From ready to quit to double the hours in half the hours...and a 4-month honeymoon!
In Summer 2021, Hannah and George of Dugard Property were fire fighting what felt like a never-ending list of challenges in their property business – it meant living off takeaways, working every waking hour and feeling a growing hate of everything to do with property.
Their dream was to create freedom to travel the world through investing in property… but instead they had unknowingly created a monster that was making them wish for a job back!
6 months later they’ve booked in their four-month long honeymoon confident in the knowledge that their property business will continue to run smoothly whilst they travel the world.
WHO ARE THEY?
Hannah and George launched Dugard Property back in 2019, at first their sole focus was on sourcing properties so they could build property portfolios for other investors without them needing to lift a finger – growing to source between 5-6 deals a month on average for their investors. Most in their area know them as the “Property sourcers based in South Wales”.
WHY DID THEY START INVESTING IN PROPERTY?
George: I would say the main reason we started investing in property was for freedom. You know, the freedom to do what you want, when you want. We've always been lovers of traveling. So it's having that allowance to just go and do what you want, and go and travel and see the world. Hannah and I met while travelling so it's something that we both have a lot of passion for.
As is often the case with talented and ambitious property entrepreneurs – this lead loads of new opportunities coming their way. Which is great in theory… but the reality was they were too good at saying YES… to everything. Their time and attention started split across not just sourcing deals for other investors (across both buy-to-let and rent-to-rent serviced accommodation), but also building their own portfolio, and getting their first commercial conversions under way.
WHAT PROBLEMS DID YOU FACE BEFORE JOINING THE DEAL MAKER ACCELERATOR PROGRAMME?
George: The main challenge was 100% the amount we had on, and the lack of focus...we were stressed with all the builder problems and all the project management, and we weren't spending enough time on the team to give them support and help put them into their best performances as well. We were probably at a stage where we were getting about five or six deals, but it was scrambling...it was just mayhem. It was crazy. The service was dropping a little bit...
We needed someone to tell us to say no, in certain states, certain things. We hardly ever said no. We just took on everything and it got so stressful to the point where we had a few breakdowns. We needed someone to talk to and guide us through that process and be like- which ones are the best ones to keep with and which ones are we going to let go? And how do we let it go as well? I think that was the stage where we realised we needed to talk.
Hannah: Yeah, I think we noticed it when we were so stressed constantly. We did this to have, as George mentioned, time and freedom. And we had this vision in our head of how our daily life would be. But obviously, we were getting up at a stupid time in the morning, working until a stupid time at night, eating food on the go- breakfast, lunch and dinner if we can even manage to get three meals in. We were stressed. We were snapping at each other, so it was affecting our personal life as well.
"It just wasn't a healthy environment...we knew we were stressed and burned out. That’s when we knew we needed to make a change. "
WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO JOIN THE DEAL MAKER ACCELERATOR PROGRAMME?
Hannah: I've been following you [Jackie] for a while on social media. And every time I was browsing, your status was me. It was literally like they were screaming at me – trying to do too many things at once, and even the more personal stuff where you'd commented about working all hours in the sun and then living an unhealthy lifestyle because you're living off takeaways and stuff. We’ve never had mentors or anything before. We’ve done very little course as well. I think we've only ever paid for one course in our life.
Hannah: We’ve always wanted someone that we can relate to, and you were extremely relatable...you're doing exactly what we want to be doing with the travel element, and working while traveling. So you've literally been through what we've been through, and you're doing what we want to do. That just made it really easy to work together.
"One thing we struggle with a lot is the focus."
George: At some point, we were doing project management of tons and tons of refurbishments, at the same time of sourcing, at the same time building our own portfolio, at the same time flipping properties. It just went on and on. And you know, your [social media] posts encouraged us...to stay focused on the things that are going to benefit us the most, not just for our business, but also for our well-being. I think that was definitely something that drew me towards working with you.
OVERCOMING THE DIVERSIFICATION DILEMMA
In Hannah & George’s first DMA session, Jackie identified that they were stuck in the ‘diversification dilemma’. Diversification to create multiple income streams is of course a good idea… BUT if you diversify at the wrong time it is a waste of time. Diversifying to create other income streams before the first one is working without your constant involvement is the road to overwhelm... which is the first step towards resenting what you are doing. This resentment was making them want to give up with the highly successful sourcing company – it was killing their passion.
What they wanted was super clear: create freedom and travel the world – starting with an epic extended honeymoon. The first step was to ‘de-diversify’ and choose a focus…
This decision gave them clarity, focus, helped them reassess their priorities and let go of the things that didn't fit....and it gave them the power to say NO to the opportunities that felt exciting in the short-term but that were ultimately sabotaging their short-term happiness, health and success.
"After talking things through with Jackie, we came to a decision that we needed to quit certain things and sort out the others...In January 2022, everything just started to get better for us."
WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST CHANGES YOU’VE NOTICED SINCE JOINING THE PROGRAMME?
George: Last summer, we were working 14 hours a day, every single day. We didn't have weekends off. We would feel guilty if we had three hours off on the weekend, because we weren’t catching up with this refurb doing this, doing that. It was absolutely mental!
We rarely got an opportunity to think about growing the business, or going abroad. Now, we've got a clear head. And it's just so nice to go and enjoy the fruits of our labor.
