Father-of-two reinvents himself as a Samuel Leeds trained property entrepreneur after redundancy

samuel leeds

With a young family to support, it was a huge blow when Craig Coombes lost his £85,000 a year job as a customer service manager. But it proved to be a blessing in disguise as it gave him time to devote himself fully to his property training which he had previously begun. After joining Samuel Leeds’ academy, Craig and his wife Becca went into business providing serviced accommodation in Hertfordshire. They also source investment opportunities and are lining up two deals which will propel them into the big league.

‘I thought there must be another way, other than just doing a nine to five’

Even when Craig was working in IT, he thought there must be an alternative way of making a living and avoiding the rat race.

“I always thought there must be another way other than just doing a nine to five. I looked at anybody who’s had success and what they do, and regardless of what industry they were in, they always had a percentage of their wealth in property.

“That got me down the route of seeing Samuel on YouTube and from there getting my wife involved.”

Craig’s property journey started in earnest when he came to a Discovery Day at Samuel Leeds’ house in the autumn of 2022.

Craig remembers that he felt out of place as there were people in the room who were already successful in property and had multiple apartments.

“I thought what am I doing here? I’m in completely the wrong place. This is not for me.”

He confided his misgivings to one of the coaches who asked him what he did for a living. When Craig replied that he was a customer success manager in IT, he said: ‘No, you’re in exactly the right place. You’re good with numbers.’

Craig found out later he was Samuel’s mentor, Tony Crook, who has made millions of pounds from property.

At the time, Craig had no knowledge of the subject and had approached the day with a degree of scepticism. 

“I’d heard Samuel say how you could manage a property without any of your own money. I was sceptical but I thought, that’s interesting, I want to find out a bit more about this.”

Afterwards he spoke to his wife Becca about what he had seen and learnt and brought her along to the £1 Property Investors Crash Course. 

Faced with a choice of fixing the roof on their house or then enrolling on the academy, the couple chose the latter and have never looked back since.

Together they have built a successful property business, but it was not without its struggles early on. One of the biggest challenges for Craig was juggling his job with his training.

“I was working 13 and 14-hour days and trying to fit it in in any nook or cranny that I had. It normally would be half an hour or an hour in the evening.

“When the redundancy came along it allowed me to go through all the training properly and hit the ground running.”

Craig was made redundant in May 2023 after eight years of working in the IT industry. 

“It was scary with having two kids as well. There is a commitment there, but it was definitely time to make a change.”

Now he regards having a job as riskier than being in business and would never go back to being employed. “In the IT sector, at the moment there’s a real risk of redundancy. I know from friends who work for huge companies there are job cuts being made left, right and centre.”

‘It was a lightbulb moment when we got our first deal’

It took about two months for Craig and Becca to land their first deal. They had the support of the academy and others who had been through it – including identical twins Gavin and Mitch Vaughan who are successful deal sellers and also rent out serviced accommodation in Hertfordshire.

“We worked with the twins on getting our first deal. They are amazing. They really do help all the academy members,” says Craig. 

He adds: “Once we got over the line with that first one, it was like a lightbulb moment. This is how it works. A month and a half after that we got our second one.”

The couple, who live in South Buckinghamshire, have two rent-to-serviced accommodation properties in the Watford area, and are also working with agents and landlords in London.

Initially, they focused on the rent-to-rent strategy to become financially free. Then they branched out into sourcing and selling property deals.

“From August we really started seeing the success come and that’s where I could say I’m out of the nine to five rat race and we can drive this forward.”

As property investors, Craig and Becca are constantly looking at all types of deals, whether that be rent-to-rents, holiday lets or buy, refurbish, refinance opportunities. It would be impossible to take on each one, either because they lack the resources or the capacity. In that case, they pass on the deal rather than wasting the chance to make some money.

They sell deals directly to an investor, as well as working with another sourcer to align the investor with the opportunity. 

Explaining the difference, Craig says: “With a direct source to investor you’ll find the deal for them, make sure it fits their requirements, package it all together, give them a clear overview of what the average nightly rate will be and occupancy and what they can expect as an average profit per month.

“With co-deal sourcing it may be that I’ve found a specific deal and another sourcer has got a specific investor whose requirements it fits. We would package that together and split the fees.”

