Winning award has commercial benefits
NATIONAL recognition is all very well. But being The Hunts Post Huntingdonshire Business of the Year has tangible commercial benefits, last year s winner says. Movewithus, the rapidly-expanding St Ives-based property services company, was in the Sunday Ti
NATIONAL recognition is all very well. But being The Hunts Post Huntingdonshire Business of the Year has tangible commercial benefits, last year's winner says.
Movewithus, the rapidly-expanding St Ives-based property services company, was in the Sunday Times Top 100 fastest-growing businesses for two consecutive years - 2005 and 2006. It was good to be recognised, said chief executive Sean King.
"But the big thing was to win The Hunts Post award. We all come from this area. All five founder-directors went to school here, so there's that personal achievement. And it has been hugely rewarding for the people who already work for us.
"But the really big thing has been our ability to recruit staff, because we are on the map as an employer and applicants know so much more about us. They say: 'Right: these guys are award-winners,' which makes it easier to attract the right kind of people.
"That's why our next goal is Employer of the Year. We came third last year and are determined to improve on that. The big thing is that the people who are judging us are our own peers in business."
Movewithus, which celebrated its 10th anniversary earlier this year, won the Business Development award in the 2006 event before going on to be judged best overall of last year's award winners.
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With turnover increasing in the past year from £12million to £17million, the company needs to expand its 180-strong workforce to around 300, and has moved from three sites in St Ives to much larger offices at Grant Hall to accommodate its planned expansion. That recruitment need is why the recognition factor is so vital in attracting the right applicants.
Mr King, a former management consultant, is the only one of the five founders not to have a local estate agency background - three of them were formerly with Ekins, Dilley and Handley, which was bought by Prudential in the 1980s, when insurance companies and banks invested heavily in the property-selling market.
But Movewithus is not an estate agent in the conventional sense. It adds value to the 1,200 agents across the country that make up its membership by providing services that give them the edge over their High Street rivals.
It has become the second-largest conveyancing organisation in the UK and the largest manager of part-exchange schemes, fields in which the company plans to expand rapidly.
"We are in the business of making property transactions work better by getting everyone working together," Mr King said.
"Most of our business is supporting agents and helping them be more effective. We do things on behalf of agents that they can't do for themselves."
Ironically, with interest rates on an upward trend, the prospect of a slow-down in the housing market holds no fears.
"Our business model is built on growth in an adverse market. That's when quality counts."
And for those sceptics who thought May's Government announcement about a delay to Home Information Packs - which start for four-bedroom properties next month - heralded a quiet shelving of the idea Mr King has a confident prediction.
"HIPs will be firmly in place for all properties by January next year.