Simon Tolson is a fishing fanatic. An amazingly humble and successful human started his journey with the decision that books weren’t really for him – but boats REALLY were. Jumping from boat to business and back again, Simon is now passionate about his holiday home agency – Rumsey. In this weeks episode, he explains how buying Rumsey felt just as good as the first time he’d stepped onto a boat many years ago – and teaches us a little bit about how on earth you manage other peoples properties.
00:00:00 Marks introduction
00:02:23 Meeting Simon, setting the scene over-looking Poole Harbour
00:03:12 Chatting about Sandbanks, does it still have a reputation of being a host for football stars?
- 00:03:41 “It actually really isn’t like that. Most of the property on Sandbanks is relatively modest, actually – there’s about 15/20 super homes and the rest are actually quite modest flats.”
00:04:09 Where did Simon start – beginning with fish
- 00:04:30 “Ever since I can remember since I was 3 or 4 years old, I just loved fishing and this was a big distraction in my somewhat chequered academic career. So while I was busy failing A-Levels, and then eventually scraping into a course in fishery science… All I really wanted to do was go fishing.”
00:05:56 Two & a half terms in a degree in Fishery Science
00:06:52 Setting up ‘Shiny Eyed Fish’
- 00:08:28 “So I’d go down first thing in the morning, pick whatever was best for the day – put it in my battered van, and I’d drive it round the restaurants dressed up as a fisherman and flog it to the chefs.”
00:09:35 Going and working in sales to build up a network – now selling office equipment
- 00:11:05 “The training was literally life changing. They sent you off for a couple of weeks somewhere, and you came back with this super power… When it worked, you couldn’t believe it worked.”
00:13:15 Holiday homes in Cornwall – deciding to sell those instead
- 00:19:47 Simon’s biggest challenge… The rise in price of properties
- 00:20:15 “We did all the marketing, caretaking and looking after guests and owners – we did it all ourselves. It was sort of a cost.”
00:22:00 “The business was completely evaporated in three months” – Going back to work in sales
00:25:10 Running 25 properties whilst looking for a new job… and eventually becoming an agency
- 00:26:45 “At the time, almost no agencies would do the cleaning or the caretaking – which frankly, is the hard bit.”
00:28:30 Why didn’t Simon move into one of his properties?
00:29:10 How was Simon trying to add value, and make a trip special?
- 00:30:03 “The great principle – the key of the whole thing often is the first five minutes’ principle… and it comes from Mr Marriott [of Marriott Hotels], when I was a salesman.”
00:33:08 Was it becoming successful? The key to Simon’s success – word of mouth
00:34:40 Have people’s expectations changed in the holiday home sector?
- 00:35:08 “101 before we start any conversation – it’s gotta be spotless. Because someone turning up to anything remotely not clean enough is a massive no-no.”
00:36:51 Dealing with owners of properties – does it create challenges?
00:39:34 What triggered Simon to expand down to Sandbanks & beyond?
- 00:41:08 “They actually built much of the infrastructure of Poole. The row of buildings our shop is in was built by Rumsey in the 30’s or 40’s.”
00:44:08 How did it feel for Simon to start running Rumsey’s?
- 00:44:54 “I still, to this day, feel when I walk in – like I did all those years ago when I remember stepping onto that fishing boat and thinking ‘I’m a fisherman’. And that was a truly great moment in my life.”
00:45:58 The challenges Simon faced as he began – resurrecting something that had stay the same for 20 years
- 00:49:20 “The team member that remains is fabulous and has responded perfectly to everything. Everybody else has chosen to retire.”
00:49:56 Simon’s thoughts on external booking sites (e.g. Booking.com) – how is it affecting the industry?
- 00:50:28 “Traditional agencies that were booking only, have been really hurt by the Air BnB model.”
00:52:22 Is it adding to the supply? Are more people buying holiday homes than previously?
- 00:52:36 “Just like Uber and Taxi, it’s creating additional volume in the market of people coming to stay in self-catering.”
00:54:40 What has the impact on towns & Sandbanks of more holiday homes been?
- 00:56:44 “What I’m concerned about, is that the more reliant we are on them to bring us business… If they get acquired or if they get IPO’d – they’ll have a duty to deliver maximum revenues to their shareholders. And that’s gotta mean squeezing the owners.”
00:57:11 Does the limitations in London on Air B&B operators benefit Simon’s business?
00:59:02 Student lets being released in the summer – has this had an impact?
01:02:32 Will Rumsey still be around in 50 years? Simon’s future
- 00:03:32 “The next generation are much more interested in experiences than they are in physical things. So they are a lot more likely to spend more money on travelling than a fancy car.”
01:04:24 Where can you find out more about Simon Tolson and Rumsey?
01:05:45 Marks sign off & final thoughts
If you’re looking to learn a little bit more about the lovely Simon Tolson and his journey to becoming the proud owner of Rumsey, listen to the full podcast here or check out Rumsey’s social channels, holiday homes & website:
Linkedin: Rumsey of Sandbanks