As we head into month two of 2024, I wanted to reflect on what was a great year for Ashdown Phillips, and set out some of our plans for the year ahead as we enter our 20th year in business.
Ever since the business was founded in 2004 our aim was to change the perception of commercial property management. This starts with what we call ‘brilliant basics’ - doing the core things really well.
One of the basics is collecting the rent, and we maintained our target of 85%-plus seven-day collection in 2023 - most quarters we hit 90% in a sector where many regard 70% as good.
We consistently hit 70% by day one and we aim to improve on this further in 2024 and our approach to managing client bank accounts enables us to accurately identify incoming funds and pay them across swiftly.
Great results are made possible by having a strong, connected company culture that attracts great people. Our total headcount grew by nearly 10% last year and we awarded twenty-nine internal promotions. We plan to continue to strengthen our team and ensure our people are not spread too thinly. We ensure sensible workloads, regular support, dialogue and careful monitoring of peaks and troughs in activity.
Finding and keeping great people is hugely important to Ashdown Phillips so we were delighted that our 2023 employee satisfaction survey showed that 90% of respondents scored between eight and nine out of ten when asked how proud they are to work for Ashdown Phillips, while 91% would recommend us to a friend as a good employer.
This comes from continued investment in staff development, or as we like to call it ‘growing our own’. Last year two employees successfully passed their APC assessment to become fully-fledged Surveyors and a further nine are working on further professional qualifications, all fully sponsored by the company.
We also trained three members of staff to become accredited Dare to be Brilliant trainers - our internal customer service programme, which is delivered to everyone in our business.
With over 120 properties currently under management, including high-end office buildings, shopping centres, business parks and industrial estates, we are always keen to hear how we can improve our client service.
As working patterns evolved post-pandemic, we saw a large increase in instructions as properties changed hands, clients refreshed properties to create more attractive places to work, and amenities were added to reflect mixed use.
From small instructions, such as the 30,000 square foot at 85 Gray's Inn Road up to vast projects - Ashby Capital’s flagship 225,000 sq. ft JJ Mack office in London, 2023 was a boom year for the team, supporting in the design of over 1m sq. ft of space and procuring over £3m of services for Design for Management projects.
By taking into consideration the operational and facilities management requirements of each building, such as ease of maintenance and energy efficiency, and focusing on the transition between design, construction and operation - we aim to make refits seamless, painless and straightforward in the transition to management.
We have enjoyed a good first year for our Flex space at Bee House, on Milton Park, where we provided consultancy advice at design stage and now run on behalf of MEPC.
The flex market - where management firms run serviced offices, co-working and event spaces directly on the landlords’ behalf, rather than sub-let the whole space to one brand - gives the landlord greater transparency and control, allowing them to introduce co-working to properties on their own terms.
In a PR highlight, following the well-publicised financial problems of WeWork, our Director Nikki Gibson was invited to share her views on this market for a feature in the FT.
In 2023 we firmed up our commitment to sustainability and net zero by welcoming Siân Stephens into our team. This is a newly-created dedicated Associate Director – ESG role, working across all teams and departments to help support clients on their sustainability strategies and net-zero.
Maximising sustainability won’t just be part of our work, but will now feature in every aspect of our business.
Having had our Planet Mark and Real Living Wage accreditations renewed in 2023, we are now looking to expand our ESG offering and provide even more support to our clients in 2024.