Wise Property Care ready to build on new house sale survey rules

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Wise Property Care, the fast-growing property maintenance company, is expecting to double its turnover on the back of new Scottish Legislation on the single pre-sale surveying of property.

The firm, which has a network of seven branches throughout Scotland and is planning to open a further two, recently announced annual turnover of £5 million, with profits of £500,000. But the firm’s founder and managing director, Les Meikle, said that a figure of 10m was achievable “within the next three to five years”.

Where there is dirt there is brass

Meikle, from Rutherglen in Glasgow, continued: “Where’s there’s dirt, or rot, there is brass. The home preservation market is booming at the moment as people are becoming increasingly aware that identifying and dealing with issues early on is the best long-term option.

“People dread wet and dry rot and woodworm and we aim to make the eradication process as smooth as possible.

“Our strategy is to do a great job that generates a huge amount of positive word-of-mouth, and this has been central to our growth so far.”

Meikle, who left school at 15, acquired a failing company (then called Timberwise) in 1996 after being made redundant from another preservation company. Through acquisitions and organic growth, he has built Wise Property Care into a national player, with offices in Glasgow, Falkirk, Edinburgh, Kirkcaldy, Perth, Dundee, Aberdeen, Dunfermline and St Andrews. Two more, in the borders and Inverness are scheduled to open in 2008.

Much of the recent growth of the company has been derived from Wise Property Care’s shift from commercial property preservation to the higher-margin domestic market.

A firm that has formerly 60 per cent business-to business and 40 per cent domestic, is now 70 per cent domestic and 30 per cent commercial. “The margins are higher in the domestic space and the cash flow is better,” said Meikle.

“There are also more opportunities from changes in the market place, for example the recent upsurge in basement conversions. We launched a new arm of the business dedicated to this, which has proved a big growth area for us.”

Much of the firm’s growth expectation is based on the introduction at the end of next year of Purchasers Information Packs (PIPs).

A simplified version of the English and Welsh HIPs, they require sellers to provide potential buyers with detailed information on the condition of the property.

Wise Property Care is offering a simplified “one-stop shop” service, deferring invoices until after the sale is completed. Meikle added: “PIP is going to have a dynamic effect when it is introduced, and we are investing heavily in IT systems and marketing that help make us the contractor of choice both for surveys and for the work that needs to be done upfront.”