Around eight years ago, during the summer – if I remember correctly – I bought a new property.
Around eight years ago, during the summer – if I remember correctly – I bought a new property. I’d come into some money, so I decided to invest it and see how rewarding this reputed property business actually was.
The market was struggling, at the time, and the area’s irrelevant, but it was an old, stale building. It was in its prime years ago and, despite occasionally looking at its best in the sunshine, it rarely fooled anyone.
To say it needed a lick of paint would have been an understatement. I was lucky, really. The previous owner was struggling financially so he was forced into a cheap sale. Apparently he’d been gradually investing in the place, improving it here and there, but without any sustained success – as soon as one room seemed complete, there’d been an accident in another and it was like he was constantly starting from scratch. Sounded like he’d taken some bad advice and the whole project needed some fresh impetus.
Anyway, apparently the old owner finally realised that he was never going to be able to afford to make it into his dream vision and that the time was right to cut his losses. I was made aware of the place, and I saw the potential it had and decided to snap it up. It already had a few decent rooms that just needed a bit of tender loving care but, that said, the rest of them essentially needed to be completely rebuilt.
Perhaps against my better judgement, I decided to stick with the current property manager and more or less gave him a blank cheque with which he was supposed to renovate the place by the deadline I’d set him. He spent a lot – much more than I’d spent becoming the owner – but while he did a commendable job, he just didn’t quite do what I’d asked for.
A few other people fancied the job, too. And they were more reputable. So when I decided the original manager wasn’t going to deliver what I’d asked for, I sourced a new one. He’d apparently worked wonders on his last project; it’d really brought him into the limelight and he seemed confident. What could go wrong?
Again, he spent a great deal but instead of completely starting from scratch, it was more a case of modernising the whole scene and fine-tuning it. More importantly, he got the results I’d demanded. The money seemed irrelevant when I looked at the end product – it was exactly what I’d hoped for and more.
I decided to leave him in charge of maintaining the place. Things continued to tick over pretty nicely where the property was concerned, anyway. The only thing that bothered me was that he acted like he was the one that owned the place, and he took all the credit for how great it looked.
Well what about me? I gave him his big chance and I funded the lot. It was my money, and I was the owner. If the credit belonged to anyone, it belonged to me. We nearly parted ways but, as he’d done such a decent job, I decided to give him another chance.
What a mistake that was! He’s the sort of bloke that refuses to change for anyone, so I had to get rid of him soon after. The neighbours kicked up a fuss, mind, as they’d grown quite fond of him.
I replaced him with someone who’d apparently done some decent work in the background of the property business. He was charming enough – so why not? However, while he was humble in comparison – easy to control, which is obviously a huge plus – he just couldn’t quite get the place to shine in quite the same way as the last guy.
Consequently, I decided on new direction again. I tried two more managers – both reputable, too. The first made a great start but then gradually undid all of his fine, early work, so he had to go. The second was great – he may even still be here, today – but he decided he didn’t want the job long term.
So I tried another guy out. He’s from Italy, this one. Another real charmer with a good portfolio and reputation. He made a great start and delivered exactly what it was I asked for. He didn’t spend half the money it needed last time, either. This went on for some time; I was happy employing the guy, and he enjoyed his job.
That said, he was getting a lot of the credit, again. And the arrogant one I’d got rid of got the better of him when they ran into each other; you can imagine my dismay. I had to act. I had to remind them who the boss is and of the standards I expect, so I got rid of his assistant. After all, what damage can that possibly do? He’s a good enough manager; he’ll cope fine on his own.
More recently, a few of the rooms started to go out of fashion, all at the same time. One area of the house started leaking quite dramatically, too. I insisted on spending big bucks and bringing in the right plumber to fix the leaks – which he’s done superbly – and an interior designer to add that extra flair again.
This interior designer is the best money can buy, but for some reason the manager fails to bring the best out of him. The whole thing makes me look pretty stupid, to tell the truth. The designer is the best there is, but it’s like the manager isn’t even fussed about working with him.
The pair have cooperated slightly better, lately, but nothing like I was hoping for. I’m considering getting rid of the manager. He’s yet to fix the whole place up to its former glory, and if I get rid of the designer so soon, I’ll look even worse.
Do I give the manager another big budget to bring his own staff in – new builders, decorators, the lot – or do I bring in a yes man? Or the arrogant one – give him another chance?
I’ve still got faith in the interior designer, after all. And as long as I’m still the owner – that is, ultimately, where the success has stemmed from – and people recognise that without stepping on my toes, I’ll correct it one way or another.
I’ll correct it, because I’m the one in charge. No-one else. Plus – the way I see it – whenever I’ve got involved, it’s been a benefit. Hasn’t it?
The manager surely can’t expect me to not offer the occasional bit of advice, can he? Anyway – my property, my rules.
Follow Declan Warrington on Twitter @decwarrington