S napped up a home from South Quay estate agency Ashley King during the past five years?
Then chances are you’ll have sipped Champagne and raised a glass inside your new pad just moments after picking up the keys.
Providing complimentary bubbly – and all-important flutes – is all part of the firm’s personal service, an aspect director Prabs Kalra says has been the cornerstone of his company since its launch in 2010.
On Sunday, September 6, Ashley King officially marks its five-year anniversary – so Prabs and his three-strong team may well make a toast of their own from their base in Harbour Exchange.
And the flurry of thank-you emails and Facebook posts complimenting the service provided by the sales and lettings agency has sparked a warm glow.
“It gives you confidence you are doing the right thing, because you’re helping people,” said Prabs. “It’s a really nice feeling to help people find their first home.”
Despite setting up in a turbulent property and financial market – reeling from the collapse of Lehman Brothers and Northern Rock – Prabs felt it was time to go solo.
He drew on five years of experience gained at large, corporate property firms in east London and on the Isle of Dogs to his advantage when founding Ashley King. But he admitted going it alone meant a “completely cold start”.
“I’d reached a point in my personal life where I just needed a new challenge,” he said.
“I just wanted to go out and do something on my own. And I felt there was a huge gap in the market at the same time – the smaller agencies offered the best service but not necessarily the professionalism, the larger corporates offered professionalism but not the personal touch.
“The latter is a very important aspect of the profession for sure – customer service is key and that’s how we started Ashley King.”
The past five years has meant the building of a steady customer base. This includes a large number of young professionals who have taken advantage of the Government’s Help to Buy scheme.
The sales side was a fresh challenge for the team, but business has gradually increased during the past two years. Prabs admitted his firm had faced a more “difficult” struggle when it came to lettings.
He said because many landlords with properties in east London lived overseas, they tended to remain loyal to their existing agencies.
Getting more properties on Ashley King’s books is one of the main targets for the rest of 2015.
“We are happy and proud that we have made it through the turbulent times of 2010, 2011 and 2012,” said Prabs. “We’ve seen the highs and the lows of the property market and people have recognised our service and what we are doing.
“We’ve grown at a decent pace but we have still got a long way to go. We have got aspirations of what we want to be in the next five years.
“I see us having another branch or two and with a bigger team.”
In celebration of its fifth anniversary, the team atAshley King is offering Wharfers 1% plus VAT for sales sole agency and 8% plus VAT for lettings and full management for the rest of 2015