If you're looking to set up your own property agency, you'll already know all there is to know about franchising. In case you weren't aware, it's where a large real estate brand (the franchisor) partners up with an independent agency (the franchisee). Finding the right franchisor to make your partner is just the first step. Then, there's the small matter of getting your agency off the ground. Where you decide to set up shop is crucial in determining the success of your agency, so here are a few tips on how to choose the right location, courtesy of Engel & Völkers.
No matter the village, town or city you choose to call home, you'll have to be ready to pay the price. Learn everything you can about how much it'll cost to rent the space your agency will need and compare it to how much you'll be turning over. Can you afford it, realistically? For most businesses in Belgium, it's generally advised that you don't spend greater than 10% of your total turnover on the property you're renting.
Of course, the main factor that will determine the cost of renting will be where you choose to establish your agency. The franchisor will often take charge of finding — or approving — the location for the franchisee. And, more often than not, they're hesitant to see you set up in a big city. It's more likely that you'll move into a mid-size town. Aside from rent, you should also aim to look at aspects such as how pedestrianised your location is; how many cars are around; how accessible it is; what your catchment area is; what kinds of businesses are around; what kind of people are in the area, etc.
Thanks to the Internet, many clients now find an estate agent through their website. If your franchise partner is well-known in Belgium, this will be the case for your agency, too. That said, your physical presence still counts. It's definitely a factor in determining how many people will walk through your doors. This is why it's important to consider the quality of the location you're looking at. You have to weigh up how many potential clients you can attract in the area, and how the local infrastructure can help get people to you. This means that you'll need to scope out the area for yourself — in person — before you settle on it, and the franchisor and their network should be able to help you.
If you want to maximise the catchment area for potential customers, you'll need to find a popular location where you can take advantage of heavy traffic, be that foot, cycle, car or via public transport. You'll also want to avoid setting up in a location where lots of competing agencies have already dug themselves in, too: your franchisor's name and branding might stand out, but you can't prevent other agencies from taking at least some of your potential customers away from you.
If you think you've found the right place for your franchise, you'll still need to do a bit of digging. Namely, find out what development projects are taking place in the area. Knowing what kind of development is on the horizon — such as changes to the roads, or the district as a whole — is vital for the success of your franchise, especially if these plans will affect your agency and how easy it is for people get to you.
For example, you might be able to take advantage of a new tram or bus route, but these same projects might affect vehicle or pedestrian access to your business. Don't underestimate how important it is to be easy to see, either! The point is that you should read up on any urban development projects going on in the area well beforehand.
Once your location has ticked all the boxes, the last thing for you to do is move in, and your franchisor and their network are well-placed to help you. The right franchisor will also offer exclusive licences within certain regions, so that you needn't fear competition from other franchisees.
Engel & Völkers is a well-known, well-established Belgian franchisor. We are recognised the world over for the quality of the services we provide as a franchisor, and we are in a position to offer franchising licences in Belgium. See if one of our territories here catches your eye.