
“Belvoir has paid for all of my training and encouraged and supported me throughout my career, for which I am incredibly grateful. Belvoir Central Office now has a reputation in the local area for being a business that people want to work for, and I pride myself on my contribution to that.”
Michelle Brook, founder of Brook Financial Services, which was acquired by Belvoir in 2017, is a highly experienced professional, describing herself as driven, optimistic and extremely competitive.
“I began by working for a large estate agency for 17 years, working my way through every role, but mortgage advice was the way I wanted to go,” says Michelle. “I then worked as sales director for another large network and finally moved to MAB, expanding their business in the North of England. I launched Brook Financial Services in 2010, which became extremely successful.
“When Belvoir acquired Brook we had 29 advisers and have since expanded to 36. The acquisition of MAB Gloucester in 2018 added a further 87 and our goal for 2019 is to grow to 150 advisers, servicing all brands within the Belvoir Group.
“My role is to drive forward Belvoir’s strategy to embed financial services across the Group. We work closely with franchisees who want to generate income from the mortgage side of their business, and we are developing many exciting new initiatives to assist with this. I am confident that financial services can bridge the gap created by the tenant fee ban.”
Resale, cold start and a large acquisition
Davinder Gharial became a Belvoir franchisee in 2014 buying our Hitchin office as a resale. In 2016 Davinder expanded his business by acquiring a local competitor in Hitchin and opening a new office in Welwyn Garden City as a cold start.
In 2018 Davinder successfully completed on a further significant acquisition of a well-established lettings business which included two offices within his existing territories as well as an additional territory in St Albans adding an additional 624 properties to Davinder’s already successful business.
“I felt that this was a very necessary step, as the upcoming lettings fee ban will undoubtedly put a lot of pressure on our economy. Also, in order for us to run a successful office and to keep the training of our staff at a very high level and reward them appropriately, we needed a decent sized portfolio to get the necessary economies of scale. Whilst I negotiated part of the deal myself, I also received a lot of support from the acquisitions and the other support teams at Central Office.
“We now operate in three territories and manage about 1,100 properties. But to be honest this is not about numbers or size; it is about making this into a profitable business that can deliver a quality service.”
Davinder’s three Belvoir offices contributed over £1.4m of network revenue in 2018 with his growth through acquisitions having been funded entirely from his own sources of finance. His St Albans office ranks the seventh in the Belvoir network in 2018, and if all three territories were combined, Davinder’s empire would be the second largest in the Belvoir Group.
Belvoir believes that employee engagement and human capital management is key to ensuring that we have the necessary team to deliver future success. In order to attract and retain professional staff with the requisite skill, Belvoir invests in a high level of employee engagement through regular staff reviews setting out and monitoring performance against an agreed personal development plan, and through Group-wide briefings on the Group’s strategy, initiatives and performance.
We also invest in professional training to enable our employees to develop in their roles. We currently have seven members of staff undertaking professional qualifications, encompassing lettings, accountancy, IT, HR and project management. This includes the sponsorship of four staff under the Apprenticeship Scheme, a valuable initiative to provide meaningful training, qualifications and work opportunities to young people from our local community.
Our franchisees’ ability to develop relationships built on trust and quality service lies at the heart of our success. A key part of our training programme focuses on our franchisees better understanding themselves and how they interact with other people so that they can develop strategies for building strong and enduring relationships with their customers.
holding or training towards a professional qualification
Giving something back is important to our Group, and over the year our franchisees have organised local activities including bake-offs, coffee mornings, daily press-ups, cycle rides and summer fetes to raise funds for a wide range of charities.
In addition, in 2018, we saw nine of our Central Office team and three from our Belvoir Burnley office go above and beyond in scaling the mammoth heights of the Yorkshire Three Peaks challenge raising over £3,000 and £2,000 respectively for their chosen charities, MS Society UK and British Heart Foundation. Meanwhile, local to our Central Office, we entered a team into the Grantham Swimarathon which raised over £40,000 for local charities and good causes.
raised for charities from the Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge
We recognise that homes are of paramount importance to our customers so trust and integrity are essential in supporting our customers on their property journey.
Our mutual success relies on our property and financial services networks collaborating, all supported by our Central Office team.
Our model is underpinned by networks of highly motivated business owners.
Each office is in control of its own operations so is more able to react to local market and sector-wide conditions.
We see the training and development of our staff, our franchisees and our advisers as critical to the success of our business.