After a multi-award winning 2017, Hampshire-based Crayfern Homes is looking forward to an equally promising 2018. Alison Tilley asked sales and marketing manager Jon Hayward what continued evolution will bring … and whether it’ll still look as pretty.
“When I joined Crayfern Homes six years ago the whole industry was having a tough time of it,” says Hayward. “Turnover was just over £10 million and sales took a lot of work to secure.
“Now we’re heading for £30 million – 50% more than we did in the peak of 2007/8. We still have to work hard to close our deals but the market is a lot more responsive than it was back then.”
If anyone ought to understand the secret of the firm’s success, Hayward should. He believes in his product so much he lives in it.
“I’ve got a Crayfern home and it’s a lovely home to live in. It’s so easy, I don’t have any DIY to do for the foreseeable future.”
He loves the fact that the ‘standard’ specification includes under-floor heating beneath Porcelanosa tiles on the ground floor – cool in summer, toasty in winter. “There are no radiators on the ground floor, so the positioning of furniture is easy, and it’s a nice even, constant heat – not on-off, on-off. There’s a thermostat in every room to regulate the temperature. It’s a great selling point.”
Standard specification is something he’s particularly proud of; enthusiastically explaining Crayfern’s efforts to avoid building a series of uniform, basic boxes. “It’s the choice of materials – not all exactly the same. Clay tiles and slates, flint work, weatherboarding, render or brick – we like to offer a varied and high-quality exterior palette. When potential purchasers, or just passers-by, visit our developments, we want them to feel that the new homes belong.”
Crayfern’s developments have ranged in size from just two bespoke homes in a south Winchester village to a scheme for 92 homes in Bedhampton. Regardless of size or location, the same attention to detail is applied and it’s proven to be a winner with the industry. At the 2017 Regional Property and Construction Awards Crayfern scooped Best Luxury New Home and Development and, at the 2017 South Coast Property Awards, collected the Housebuilder of the Year and Residential Development of the Year.
No mean feat for a staff of just 35, from directors to cleaner. Around half are based at its Hedge End headquarters and the majority of developments are within Hampshire and West Sussex. The closeness of the team is palpable with its directors remaining very hands-on.
“Only two years ago we were interior designing and furnishing our own show homes. Now we have design consultants creating amazing show homes for prospective purchasers to view,” said Hayward.
Launched in 1992, the company has grown organically over 25 years. The people-centric ethos extends to the new communities Crayfern is creating.
“Our sales advisers, Lorraine and Jo, are based at our show homes, answering questions on everything from the air source heat pump to the local schools; they know the Crayfern product inside out.
“Both Lorraine and Jo will often organise a soiree when they complete the final sale on a site. All the residents come together on an afternoon for Prosecco and nibbles. It creates that community feeling.”
Asked “where will you be in five years?”, many a marketing manager will respond with a strategy for global domination. Not so Hayward. Testament to the gentle and considered growth of Crayfern is his response that he really just wants the upward trajectory to continue.
“The challenge really is providing enough homes. I heard the BBC reporting recently that the industry is currently delivering 170,000 new homes a year in the UK – and we need to be building 300,000.”
Crayfern is enjoying its share of that pie. A slice is enough. Elegantly served.