What are the advantages of buying a franchise over persisting as a small, independent real estate operator?
Analysis of recent investment inquiries around franchise opportunities in the US and Canadian markets showed that interest in Real Estate franchises had jumped to second highest out of 18 categories.
Considering the stressful conditions all business owners find themselves operating under now, it is possible that a large number of these inquiries are coming from the owners of small independent real estate agencies.
“A problem shared is a problem halved” goes the old saying, and it seems this could be a scientific fact – a Californian study has shown that sharing worries and concerns with someone in the same situation yields the best results in stress reduction and performance. And of course, opportunities to share increase if one is part of a supportive franchise network.
One group where collaboration between franchisees has been “beyond imagination” during the Covid-19 pandemic, is Just Property. CEO of Just Property, Paul Stevens, says that Just Property franchisees have come together using digital technology to share best practices, to debate ways of working and to develop a collective approach to protecting their businesses through lockdown. The group has held various online workshops, with small delegate numbers to ensure everyone gets a chance to contribute. There have been sessions with agents to share best practice, focus groups to manage the immediate effects of the national lockdown and now the focus is on sessions with franchisees to brainstorm how best to approach the opportunities they see. This high level of Head Office-led engagement with groups of franchisees and agents across the Just Property network is unprecedented. It marks a new normal and a positive change that Stevens is excited about.
It is perhaps the group’s focus on technology that has placed franchise holders in a more agile position than they might have been had they not joined the Just Property network. Besides having access to business systems and technology that have been refined over 20 years, Just Property franchise holders are extremely fortunate in that the company moved, five years ago, to a cloud-based platform. As a result, non-contact operations have been relatively unaffected by the lockdown as all their tools are available for remote working via the central staff dashboard.
“While our agents may be unable to conduct on-site viewings, they are still able to conduct desktop valuations and maintain a significant presence in the market via the suite of world-class marketing tools at their disposal,” says Stevens, who notes that further digital tools are being fast-tracked by Just Property to realise opportunities in the current market.
Stevens advises independent real estate operators to evaluate franchise opportunities based on whether there is support from a team of experts at the Head Office, and how much the sharing of knowledge and skills is encouraged between franchisees. “Ask whether you’ll get turnkey marketing solutions, including digital campaigns, professional branding and in-house graphic design,” he says, “and check that the business has a backbone in property rentals and management. If it has, you’ll get the security of a steady revenue stream during times of crisis, unlike real estate businesses that rely solely or heavily on income derived from property sales.”
Besides the advantages of collaboration, support and a broader range of technological tools, a franchise also offers an association with a recognised brand that lends instant credibility and negotiating clout. You should also benefit from a large national listing inventory and referral system, as well as structured training programmes and a value system that will grow your reputation and your clients’ trust, Stevens concludes.
Paul Stevens’s five tips to crisis-proof your business in the short term:
For more information on Just Property please visit www.just.property or call (087) 550 2258.
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