Darren Ludbrook is the Managing Director of Ludbrooks, an estate agent based in Northowram. Since it’s incorporation in 2014, Ludbrooks has won the British Property Gold Award as the best estate agent in Halifax, as well as received recognition by RightMove as selling the most properties in the North Halifax area.
Why did you start your business in the first place?
I think I’ve always wanted to work for myself, I’ve always been self-motivated and started from a young age. I got started in property early and grew up in the industry, which helped me gain a lot of experience of the market. A few years ago, I felt that there was an opportunity for an estate agent in North Halifax that took a very proactive approach to marketing properties, so I founded Ludbrooks here and the rest is History.
What is your business motto?
You must put your customer first. It doesn’t matter how much marketing you do or how compelling your offer is, for a lot of companies most of their business will come from referrals or customers returning to you. If people aren’t happy with the way you treat them, or your services aren’t up to the standard they deserve, they won’t come back or recommend their friends.
What advice would you give to anyone starting their own business?
In business you can never give up. It’s inevitable that you’ll get knocked back, or deal with some tough days, but you’ve got to come back stronger and work harder than you were doing before.
From an operational point of view, you need to be on top of everything that’s going on within your business. Not monitoring cashflow is something that trips up a lot of businesses, so inspect everything down to the tiniest detail.
What was the biggest challenge you faced starting your business?
We knew that when Ludbrooks first started, a major milestone for us was to have 100 properties available for sale. If you go on an estate agents’ website and they only have five or six houses you can buy, you’re going to assume they’re too small or not established enough to meet your requirements. We started from scratch and had to get our name out to the public. Thankfully, by working hard and focusing on providing a great service, we managed to reach that within seven months of opening the agency.
What do you enjoy most about being self-employed?
Dealing with people is my favourite part of the business. There’s an immense variety of properties available in Halifax, from a conventional terrace to large country houses. Having such a variety of homes for sale means I get to meet people from all different walks of life, which I would never have had the opportunity to do if I was sat behind a desk all day.
What do you enjoy least about being self-employed?
The thing I enjoy the least is also something that I love about having my own company. I’m quite independent and like to make decisions quickly, but at the same time every single one of those decisions is on my shoulders. If something goes wrong, that’s on me at the end of the day. You have to weigh up the good and the bad with being self-employed, but I’d rather be in this situation than not.
Which business figure do you most admire and why?
I admire the work of Peter Jones, who most people will know from Dragon’s Den. He’s excellent with numbers and often it feels like he knows the outcome of a deal before it even happens.
If you watch him on the TV, you can see that he’s always calculating the risk of an investment, but he knows exactly what he’s looking for and can make a decision quickly. That’s vital in business
What achievement in your career are you most proud of?
Ludbrooks has not been around as an estate agent for a particularly long time, so to reach the level we are at today has probably been my most proud achievement.
In 2016 we were awarded the Gold Award at the British Property Awards and were recognised as the best estate agent in the Halifax area. To go from nothing to such an achievement in only a few years, when we’re competing against agencies that have been in the area for decades, is something I’m very proud of.
Where do you see your business going in the next five years?
We want to continue to go down the path we’re going currently, achieving sustainable growth of our sales and lettings service while focusing on customer service. Ludbrooks is known for selling properties quickly at a reasonable price, and we don’t want to change that. We’ve recently introduced an auction service which we hope will grow rapidly in the coming years, and hope to develop our Ludbrooks Finest brand further, helping to sell some of West Yorkshire’s most exclusive properties.
Outside of this, we’d like to work more with new build properties and help to expand the stock of affordable housing for the people of Calderdale, particularly young people looking to get on the housing ladder.
If you could invent one new product, what would it be?
I’d love to develop an app or software that helps people sell and buy homes faster. Services like Rightmove are great for finding properties but there are so many different steps to moving to a new house. Being able to accurately map out everything from solicitors to property surveys would provide an accurate timeframe for a move and help reduce confusion in the housing market.
If you could work for one company, who would it be and why?
I’ve been self-employed for so many years now I don’t think I could work anywhere else! More importantly, I wouldn’t want to, I love my company and wouldn’t change it for the world.