A portfolio that thrilled the radio star

When Capital Radio Group Manager, Jane Munden, saw the opportunity in a Northwood lettings franchise, she didn’t hesitate to make her investment. Now, six years on, she talks to Gareth Samuel about how she spends her days growing the business in the South East, as she and her business partner look to open their third location

Creating a successful franchise takes hard work and determination and for Jane, this means getting up at 6:30am, in accordance with the apparently obvious wishes of her two-and-a-half year old son.

Jane invested in a Northwood lettings franchise in 2007 with current business partner Andy Smith, who has been in the industry for nearly two decades and with Northwood since its inception. Prior to her exploration of the Northwood franchise opportunity in Portsmouth, Jane had enjoyed a spellbinding career in radio. She says: “I just saw the opportunity to grow my own business, as I wanted to retire at 50. Working in radio gave me a great lifestyle, but Northwood gave me the opportunity to do something completely different.”

Jane was immediately attracted to the Northwood guaranteed rent concept because of its appeal to landlords. She adds: “For me it was about the unique selling point that Northwood has with guaranteed rent. We find that, quite often, landlords come to us for help. Lettings, in my experience, is a lot like life in general- it is fine 90 per cent of the time, but for the other ten per cent when its not – that’s where the Northwood guaranteed rent makes a real difference.”

Jane’s working day traditionally begins with a staff meeting where the team discuss pressing lettings issues and the operational practices of the business. Currently, Jane and Andy have offices in both Portsmouth and Bournemouth and are reaping the rewards of being dual-location owners. Jane adds: “I went into the lettings sector because it was obviously a growing market and it has worked out really well. We have just relocated the Bournemouth office because we needed more space, and that has paid dividends for us. We now have eight full-time staff here (at Portsmouth) and four at Bournemouth.” Northwood, as a company, takes enormous pride in training and support programmes – of which Jane continues to take full advantage: “The training was great. I went up to Edinburgh and to Cumbria to work with other franchise owners and see how they did it,” She explains. “I get really good support, the head office is always at the end of the phone and that is for everything, including pressing issues and new procedures. Anything really.”

Last year, Jane took the ‘easy decision’ to renew her contract with Northwood, with a view to expanding into further locations in the South East in the near future. Jane adds: “The flexibility is great. I sometimes take Wednesday afternoons off to be with my son, which I like doing. Now we are looking at getting a couple more locations.”

Jane enjoys a far superior work/life balance as the thriving franchise owner of two offices on the ‘English Riviera’, but she attributes much of her success to the team around her: “I would say to any new franchise owner, you need to have one good salesperson who is good with the public and is commercially minded,” she says. “You also need a second good person who is very accurate with admin. These two people are crucial, I think.”

After rubbing shoulders with celebrities and attending some of the Capital’s most exclusive soiree’s, Jane’s decision to buy her way into rising lettings star, Northwood, has given her a fresh challenge and a new lease of life as a prosperous business owner.