Meet the MD: Natalie Frank, Home Management Group

Meet the MD: Natalie Frank, Home Management Group

With a degree in housing, it's not difficult to understand how Natalie Frank ended up running family business the Home Management Group, a property specialist established for 50 years.

Describe the role in no more than 100 words.

I am responsible for both strategic and operational management of the business. I like to keep a hand in all aspects of the organisation, from building relationships with clients, to getting out on site, taking a hands on approach to property management.

What is it the company does?

Home Management Group Limited is a property specialist with over 50 years of experience in the housing and commercial property industries. We deal in sales, lettings, property management, student accommodation and block management providing an honest, ethical service to all our clients throughout the UK.

What does your role involve?

As the managing director of the company, I take an active role in all areas of the business, keeping in touch with clients and customers, building relationships and visiting our sites across the UK. But I also undertake the strategic planning for the company – we have our sights set on expanding our student accommodation management and a new Right to Manage programme in 2017.

Give us a brief timeline of your career so far – where did you start, how did you move on?

At university I studied a degree in Housing, so there was never really any question about which industry I was going to work in. While I was studying, I worked for a private developer. After graduation I worked for a number of developers including Barratt Homes, Persimmon Homes and latterly, Charles Church.

I became disillusioned with the industry and its one-size-fits-all model, so I decided to go and work for my father, which I have done for seven years, in an ethical firm, putting clients ahead of profits and challenging the high street agents. That brings me to where I am now, as the MD of the family business. 

What do you believe makes a great leader?

As a leader, it’s vital that you listen closely to people’s wants and needs before making decisions and judgements, especially about their working practices or procedures. You can’t successfully be single-minded in business, rather, you have to be ready and available to listen to people’s views, and hear their challenge; “yes” men are not good for business. 

What has been your biggest challenge in your current position?

The most difficult thing in this role, is managing staff across such a broad geography. We have quite a large number of employees on developments we manage, who I previously used to visit for a couple of days each week, and had some HR issues with. Since having my daughter, Isobella, this is becoming increasingly difficult. 

How do you alleviate the stress that comes with your job?

To be honest, I don’t have any magic cure for stress at work. I guess, you just have to take it as it comes. Quite honestly, I do occasionally go home and chew my husband’s ear, which certainly helps get things off my chest!

When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I’ve always wanted to do what I do. Ever since I was a little girl and my dad, first took me to look around building sites, and then used to take me to work at his estate agency, I’ve wanted to work in the housing sector. I used to sit in one of the empty offices and play at estate agents. So, I guess it was destiny.

Any pet hates in the workplace? What do you do about them?

People who give advice without really knowing the facts. I spend such a lot of my working life correcting misinformation and bad advice, given to customers by other “experts” working in the industry. It makes life so much more difficult, and actually, it gives the business a bad name.

Where do you see the company in five years’ time?

I’d like to see our company undertaking a lot more block management and student accommodation, and to refocus our business expansion in the North East.  

What advice would you give to an aspiring business leader?

Get as much experience as you possibly can to learn your craft. There are lots of things in this industry, which you just can’t learn from a book or Google – negotiating, advising, and networking. Do as much as you can and in as wide-ranging a selection of sectors as possible – cover all bases, builders, developers, estate and lettings agencies. Only by getting this knowledge and experience can you get the knowledge to be an authoritative business person, who can lead from the front!