Are you looking for a way to work for yourself in Belgium's property market, but aren't quite sure how to move forward? If so, you might already have heard about opportunities in franchising. In essence, the franchise model is based on a partnership between an independent estate agent (a franchisee) and a well-established large real estate firm (a franchisor). For a fee, the franchisor gives the franchisee permission to work under their licence – which means that they may legally use their image and branding. However, franchising isn't for everyone. You will have to carefully consider several factors – and answer several questions – before you get started; not least of all who you franchise with; what your contract will look like; and how much you're willing to invest. So, here are a few tips to help you make the right decision.
Your franchise's success rests squarely on your shoulders: this is because, as a franchisee estate agent, you are responsible for your own business. As such, you have to really know what makes you tick. You have to know what you are good at, and where there's room for improvement.
Here are a few questions that you should ask yourself: what relevant skills and experience do you have in property? Are you a good leader? Are you perseverant, disciplined and in good enough health to be able to start up and manage a real estate franchise? Do you have family and friends who will support you emotionally should you need to work irregular hours whilst earning a variable income? And, finally, what do you want to have accomplished in 5 years' time?
As the other stakeholder in the franchising duo, the franchisor will also be a determining factor in your success. Several estate agents in Belgium offer franchising partnerships, but not all of them will work for you. As well as understanding how they have succeeded, both as an estate agent and franchisor, you will also have to take into account your own ambitions and expectations. Be aware that you will have to work alongside them for several years, so try and work with a franchisor whose approach best suits your own expectations.
You might want to consider the following questions when choosing a franchise partner: how much experience does the franchisor have in franchising? Why does the franchisor prefer to work with franchisees, rather than running its own outlets? How long has the franchisor been in the business of franchising, and how broad is their network? You will also want to understand what each franchisor offers their franchisees. Do they offer initial basic training only, or do they provide continual learning opportunities – or neither/both? What does this training cover, and will it cost you? What other help can they provide, especially in the early stages? Do they have their own platform, help guides or web site building tools available for you to use?
Before starting in earnest, you will need to carry out a cost-benefit analysis for your business. Franchises in Belgium have start-up fees associated with them, but these won't be the only costs that you'll have to cover.
Here are a few more questions that you'll have to consider: How much will the franchisor charge as a start-up fee, and what else will they require of you? Will you have to pay collateral? If so, what are their conditions? How much will it cost to outfit your franchise? What kind of turnover does the franchisor expect? How long will it take from signing the contract before your franchise will be up and running? And, lastly, how much will you need to turn over to keep your franchise up and running?
Here's one last tip before you get started – talk to other franchisees across Belgium's real estate franchising network. The more you talk, the better the impression you will have of the realities of franchising. Ask them for advice, and ask them how satisfied they are. Ask them what unexpected obstacles did they face, and if they are happy with their franchisor.
Forewarned is forearmed. The more knowledge you have, the more prepared you will be when you eventually take your first steps in franchising in Belgium. Engel & Völkers offers exceptional franchising opportunities, which serves as a testament to their vast experience in the property market. If you want to get in touch with us, we will be more than happy to tell you a bit more about ourselves.