By Richard Morris, Newton Fallowell
I was working for another business at the time and that business was sold to Newton Fallowell, which then offered those branches back out as a franchise opportunity. I’d always wanted my own business and saw that as a fantastic chance to begin. I’ve got three offices now, and I’ve been a franchisee for five years.
I really valued the support of head office when starting out
The support of head office was brilliant, they really helped me to get started and understand the world of actually running a business. Support from the head office helped me change the old business name to Newton Fallowell, and we went on to establish the brand and the name in my area.
Coming from a property background gave me an advantage
I started in the late 1990s as the tea boy. I’ve always had an interest in property and started off making the tea, doing the filing and a few viewings and my career grew from there. I was always keen to learn, and I still am now. I continued for many years as a ‘viewings boy’, and then on to become a Sales Negotiator, a Valuer and then a Branch Manager. There was always ambition to run my own branch.
I’d been thinking of starting my own business for a while
I always wanted to make the jump, but it was having the guts to do it. I’d even gone as far as designing a logo and visualising my own business. I did that behind the scenes for a few years. I think the communication with Newton Fallowell gave me the confidence to actually make the leap. The experience of the guys at Newton Fallowell was the push I needed. When I look back now, I think it was probably the best thing that ever happened.
When my branch transitioned into the Newton Fallowell brand
There was a moment in time, a date set, that I would effectively take control of the business. All of my team from the old company stayed with the business. We took two years to transition to the Newton Fallowell brand, which was a scary step having had an established brand.
I valued the financial support when starting my own business
I don’t think you could ever say financing your business comes without any sleepless nights. However, the back office team made it very, very easy. Easy is probably the wrong word – comfortable, they made it very comfortable for me to take the plunge. A few autographs later and I’m in! They gave me the confidence that I could do this, that I had the ability, the experience and the time served to pay the financiers back in no time.
You get what you put in
I know other estate agency business owners, some are franchisees and some aren’t, and I’m asked this question quite a lot ‘what do you get out of being a franchisee?’. My answer is always ‘you get out what you put in’.
We are technology-focused
I think being an estate agent these days is more than just selling houses, we’re probably a media company that happens to sell houses, because the way we communicate with clients is more important than anything. Social media, emails, newsletters – and a lot of agents don’t have the knowledge to put these things into place, run them, or effectively get the best out of them, and that is what a head office like Newton Fallowell can do to support you.
But the problem with Prop-tech, as it’s known, is there’s so much of it out. So I think you have to perhaps pick one, two or three things that you think you can apply to your business. And I think what Newton Fallowell does is research it really well, and look at what would work in a franchise setting.
I’m never alone as a franchisee
You never feel alone, and that’s not just having the support of head office, but also the other franchisees in the ‘patch’ and further afield as well. I’ve gone out and forged relationships with a lot of my neighbours – it’s a bit like having a nice neighbour, a neighbour who can bring in a parcel when you’re at work, or check on the house when you’re on holiday. You’re never in each other’s pockets, but they are always there when you need them, and I think that’s quite a strength of being a franchisee.
I often meet with other franchisees for coffee, lunch or chat or to share ideas. We’ve set up WhatsApp groups to share ideas, help each other and answer questions. And I feel really supported by my fellow partner offices.
Being a franchisee also means if you’ve got an idea for an advert or for marketing or for something you want to put into your business, if you were just a sole trader, you might not know how to implement that idea. But if you can take that idea and put it to the group, there’s 40 other great minds out there who can actually add to that idea and make it that much better!
Advice I would give to a prospective franchisee
Probably the best advice I would give someone thinking about becoming a franchisee is to forge a good relationship with the head office team – I think that’s really crucial. Possibly the impression you could get is ‘us vs them’ –franchisee vs franchisor – but actually we’re a team. If you can forge a really great relationship with those who are there to support you, you are only going to get more back.
My proudest moment
I was awarded Franchisee of the Year – it came as a complete shock, so that was nice! I also got an award for Group Contribution. I always feel that the greatest gift is giving as they say, and that particular year I had contributed quite a lot to the head office and to marketing ideas sharing because I like to help other partner offices and I like to just help the group.
If I was to describe being a franchisee in three words…
Engaging. I engage with head office, I engage with other franchisees, I engage with other people in the industry – it’s opened lots of doors. Strength. And I mean brand awareness when I say strength. Confidence.
If you are interested in finding out what it’s like to be a Nicholas Humphreys franchisee then read our interview with Bhavik Patel or if you’re interested in what daily life is like as a Belvoir franchisee then read our interview with Natalie Boardman.