By Ken Creswick of VeriSmart – why he chose to own his own company
After a long career travelling the world in the construction industry overseeing the production and delivery of concrete, I decided to return home to York.
I wanted a business opportunity, not a job.
It had to be in the construction or property sector because that is my preferred working environment.
I looked at many business opportunities before I spotted VeriSmart Inventories on Gumtree, the internet classified ad site.
This was the most promising business lead I had seen and it involved using voice recognition software and a unique, copyrighted system to compile inventories.
Letting agents, landlords and property management companies require inventories when homes become vacant, before they are re-let; they often need to be produced quickly, comprehensively and at short notice.
With more people renting property and fewer buying, it seemed as if this was a growing area to explore.
Having contacted the VeriSmart organisation, I was encouraged by the response and learned that York was an area that was available.
I began to carry out research – I wasn’t going into it blind.
This contrasted with how I got my first job in the concrete industry.
In the mid 1970s I had a little Fiat 128 and it broke down in Hackney.
I got out and walked past the Labour Exchange and there was an advert in the window for a job with Pioneer Concrete – and it came with a free van.
I really needed transport so I took the job and that is how I got started in concrete and construction. Most of my time over the next 40 years would be spent in and around the Middle East and the USA.
Before investing in VeriSmart, however, I looked in detail at the industry and the sector and asked questions of the business, which were all answered honestly and to my satisfaction.
Researching York I discovered that there were approximately 15,000 to 18,000 rented properties, not including the surrounding areas.
My confidence grew when I realised that inventories are a legal part of the letting process and are not something that a computer could ever do and would always need the human touch.
With my research and due diligence carried out I invested in VeriSmart and began the comprehensive training programme.
This covered health and safety, learning about various hazards and how to recognise them, carrying out Legionella assessments, and being able to test smoke and carbon monoxide alarms – by activating the sensor, not just by ensuring the batteries had power.
All these parts of the task protect the letting agent and landlord – but, importantly, the tenant as well.
I practised with the software and the system, which is very straightforward and simple to use. It transcribes everything I say and then it’s easy to add photographs to the final document.
Creating an inventory with VeriSmart is an incredibly simple operation for the letting agent – and the whole process is entirely paper-free.
Text messages and emails are automatically sent to the tenants advising them about what they have to do next to help complete the process.
As a result, everything is date-stamped so there can never be any dispute between the various parties.
VeriSmart sends me regular updates and communications and offers continued support.
Just days after completing the training I hit a purple patch and was conducting inventories for Purple Bricks.
My aim now is to develop the business and ultimately take on additional staff to expand the service to other areas in North Yorkshire.