The Importance Of Getting Your Name Out There - Nick Jeffries Of Nu Projects - The Founding Network

Nick Jeffries:

Hi, my name is Nick Jeffries of New Projects, and we are a luxury design and build construction company based in Fulham. So we specialise in increasing square footage under, to the side or above your property in prime areas in London. We have in house architects, in house interior designers, project management, and obviously construction, it's a whole turnkey solution for our residential clients. So in total, we sort of control everything from start to finish.

James Sutcliffe

Perfect. And how did you get into this business?

Nick Jeffries:

I first got into property 15 years ago and I worked for one of my buddies who had a contracting business and he asked me to come on board sourcing deals. I never knew what I was doing, but I was always very proactive in marketing my old business before, had nothing to do a property. And I created databases from yelp.com. I found a way to strip yelp.com put it into a spreadsheet and then send out a thousand letters a week to businesses all over the place. And out of those businesses, it would say, "Look, if you ever got a property you want to sell, give me a call." That's basically what it was. And off the back of those letters, we used to have lots of deal flow. And even today, 15 years later, people, a little old lady will say, "Oh, I had your letter through the mailbox 15 years ago, and I want to sell my property now."

Nick Jeffries:

So it proves a point. You can send some marketing out, it may not happen straight away, but it will happen at some point. And then about 12 years ago, I came to London because I had to, I think it was the global credit crunch. And then I reinvented myself up here as a land agent and I partnered up with a high net worth and he took me under his wing and I did exactly the same. My first deal was in Deanery street in Mayfair. I founded a property off market. He bought it for 2 million quid. We got planning to convert it into maybe a little bit more extension, maybe adding square footage. And he sold that with planning a million quid extra six months later. And then I did a second property with him in Charts street in SW one, I think, and did exactly the same. Bought it, sold it, flipped it. I had money on the way in, and I had money on the way out. So I did that for two years.

Nick Jeffries:

And then one of his friends said to me, "Nick, if I gave you some money, can you find a deal? And we'll do a joint venture." That gave me the stepping stone into property. So I found a deal in Primrose Hill, a studio, 350 square feet. We bought it, we did it up, we spend 30 grand on it and we sold it for... I think we bought it for 250, spent 30 grand on it and we sold it for 350 about a month later. Then we bought a property in Fulham, that brought me over to Fulham. A house unmodernized, we bought it for 550. We spent 200 on it, we sold it for 950. So that got me over to Fulham and then the neighbors next door to the house said, "Can you do my property? Can you do my property?" And that's when New started. And that's when we got into construction in Fulham. And we've been here ever since.

James Sutcliffe:

Amazing. So it sounds like you really need that break in this world where knowing those one or two people initially really got the ball rolling for you. And I guess built up a bit of a portfolio for you. How would you suggest people go about finding those couple of people that can really help them out in the first place?

Nick Jeffries:

You have got to put yourself out there because if no one knows you, how are they going to contact you? So what I do today, I create as much content at scale. So I've got two people working for me full time, creating content. I do a lot of videos like this. I also every day, put hat camera. "Hi, my name is Nick Jeffries of New Projects. If you need an architect, an interior designer, please give me a call. 0207-731-6841." That goes on LinkedIn. That goes on Instagram. That goes on Twitter. That goes everywhere. So people are always seeing my face, constantly staying the same things, repetition all the time. And even over the weekend, I've had a guy in Abu Dhabi. He wants to do some joint ventures. He may be fake, he may be real. Who cares. Last Saturday, I had another guy message me through the website said, "Nick, I've got four properties in Elan. And I would like to joint venture with you. I own them. I give you the properties. You do the build. We have a carve up." Hallelujah, easy.

Nick Jeffries:

If you're shy in front of a camera, do some still images. Do some content. I was shy in front of the camera when I first started, when I first done my first YouTube video, I was shocking. And they're still shocking now, but it doesn't matter. It's you being real. People don't want the perfect selfie, the perfect image of your beautiful house you've just finished. They want to know the person who is on the end of that phone is real good, bad or ugly. So I put all my dirt out there. When we started New 10 years ago, I had a partner, a business partner. We were going brilliantly.

Nick Jeffries:

We were doing 10 million pound projects in South Kensington, last triple basement that we did, we did four new build houses in Fulham and with all basements. And then he thought he'd be better off without me and set up a company behind my back. So we were flying and all of a sudden we crashed. This was only three years ago. So, that was it for a business called New. It was still New, it was called New Builds. I reinvented. I started again, as New Projects, kept the office, kept the brand, hit it hard yet again, climbing up again. So it's all about brand awareness. Now we are more of a media company because you need the media to get traction. If you don't have traction, you don't have business. You could be the best builder in the world, but if you can't get the phones ringing, you're finished. You can't rely on word of mouth because word of mouth is not enough. You might get one or two jobs, but you need to build your pipeline up.

James Sutcliffe:

Yeah. And it sounds like you're in the world of pushing content out there. You use paid socials by the sounds of it as well, a little bit. Is that right?

Nick Jeffries:

Everything, every single thing possible.

James Sutcliffe:

But I think one of the things that a lot of founders are not making the use of are just the free avenues as well. So as you say, just regularly posting and taking advantage of that.

