REFRESHINGLY REASSURING By Poppy Kinloch forty years the success continues In amongst the fashionable array of stylish shops, restaurants and cafés on The Green in Winchmore Hill, is a great example of a modern business with (excuse the pun) its house well and truly in order. As I walk into this independent boutique-style property company I am welcomed into a warm, bright, modern space with a classic but contemporary feel - not fussy, not flashy and not a wall of mineral water or coffee bar in sight (call me old fashioned but I favour getting my espresso from a café and my home from an estate agent!). This welcoming and stylish space is furnished with desks manned by an extremely friendly, approachable and experienced team, all guided by the company’s leading lady, founder and dynamic figurehead, André Chris. What their newly refurbished interior doesn’t immediately hint at however, is the change and evolution that this company has witnessed (from the coalface) and kept apace with over the last 40 years… When they started in 1977 from a double fronted shop opposite the bus station in Wood Green they were all about lettings (mostly in the areas of Ladbroke Grove, Islington and Highgate). ...call me old fashioned but I favour getting my espresso from a café and my home from an estate agent! This was a time when business was all done face to face, on paper and the most high-tech thing in the office was a fax machine! Since then the market has gone up, down and sideways and yet they have continued to flourish and grow where a huge number of others have failed. In 2001 they moved to N21 and since then have become established as the go-to specialists for Winchmore Hill and surrounding areas (Southgate, Oakwood and Cockfosters) and these days they have much more than a fax machine in their office! This is a business that understands the power of technology and presentation but not at the expense of working face to face. They only use professional photographers to capture and present your home at its best, again, call me a traditionalist but when I’m looking for results, I want salespeople to sell, chefs to cook and photographs to be taken by photographers! In a market where mostly the big nationals dominate, Havilands have thrived and, in many cases, seen off the competition; proving that amongst all their services, be that sales, lettings or management (for UK and overseas landlords), it is a personal service that people need when dealing with their greatest asset - their home. Once best known for dealing with high end properties, today they have a varied property portfolio with the majority of their homes now being smaller houses, semi-detached properties and flats. When dealing with Havilands, it is their passion for what they do and their genuine client focus that really strikes you. It is this approach, I believe, that has enabled them to continually adapt and flourish over the past 40 years - it is an immense skill to constantly stay abreast of what your clients want throughout changing social and economic environments and, most importantly, to have the ability to keep delivering it. The Havilands story is a reassuring one and a real testament to how local, independent businesses can grow, evolve and indeed lead their fields irrespective of size.
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