Creating a conveyor belt process for doing more property deals
Jas & Nisha, the founders of Castlewood Homes, share how they are taking a systemised approach to building their portfolio Luxury HMO's.
Husband and wife team Nisha & Jas started their property business to be be out of the rat race for themselves and to never have to ask permission to go on holiday or spend time with their young family.
They put in the graft and grind and built up a small portfolio of properties in Kent… but as it got past a point, they found themselves spread really thin and their progress started to stall. Trying to do all kinds of different types of property deals and moving anything forward became really challenging.
“We were trying to fish for everything, and it became really overwhelming!”
Nisha & Jas joined the Deal Maker Accelerator Programme with Jackie and the Property Strategy team in Spring 2021 in order to work on their short-term focus on growth and acceleration.
We caught up with Nisha & Jas to get behind the scenes on how they have levelled up their property business and are able to focus on serving their tenants, investors AND their own goals better than ever.
WHO ARE THEY?
Nisha and Jas are the proud owners of Castlewood Homes, a property business they started back in 2016.
This dynamic duo boasts years of experience in investing in property, developing homes and a wealth of knowledge ranging from your vanilla buy to lets to multi million pound development projects.
They specialise in creating luxury HMOs, where they build beautifully and carefully designed homes fit for kings and queens.
At Castlewood Homes, Nisha and Jas treat their tenants like royalty, so that these tenants can experience living in a place where they can call their home their castle, and feel like it is not just another rented property.
WHY DID YOU START INVESTING IN PROPERTY?
Nisha: The reason why we do it [property] is because we just want to get out of the rat race - for ourselves, for our family.
"We want to be able to just do what we want, whenever we want, without having to be in a job where you need to ask permission for someone to go on holiday or spend time with your family."
What's driving us is just to be able to have that kind of freedom, and to actually have it backed up with a really good and strong business.
WHAT HAVE BEEN YOUR SUCCESSES SINCE JOINING DMA?
Finding clarity and focus on their Property Strategy
Nisha: I think the biggest thing at the moment is the FOCUS. We've been doing that through time blocking and the business model. We’re really honing down on what we want to achieve, and how quickly we can get there.
The 121 with Jackie where she asked, “What do you guys want to achieve?” and working through the modules gave us that clarity.
Jas: It was the 121 with Jackie that unleashed the clarity, and got us laser focused on the one thing that we knew all along, but just didn't come to terms with.
On learning how to say NO
Nisha: Before, we had to analyse everything to make sure it was a definite NO. But now we automatically say NO to things that are not part of what we're doing [our business model].
That headspace really helped us focus on what our end goal is. We've always known what it is, but we just missed the bit of trying to get there. So having the confidence to say no to stuff that doesn’t really matter is such a key thing.
On breaking down big tasks into achievable goals
Nisha: Before, we always say that we've got to do this, we've got to do that...[but] It's the breaking down of bigger goals into milestones and...[and] putting them into a system of weekly actions, like what your goals are and what you have to do that week, is what actually makes things happen so that it doesn't just sit on a list anymore.
On focusing on strategic tasks
Jas: A big thing for me was the differentiation between the operational tasks, and the strategic tasks that will move your business forward...[we’re] focusing on things that actually matter rather than just being busy.
Nisha: Yeah, I spend less time on the operational stuff and do more strategic stuff now. If a tenant does message me, I'm not off to answer straight away. I know what to prioritise. I've let go of that overwhelm of being really operational.
WHAT CHALLENGES DID YOU FACE AND HOW DID DMA HELP YOU WITH IT?
Getting clarity around the investors they want to attract
Nisha: We always held on to people because we kept on thinking that they might be able to help us somewhere. But now, we've got ourselves into a place where they [investors] have to fit into what we want to do.
Before, our messaging was a little bit misleading so we ended up with a lot of investors who wanted us to build up their portfolios. Jackie helped us get clarity on who our ideal investors are, and our messaging. Through that, we ended up getting a few more leads through social media.
Jas: The clarity in terms of the different types of investment, the equity, and the learning agreement type investor really provided us an indication of what gap to fill, in terms of what we want to do right now and how our investor type might shift later on.
One thing that was holding us back were the FCA regulations - what you can and can't say. We didn't really go out there looking for investors on social media because we weren't aware of some things. And whenever we asked anybody, they just told us to go on a website and have a look at this.
Nisha: When Jackie saw that it was one of our needs, she pointed us to the right module. And the answer we've been looking for the last like 18 months was just there! It was crazy because this is all we needed to know, and it was just there in black and white. Doing that module just really made us more confident on how to approach investors and how to work with them, because we didn't want to get involved in something that we didn't really understand.
On streamlining deals
Nisha: One of the challenges was trying to streamline the deals. In a lot of masterminds and property groups, you get taught top level stuff, but when you come to doing HMOs, there's a lot more stuff in between that isn’t taught to you. There are more regulations and legal fees involved, and you're not taught how to analyse them.
