FDS Southern Q&A - Northwood

FDS Southern’s Gary Rigby talks nationwide expansion targets, guaranteed rent and the growing property market with Northwood’s Gemma Goodson.

Question: You are looking for people that can manage property risk factors, combined with the effective management of a small team; I suppose in effect a white collar franchise opportunity can you elaborate on this?

Answer: Owning a Northwood franchise is unlike other more traditional estate agency franchises in that managing Guaranteed Rent properties is all about managing risk (i.e. of tenant arrears & voids).

With our Guaranteed Rent service we remove any risk for the landlord – they are paid rent every month – therefore any void periods or tenant arrears impacts the franchisee. We have a strong ability in selecting the right properties and letting these to the right tenants, to help lessen the risk factors, but of course the franchisee’s management of the process plays a huge part in the success.

Question: The initial training is provided for six weeks which unusually includes the franchise owner’s staff. Can you tell me more about the initial and on-going training?

Answer: We invest significantly in training both for our franchisees and their staff; our philosophy is to find the best people, train them thoroughly, set them up meticulously and support them wholeheartedly. The ongoing success of our franchisee’s business is very important to us.

The initial training is a comprehensive six weeks training course which includes a mix of training for the franchisee at our state-of-the-art training suite in Fareham, as well as shadowing other franchisees.

Their staff, which we help to recruit attend a series of six compulsory induction course to ensure that they are ready to become one of our Proper Property People. Topics covered include everything from an introduction to lettings, applicable legislation, to software training.

There are plenty of ongoing training opportunities - which are free – which include online modules, webinars and face-to-face courses. In addition people can go on to gain professional BTEC qualifications.

Question: Are there any particular areas in the UK where you are looking to appoint Northwood Franchise Owners?

Answer: Northwood is now a network of over 80 offices throughout the country which at first glance might not appear to be a large number, however the exclusive territories that we sell mean that each territory is potentially twice or three times larger than our competitors. We are careful with our new office choices; we like to invest in areas which we know offer excellent growth opportunity and offer our franchisees a viable business opportunity.

All of the areas we are planning to open new offices are listed on our new franchise website, which can be found here:

Question: The Northwood offices are highly distinctive and look very professional what involvement does the Franchisor have in the look and location of a new franchisee’s office?

Answer: We place a lot of importance on the look and location of a new office and therefore possible sites are carefully considered right upfront in the feasibility study undertaken for new territories.

Both the interior and exterior design of a new Northwood office needs to be in line with our corporate branding to ensure there is consistency across the network and to benefit from the national marketing activity we do. Equally, because we offer a turnkey franchise, we provide everything from branded pens to desks, to stationary and For sale boards so that the franchisee can concentrate on the business of generating leads rather than wall colours.

Question: As a prospective Franchise Owner do I need to have experience in the property sector?

Answer: Actually, nearly 95% of our franchisees have no background in property before taking on a Northwood franchise. Our franchisees come from all sorts of backgrounds including everything from former scientists, flight traffic controllers and policemen We are far more focused on finding the right people than looking at property experience – we offer the training and support them closely throughout. The property knowledge can be taught; the right attitude and aptitude can’t be.

Owning a franchise isn’t for everyone – but for the right person it can be the best decision they have ever made. All of our franchisees offer different qualities but there are some common ground they all share – integrity, excellent communication skills, commitment, financial acumen and a passion for Northwood and the values we represent.

Question: I understand one of the USP’s of Northwood is its Guaranteed Rent, how does this work and what benefits are there to the network?

Answer: Where more traditional lettings businesses act as the go-between for landlords and tenants, under our Guaranteed Rent service we effectively become the tenant and in return pay the landlord a fixed rental income. This has significant advantages for the landlord who no longer has the responsibility for managing the property and more importantly the prospect that the rent won't come in. This is obviously an appealing offer for the landlord, so this naturally attracts a large number of enquiries to our offices.

We guarantee the landlord a set rent each and every month, we let the property to a sub-tenant at the (higher) market rate. The difference between the two is our income. As a business model Guaranteed Rent provides margins of up to three times that compared to other agents. We currently have over 15,000 landlords signed up the Guaranteed Rent service.