Catherine Spradlin is the Operations Manager at Bronte Property Group, Cayman Islands. Catherine is responsible for the operational efficiencies of the Bronte business and brings over 11 years experience in business operations.
Bronte is a property development company responsible for financing and delivering projects in the Cayman Islands, US and Australia. They cater to high-end residential and commercial properties with impending plans to launch the Hub, the first co-working space in the Cayman Islands.
We spoke with Catherine to understand the challenges that property developers face in the industry today, more specifically oversees, and how Bronte and companies like theirs overcome these challenges:
The world is moving fast with technology which means that the competition is constantly evolving. It’s very easy for competitors to pick up on what we’re doing, replicate or even steal ideas, and vise versa. You have to make sure that your company is keeping up with technology and with what your competitors are doing.
Due to the nature of our industry, lots of words such as ‘luxury’ and ‘bespoke’ have become misleading and lose meaning over time. This presents a marketing challenge for many property developers as customers find out too late that they might have been mislead by marketing materials produced. This makes it a challenge for developers to communicate properties that are actually luxury as the word is overused. Be aware of how you’re marketing certain properties and avoid use of the word luxury unless you are actually providing luxury!
Many people are unaware of overseas tax rules. Especially in regards to Cayman Islands, we find that many people believe that it is a tax evasion country, which is simply not true. At Bronte we make sure we educate investors and provide assistance of getting past certain hurdles; you’re not just buying property, but also a route to permanent residency!
The first hurdle with overseas property developers is to make sure you’re adhering to government regulations such as the International Building Code 2017. You have to make sure you know what you can and can’t do in certain countries. The Cayman Islands, for example, have their own Building Code and we need to ensure we have expert knowledge, experience and a project management licence to build. It’s so important that you know how to deal with the government of the country you’re building in. At Bronte, this is a priority and one we are fully equipped to handle.
Internal communications is a constant challenge faced by project managers during projects. There are so many people involved on and off-site that you absolutely have to ensure that you’re communicating effectively: who’s doing what, what tasks have been completed, do we have to push back deadlines etc.?
We needed to find a software that would help combine information from spreadsheets, monitor tasks and also fix the problem of accountability. With ManagePlaces we can look back at every task, email and deadline and find out who was accountable for every task and deadline during, and even after, the project.
Developing properties overseas always brings in the challenge of importing materials. You have to consider the logistics (especially in an environment such as Cayman Islands where we frequently use boat and aircraft) and, of course, delays due to weather. There are storage fees, multiple orders at once and a whole lot of equipment with moving pieces. You need to have a strong focus on project management to ensure you’re allocating suitable lead time for different dependencies in the project. ManagePlaces helps us project managers keep track of the various dependencies to ensure the smooth running of all projects.