Modern Home: Finding a Niche in the Market and Filling It

Many refer to it as ‘a lightbulb moment’ but for former letting agent Hollie Wright, it was more of a fully-fledged chandelier. For it was an idea that kickstarted her on a new career – and one that resulted in creating her own company. Today that company employs a team of staff and is going from strength-to-strength.

Instant Home Furniture Rental
Of course, it helps that her team at Instant Home are based in the heart of Cambridgeshire – making them the first choice for an increasing number of relocation agents. Especially when you consider they are the only home furniture rental company outside London. Instant Home offers exactly that, an instant home for anyone moving to the UK. We might be based in Cambridge, but we offer our services across the country. The UK offers a balance of sprawling countryside with bustling cities and there are certainly plenty of opportunities right now, especially for those from overseas.Hollie says: “We are now talking extensively to transient workforces who on average relocate every 2 years, their feeling is to remove the need to pack up and ship furniture to their new destination as it is stressful, time consuming and costly.“Furniture rental can be completed online as if shopping to purchase, with orders delivered and fully installed prior to arrival.  It’s quick, easy and all documentation can be completed via email so it’s a much more modern, environmental and manageable alternative. At the end of assignment items can be removed to suit onward relocation plans.”
Instant Home Furniture Rental - bedroom
But going back to that flash of inspiration experienced by Hollie 22 years ago who, at the time, was working as a letting agent.She said: “I remember being in the office and a relocation agent came in saying they wanted to relocate a number of employees from America for 12 months and what could we offer them?“The answer was nothing. We had no furnished accommodation to give them. There was a clear gap in the market as, had we had the furniture to fill them, we would have let out a number of unfurnished properties on the spot.” But it was more than just providing a sofa, bed, dining table and chairs. The relocation agent was looking for the full works i.e. linens, crockery, even a coffee machine (and this was two decades ago – Starbucks had only just arrived in the UK).

From website to liveried delivery van

So, feeling inspired, Hollie created a one-page website offering furniture for hire. A few orders later she was up in business. One of Hollie’s first learning curves concerned the quality of the furniture she was providing. She sourced and built up a range of contacts providing quality furniture she knew had longevity. Avoiding the pitfalls of flatpack and instead choosing quality classic and contemporary pieces, tenants get to enjoy the same quality furniture that they would have in their own home.
As the business grew, she realised she needed a better storage area for furniture than the half of a warehouse she’d rented – the other half being filled with tractors and diggers. Thankfully most of the time the furniture was out doing its job, in houses, but still… Investing in land gave her the space to build two warehouses 10 years down the line. This is joined by a purpose-built office, large enough to allow for considerable expansion of the team.Next it was a case of investing in software which allowed her to keep track of stock by scanning items when they left and arrived at the warehouse. It also tells her the age of the stock, its condition and how much income it has generated.As business got busier, she replaced the part-time firemen she was using to deliver and install the furniture with full-time staff.Then she bit the bullet and invested in a large delivery van.I remember seeing it come up the driveway with the Instant Home branding on it and being really excited, thinking: “Yep, we may be onto something here.”
Instant Home Furniture Rental - nursery
Hollie grew up in a family of property developers which inspired her interest in lettings, furnishing and interior design. A renovation of a run down three storey townhouse also earned her and her husband a pat on the back when 25 Beautiful homes magazine published their renovation journey.  In 1998 she became a fellow member of the National Association of Estate Agents after successfully completing their exams. She’s also run her own property letting and management company for almost a decade.  

Clients include biotech companies and professional sportspeople

Today Instant Home has a new HQ based in the Cambridge/Oxford Arc. Its clients include a leading Formula One team who Hollie and her team furnish several homes for on an annual basis. Others include Cambridge-based International Biotech Companies and sports professionals. Hollie’s longest client is a Cambridge/Oxford academic who also has a home in America and for whom Hollie has been updating their furniture, annually, for them for over a decade.Another valued client is the Cambridge office of nationwide property experts Bidwells. “A lot of tenants who rent through us now are at the executive end of the market, working for large pharma companies, with high expectations,” said a spokesman. “They are looking for really good quality property in good condition and, at the same time, expect excellent service. They want the ready-made package, rather than having to go out and buy new furniture. That’s because this isn’t their home, it’s temporary. Their home is somewhere else, usually overseas.”A three bedroom Instant Home Standard Furniture Rental package is £300 per month, including VAT, based on a 24-month contract and is often included in the employee’s relocation package. Her staff understand the problems of clients well. Sales and Marketing coordinator Becky knows the hurdles of trying to find furnishing for an unfurnished rental after moving to Sydney with her husband a few years ago.  Becky says “as a result of my relocation we provide a welcome to your home hamper to cover those few hours after arrival.  Tea, coffee, biscuits, and toilet roll.  This would have been most welcome when we arrived in Australia after a 23 hr flight”.Reflecting on the value and customer led service, to date, Instant Home has an abundance of five-star Google reviews. 

Providing a fully-functional instant home

Sue, the office manager, is clear about how they can make life almost perfect for anyone relocating from abroad, in particular. She said: At particular times of the year, we handle a surge in short-term furniture rental orders while people wait for their own furniture shipments to arrive – this has been particularly up in the air in recent times because of port delays.“Basically, we provide a fully-functional instant home. Sometimes we go into the property before the clients arrive here in the UK. The idea being that they have everything they need the minute they arrive from the airport. They can unpack their clothes and put them into wardrobe, sit on the sofa, watch TV and make a coffee. They can even get into bed straight away if they need to sleep because we provide bedding and have a towel pack ready too. From our point of view, we feel it’s really important for the client and family to feel settled the minute they arrive.”

Visit the Instant Home directory page

Visit the Instant Home website

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