Interview with Jantiene Sobry from Vivo Property Buyers
Find out how Jantiene Sobry built successful property business Vivo Property Buyers from scratch while having and raising two children.
What’s your career background?
I studied office management in Gent, Belgium before moving over to the UK to study fashion PR and marketing at the London College of Fashion.
After graduating, I spent a year doing internships in the fashion industry, but ultimately felt this wasn’t the direction that suited me. So I decided to pursue a career in property – something I had always been interested in.
I began working in an estate agency in Notting Hill where I learned more about the property industry, and eventually felt confident in starting my own business. I then bought my first property in East London – a small, two-bed flat which I refurbished, rented, and then sold on. Subsequently, my business developed into a fast property buying company called Vivo Property Buyers, which offered a quick sale to vendors.
How did your career change after having children?
I think it changed my career in a positive way. Having children was a great motivator to grow the business and become more efficient. I managed to do the same work I did before in fewer hours; when you have to finish within a certain time, you work faster and are more focused.
It also helped that my husband joined the business around a year before we had our first child. He was very supportive and together we managed to double our margins year-on-year whilst having two children.
Where did the idea for your business come from?
Originally, I think the interest stems from my family, who are all active in the property industry in Belgium. The concept to venture into the buy to sell market came from an experiment I did with the second property I bought, a derelict house in Kent.
Having purchased it quite cheaply, I decided before starting any work that I should try an immediate onwards sale on auction. Consequently, it sold and I made a nice profit, so I decided to continue with this business model.
How did you move from idea to actual business?
Keeping it quite simple by buying one house after the other, gaining experience step by step, and learning with the ups and downs. It grew in that way.
What’s your USP?
We are a small family company. This enables us to offer bespoke packages that are specifically tailored to the client’s requirements. None of our competitors can match this.
Who’s your target audience?
Quite simply anybody that is looking to sell their house.
How do you spread the word about what you do?
As we cover a wide area (the South East of England), we invest heavily in Google advertising. Being a 100% online business, we outsource all of our marketing to online marketing agency atom42, who specialise in acquiring customers through Google Ads and SEO.
What’s been your most successful marketing strategy?
The biggest success was changing our marketing strategy to be purely online. Previous we combined online marketing with generic drops, flyers, and newspaper advertising and it was not as effective.
Subsequently, atom42 focused our attention on attracting people who were online and looking to sell their property quickly for cash. This strategy had an instant response.
What’s been the biggest obstacle you’ve had to overcome?
Our business is not your ‘typical business’. It is something that has grew from trying different things out and finding out what worked. There was no template as to how to build it, and I wasn’t really aware of potential dangers too. Finding good people to work with without any connection was pretty tricky as well.
And your proudest moment so far?
While I am proud of our steady year-on-year growth, my biggest success concerns the renaming and rebranding of our business. Having built the business for five years, we really knew how we wanted to be perceived and with our new name and brand we achieved just that. We are very happy with the results!
Why is work so important to you?
It can be quite a buzz when the business is going well and it’s exciting to see the business grow. It’s fulfilling when you see that what you have created can help and has helped people. Additionally, it also makes you really appreciate time spent with the family.
In my opinion, being a full time mum is much harder than having a job or business. I feel that having a business gives you more ‘me’ time and the time spent apart during the day really makes your time together very special.
Who inspires you?
My parents inspire me. My dad has created some great businesses and my mum has always played a hugely supportive role helping him build the businesses from the ground up. It’s pretty impressive and has inspired me to hopefully follow in their footsteps.
How do you balance your business with your family?
The nature of my business means that it isn’t necessary to work huge amounts of hours at a time, so I can get lots done in a short period of time. Also, we’re not office-bound and can work from anywhere.
Thus, my working hours are flexible, I can drive Leo and Scarlett to the nursery in the morning at 9am and then pick them up at 4pm. Overall, this makes for quite a short working day. I do, however, happily work for a few hours in the evening once the children are in bed.
This flexibility means that weekdays, weekends or holidays are no different. We can pick up calls and emails at any time. I love this flexibility as it gives your 24 hours in a day rather than the usual 7-10 working hours.
What are your three top pieces of advice for mums wanting to start their own business?
- Always be open-minded. The traditional 9-5 isn’t always necessary, make sure it works for you and your family.
- Some days will be better than others. Don’t beat yourself up about having a non-productive day (like when mum stuff unexpectedly gets in the way). You can always make up for it another time.
- Ultimately, at the end of your life it is unlikely that you will say ‘I wish I worked more’. More likely, you will say ‘I wish I’d spent more time with my kids’. Work can go around children, but children can’t go around work, so make them your priority.
You can find out more about Vivo Property Buyers on their website.