Vasco Fernandes, Managing Partner of Engel & Völkers Quinta do Lago Agency, answers the following 10 questions:
1. What did you do before starting your own Engel & Völkers agency?
I'm a Consumer Science graduate from Ipam and have an MBA from Catholic University, but it was my professional career that brought me here. I have always been interested in sales and team leadership. I started working in the insurance sector and later joined the financial sector by working at CitiBank, Barclays, Wizink, Bankinter through a Spanish firm, and held various coordination and management positions. In 2007, I became a Country Manager in charge of 200 people in the commercial department. At the same time I developed the internationalisation operations of the firm, being responsible for the business development and implementation in Brazil, Panama and Poland.
My wife and partner, Anabela Coelho is an architect and a founding member of Atelier 405 in Porto since 2010, where she has developed numerous investment projects for museums, schools, hotels, and properties.
2. Why did you decide to start your own business?
Mainly for personal reasons. We are entrepreneurs with a lot of ambition and drive.
We were already entrepreneurs in different areas. I was involved in Sales Force Management and Anabela in architecture, with our technical skills and knowledge, we were able to offer our expertise to the real estate business.
Professionally it is an ambitious project and a great pride to represent the Engel & Völkers brand at Quinta do Lago.
3. Which aspects were most relevant when choosing to invest in a brand such as Engel & Völkers?
Because we believe and identify ourselves with the values of the brand, reinforcing the professionalism and passion that is positioned in this demanding luxury market segment.
4. What are the most important factors in leading a team of real estate agents?
Firstly, never forget that we are dealing with people and that we have to lead by example, and this obliges us to surpass ourselves every day. Trust, resilience and communication are very important factors.
5. What aspects do you consider when selecting real estate agents for your team?
We always like to believe that we surround ourselves with genuine, optimistic people who are dedicated to their work.
Aspects such as resilience, independence, organisation, ambition and excellent interaction and relationship skills complement the profile of a successful agent.
6. What are the main benefits of a brand like Engel & Völkers for the franchisees?
There are many benefits, but we highlight the brand's own principles, its international recognition as a leader in the luxury segment, its 40-year experience in the real estate market and its worldwide presence. We have also added training programs that have been developed over the last 40 years together with communication and global marketing plans.
7. What makes your agency stand out from competitors in your area?
We start with the brand itself and everything it stands for our customers. Quinta do Lago's Engel & Völkers has a premium location, a distinguished agency, a comprehensive portfolio of exclusive properties in the Golden Triangle and highly qualified staff, thus enabling us to offer a professional service and support to all our clients.
8. What advice would you give to a franchise who is about to open their first Engel & Völkers branch?
We would advise them to experience the brand to the fullest, to get to know the other Engel & Völkers agencies, as their business venture will be easier once they have the support of the other agencies and there is a huge potential to exchange experiences of a brand such as Engel & Völkers.
Finally, I would pass on my knowledge and experience to help the franchisee.
9. What aspects should an investor look into when buying an agency?
They should start by doing a thorough market research, focusing on the area of expertise, transaction values and competition. It's also very important to select a strategic location for the agency and focus on recruiting quality staff.
10. How do you adapt your personal life to your professional life?
It's always a challenge, but we try to do it in a natural and organised way. Managing our priorities and a responsible team through assertive leadership are key to enjoying life in a balanced way.