Franchising has been called the greatest business model ever invented and has enabled many thousands of people around the world to become owners of their own business. But how do you choose which brand to partner with?
If you’ve always wanted to own your own business, joining a franchise system greatly reduces the risk of new-business failure simply because the idea and process of running that particular franchised business has already been proven; systems are in place and one does not have to re-invent the proverbial wheel.
It is, however, of utmost importance that one carefully evaluates the reasons for entering a specific sector and partnering with a particular brand.
Just Property is a well-known real estate group with a national footprint, but Jean Botha, Chief Operations officer of Just Property, points out that a franchise owner in any field would expect to have access to the following:
• Business systems and technology that have been refined over a number of years (in our case, 18 years) and support from a team of experts at Head Office,
• A large national listing inventory and a recognised brand that gives instant credibility to your new business,
• A national referral system and access to other franchisees around the country plus an associated revenue stream,
• Structured and formal training programmes, opportunities to network and leverage the knowledge and skills of a team of like-minded business owners, and
• Turnkey marketing solutions, including digital campaigns, professional branding and in-house graphic design.
• You should be looking for a package with benefits similar to those above as a minimum. Reputable brands will offer more. Take the “extras” that Jean says Just Property franchise owners have access to:
• A business model with a backbone of property rentals and management. “This provides a steady income stream, rather than the boom-bust cycle that is often experienced by real estate businesses that rely solely or heavily on income derived from property sales,” Jean explains.
• The agility that comes from being a digital-native brand that was born during the latest technological revolution.
• A franchise model that is run democratically, with franchisees involved in key decisions and regularly consulted on operational matters. Jean notes that while Just Property’s corporate guidelines protect the brand and operational integrity, franchisees are given the latitude to bring their own personalities and strengths to the running of their business.”
The first step is to do a careful, honest appraisal of your personality type, special professional skills, strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes and dominant traits. This will help you narrow down your search by finding a complementary offering from a business that matches your values and allows you to play to your strengths.
“The good partners out there will have done the same exercise in determining the type of person who will succeed in their business,” says Botha. “In our marketing material, we are explicit about the personality traits that we are looking for in our franchisees. From experience, we know that they need to be resilient influencers, who are focused, have a long-term outlook, show emotional intelligence, value lifelong learning, and are self-aware and self-reliant.”
Other important points you need to ask about include the brand’s demographics (e.g. national footprint, existing franchisees), policies regarding franchise areas vs. open areas, and your earnings potential based on franchise fees, royalties and market conditions in the area(s) you want to trade.
“Once you have identified a franchise that you are interested in, be sure to carefully study the Franchise Disclosure Document supplied by the franchisor,” Botha advises. “It should contain important legal, business and financial information that give you the full picture of start-up costs, on-going expenses and required working capital. This will give you a good insight into what you could expect should you proceed.”
“Take time to talk to the franchisor’s representatives as well as to existing franchisees to evaluate whether you feel at home with their specific business culture and ask questions about franchisor’s support, training, the profitability of their ventures and overall satisfaction.”
Botha suggests you base your choice of brand on whether it delivers on its promises in terms of on-going training and coaching, regular communication, support, marketing and continuous innovation. “It is all about a track-record of success that stems from the implementation of uncomplicated systems, visual consistency and passionate pursuit of its mission and longevity.”
How much support can you expect to receive from the brand’s head office? “Just Property franchisees are assured that the company provides them with up-to-date industry and legislative knowledge and the very best training available in the real estate field; this in addition to being affiliated with a strong brand that understands the real estate market, offers proven systems and excellent support. You should expect nothing less from the brand you choose to partner with,” says Botha.
“It is very important when you evaluate a franchise opportunity that you understand what role technology is playing to enhance their success. Just Property is tech-driven and an e-learning platform has been created which allows our agents to comply with the educational requirements wherever they might be in the country. You need to be sure you’re joining up with and investing in a company that is just as far-sighted.”
In conclusion, Botha emphasises that successful businesses are not created overnight; patience, discipline and hard work are required. “System-driven efficiencies are important, so set up routines from day one. Every aspect of your business should follow due process and everyone in your business should adhere to those systems.”
“Every business, especially real estate, is about nurturing relationships and networks. Make sure people know what business you are in and ask for referrals at every opportunity. When you hear of someone with a need you have a solution for, offer help and advice long before you ask them for business. Finally, market aggressively – spend as much as you can on tactical, measurable marketing efforts.”