But with the HMO analyser [that DMA provided], we've tweaked it to make it work for ourselves... so that we could analyse deals quicker.
"Now, rather than spending a lot of time trying to analyse deals, we're so much quicker at sending offers out because the numbers are there. "
On rewarding themselves
Jas: I'd say the biggest thing is that sometimes when you're doing property, you feel like you've never got enough money to spend on yourself. So a big point that we took away from Jackie was to pay ourselves, even if it's something small. It's that little bit of reward which can make you say that you’re enjoying your life because you’ve a got property business.
Nisha: Yeah, I don't think we were very good at rewarding ourselves because all we thought about was hustling and grinding, and then we kind of burn out a little bit. And then we get on each other's nerves because we're not celebrating a win. But I think we're getting quite good at celebrating now.
On project management and organisation
Nisha: I think one of my challenges was streamlining and getting organised off paper. Now everything seems so nice and organised.
"It just gives me a lot of headspace that I didn’t have before."
Nisha: I was kind of confused about where to start, what to do, and how to do it. But now, I've got a system that actually works...and a process where both Jas and I are accountable. That's the biggest thing when we’re working together.
THE ACTION PLAN TO CREATE A CONVEYOR BELT PROCESS
“The Business Model Strategy work we did first on the programme made us realise we are not that far off where we need to be, and got us laser focused - it’s made our goals so much more achievable.”
100% committing to HMO’s as their business model has saved a load of time that would have been wasted going after opportunities that didn't fit… as well as clearing headspace by not worrying (or event thinking about!) things that aren’t part of their business model.
This new found time has been invested into getting systemised and structured! - everything is organised in a project in their task management system and all deal opportunities documented in a deal pipeline they can both access.
Which in turn has made it possible to focus on what really matters when it comes to growing the business.
BREAKING DOWN BIGGER GOALS INTO MILESTONES AND WEEKLY ACTIONS
"We implemented a ‘big tasks’ process, which puts our big goals into a system that breaks them down week by week to what we have to do in order to achieve our goals.”
Differentiating between operational tasks and strategic tasks (where they are working ON, not IN the business) means time is highly focused onto the Income Generating Tasks that are scaling up their portfolio.
HMO ANALYSER & STREAMLINING THE OFFER PROCESS
Analysing deals quicker as part of a streamlined process.
Making sure all details are factored into the numbers (and quickly calculating investment returns) .
Quicker, faster process to getting offers in.
CLARITY ON INVESTOR PROPOSITION
Clear target market for investors, with an offering designed for them (it's not for everyone, and they are ok with that).
Focused investor pipeline process (designed with FCA regulations in mind).
“We are focusing on lining up the next project and the project after that on a conveyor belt. We’ve been too involved in the past and it’s been stressful and taken longer… now we can see the whole thing. On day one we were just in it, fighting for survival…now we are fighting for a longer, bigger picture."
WHAT DO YOU LIKE ABOUT DMA?
Nisha: I really like the community. It's a very different environment in terms of giving. If someone's asked for help, they always ask what they can do for us in return, because we helped them out, which is such a nice trade.
Usually, we get approached on social media all the time with questions and it's just always give, give, and give – which we don't mind, because everyone starts somewhere. But the DMA community is very much experienced, and everybody is just helping each other out on the same journey. I think that's really valuable.
Jas: Plus, there's a lot of masterminds or groups out there, which are aimed up beginners. But DMA is for the experienced investors, and that's a big key for us because we already have a small portfolio and we just need to excel more. Being on a level with other investors in the programme, who have properties as well, just makes it feel more like a community of skilled individuals.
WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO OTHER PEOPLE WHO MIGHT BE CONSIDERING JOINING DMA?
Nisha & Jas: Do it. If you want to expand from a business point of view and level up, there is a good module arrangement for you to be able to get the right experience at the right time.
Dom, Dave, and Jackie can pinpoint if someone's in trouble and where they need to be pointed to. That makes a difference because if you're struggling with something, they will always show you a way to go to, rather than leaving you to be stuck and then just procrastinating.
So if someone was to ask me, “Why should I choose DMA?”
I would just say because it gets you focused, and there's relevant information to whatever issue or challenge you've got at that point in time.
"If you want to do more deals and get more investors, then join DMA."
THE FUTURE OF CASTLEWOOD HOMES
Focusing on a bigger vision to transform tired properties into beautiful homes that people want to live in
So what next for the dream-team behind Castlewood Homes? Their long-term focus on providing quality housing for those who need it. For this values-driven pair, it's really important for them to self manage their tenants. This way they can understand them, where they are coming from, what they are trying to achieve, and to be part of supporting them to make this happen. Castlewood Homes have strong values. One of the main reasons for choosing the name was to provide high quality homes and for tenants to be treated like royalty. With such a great Vision, this hard-working and dynamic duo are definitely ones to watch out for!
IF YOU'RE INTERESTED TO WATCH OUR INTERVIEW WITH NISHA & JAS, CHECK THE VIDEOS BELOW! 👇👇👇