By: Meghan and Mark Vost
How It Started
We needed AvenueWest, but we were ready to work – and put in the sweat equity.
My husband Mark and I both came from a real estate and franchising background. We had spent the first half of our careers with known and established real estate brands, and a few new players in the industry. Mark was in the business of selling franchises, and I was in the business of growing them, including my own real estate brokerage.
We felt confident in our skill set and knowledge of the real estate industry, and we were doing well. However, through a series of misfortunate events, including the 2008 financial crisis, our businesses were flipped upside down. We needed a new opportunity – and one that would provide stability, growth opportunities, and align with our core values grounded in uncompromising quality and unwavering five-star customer service.
Over the years, we had become familiar with many of the key players across the real estate franchising industry. We quickly recognized AvenueWest and the entire corporate housing industry as high on the pedestal of excellence, and we wanted in.
We did our research, studied the financials, and quickly came to the conclusion that the AvenueWest model was a strong one. The margins presented well, and the people were exceptional. Our biggest challenge – we knew nothing about corporate housing.
Prior to signing the paperwork, we did one last meeting in Denver and asked a lot of questions. We soon realized the margins were even better than what we thought, there were multiple revenue streams, and AvenueWest would guide us every step of the way with their vetted recommendations, vendors and best practices.
In 2013, we launched AvenueWest Phoenix with just $1,200 in our checking account. Our first customer came through word of mouth – my hairdresser. Through some quick hustle, we capitalized on our first rental and earned a noteworthy margin on it, too. Every check we received, we reinvested it back into the business.
We wish we could say it was smooth sailing from day one, but it took consistent hard work and perseverance. For the first three years, Mark kept a separate full time job to ensure we had another source of income. However, we soon realized that we would not recognize the success we desired until we were both fully committed. Mark quit his job and joined the AvenueWest Phoenix team.
From cleaning the units to negotiating rental terms, our hands were involved at every step and stage of the business. But soon enough, that sweat equity was paying off. We moved from doing all the laundry in our compact townhouse to leasing our own office space equipped with a staff.
We were growing our business at a pace we had not anticipated. One managed property turned to six properties with the same investment property owner. Realtors we had built relationships with were handing off property investment owners to us by the handful, and we were delivering them consistently filled leases at high margins. It was working – and we were proud of our reputable and profitable business.
How It’s Going
There are three things that we believe we have done through the eight-year trajectory of our business that have contributed to its success.
First, we place quality above all else. Even when we knew we could have gotten by with a chipped plate in the cabinet, we donated it and bought a new one.
Second, we followed the AvenueWest model to a tee. We didn’t know corporate housing, but we knew AvenueWest franchises had the makings to be lucrative when done right. By following their guidance, we leveraged the experience of others and made it work for us. We could not afford to be risky, and we had to be right. We remain thankful for the initial and ongoing guidance shared by the AvenueWest team.
Third, we are in the business of catering to people and building trusted relationships. Every person deserves the utmost respect and customer service from our team. We have instilled this across every hire we have ever made, and are proud of our reputation in Arizona as people you can trust to do the job right.
Today, we are proud to say that our business – that started with a lot of debt and just $1,200 to our name – has grown in a way we could not have predicted. Our business is debt-free. We have expanded from the Phoenix market into Tucson, and rebranded as AvenueWest Arizona. We live a very comfortable lifestyle with a good balance of work and play, and have goals to double our portfolio of managed properties over the next three years.
The best part? We feel confident we can meet that goal of intentional growth without compromising on any of our core values of quality, service and respect. The other day, I called my lead property inspector to check on her day, and she summed up our AvenueWest business in just one sentence: “I’m just here making sure everything is perfect for the guest.”
We couldn’t be prouder of AvenueWest Arizona.