The pair had just joint ventured on their second SA and were in the process of getting it ready to be rented out when another deal came up. The figures worked but timewise it wasn’t a match for them and so they decided to sell it.

“It’s a ‘win-win for everyone,” Craig points out.

The training has been an integral part of their success, giving them the knowledge and practical skills needed to become confident professionals.

Craig was particularly impressed by the buy, refurbish, refinance course. “It’s full of so much content and each step is broken down. Even though I haven’t got one today, by all of the training I’ve done I feel confident in going ahead with one straight away.”

The couple also learnt how to systemise their SA rental business by setting up a power team. They have cleaners who act as their ‘eyes and ears’ on the ground, managing the turnovers when guests leave, and new ones arrive.

A maintenance man is on hand as well to fix minor problems and they use a channel manager to co-ordinate their bookings on various platforms. 

“We can see who’s checking in when and when there needs to be a quick turnover or there is a late checkout. It allows us to have a hands-off approach,” Craig says.

Listing their properties through many different online travel agencies, such as booking.com LateRooms and Home and Away, maximises their chances of securing a rental.

A lot of their customers are relocators who need somewhere to stay temporarily. As part of their training, Becca and Craig were taught how to identify their target market. That involved looking at what was happening in their patch and what type of people would come to the area as a result. In that way, they have been able to grow their enterprise and attract longer term bookings.

Craig and Becca eye up two apartment block deals with 82 flats

With their company continuing to grow from strength to strength, Craig reveals that they have more ambitious projects in the pipeline. 

“From the deal sourcing side of things, we’ve got a block coming up in London which is for eight apartments and we’re also speaking with someone about another apartment block which is for 74 apartments. That would be co-sourced with another academy member.”

They are also in talks with the landlord of one of their furnished accommodation apartments to take on the remainder of the block which would give them four properties in total. And they are looking at taking on a BRR soon, with Craig’s father and father-in-law coming in potentially as investors.

From having their doubts at first, like Craig, they have become actively involved in property themselves. They helped Craig and Becca stage their serviced accommodation and have already attended one of Samuel Leeds’ crash courses.

Life has changed dramatically for Craig in the past year. For one thing, he gets to see more of the outside, as he puts it. The entrepreneur also gets to choose when he works.

“Instead of being stuck behind a desk all day, every day, I can pick up my kids from school, spend an hour or so at the park and then work later.”

Their business, C&A Estates, is named after their children, Curtis and Amelia. They are aged four and 18 months, and Craig hopes that one day they will take over the reins. 

That is one of the couple’s reasons for wanting to start buying their own properties, rather than renting them out from the owners and then taking them on as company lets.

Before joining the academy that was the avenue they wanted to go down until learning about the concept of fast and slow pound. Through deal sourcing and rent-to-rents they could gain a quick cash flow – then create generational wealth with the BRR strategy, using either their money or other people’s funds.

One of their other challenges in the beginning was with branding. “We’d only been on the academy for a few weeks, and we found some good BRR deals but we hadn’t built the brand or networked enough. We couldn’t find investors that it would have been a good fit for. The returns were 25 per cent.”

As another of Samuel Leeds’ mentors, Grant Cardone likes to say: ‘Contacts equals contracts.’

It was a lesson they took on board and it has benefited them being in the academy community where everyone is helping each other.

“You want to see everyone being pulled up and have success. It’s good.”

Craig also believes he has changed as a person. “Now instead of looking at what’s there for me, it’s how can I add value. You get a good feel factor from it.”

He describes his wife as the ‘brains behind the operation,’ while he does deals and crunches the numbers. Working with her has made their relationship stronger in some ways, he says.

“We have boundaries where it’s like no work time, but then I find that time a bit more special with her.

“When you’re both in jobs you’re making someone else rich, whereas when it’s your business you benefit from that. Both pulling in the same direction has made us a lot stronger.”

Craig’s tips

  • To be a property entrepreneur you’ve got to get training. You can’t go into this stuff blind. I just think you’re doomed to fail if you do.
  • Focus on networking and building your brand. If people know who you are, it makes it a lot easier to work with them and you’ll find they come to you.


Samuel Leeds’ verdict

“Being a property entrepreneur is one of the most lucrative professions on the planet. So getting trained properly makes sense. Craig and Becca have done well to be at the point where in three months they’ve replaced the average salary which is about £2,000 a month.”


Get Sharing!