Caroline & Philip May – Property Letting

We are Caroline and Philip May. Our Property Letting Business has been established for over 20 years – starting small we now have 15 properties over Scarborough, home to a range of people, singles, couples, families and students. The Student side of the business is branded under “Student Housing Scarborough” on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. 

Caroline and Philip May

Phil founded the business after running a B&B. He was brought up in a B&B himself – I guess running and managing property was always in his blood! (his mother ran the business, his father ran a Repair Garage and his grandparents had bakeries). Although we have both been employed (myself in Print & Publishing, Customer Service and Production Management, HR Management and Lecturing, and Phil in Engineering, Automotive mechanic and Sales), we have both been wholly self employed for approx 15 years now. My husband, Phil also runs a maintenance business, doing anything from routine repairs to fitting of kitchens, bathrooms and more, in both our properties and for properties for clients across Scarborough. We sub contract to other local small businesses to do work for us, gas engineers, plumbers and roofers. We maintain our own properties and other people’s businesses and homes too.
 
Our passion is to provide ‘A home from home’ for our Students – to study and be supported whilst living in Scarborough. We used to rent to Hull University Students and now rent to CU Scarborough students. We help them find employment with local businesses and to enjoy using local shops, cafes, restaurants and services. Many graduate and continue to live with us in our non student, more permanent properties. Some move away but love Scarborough so much they move back!
 
Our other passion is for all who rent from us to be supported – this can include help for people setting up home for the first time and/or linking them to employment contacts. We like to feel communication and relationships are at the heart of our business. Quick response times to any problems are also key. Things go wrong…but it’s how we deal with it that’s important and work with people to provide solutions and keep people up to date with changes!
 
Coronavirus has, like for us all, been a challenge. However we have continued to build on the way we run our business by sending out weekly updates to our tenants (with links to government sites for support such as Universal Credit, Self Employment schemes, links to money saving advice from Martin Lewis. We have also given links to sites to support physical and emotional health, like the gov.uk sites with updates on testing and the site https://www.nhs.uk/oneyou/every-mind-matters/.  
 
We’ve worked with people to manage their rent payments and support them in applying for furlough too. Sadly we have lost some contracts due to Covid so are actively seeking to replace people for the 6 bed house (ensuite, spacious and great for students, large families or working groups). Feel free to pass our details on! We’ve also been renting short term to a local NHS worker who has relocated to support the increase in demand locally. But we also believe from Covid there have been positives – we’ve connected with many more people (albeit virtually) and thanks to YIB we have probably accessed even more courses and reviewed our business model. It’s so easy to get focused in the hear and now but Covid really has made us all stop, look and listen to what’s around us!!
 
 
What stage was your business at when you received support from Yorkshire in Business? 
“We wish we’d met Yorkshire In Business at the start! (although my husband did start his first business with business support from a similar agency support locally albeit over 20 years ago) However, we met YIB about 3 years ago … but every day is most certainly a school day! We really believe that we can always learn and develop and our business is very different to when we started off.” 

How have we helped your business? 
“YIB have helped us in so many ways! They’ve provided space at their office at Co-Worker days. They’ve also given support on grant applications during Covid (sadly we didn’t get accepted but Jenn’s support was invaluable).
 
We’ve also been regular attendees of the Business Owners Coffee Meet Ups, both at coffee shops and on zoom, where advisors are on hand for support, advice and other businesses for networking. (The coffee at home though isn’t a patch on Walkers of Bar Street!!). Furthermore we have been to and continue to attend events such as Marketing workshops on campaigns, Elevator Pitch and USP sessions and Legislation workshops. 

During Covid their Zoom workshops have been so crucial in keeping up to date with training and development and keeping us all motivated as micro/small businesses.
 
Another huge way they’ve helped is to provide us with installation for Quickbooks.  We’ve been meaning to change accounts system to Quickbooks for a long time! Holly and Gail have been amazing talking through what our business needs, how to configure categories to meet our business needs and getting started! “
 
Which team Member did you receive support from and do you have any comments?. 
“Oh gosh, it really is hard to single out people as I believe everyone is important! I’ve probably worked most with Jenn, Holly, Gail and Jo! But each and every person in YIB is approachable. But I do want to give a special shout out to Holly Ford who been amazing and is so patient when I have been learning Quickbooks! Thank you Holly!!”