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What are the pros and cons of a home-based estate agency franchise?

What are the pros and cons of a home-based estate agency franchise?

If you select a franchise with a great business model, profit is there for the taking

Home-based businesses have seen significant growth since the start of the pandemic. Estate agencies can easily be run from home, and these days there are several hybrid online agencies in the UK offering franchise opportunities. So, what are the pros and cons?

Reduced overheads
Firstly, working from home reduces overheads. This means savings can be spent on better marketing, improved digital presence, higher quality photography and providing a better overall service for clients.

Without the high street location of a traditional estate agency, agents do need to be more digitally savvy. They need to be able to present homes for sale and attract customers through online platforms successfully. However, franchises without strong marketing backup and support will find franchisees struggle.

Higher quality of service
Working from home means there is no high street office backup. The buck stops with you! Therefore, the quality of customer service you offer to compete with more traditional agencies has to be better. Much better. However, I’ll be honest, it is sad to say that with traditional estate agents, the bar has not been set particularly high when it comes to customer care. This does offer an opportunity for agents working from home who are prepared to go the extra mile for their customers. By offering better care recommendations soon follow.

However, online agencies which do not prioritise high standards of customer service are set to fail long term.

Work-life balance
Working from home offers many benefits. You can take the kids to school, walk the dog at lunchtime and generally work flexibly around family and other commitments. To do this successfully, you will need to be disciplined and put in the hours at other times. This may mean taking calls in the evening or at weekends which is often when clients have the time to discuss their home move. Do you have what it takes?

Community connections
Some of the bigger faceless online estate agencies do not focus on community connections. We believe to be a successful home-based estate agent; strong community connections are crucial. Agents need to have a thorough knowledge of their geographical territory but it’s far more than that. Agents live and work within their community and so building a good reputation is important as this will impact both work and home life. Recommendations is the lifeblood of the business and so getting to know the people around where you live and work will be critical to your success. Have you got the necessary networking skills?

Low investment level
Home-based franchises are generally low in cost to buy. However, candidates need to assess if they are cheap for a reason. Talk to other franchisees to see how well they are doing. Find out the average earnings of other franchisees in the network. Ask how long it took for them to earn that level of profit?

Income
Any property transaction can take several months to complete. Keep this in mind as no fees are earned until the deal is complete. As an estate agent franchisee, this may mean you do not earn any commission for the first six months of starting your new business. Ensuring you have sufficient cash flow for this early ramp-up phase is essential. However, once up and running, it’s possible to earn a highly profitable income for those prepared to put in the work.

Skillset
Running a home-based estate agency is not for everyone. Successful agents will have great customer service skills, they will be outgoing, friendly and be able to put people at ease straight away. They will also be honest and reliable and prepared to work hard.

Working alone
Working without a traditional high street office means agents usually work alone or with a partner (a home-based estate agency franchise can be ideal for a couple working together). Although much of the work is carried out individually rather than in a team, by joining an established network, support from colleagues is always available. At Meyers, our franchised agents keep in touch through a dedicated WhatsApp group for example and the management team is just a phone call away if needed.

Not all agencies are equal
We talk to people who have not succeeded as home-based agents with some of the big agencies all the time. Some have not been provided with the right support or sometimes the business model is a flawed ‘pile it high and sell it cheap’ variety, which is not a good investment in the long term. My message is to do your research and choose carefully!

However, if you select a franchise with a great business model, profit is there for the taking.

For example, our franchisees are fully trained to follow a simple 21 step sales process. It’s actually less about selling houses and more about helping clients overcome barriers, so everyone can move forward with the transaction. Our tried and tested methods ensure franchisees can succeed in their roles as home-based estate agents providing the best service available to their local clients.

The world has changed, and the home working revolution is now here. We’ve been successfully working from home for 11 years now and so understand how to make the home-based estate agency model work really well for our franchisees. Providing the right business model and support is in place and the franchisee has the correct training skills and is prepared to put in the work, there is no reason why success as a home-based estate agent can’t be achieved and could be the perfect move.

The author
Paul Sheard is head of UK development and operations at Meyers Estate Agents. Paul is a franchise operations, support and training specialist with considerable hands-on operations experience managing nationwide networks. He has 40 years of specialist property sector experience.

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