06. December 2016
10 Years of Svoboda & Williams – An Interview with Prokop Svoboda and Marion Williams
The Svoboda & Williams real estate agency celebrated 10 years since its foundation this year. On this occasion, Prokop Svoboda, the Managing Partner at Svoboda & Williams, and Marion Williams, the Senior Partner in this company answered a few of our questions.
Could you compare and contrast Svoboda & Williams 10 years ago versus nowadays? What are the main differences?
PS: The whole real estate trade has become much more professional and standardized, the key to success nowadays lies in details rather than in basic concepts. At the same time, it’s much bigger business now. Our clientele has changed significantly – while in the beginning most of Svoboda & Williams's clients were expats, during the last few years Czech clients have certainly taken over the reins. Our team has matured – many of those who started with us 10 years ago are now in senior positions and are true pillars of our team.
MW: 10 years ago, we were primarily a residential leasing agency, now we offer full service – both sales and leasing, both residential and commercial, property management, investment management, serviced apartment rentals and other services. At the same time, we have been expanding into different regions, for example, we now have a Brno branch.
PS: In summary, we are nowadays definitely more sophisticated and experienced but there is also more stress and some grey hair.
Just a few years after Svoboda & Williams was founded, in 2009, the economic crisis hit hard. What do you think the main factor was which helped Svoboda & Williams get over the crisis in good health?
PS: Good health is perhaps a bit too strong... it was mainly hard work, no weekends or vacations – we also worked on the streamlining of our company processes. In the long run, it certainly paid off that we kept our position in the market and did not cut our team, nor did we cut down on the marketing budget.
MW: It was our focus on what the needs of the market were and the fact that we were prepared to serve those needs. We launched Feelhome – our brand for accessible housing, went into commercial leasing, property management, and changed the overall orientation of our business toward the local market.
What do you think makes Svoboda & Williams stand out among its competitors?
MW: Marketing, vision, and courage to take the next step.
PS: We stand out because we offer our clients true full service, as well as thanks to our effective and distinctive marketing communication. Our biggest asset is, however, the Svoboda & Williams brand which we managed to build from scratch and establish in the market.
2016 has been quite a busy year for Svoboda & Williams – we have seen a launch of a new website with responsive design and a new mobile app, many new projects for which Svoboda & Williams has exclusivity, etc., to name just a few highlights. Can you tell us something about the plans for 2017?
PS: Our goal is to strengthen the company know-how by expanding the management by new qualified experts – business development executives as well as new experts in market analysis advisory, development advisory and investment management.
Svoboda & Williams is 10 years old but both of you have been active in real estate for much longer. How did you end up in this business? Was it always your ambition or rather a coincidence?
PS: Nothing in life is a coincidence, things happen as they should.
MW: It was an evolution. For me it started in 1993 as an activity that became a commitment once there were employees. This was in about 1998, 5 years after the "activity" began. The activity was originally just something for me to do and earn some money. Real estate leasing and sales was what I knew from my time in New York and I sensed that the Czech market at that time needed a residential leasing agency.
What motivated you to start closely cooperating?
MW: Prokop's decision to make the commitment to developing the business in exchange for a full partnership. It was clear to me that this was a good move.
PS: It was a bit of a rational marriage – Marion already had a position in the Czech real estate market while I had a vision of further development.
Now that Svoboda & Williams is a significant name in the real estate market and is rapidly growing – do you ever have time to meet up outside of work? We know that you both like traveling – are there any other interests which you share?
MW: Although we enjoy each other, we rarely socialize together as time is scarce.
PS: We share a similar style of humor, that's all I can think of right now. Although Svoboda & Williams is slowly becoming corporate, there still remains a bit of a family vibe and so we occasionally like to go out for a drink with our colleagues. The last time the two of us saw each other outside the office was at the CIJ Awards Czech Republic gala where we were delighted to receive on behalf of Svoboda & Williams the Local Power Broker Team of the Year award.