“I’m certain that before we worked as a team, we’d have never met up in a pub together.”
It doesn’t sound like a promising way to start an interview about the people in your team. But as everyone at The Home Club mentioned this to me in some way or another it’s worth mentioning.
It turns out this is a good thing. That’s because it’s the incredible variety of personalities and experiences that makes The Home Club what it is.
Respectfully aware of one another’s contribution, here’s a team whose cohesion belies the fact that they’ve been a unit for less than two years.
I chat to them on a rainy Thursday afternoon, but busy as they are, they’re obliging, chatty and warm.
Written by Laura Sands.
I started my afternoon of chats with James. As one of only two lifetime estate agents on the team, he’s also one of the founder members. He’s knowledgeable beyond belief when it comes to Guildford. “I could probably give you a fact about every street in Guildford…” he tells me when pressed for his favourite fact about the town. “…So, it’s hard to choose. I mean, I guess the fact that Ed Sheeran studied at ACM is pretty cool, but then it’s probably more important to our clients that Guildford is one of the best towns in the country for schooling. We have some of the top schools nationwide here – I think that’s pretty incredible for any family moving to the area.”
Having lived in Guildford for most of his life bar a period in his teens when he moved to rural France (beautiful but boring, he told me), he’s effusive about his love for the place. “Everything’s in arm’s reach, London’s so close but you’ve got great restaurants, beautiful countryside and really nice people”.
Another founder member of The Home Club.
Next on the list is Jerry. He grew up in South Africa and Germany before coming to the UK on a sports scholarship as a teen. But it was while visiting a friend during Fresher’s Week at The University of Surrey that he first experienced Guildford. “I find Guildford so refreshing. It has a lot of the perks of the countryside with the benefit of great transport links, good shops, fantastic pubs and really genuine people.” No surprise then that after studying at Guildford himself and then time working in Europe, Jerry returned to Guildford, choosing to settle here with his partner and start a family; his baby daughter is just seven months old. Having lived in so many places and experienced the letting industry from both ends – as a tenant and landlord – his view on what makes a house feel like home is especially enlightening, “It’s about knowing the area, feeling welcome, knowing the nuances of the area and feeling safe – being in your own sanctuary.”
Described as humble by his team, I can hear the genuine excitement in his voice when he talks about the rest of the people he works with. “We went out of our way to recruit people who believed in the same way of doing business – high standards and real sense of care for our customers. And we’ve got a really diverse bunch of people who are really genuine”.
Jenny’s smiling, bubbly personality suits her role as home co-ordinator to the ground.
Living just outside Guildford with her family in Elstead, Jenny’s smiling, bubbly personality suits her role as home co-ordinator to the ground. With a background in customer service roles across recruitment, retail and insurance, she’s well-placed to deal with even the most challenging situations with a smile. No wonder then that her colleagues tell me she’s the kind of person for whom nothing is ever too much; she exemplifies the spirit that The Home Club was built on.
Knowing the local area inside out, she’s especially well-placed to recommend extra special places to eat out. The Donkey – a village pub in Elstead, with (yes, you guessed it) a donkey – tops her list, followed closely by Olivio’s and De Nado Tapas both in Guildford. But even with eating out temporarily off the menu, Jenny’s biggest love (apart from her partner) is her Bernese Mountain Dog, Nala. “Walking Nala along the walkways round Elstead on a sunny afternoon or evening is the perfect way to switch off and unwind,” she tells me.
Another Guildford native, Henri can impressively trace his family’s presence in Guildford back as far as 1780.
Next on my list is the newest member of the team – Henri. In fact, he’s so new that I’m speaking to him on his second day at the office. Another Guildford native, Henri can impressively trace his family’s presence in Guildford back as far as 1780. As a keen sportsman – playing cricket, football and golf – he’s happiest enjoying life’s simple pleasures. “I absolutely love Pewley Downs,” he tells me, “and Newland’s Corner is beautiful too… it used to be my go-to first date spot,” he laughs.
Having spent much of the last year living alone and working from home during lockdown, he’s thrilled to be back in an office environment and tells me what it was about The Home Club that tempted him to join the team, despite having previously run his own lettings agency. “They’ve got the ethics and attitude towards lettings that I really wanted to see; everyone matters with these folks and I really feel like I can believe in the work they’re doing”.
They’re a really good bunch, and I think the fact that we’re not all estate agents really works in our favour.
Whilst he hasn’t lived in Guildford his entire life, arriving at the tender age of five practically gives Rahul native Guildfordian status. Apart from a brief stint at Birmingham while studying at university, he’s been here the whole time. Now living in Burpham, he’s yet another fan of the variety on offer in Guildford and appreciates the proximity to London – perfect for heading into town to watch his beloved QPR play or to see his other passion – boxing. He got the bug for boxing during the London Olympics, and has even travelled to the US to watch big boxing matches.
Having been brought up in an entrepreneurial family, Rahul recognises the value of a strong team. “They’re a really good bunch, and I think the fact that we’re not all estate agents really works in our favour,” he says. “Everyone pitches in to help get things moving, we all work really well together.” The fact that the team’s current office is just over the road from The Weyside pub is a less conventional benefit of working for The Home Club. “It’s such a nice place to sit on a summer’s evening after work,” he tells me. Remember – you heard it here first!
Last on my list of conversations is someone you’re less likely to meet at The Home Club.
Achillea, better known as AK, is all things marketing and brand. He’s somewhat unusual because he doesn’t live in Guildford but instead lives in Chichester, about an hour’s drive towards the coast. As something of a digital nomad, you might catch him in the office occasionally, but he’s more likely to be working from home or some hip coffee shop.
With a background in the sector, it’s AK’s ability to get on with anyone and everyone that earned him a place in the team. He’s as complementary about the rest of the team as you’d expect, valuing the diversity that’s so clearly a USP of The Home Club and, in common with the rest of the team loves the open space and beauty of the countryside that surrounds Guildford, and which connects it to Chichester. “I just love being outside – cycling, motorbiking, running. Even just sitting by the sea with an ice-cream in the sunshine”.
Reflecting on the conversations I’ve had with the team at The Home Club, I have to disagree with them to an extent. Sure, they have different backgrounds, interests and domestic set-ups, but their love of Guildford and friendly, approachable nature is standard issue. I can’t think of a nicer bunch of people to pop to the pub with.