Home and Property Franchising 2015
As spring and summer finally arrive, house-proud clients create golden opportunities for franchise owners in diverse professions
For time immemorial, people have been house-proud. Whether the home in question is a country estate or a one-bedroom flat, or even a commercial property, we all like to make the best of what we have, and people are willing to pay top-quality companies good money to help them do so.
Think about it. From the furniture and lighting in people’s living rooms to the grass on their lawns, and the cleanliness of their ovens, there are items that need buying and chores that need attending to, to keep a home looking pristine, and with people not always willing or able to take care of these things themselves, there are numerous fantastic business opportunities relating to the home and property market.
Of course, even before somebody has moved in, there are estate agency franchises to help them find and choose the right living space. It is an old business concept that has benefitted greatly from the franchise model, allowing respected local companies to quickly establish a presence nationwide.
The success of companies that have taken such services to a wider audience, with the aid of franchising, is testament to the power of a respected brand name that customers trust to let into the personal space that is their home and get the job done properly. Franchise owners of many home and property-related brands are making excellent livings and gaining large networks of loyal customers who value their abilities, and for them, this is a busy time of year.
Whatever the requirement, for many, the beginning of spring is a time for renewal, and this applies to their homes in the tradition of ‘spring cleaning’. As the sun finally makes its presence known again, people’s thoughts turn to the summer, when they may want to have their homes and gardens looking good for parties and barbeques – weather permitting.
Statistics suggest that people spend more on their homes in spring and summer. After the winter break, lawn care becomes a necessity once more. It is also the time of year when students need their rental properties cleaned before moving out in a bid to win back their deposits, and the general feel-good factor of the warmer weather makes property owners more open with their wallets in upgrading their interiors.
Furthermore, families are often inclined to move house in the summer when children are home from school, simply for the logistics of the move and to put them in a new school in time for the start of the new academic year.
All these factors combine to total a lucrative time of year for home and property franchise owners.
Choosing a franchise
There are so many facets relating to the home and property market that selecting the right franchise for you within this sector can be a daunting task. One company that is particularly keen to attract potential franchise owners in 2015 is Good Moves.
Good Moves is a well-performing estate agency operating out of Merseyside, which is enjoying its biggest year yet in 2015, as it rolls out its exciting new franchise opportunity.
Director Andrew Murray comments: “We’ve run the business for a few years now and believe it’s the right time to expand, and franchising seems a great way to maximise our expansion potential.”
The first 15 territories have already been launched, initially targeting the North and Midlands. Importantly with these service-driven franchises, the need is evergreen, and as proven in recent times, recession proof. People will always require the services of franchises relating to property and cleaning. Estate agency in particular is one such business that the vast majority of movers cannot do without, but not all estate agency franchises are alike, and Andrew feels that Good Moves gives franchise owners something above-and-beyond the competition, in terms of the most important thing to anyone considering investing in a business: profits.
He explains: “We offer franchise owners the opportunity to focus on their estate agency rather than their business administration. By removing all the back of house work from a franchise owner, they can often hit KPIs and targets quicker, bringing them into profit faster.”
It is all very well moving into a spick-and-span new property, but those who have inhabited a home for some time, and work many hours, may find that the place is a little less clean that it used to be. I personally would be grateful for the services of our next franchise owner!
Stephen Leaver has owned his own Oven Wizards business in the Tamworth territory for three years, having begun his search in Spring 2012, and is finding it to be a sound investment.
He comments: “I had been working in a warehouse for five years and decided it was time for a change and to start a new path in my life, but still felt I needed some support in this, so a franchise was the right way forward.”
Stephen explained that having looked at a total three franchise opportunities, he felt Oven Wizards stood out as the one that offered more positive prospects. Important to this decision was the opportunity for close conversation with franchisor Mark Abbott and his business partner John Graham, after which he was convinced.
Indeed, such opportunity to discuss the franchise with its owners and see if they are somebody they can work with is often a key factor in prospective franchise owners decisions to invest. It is crucial for the franchisor to come across and trustworthy, not making false promises that they cannot fulfil, and by the end of such meetings, both parties must be satisfied that any new relationship can be mutually beneficial.
