Back at work after enjoying some much-needed time off, I am eager to see my colleagues and I begin planning with Jane, my PA. I've promised both myself and her that I will be even more organised and productive this year.
I'm raring to go as I spent the period before new year strategising how to improve our service to build on our existing reputation for providing professional, honest advice, even if it's not in our immediate best interest.
I meet with one of our corporate clients who is looking to secure a new office space. We discuss asking terms versus my recommendations, using my market knowledge to secure the best deal, and agree an opening bid which includes a rent-free period to help them get settled, order furniture and set up communications.
Big team meeting today to ensure we are all working to our best abilities — little things like answering the phone promptly, listening to customers' needs and getting back to people quickly are simple standards that make the difference between a good service and a first-class one.
I also meet our web designers. Being an independent agent, we have the edge on personalised service and can move fast on innovations in our industry.
Over 80 per cent of people now start their property search online, with mobile devices beating PC usage, which is why we have a mobile website and app that allow our customers to browse quickly for properties and arrange viewings. We have invested in state-of the-art systems, including areas online for our customers to download tenancy agreements or rent statements.
The new year is beginning very well for us, and that includes today. We are receiving more enquiries than we did this time last year.
There's always a start-of-the-year spike as many people make their resolutions to move away from the Bank of Mum and Dad, move in together, upsize with kids on the way, or just fancy the idea of a new investment.
I have a phone chat with a Saudi investor I met in Argentina in November. He is looking to spend over £7.5 million on property in London and has asked me to find some options. He'll travel over when he thinks we've got something worthwhile. I remember a buyer from Australia who purchased a property without seeing it. On completion, he walked through the door for the first time and said: "I like it." That's good, I thought — after all, he had spent nearly £2 million.
The office landlord is seemingly open to my client's offer, although wants the rent-free period reduced and the rent increased. Negotiating is part of the process and I love the thrill of getting each side to agree a deal so they are both happy.
We once had a valuation with a customer who hadn't sold his flat, which had been on with another agent renowned for overvaluing. I knew he wasn't going to like our valuation but he blew his top. I managed to turn the situation around by explaining my company's experience, providing evidence of comparable properties we'd sold and got to the core of why he was selling — he was going through a separation at the same time, which wasn't a good mix. After his initial rant, I wasn't sure we'd do business but really wanted to help. We won his instruction and sold his flat. He also recommended me to a friend.
My Saudi contact emails to say he wants to come over to see the places I've recommended.
He'll be in London less than a day, so he must be keen. Did you know most people spend more time deciding which TV to buy than viewing and agreeing to buy a property? It's the end of the week but there's no trip to the pub for me. My new year resolution is to have 10 days off drinking every month. I may even play better tennis tomorrow morning because of it. Watch out, doubles partners.
Jonathan Hudson is director of Hudsons Property, based in Charlotte Street, W1 (020 7323 2277).