Hannah: We did do a few holidays in the last two years, but even the weekend when we got engaged, we were still working that day. I remember when we hit that burnout stage...where any small problem was like the biggest one to us. There were just so many problems that we wanted to just shut the business down and do anything but property or business.
So to be back and enjoying it, feeling good, not being scared of problems and even planning to be away for a wedding and a honeymoon...where it's going to be and traveling whilst obviously still working was just unimaginable a few months ago.
We've stripped back all the noise that we didn't need. We've stopped the stuff we don't enjoy and don't need. We started focusing on the strengths. We've put effort into understanding our employees in order to work out what's their flow, and how we can support them elsewhere.
"The biggest thing was learning to say NO. "
Because what we were doing before was saying yes- in fear of letting people down. But what actually happened was we let people down because they weren't having the best service.
So by saying NO, by implementing better processes and governance, and sticking to our guns with them, it’s all moving and all flowing nicely... It's having that time that we always wished for.
George: Exactly what Hannah said in terms of change in the team. They've got our support at a certain level now that we've given them their attention. The deal flow is going up massively now...
"In the past, we we were at about five or six deals. But since we've been able to focus on the team and their performance, we're looking at about 10 deals comfortably a month now, maybe even 12."
HOW HAS THE DMA PROGAMME HELPED YOU AND YOUR BUSINESS?
George: I really enjoy those sessions where you come and you look at our successes, where we need to improve and stuff like that, because we never did that. Sometimes you do need to take a step back.
We've gotten to a stage now where we'd like to call ourselves successful. The 121s with you, Jackie, have been amazing. They really helped us, and I think that they are the key reason why we're in a different phase to where we were last year.
Hannah: There's so much more that George and I haven't tapped into yet to check the full potential of the programme, but... 121 sessions, the KPI tracking, the video knowledge- all of that has been so powerful. Like there are things that we talk about with you that makes me wonder how we're three years in and we haven't done that.
George: It was some of the things you don't think about like the setting up of your finance and your structuring...just different ways of thinking, in terms of raising money and working with investors. But also all the ways of getting deals that a lot of people don't think about.
Hannah: Just one other thing as well. What I like about what you've done with DMA is...you guys are so involved with the mental health or well-being side of it. When we first spoke, I mentioned about how unhealthy we were living. [With you] We've created this time when we brought goals in place to help. Since we came back from Christmas, and we've started living a healthier lifestyle, we've both lost over stone each. That in itself is making us feel better.
It's having those conversations with Dom, talking about stress, how to spot things, and how to handle things. That's been a game changer for us as well
George: We needed to clear our heads and get focused. Now things are working so so much better because we actually have the time to think and make decisions, where we're working smarter, not stupidly hard. We're not busy idiots anymore, basically.
WHO DO YOU THINK DMA IS BEST FOR?
Hannah: Anyone who was in our situation, anyone who says I have been giving my all for so long but I am nowhere near what I thought I would be doing and I'm ready to quit...the program will be like their lifeline.
George: The key thing is people who need to focus - they feel like they're doing too much, too many things going on and no real success from it. So people that need that focus and accountability, but also people that need to do more deals and raise more finance, which are the main things in property.
WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO SOMEONE WHO IS CONSIDERING DMA BUT NOT SURE IF NOW IS THE RIGHT TIME FOR THEM?
George: I would say get on a call. Have a chat with one of the team. The array of knowledge and the different ways they can help is unbelievable, even down to Dom’s side of things with the mental health. Many people throw away the mental health side of property, but it really is needed.
So I would say have a chat and see how you can work with the guys at DMA because I think you'll be blown away on that call, how that call goes and how you can see where your business can go from then onwards.
"Just do it. You have no idea how much it will help."
Hannah: Most are saying: you don't know what you don't know. So if you don't know the answer, you don't actually know what you need. This programme is it. DMA is it.
George: Definitely. In property, it is tough sometimes. And a lot of people don't think that they're actually stressed and they don't think that they're going through a bad place until they start making some changes. And then they think Bloody hell, I wasn't in a great place there. I think they are the changes that the DMA helps you make.
ANY OTHER FINAL THOUGHTS?
George: Just a massive thank you. Do you remember the first call when Hannah got onto the call? Think it must have been April. We were at a stage where we were actually very, very close to quitting. We were just like, is the sourcing company worth it anymore? It's just not worth it. All the stress and stuff.
And it wasn't the fact that it was sourcing, it wasn't the company and the way of doing things that was stressing us out, it was 100% the changes that we needed to make.
"So yeah, I just want to say a massive thank you to you and the guys at DMA for changing our life. "
THE FUTURE OF DUGARD PROPERTY
For Dugard Property, this is just the beginning. This year, Hannah and George's goal is to grow their sourcing company. They want to bring in new deals to the table and raise more finance from their investors.
"We will be focusing on sourcing and getting that to a systemised business that will run itself. We will also put more effort into supporting our team and sorting the gaps that we have at the moment. It will always be about continuous improvement... this year will be all about implementing effective processes, strengthening our service to make it the best it can be. So that come next year, we can really ramp up the building of our own portfolio (which we have intentionally put on pause for now) so we can increase the passive income side of things.”
IF YOU'RE INTERESTED TO WATCH OUR FULL INTERVIEW WITH HANNAH & GEORGE, CHECK THE VIDEO BELOW! 👇👇👇
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