Pictured: Dave Cordner, Founder and Managing Director of Central Belfast Apartments
Dave Cordner is Founder and Managing Director of Central Belfast Apartments, market leaders in serviced accommodation. Providing an integrated property management service, Central Belfast Apartments utilises relationships built over a decade and innovative marketing solutions to match both corporate and tourism clients with investment properties.
What was your first job?
My first venture into employment was a paper round before school every morning. I would have been 12 at the time, and I can still remember the sheer joy when I collected my first paycheque. Delivering to homes of all types and sizes intrigued me and I’ve been hooked on property ever since.
What pushed you to pursue a career in this field?
Property management as a profession suited my entrepreneurial spirit and has allowed me to build the skillset required to run a successful business. From a young age I helped my parents with their Airbnb’s and learnt the ropes from them – everything from maintenance to the importance of customer service. In 2014, I bought my first apartment and realised it was something I wanted to do full time. Two years later, in 2016, Central Belfast Apartments was born, and we started managing other people’s properties.
What would you regard as your greatest achievement to date?
Professionally, it has to be launching Central Belfast Apartments and leading it from a start-up to the successful and growing business it is today. In my personal life, I am dad to two adventurous sons who inspire and challenge me every day.
Career wise, would you do anything differently?
No. I really enjoy my job and I’m proud with what I have built. I suppose I’m lucky as from a young age, I knew that I wanted to work in property, and I had the opportunity to pursue it. That said, I often wish I had come up with the idea for Airbnb – such a disruptive business model that is now recognised worldwide.
In one sentence, how would you define success?
Smashing your goals and being motivated by passion and hard work.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
In order to change a given situation, we must change ourselves, and in order to change ourselves, we must be able to change our perceptions. That’s from Stephen Covey’s ‘The 7 habits of highly effective people’. It is written on Covey’s belief that the way we see the world is entirely based on our own perceptions.
How do you motivate yourself and your staff?
I always try to foster a collaborative environment where team members understand their own role, but also see the big picture and what the whole team is trying to achieve together. I believe in setting clear goals with a visual future outcome – involving the team in the process and celebrating milestones on our journey.
How do you handle adversity?
I don’t shrink and retreat but step up and take action to keep moving forward.
Adversity came in abundance last year; the start of lockdown and travel restrictions were crippling for the business, not only thousands of confirmed bookings cancelled in the space of a few days, but we also lost over half of our apartments as clients became uncertain about the future. After the initial shock my mindset switched, and we got to work on ensuring we came out the other side in a much better position.
How do you relax?
I’ve got into a routine of doing mindfulness meditation before bed every evening. I fill in a journal called the 6-minute diary, I find that it really helps unpack my head and gets me into a good frame of mind. I also love sports and getting outdoors really helps me to unwind. I completed my first triathlon earlier this year, and although not necessarily relaxing, it is a great sport to keep you focused, driven and motivated.
What are your aspirations for the future of the business?
I want to see the business sustain and build on the success we have had over the past four to five years. Central Belfast Apartments is a popular choice for many corporate travellers and families, offering both luxury space and privacy and often at a fraction of the price of a hotel. I would like to see the use of serviced apartments continue to grow and for Belfast to be reaching our potential in terms of tourism and investment. As a business and destination, we’re just getting started. I want to see a peaceful and prosperous city for my kids to grow up in.