Five Minutes With… Steve Austin
We take a few minutes to learn about what Senior Property Manager, Steve Austin, enjoys most about his role.
Tell us about your role at urbanbubble
As Senior Property Manager, I head up a team responsible for looking after a portfolio of properties in Manchester city centre. Supported by Property Manager Andrea and Assistant Property Managers Vanessa and Hayley, I oversee maintenance, repairs, budgets and site staff for the properties in our portfolio.
My role includes ensuring jobs are completed to a high standard; overseeing finances to ensure each site remains within budgetary limits; managing the safety, wellbeing and performance of site staff; and producing budgets for each year along with commentary on where customers’ money is going.
How long have you been with urbanbubble?
I joined the company six years ago as a Property Manager. At the time, the Senior Property Manager role didn’t exist; as urbanbubble has grown, I’ve moved with the business.
What’s your background?
I’ve been in residential property management for the past 12 years, working for the likes of RMG, Urban Splash and a host of management agencies. Originally I started out in retail, before moving into lettings after university. Customer service was a heavy focus in both, and I carried this into block management.
What has been your biggest achievement so far?
Coping with the growth of the company and still being able to maintain standards on-site remains one of my greatest accomplishments. I’ve turned some sites around which has been very satisfying, such as the Wentwood building.
At Wentwood, we brought standards up to the levels we expect, increasing both property and rental values and reducing anti-social behaviour. The residents in the building were cautious about us coming in given their experience with their former agents, but they’ve become some of our oldest and most loyal customers. We’ve really proven ourselves to them, and I’m immensely proud of that.
How are urbanbubble different?
What attracted me to urbanbubble is their incredible customer service – Mick wanted to do things differently and I really bought into that goal. The organisation’s approach is unlike many other companies that I’ve worked for; they’ve tended to focus very much on the bottom line, rather than going above and beyond. Meanwhile some other businesses only speak to the leaseholder – ignoring the people actually living in the building.
At urbanbubble, we’re not about box ticking. Our honest and open approach is entirely focused on pleasing our customers and making sure we remain transparent. Mick really built the business on that, and that’s why we’ve grown so much.
When we developed the business a few years ago, we did presume people would automatically come with us. We now realise that they want close contact and attention – the rise of social media has brought with it expectations for faster (often instant) responses.
In light of this, we’ve restructured our portfolio. More meetings, more on-site visits… all the while retaining that excellent customer service. We realised that this was not possible with 24 properties, so I will be reducing my portfolio to 17 sites in the summer.
What do you enjoy most about your role?
The variety. I’m always dealing with something different – from chasing a rat out of a building we’ve just taken on, to dealing with the renovation of big, multi-million pound projects. There’s never a dull day and that’s what I enjoy the most.
When you’re not at work, how do you unwind?
I love spending time at home (on the outskirts of Manchester and Bolton) with my other half and taking the dogs out – a Beagle cross Toy Poodle and a Westie cross Jack Russell. We’ll often watch movies after a nice long walk.