Enthusiasm over experience
While franchisors usually have their ideal candidate to take on a licence for their business, both Andrew as a franchisor and Stephen as a franchise owner agreed that as service providers, commitment, drive and a passion for the work were more important than industry experience, as the initial training and support is so comprehensive.
Andrew says: “We don’t just want estate agents – industry experience we can help you gain, but commitment, tenacity, drive and ambition are qualities you can’t be successful without.”
Stephen adds: “You will need to motivate yourself, be driven, but most of all love working for the public as this job is all customer-based.”
Training and support
In Stephen’s case, Oven Wizards offered him a comprehensive package to get fully up and running, including equipment, his van – including signwriting and fit-out, stationery, marketing leaflets, technical oven cleaning training, business planning training, a page on the national website that features on the front page of Google (crucial in an age of SEO) a uniform and a high-profile launch at his local Sainsbury’s branch.
As mentioned, training was equally thorough, consisting of two-weeks’ training with two established Oven Wizard franchise owners and focused business planning and development training.
Down the line, Stephen will benefit from biannual meetings, where he will receive guidance on business updates, particularly with regards to marketing strategy.
Also available is the dedicated Oven Wizard online forum, where, valuably, he can discuss the business with other franchise owners: something which he can also do at the annual company conference.
Good Moves franchise owners are aided in entering the industry with the necessary ARLA and NAEA memberships to gain the credibility that is so required. They are also put through industry training courses as well as in-house business development training both pre-launch and on an ongoing basis thereafter.Andrew adds: “Our franchise owners get full pre-launch support, such as premises search, financial advice, industry training, in house training, membership of trade bodies, back of house set up and ongoing administration assistance are just some of our benefits.”
Reputation is key
Before inviting a professional to come to their home, it is of utmost importance to the client that they trust the company. Brand reputation and feedback from previous satisfied customers is everything in this sector, and Stephen agrees.
He explains: “I find the most important things to customers are the opportunity to see evidence of your workmanship: before and after photos and pictures of yourself with customer feedback and recommendations. A clean vehicle is also a must, as first impressions are very important when you are representing your company. It is also vital that your website always shows a set price, with no hidden extra costs.
“These things are vital, as I am building up a business. I want people to know they can trust Oven Wizards to do the right job, so I get recommended and repeat work.”
Such hidden extras are sure to damage the reputation for trustworthiness of the brand, and greatly hinder the potential for repeat business.
Andrew also explained how an estate agency brand can elevate itself above the numerous competition: “It takes excellent customer service combined with a friendly, professional approach. Engagement in emerging social media trends also helps enormously: we’re now receiving instructions and introductions via Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, he states.
As a franchise owner in the services sector, you can expect hard work, with a lot expected from customers, and you the boss with ultimate responsibility for delivering. However, a job well done is ultimately extremely rewarding – helping people get the home they want or make the most of the one they have – as are the stable profits of a stable industry.
Stephen agrees: “I must say, I do love my job and count myself very lucky I’m in this industry, as there’s no better feeling than working for myself. I’m very much customer-friendly and I think this shows in every day work, young or old, I feel at ease in everybody’s company which helps me enjoy my working week. The most satisfying part of the job is being out and about meeting new and old customers and of course turning dirty ovens into sparkly clean ones.”
As a franchisor, Andrew takes great satisfaction in successfully launching a franchise for a new investor. He comments: “It is really rewarding, from conception to completion, watching a franchise owner develop from a newcomer to an established high street agent.”
Having achieved no small amount of success already, both Stephen and Andrew are plotting further expansion of their individual franchise and franchise opportunity respectively for 2015. For Andrew, this centres on filling Good Moves’ new territories as soon as possible.
He comments: In 2015, our ambition is to get bigger, busier and better! We’d like all 15 of our recently launched territories in the north to be sold, and then we’ll be going further afield.
Stephen aims to keep up the huge development of his business seen last year, and in the cleaning industry, he is confident he has every chance of doing so: “As I have done in previous years, my plan is to continue to double my business each year and to keep growing in what is a massive market,” he concludes.