Whether buying or selling, letting or renting a house, flat, house-boat or commercial property, Wallers treat customers as individuals and offer a unique, tailored service that has built them a strong regional reputation.
“When people ask me how we are different, I have to wonder how to answer that! We have access to the same tech as everyone else, we have a high street shop, but then so do the majority of our competitors… however what sets us apart, I think, is the way that we choose to use those tools, the level of service we offer, the people we employ and the attitude we bring to our work”, explains Founder and Director, Rowan Waller.
With a passion for customer service, a commitment to being a force for good in the local community and an early adopter of PropTech, it was no surprise that Rowan chose Cypher to be the accountancy firm for his business.
“I met Matt at a networking group a week after I opened and he has since been a godsend to me. Yes he does my accounts, but he is more than just my accountant. He is a friend, an adviser, a professional who clearly knows his business and has been generous with his time to go out of his way to learn mine. The way he bills me monthly and is available at all times has been a massive help over the years”, says Rowan.
What started as a one-man-in-his-bedroom operation has grown to a multi-office business, with plans for further expansion. This is in stark contrast to the real prospect of closure that Wallers faced just 12 months ago. After a turbulent 2019, caused by the uncertainty surrounding Brexit, cashflow had reached a critical point just as the Covid pandemic hit.
“In 2019 we barely held on by the skin of our teeth, but always felt that there was light at the end of the tunnel if we could just get over the Brexit hump – and this is coming from a blue-hat-with-gold-stars-wearing, trumpet-blowing European”, Rowan admits. “Sure enough, enter January 2020 and after that last general election result, the property market exploded into life for us.
“In the first two months of trading in 2020 we agreed half the number of deals we had during the whole of 2019 and had built an extremely strong pipeline, but then the first lockdown hit. In-person viewings and valuations were prohibited and transactions were stopped before any of that income had come through. We were in limbo”.
It was during this time that Cypher’s proactive approach was most valuable. Regular briefings, self-made videos and frequent client ‘lifeboat calls’ designed to ensure that each business owner knew their options, understood the support that was on offer and that made the Cypher team available played a massive role in helping businesses to consolidate, access funding and re-open as soon as possible, many with a slightly different proposition to reflect their version of the new normal.
“In the early stages of lockdown, Matt was proactive, he was available and worked with a WhatsApp group of more than 100 business owners to show that if we all rowed the same way, we could all come out of lockdown with stronger businesses.”
With in-person viewings still a barrier, Wallers strengthened their position using video technology. An early adopter of virtual tour technology Wallers extended this to offering video viewings on empty properties. While nobody buys a house they haven’t seen in person Wallers found that this wasn’t the case for the rental market.
“We agreed 10 lets during lockdown without conducting a single in person viewing, which along with a local authority grant, allowed us to tick over until we re-opened in May”, says Rowan.
“When we came out of lockdown I still didn’t know which way the wind would blow, but we agreed a sale on the first day, and then a second on day two and things began to snowball from there. We still had our paused pipeline of deals, which started to move at last. In fact, 2020 saw us grow by 33%, compared to 2019 in terms of revenue, despite not earning any sales fees for the two months of the first lockdown. Not just that, but our profits grew by over 300%!”.
“For me to become the business person I am today I needed three people in my life. Matt was one of them, my wife is another. That is how important Matt is to me. He was one of the people who helped remind me that the possibility to open 10 or 11 offices, which started when I was just one man in my bedroom in 2014, was still there for me.
“When I started out this wasn’t on my agenda, I was looking to be agile, deliver good customer service and make some money for myself, but Matt has shown me possibilities I had never imagined.