Picture the scene. You made a good start when you launched your property franchise business. All went broadly to plan for the first couple of years while your focus was purely on growth, but then the management phase crept in. You had a reasonable lettings portfolio, staff, contractors and fluctuating budgets to manage, and then you started to plateau.
To counter this, you allocated some extra budget to some ad-hoc marketing activities to keep your fee earners well-fed but you didn't get the same immediacy that you saw when you first launched.
Here are five possible antidotes if continued growth eludes you.
Create a new road map...and follow it
When you first launched, your franchisor will have helped you to produce a comprehensive business plan, including a detailed P&L and cashflow forecast. This business plan will probably have been submitted to one of the main franchising banks to secure enough funding to see you through to breakeven, typically in between month 12 and 24 depending on the model you've bought into.
So that's a great start - you have a clear plan detailing precise income and outgoings for the first couple of years, but then what? By benchmarking your performance against your plan, you can identify where you are on your journey, make corrections as necessary and project forward.
Remember: it's a marathon, not a sprint
If you want to complete a marathon, you don’t just go out and run 26.2 miles. You train for it over time. You can’t focus on the finish line a year away - instead, you need a plan broken down by key milestones. The same principle applies to developing a property franchise business - play the long game.
With increasing competition and legislation (hasn't it been our industry's 'turn' for too long now?) it's tempting to slash fees or provide additional services for the same income. In my experience, in the long run it's always better to hold true to your service values while staying in touch, sending useful information and generally being helpful. Those that buy cheap elsewhere often regret their decision and return to you, so holding your nerve can pay.
Build your tribe
This is a key task and extends beyond the team which you hire and lead. Make sure to connect with the wider franchise and property communities, both within your network and others.
Good franchisors will encourage active communication within their network, organising regional meetings and motivational days and so on. Franchising attracts driven individuals from many walks of life and with this comes many varied experiences to learn from (and you'll pick up plenty of ideas to borrow!).
Reputation is everything
Now that you're some way into your journey, you'll be forming a reputation. We all know that you can't please all of the people all of the time but it's my belief that by being clear with - and delivering on - your service offering, you can please most of the people most of the time.
The thing to remember about reputations is that they are hard fought-for but, once established, are relatively easy to maintain. It's now easy to compare reputations (and therefore perceived experiences) with a few clicks of the mouse by scrolling through customer reviews on Google or review sites like Trustpilot or Feefo.
This ease provides a fantastic opportunity for those companies which act with integrity to ask satisfied clients to leave a helpful review. An added benefit is content creation for your social marketing plan (you do have a social marketing plan, don't you?). One way to do this is by simply adding a line like “Our business thrives on recommendations” to email signatures and hyperlinking the text to a review site. We did this and collected many positive reviews from happy clients. It's easy, free and makes you feel good!
Leverage the brand
Along with the proven systems and support which comes with being part of a larger network, this is one of the key benefits of joining a network rather than going it alone.
Your franchisor will have spent time cultivating their brand, developing their identity and fine-tuning their particular USP, meaning there is no need to 'create' - you simply 'apply'.
By Nick Harris