Success Leaves Clues: Tips from a Property Investor

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In the Boostly podcast, host Liam interviews Laura Muse, a successful UK-based short-term rental host and property investor. Laura shares her transition from an equine nutritionist to hospitality, emphasizing that it's more than a jobβ€”it's a lifestyle dedicated to creating exceptional guest experiences. She and her husband, James, ventured into property investment in 2018, applying their learnings to their short-term rental business.Β 

Their properties in the Peak District cater to a high-end market, offering luxurious, pet-and-child-friendly accommodations with amenities like spa treatments and personal chefs. Key offerings include Fox Lowgrange, a manor with various apartments, and Candle House, a converted candle factory. Laura's approach centers on delivering a comprehensive five-star experience, focusing on quality and customer satisfaction.

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Timestamps (audio)



[00:00:00] Laura: You can't go into hospitality and work nine to five. It's, it's not a job. It's a lifestyle, and it is. So that's the number of people are going into, I know a lot of people going to service accommodation. They're going to the contractor market and I'm not talking about that. I'm talking about the strategy that I do.

[00:00:17] You have got to be personally invested in creating them experiences. And it's a lifestyle. It isn't a nine-to-five job having a blast. Gonna get it on the Bruce Lee podcast. Bruce Lee. Let Bruce Lee 'cause it's so hard on the tees. Loosely. Looking up those rhymes. Don't write it, just do it loosely. If you want my respect, you are better.

[00:00:38] Book direct. Mm. Here are the words in the podcast. That's what comes next.

[00:00:42] Liam: Welcome back to the Boostly podcast. This is a podcast that gives you the tools, the tactics, the training, and most importantly, the confidence. So you can go out there and get yourselves direct bookends. We do a mini-series on this podcast, which interviews interesting, successful hosts from all over the world.

[00:00:58] And today we've got a host who is a little bit closer to home. She's based in the UK. Uh, she's fantastic and they say that success leaves clues and this is who I think of when I think of a short-term rental host who's doing all the right things to achieve exactly what needs to be achieved and, uh, this is going to be a great one.

[00:01:19] So please welcome Laura from, uh, Laura Muse from Muse Escapes and, uh, yeah. Let's dive in. Laura, welcome along.

[00:01:26] Laura: Thank you, Liam. Nice to speak to you.

A bit about Laura

[00:01:29] Liam: It's great to speak to you. And there are so many more things that we could talk about, even other than the hospitality stuff. You're an investor. You've got your own, uh, event now starting up as well as so, you know, event, which is going on.

[00:01:42] You've also got a social media group, which is huge and you're very active on, on in so many different areas. So this is going to be so much fun. So. Start by giving the people who don't already know you, uh, an intro, an elevator pitch to yourself and Muse escapes.

[00:01:58] Laura: Yeah so my name is Laura Muse. I am a Sheffield-based property investor, and in 2022 we got the keys to our first, um, STR short-term rental, um, in the Peak District, which is a 20-minute.

[00:02:11] Well, it's 40 minutes from here, but to get to the peaks from Sheffield's 20 minutes. Um, and been embarking on this crazy rollercoaster of hospitality because it is very different from property investing.

[00:02:24] Liam: I should just mention as well, you're doing speaking events and things like that. I forgot to include that in there, but you're going around now speaking at different events as well, which is cool.

[00:02:33] Yeah, I

[00:02:33] Laura: mean, I mean, obviously I work with my husband, um, so I and my husband have been investing full time in property since 2018. We started with a three-bed terrace, et cetera, and then we've kind of built our portfolio. James invested pre-2018, so it's been building up for quite a while, so we haven't kind of gone from zero to buying mansions.

[00:02:53] been a process over quite a long time. Um, and yeah, so I started talking a couple of years ago about how to use social media to raise your profile, to raise investment. Um, so we work with investors to purchase our properties. We buy them, we refurbish them, we refinance them, and then we pay the investor back.

[00:03:10] That's kind of how the model's been working. Um, and then we've taken that model and now we use it in our STR business. So Same Fox has low grades in the candle house. Um, but yeah, that's, that's me.

What kind of properties and target avatars?

[00:03:22] Liam: What are the properties like, who is the kind of target avatar and, uh, tell us about that.

[00:03:27] Laura: So, um, just a bit of background of why, why, what the model I chose.

[00:03:32] So, um, as a, you know, we've got a young family, we've got Isabel who's seven, um, obviously a couple of years ago, she was younger, she was five. And we've got two dogs and obviously, I don't want to mention COVID, but. After COVID, the first lockdown kind of lifted, obviously we couldn't go abroad. So me and my husband looked somewhere in the UK.

[00:03:51] And one thing we massively, struggled with was high end, and I'm not talking luxury, everyone bans around the luxury, I'm talking about high end, opulent holiday homes that are self-catering, that you can take a dog, you can take a child, and you can have a spa treatment, you could hire a chef. In the Peak District, it was more or less non-existent.

[00:04:12] And even further afield, um, you know, there was always a little bit, there was always a compromise, like there was no hot tub or no dog or you can't take your children, um, or they don't do the luxury upgrades or they don't do the experiences. Something that wasn't what I wanted. Um, so from that we were like, look, we've been in property quite a while.

[00:04:34] I love the interior design in lockdown. I started to do my interior design diploma. And it's something that I've been doing in our other properties, our rental properties for a couple of years and just genuinely loved it. Um, and we thought sod it. Let's buy something ourselves at the peak. So we have two units.

