Simon and Zoë Rose of Strutt & Parker discuss how they balance a professional working relationship with their home life
Partner and Head of Strutt & Parker’s London Fulham Road office. Simon has been in the industry for 25 years and has worked in central London for 20 years, mainly based in Chelsea.
What are your main strengths?
Patience and persistence. I’d like to consider myself professional and I think my clients do. They are looking for someone to take them through the process and act on their behalf. It’s a partnership between ourselves and them for the purpose of securing the best possible price. It sounds really cheesy but I genuinely believe it.
What qualities do you need when working with a spouse?
Trust, sincerity and knowledge. Know your partner’s skill base and ensure that you complement each other. And if you disagree, don’t do it in front of people.
What is the best thing about working with Zoë?
Openness. Our skill bases are different and they complement each other incredibly well. Zoë gives me a completely different, and objective, outlook which I really love and I’m very lucky to have her.
What do you disagree upon?
I’m the softer one and that is probably down to the fact that I’m on the trade floor so to speak. Zoë is far more analytical than I am. I get personally involved when people come into play but she’s got a little more of the apprentice in her, that killer ‘Sugar’ instinct.
Has Zoë influenced you at all?
She’s helped me in coming to certain decisions and I’ve sought her advice on many occasions where I’ve made decisions from the heart – at times I’ve gone completely the other way.
When did things develop from a professional to a personal relationship?
I didn’t know I was being sought after. I was a little bit shocked. I kept missing out on social functions and she cornered me at one on a hot Sunday afternoon when she knew I had to be there. She was sneakily wearing a lovely dress and I think I spent more time speaking to her than I did handing out drinks. We later sat outside and poured our hearts out. We were very open from the outset, there were no games played.
Can you remember what happened on your first date?
We went to the cinema and then to Aglio e Olio on the Fulham Road. I can remember the table we sat at but not the conversation – I was quite nervous. It was another hot day and I was in shorts whereas she looked gorgeous. I don’t think she would have picked me for my dress sense on that evening.
Who is normally right when you disagree?
Who’s the boss? There’s only one boss (points to next room where Zoë is). I’m definitely the more relaxed one. We were brought up differently, I’m non-confrontational whereas Zoë is happy to lock horns and take me on. Things don’t get shoved under the carpet, put it that way.
What would you say is Zoë’s biggest gripe with you?
Gadgets, also I don’t cook and that really annoys her. But I am trying to be a far better house husband and I do a lot of running around.
What is the general reaction from people when they find out you are married?
Always good, quite surprised and interested – it becomes a talking point. And it’s been very good for business. Who can you better trust than your partner when you’re recommending someone? When I want the best service, I have no hesitation in picking up the phone to Zoë and getting her to talk to my clients. That’s probably the highest compliment I can give anyone.
Contact Simon on 020 7373 1010
Partner and Head of Lettings at Strutt & Parker. Zoë has spent 20 years in the lettings industry, mainly in prime central London. She is responsible for Strutt & Parker’s London residential lettings teams.
When do you tend to tell people you’re married?
I represent lettings, and if it’s in Simon’s area, we will go together. We won’t say anything when booking the appointment so clients often won’t realise we’re married. One time we met this chap while going round a house and spoke about children. He said, ‘well I don’t know if you’ve got children?’ looking at us both. Simon replied, ‘yes, together actually’ and he said, ‘oh, you’re married’ and roared with laughter. So we do have moments. Simon has a loyal client following and will sometimes say, ‘oh, you must speak with my wife’. People like it as it adds trust.
Would you recommend working with your spouse?
Sometimes! What I enjoy is that you get to see each other more. Business brought us together in the first place and when you’re in property, it’s a real passion as it’s intrinsic to you as a person. To have your partner doing it too is comforting. You understand the stresses and how to help each other.
What are Simon’s strengths?
He’s very kind and loyal – he’s 24/7 with his clients. He doesn’t come with much ego so he makes people feel comfortable.
And where could he improve?
He doesn’t like presenting and taking centre stage. It’s hilarious as I have to do a lot of public speaking and he will always be hidden away in the far corner.
What is the most challenging aspect of working together?
The pressure. A lot goes on behind the scenes where we manage our lives to try to keep on top of it. One person doing either one of our jobs in isolation would be big in a household but two is huge.
Is there ever a power struggle over who does what?
We’ve never had that as we both enormously respect what the other person does. I can’t think of one situation where we’ve felt possessive or jealous but honestly, we have our moments where the pressure is high on one person and not on the other. Unwinding is tough.
How do you manage to switch off together?
At home we do talk about work but when we go to bed, it’s no phones, no iPads, no chit-chat. I can get ‘light-bulb moments’ just before we go to sleep and say ‘Simon’ out loud but he will go ‘no-oo’ and tell me off.
How would you feel about your daughter following you into the sector?
It’s been really good for both of us so I wouldn’t mind. She’s definitely got it, she’s determined and cares that people are happy; those two things make a really good agent. She’s definitely going to be a sales girl of some kind for sure.
Why do you prefer working in lettings to sales?
It’s really quick. I’m quite impatient and I like results and multi-faceted tasks so lettings ticks all the boxes. I often say it’s like cooking a roast dinner: there are all these ingredients, and ultimately, you have to deliver it all hot on a plate. With sales, you’ve got to have serious patience because you’re very much this intermediary and you’re not so directly influencing things. Due to my slight control freakiness, I like to be the master of the process.
Contact Zoë on 020 7589 9966