With its branded shop concept providing franchisees with a first class advertising medium, Belvoir has helped more than 85 people nationwide get into the residential lettings market. Rachel Spaul reports

Understanding the subtle economic and social changes that affect the price of housing in the UK and then predicting its future is a talent best left to the professionals, which is why people from all over the country have opted for a franchise with Belvoir. Now in its 10th year, Belvoir has built its network around providing a specialist residential lettings service catered to its customer's needs.

Recruitment Manager Julie Taylor states: 'We are one of the largest lettings franchise specialists in the UK. The company is currently growing at a rate of between 50 and 60 per cent year-on-year, with most growth occurring in the last five years. Today, we have branches in Scotland right down to Portsmouth and our network continues to grow each year. We're looking for more self-motivated and hard working people with the determination to succeed to help us achieve our aim of providing every community in the UK with a professional lettings service, which embraces the principles of quality and customer care.'

Setting higher standards
Coming from a background in pensions management, Edinburgh South franchisee Grant Lidster and his partner Carol Gordon are using their coaching, presentation and people skills to grow a business based on setting higher standards than competitors. After only a couple of months they have already established a reputation for providing excellent customer service and have clear ambitions for the future.

'We have a steady stream of clients thanks to the high profile presence created by Belvoir through editorials, advertising in newspapers and leaflet drops,' Grant praises. 'We want to be one of the key players in Edinburgh and have set a first year target of managing 100 properties.'

Grant and Carol insist that the location of their office and the Belvoir corporate decor has played an important role in the development of the business.

'We have a shop front in a very popular area, which Belvoir helped us find,' he reveals. 'It's a bright, fully equipped modern office decorated using the Belvoir corporate branding, which really impresses customers. We also have certificates of our credentials on display, which gives customers even greater confidence in our service.' As part of the franchise package, Grant and Carol received three weeks of training at the Belvoir head office in Grantham incorporating a mix of classroom-based, role-plays and live appraisals, which Grant describes as 'excellent'. This was complemented by onsite mentor support during and after the franchise opening. 'Belvoir has been very supportive and we're now putting into practice everything we learned on the course,' he adds. 'We can see the market trends that Belvoir informed us of and there's nothing out of the ordinary happening.'

More than just a textbook answer
Charlotte Cox, who owns Belvoir Melton Mowbray with her father Paul, praises the training provided by Belvoir for being grounded in practical experience.

'The trainers had actually been there and done it, so we knew that the information was accurate and much more than a textbook answer,' she explains.

'The support has been excellent from other franchisees as well as head office. We also know that if any rules or regulations change in the industry Belvoir will make sure we know about it.'

The Cox family started their business from home in 1998 before moving into premises in 2002. Charlotte describes the shop as one of their best advertising mediums and following its opening their turnover grew by 50 per cent within a year.

'Thanks to the shop we have a greater market presence and as a result we manage around 250 properties,' Charlotte confirms. 'We pride ourselves on providing a personal service and because of this we get a lot of referral business. At the end of the day this is a family business, but we also benefit from the backing of a national brand.'

10-year success story
Belvoir is currently celebrating its 10th year of success in the residential lettings business with the launch of a major drive targeting Britain's fast growing student market. Plans are in place to train new franchisees with the specific objective of looking after property for landlords who want to rent to students.

Various events to raise money for a nominated charity will also be taking place, including a sponsored round robin of all 86 Belvoir offices. Next year, the company will continue to celebrate as it reaches the 10th anniversary of its first franchise.

'With one in 10 homes being let out in the UK, the lettings market is huge,' Julie adds. 'You will enjoy a competitive advantage over estate agents that incorporate lettings as an additional service.'

Belvoir's recruitment process and training ensures it has franchisees who will provide a professional and high standard of service. You will need to be self-motivated, sales focused, able to cope under pressure and determined to succeed and be a winner.