[00:04:50] Um, so we have Fox Lowgrange, which is a large manor house that has got eight apartments in it. Um, and you can either book one of the apartments, which we've got two, one bed, five, two beds, and one, three bed. You can book one apartment, you can book all the apartments, you can book half the apartments. And then we have Candle House, which is so that one's in Buxton.

[00:05:09] Now we have Candle House, which is a four-bedroom candle factory, which is in Casselton, which is an amazing place if no one's been there in Peat District like it's the go-to place. Um, it's got fantastic views, like, like I say, it's an old candle factory, it's got a well, um, and things like that, so they're completely just beautiful properties in beautiful locations and everything I just said about what I wanted we offer.

[00:05:36] So for me, it's, it's not a five-star stay. It's a five-star experience. And that's something that I want. I was keen to create and that's what we have created in the P district.

What has been the biggest learning curve?

[00:05:46] Liam: What would you say has been the, um. been the biggest learning curve so far since you've switched from a kind of investor, uh, buy refurbish refinance to a short-term rental.

[00:05:59] What's been that big takeaway so far?

[00:06:02] Laura: There have been so many like I never like it's this You can't go into hospitality and work 9 5. It's, it's not a job, it's a lifestyle, like, and it is, so that's my number. If people are going into, I know a lot of people go into serviced accommodation, they're going to the contractor market, and I'm not talking about that, I'm talking about the strategy that I do.

[00:06:25] You have got to be personally invested in creating them experiences, and it's a lifestyle. It isn't a nine-to-five job. So that is for me the biggest learning thinking that I could turn my laptop off at 10 p.m., there'd be no guests calling me, you know, and because of what we charge so you know we're not somewhere that's cheap.

[00:06:46] It's somewhere where people save up to go or it's someone who's got a disposable income that goes. Um, When people are paying in the height of July, for example, for 500 pounds a night, when they ring you at any time of day or night, they expect that phone to be answered. You know, for anyone else, the level expectations here for my guests, it's up here.

[00:07:10] Um, and we always want to deliver on that. That's what makes us. I don't know if it's better than our competitors.

What has been the biggest learning curve?

[00:07:15] Liam: Take me back into the history of what you've done before this. So I know you've done sort of investment and that side of things, but talk me through that kind of journey of investment. How did you learn what you learned?

[00:07:27] And what would you say are some of the kind of stepping stones looking back along the way, which, which has brought you to where you are now?

[00:07:34] Laura: Um, so I started with no knowledge of property in 2018. It was my husband who had all the knowledge. It certainly wasn't me. Um, I used to have, um, I used to be, I'm an equine nutritionist by trade, which is probably the furthest thing that you could ever get from property.

[00:07:52] Yes, basically I used to go around the UK telling people what they should feed their horses. Like, that's my job. I went to uni to be an equine nutritionist. Um, from then I went into kind of the sales side of it. And, and then, once I had my first daughter, Isabel, I started, I set up my own business. My husband's always been an entrepreneur.

[00:08:11] pushed me to just, why are you working so hard for somebody else? You need to do this for yourself. So I kind of went into that niche. Um, in 2018. James had been investing for a couple of years, he'd just finished a new build project that we'd done and he's like, Laura, there must be a quicker way of what we're doing, saving up for deposits, to buy a house, to refit, like it's just too slow, like.

[00:08:31] This is not what the big guys do. I want to find out what they do. So he went on his merry way, researched loads of different people, and went on these seminars. We've all been there and then he came across progressive property. Now say what you want about training companies, but I've, you know, they've changed my life.

[00:08:48] Um, and I'll be forever grateful for that. Um, I went to do a social media course that day for my current business, my property, my, um, sales business, and James went to do like beginners like welcome. This is what we kind of do in the property. I spent half a day talking to all these property investors thinking, I don't want to do this sales thing anymore.

[00:09:11] I want to do this property thing. This is so much more interesting, and the money's better. Definitely, yeah. I don't have to spend all this time driving up and down the UK, selling a pair of boots or a bag of horse feed. Um, so that night when I met up with James that evening, I thought, Oh my God, he's gonna kill me, like, he's just bought me a new van.

[00:09:30] Um, anyway, it comes bounding down. Now, if anyone knows my husband, he's a typical Yorkshire bloke. Proper, like, proper tight. Um, says it as it is, and he went Laura, I went, what? He went, I've got something to tell you, and I went, well, just hang on a minute, because I've got something to tell you first. He went, what?

[00:09:46] I went, you go first. And he went, right, I don't think you should do this horsey thing anymore. I booked you on this puppeteer course. There's this thing called deal packaging. I've seen this girl called Katie Wilson. If she can do it, you can do it. So I've signed you up. I'm like, oh, I'm really glad you've said that.

[00:10:03] Why would, because I don't wanna do this property thing either. I think I wanna, sorry, the sales thing. I wanna do the property thing with you. I think I'm good at the sales and marketing side of it, and he is like, literally the next day I shut my business down. Um, and we went into it full time together, just before we got married.

[00:10:20] It wasn't the best move, but, um, yeah, so our wedded life, or married life, is, um, been working together, and yeah, the rest is been interesting. Having a blast, gonna get it on the Boostly podcast. Bruce Lee likes Bruce Lee, cause it's so hard and the T is loose leaf. Making up those rhymes, don't write it, just do it loosely.