To give our clients, customers and friends an insight into the work that goes on behind the scenes at Walton Robinson we thought we would grab Managing Director Mark Walton for five minutes for a Q & A to share the story of Walton Robinson so far.
How was Walton Robinson first formed as a business?
It was back in 2001 when I purchased an impressive contract of professional and student management properties alongside a database of landlords, which in effect lead to the set up of Walton Robinson. The guaranteed income from day one meant that we had a solid platform to grow from. The portfolio consisted of properties in Newcastle City Centre, Jesmond, Heaton, Sandyford, Spital Tongues and the Quayside - areas we have continued to operate in to this day.
Where do you see Walton Robinson heading in the future?
Our new branding talks about our 'full circle' service offering and with this in mind we are now focusing on our internal offering for our staff. Our company culture is really important to us; we want to employ the right people and reward them so that they stay loyal and continue to work with us, and it certainly works as we have some great staff that have been with us for many years, some of which have been with us since the start in 2001.
We put all our staff through specialist training, plan regular staff social events, hold a quarterly forum to get feedback from the team, and we always try and offer incentives such as a quarterly bonus or extra time off. We are now planning to install a gym at the office to give our staff another added benefit, which they deserve for helping make Walton Robinson the company it is.
What is the biggest challenge you have faced so far in your career?
Stepping back from a client facing position and front-end marketing - I still have a few retained clients, but this move was a difficult decision to make as it was the area I enjoyed most about the industry. I always loved the buzz of the agency floor, the client interaction, getting to value new properties on our books - it's a really exciting and fast paced job.
It was definitely the right decision though as I now have more time to help steer the company and shape our service offering.
How did you begin working within the property industry?
Property investment is something that has been in my family for generations, we have always seen it both as a secure income for the short term, as well as a pension for the future.
What has been the proudest moment of your career so far?
Seeing our 'full circle' concept being officially put into practice from the beginning of this year. The aim from the start of Walton Robinson was to provide an all-encompassing service, offering advice on buy-to-let, sales and renting, which we did do to a certain extent. However, we now have the team, processes, training, PR, marketing, branding and identity all in place to enable all these services to be provided exceptionally well - and it makes me proud to see our clients responding so positively to our approach.
What do you enjoy the most about your job?I am constantly developing our intranet - it has become a bit of an obsession of mine. The new automated system allows you to action processes at the press of a button, and tenants and landlords, within a few weeks, will be able to hold an account that they can log into to make payments, check maintenance statuses, or the rent situation. It's a much more advanced way of looking after our clients and one that helps us stay ahead of the curve.
Who do you draw inspiration from?
I'm lucky enough that I don't have to look too far for inspiring business leaders. Both my father and uncle were very successful entrepreneurs. My Uncle sold his business on in the early 90's and invested heavily in the residential property market as a result - which was my first experience of property investment.
Richard and Jaimie, both partners at Walton Robinson, are equally consumed as myself with the company and without their collaboration we would not be heading in the direction we are.
Do you have a favourite piece of business advice?
Keep your powder dry for the great opportunities - never over commit. The property market itself is risky so needs to be approached with educated decision making, but this has also always applied for general business matters for me. Keeping this in mind has meant that Walton Robinson has grown steady and strong over ten years.