Q&A with Rune Sovndahl – talking podcasts, Nordic influence and trends

14 May 2021 | Investment

Sovndahl, who is Danish, moved to London 20 years ago to study for a BA (Hons) in Business Information Systems Design at South Bank University. Following completion of his degree, he was accepted onto a graduate programme with British Telecom and in 2003 he also established the European Young Professionals committee in London. He was involved in its website’s creation as well as in the recruitment of more than 200 new members.

Later on, he worked for lastminute.com as head of SEO before establishing Fantastic Services in 2009.

Here, he discusses the podcast he hosts, why a Swedish-style tax system for the home services industry is needed, and what he thinks the property trends will be over the coming months and years.

You are the host of the Property Experts Podcast – can you tell us a bit more about this?

Sure, the Property Experts podcast was created out of necessity. We’re a property maintenance company and our ideal customers are people who live and breathe ‘property’.

As a company, Fantastic Services was founded on the principle of delivering outstanding services. So, unlike most service providers who create services based on their own beliefs, we set out on a journey to speak with property developers and landlords. That way we can build services tailored to their needs.

What is Fantastic Services and how could it aid property investors?

Fantastic Services helps people spend time where it matters to them. We do cleaning, gardening, plumbing, basically anything around and in the apartment, house or business.

When you’re spending money on property, you want to focus on making a sale, finding tenants, or increasing the value of your property. For that, you need a reliable service provider. That’s us.

You have been calling for a Swedish-style tax system for the home services industry – what is this and how would property investors benefit?

It’s no secret that many cleaners and handymen service providers are in the grey economy.

What the Swedish government did was to introduce ROT (repairs, conversion, and extensions) and RUT (cleaning, maintenance and laundry) tax relief schemes for consumers on the labour costs of domestic services, which aim to increase declared work and boost employment.

ROT deductions cover home repairs, conversions and extensions and reduce the cost of labour for these services by 30%. RUT deductions cover cleaning, maintenance and laundry and reduce labour costs by 50%.

We have written to the Chancellor to encourage the UK government to adopt a similar system for the domestic service industry in Britain, and launched a petition earlier this year, which people can read and sign here.

Is there anything the UK could learn from its Nordic neighbours?

Don’t be afraid to break down what doesn’t work just because it’s the status quo. Break, rebuild better.

With a second staycation boom expected this summer, is it important for second homeowners and investors to have good maintenance protocols and contacts in place with regards to things like gardening, plumbing and cleaning?

Yes, yes, and yes again. If there’s one place that’s worth spending money on, it’s property. Immaculate front and back yards and quality plumbing go above and beyond in increasing the value of your property. Cleaning is a must to prevent pest infestations and create a happy home.

What do you see as the main property trends in the next five years?

Gardening is going to explode in demand. People realised how much they miss their connection with nature when they were under lockdown and couldn’t go for a walk in the park.

I believe we’re going to see more people introduce tiny bits of mother nature in their homes, offices and businesses. Whether indoor plants or backyards, we’re ready to meet the demand.

Lastly, will tech and automation become more important post-Covid and how does your business embrace this?

I believe the pandemic simply amplified the speed of adoption of technology. We’ve always been early adopters of technology at Fantastic Services, now we’re introducing changes and updates at a faster rate than ever before.

What I do believe is important is building great experiences and creating the world’s easiest booking process. We’re pretty close. Give us a try and see for yourself.

You can tune in to the Property Experts Podcast here or wherever you get your podcasts, and find out more about Fantastic Services at www.fantasticservices.com.

This post has originally been featured in Property Investor Today.