Nick Jeffries:

It does it need to... If we put out on Instagram, I would say 20 posts a day. 20 posts a day across stories and across the main feed. And then that goes onto Facebook. Then it goes to LinkedIn. Then it goes to Twitter. Even TikTok, even all the kids ones, because you never know who's watching those channels. And you've got to be in there at the beginning to build your... I'm 50 years old. So, I watch a lot of people on social media of my age. I like Gary V because Gary V talks about brand awareness and marketing, creating content and documenting. Or I like Grant Cardone, the American guy in the US. 63 years old, he smashing it. Yes, I don't agree with everything he says, but I agree with the content he's creating because you can't put content out there and everyone's going to like you, you are going to get the haters. I get them. There's a button called delete. You just delete them, don't even think about it.

James Sutcliffe:

And how honest are you with your followers and your audience? Do you, so it sounds like you share a lot. If things don't go to plan with a project or a deal, do you share that as well?

Nick Jeffries:

If you go back on my YouTube channel, so YouTube I've had that for two years, it's really hard to get traction on YouTube. That tells the whole story about my past, my bankruptcies, my wins, my losses, my divorces, my deaths in the family, everything. It's really hard to be successful, really hard. Isn't it? You've got to put so much energy in. You've got to have a little bit, a tiny luck, and that luck comes through hard work. Because if you don't work hard, long hours creating the content, meeting new people, you've got to meet new people. If your network is tiny, you're never going to be successful. It's impossible. Some people don't want... I want, I'm 50 years old now, by the time I'm 60, I want to make sure I'm going to work flat out for the next 10 years and do whatever it takes to get where I want to be. Build this new brand up to be one of the best known designer, build, construction companies in West London. And that's what I do. There's no one out to do what I do. It's like showbiz.

James Sutcliffe:

Did that strategy change at all when lockdown came in? So when everything started to slow down, did you slow down at all with content and pushing things out? Did that change?

Nick Jeffries:

10 times more we put it out. Because I noticed very quickly our impressions on Instagram doubled. So we did more video, more talking, more... I've done quite a few Zoom calls with entrepreneurial people, which then we smash it up and use this for content on YouTube or other things. So no, the office was closed in Fulham. I came in every so often. The construction projects are live, we've got nine live projects on the go at the moment in Fulham, Chelsea and South Kensington. They could be kitchen extensions, loft conversions, a bit of both, basements, very proactive and I noticed very quickly we were getting new inquiries.

Nick Jeffries:

So at least two new inquiries a day come in throughout lockdown. We've signed a deal up in lockdown. We've starting a job today in Fulham which was a kitchen extension, loft conversion, pod room, basement, full refurb. That's a 600 grand job, that started today. So, I was very delicate to begin with because I didn't want to piss the neighbours off, do you know what I mean? Because if I started to do a basement next to your house and all the guys are branded NU and I got a big black cordon up next door and noise and dust and dirt is going over your properties house when you're in the garden, you're not going to be happy.

Nick Jeffries:

So yes, we were very concerned about are we get upset at people? So I didn't, the boys were debranded, the logos weren't on the side of the buildings, but now the government has said openly construction, go back. Even though they didn't say we didn't have to stop. And we're back to normal. The guys are dressed up high vis. I said to the boys today, "Make sure if you're out and about on the street, social distancing." Because all it takes is one person to take a picture of them outside having a fag. I said, "Make sure you've got some masks around you, on you. Have a box by the front door." Just something, hopefully all this corona is going to disappear soon.

James Sutcliffe:

Yeah. So tell me a bit about what it's been like managing your team during corona, during lockdown, while the office has been closed.

Nick Jeffries:

So managing the team, I deal with the project managers. So the project managers, I'm talking to them every day. We have meetings in the office or by Zoom or a conversation, WhatsApp's going crazy. No problems to report. Everything is going smoothly. The clients are so happy we are working. The jobs have slowed down a little bit because the supply chain was limited, getting materials to site. The value of purchases of materials were going up, but again, no problems to report. Everyone's happy. I'm happy. The clients are happy. The staff are happy. Everyone's well, no one's got corona. And what I see out in the street is a lot of scared people. And I just think it's the media playing mind games... What the media try to do, they're doing what I do capture people's attention by creating content. So everyone is putting out as much news, negative news, because negative catches people's attention. If the government put out a load of positivity today, hopefully it will start feeding back to the normal person in the street.

James Sutcliffe:

Interesting. And one last question from us then, so with all this and all the change that's come in, it sounds like you've handled it so well. Is there anything that you've changed due to corona and lockdown, that you will not go back to? If that makes sense. Once a normality is back.

Nick Jeffries:

Not at all. My office here, I've got a 2000 square foot office here. There's no need for it, really. Everyone could be working from home doing digital marketing or branding, but this office here is my showcase, it's my flagship. So, when the good times come back, you can come in the office, you can see I've got a physical base, it's got the wow factor. You can sit around a table and have a cup of coffee and it's here. This closes deals. This is my machine to close deals. So for me, hasn't changed at all. Hasn't changed at all. I'm more positive now because all my competition are worried. I'm moving forward. I'm pushing forward in all kinds of fronts, doing more JVs, more branding, more marketing. And my goal is to make sure when someone Google's builders want in West London, I'm coming up, number one, number two. Or they pick up their phone.

Nick Jeffries:

And then on Instagram, Facebook, and my face is there telling them about how wonderful New Projects are. It's just making sure that when someone's looking for a key person of influence in the construction industry, they come to us. Now, we're not a Taylor Woodrow. We don't do big multiunit deals. We just do single or two or three units in prime areas, which are finished off to a very, very high standard. We're based in Fulham, half a mile up that road is Chelsea, then South Kensington, then Holland Park, then Richmond. We've got the best areas around us, all within two or three miles.

James Sutcliffe:

And coronavirus isn't going to change that.

Nick Jeffries:

Nothing. Not at all, not at all.

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