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FDS Southern Q&A

FDS Southern Franchise Consultant, Gary Rigby, speaks with Nick Cooper, Franchise Director of lettings franchise Northwood

Q: I understand that the rental market has been particularly buoyant, can you explain why?

A: Home ownership in the UK is increasingly becoming just a dream for many people. We're seeing a whole 'generation rent' who are unable to afford high house prices and, therefore, renting has become the only feasible option for them. Over the last decade, the number of privately-rented homes in Britain has doubled and is now 4.8 million privately-rented homes across the country. Given that two thirds of tenancies now involve a letting agent, the potential market for Northwood franchisees is proving to be recession-proof.

Q: What's unique about your franchise model?

A: As a lettings specialist, Northwood is one of the UK’s largest providers of guaranteed rent. The service is the backbone of Northwood’s franchise model and is based on the franchise owner effectively becoming the landlord’s tenant, paying a fixed rent each and every month. We then sub-let out the property and the difference between what we pay the landlord and what we charge the tenant is our margin. So, regardless of whether the property is occupied, whether the tenant is paying the rent on time (or at all), landlords can rely on a rental income 52 weeks of the year without fail. It’s a service that other traditional lettings companies simply can’t offer as it requires a completely different approach to doing business.

Q: Can you tell me more about your training facilities and ongoing support?

A: Northwood is dedicated to providing the best possible training for employees at all levels and has been awarded Edexcel Registered Centre Status so that it can deliver and award BTEC qualifications. Prior to opening their office, all Northwood franchisees undertake a comprehensive six-week training programme, covering all aspects of the business, after which they have access to unlimited training and support.All our staff can undertake job-related training identified in their annual appraisal process. Courses covered include legislation, industry practices and customer service. Training is provided across a variety of platforms: at a dedicated training suite at the franchise office; on-site tuition; one-to-one support; and online guidance through a virtual learning environment.

Q:Do I have any territory rights?

A: Northwood charges 10 per cent management fees on gross profits and in return provides ongoing support in accounting, marketing, legal, compliance, training and in-field operational guidance.

Q: Is there a renewal fee payable at the beginning of a new contractual term?

A: Northwood offers a five-year renewable contract and at the point of renewal there is a nominal fee. Since 1995 there have been more than 90 renewals signed – that’s a 100 per cent record and obviously represents the best win:win scenario possible.

Q: Are there any recommended trade organisations that I should belong to?

A: As the number of people renting continues to rise so does the media focus on industry standards. We pride ourselves on being a beacon of best practice amongst letting agents. Our landlord management contracts are regularly reviewed by Trading Standards and we are members of The Property Ombudsman. All our offices belong to one of the three Government-approved money protection schemes and are also encouraged to join the National Approved Letting Scheme (NALS) or Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA). Northwood is also proud to be a founding member of the SAFE agent scheme.