Some real estate groups, that are trying to change the traditional view of franchises, say agents can have a strong personal brand even when they are working for a big network.
Franchises have long been synonymous with brand compliance but brands are trying to do away with that antiquated view. REB spoke with two franchise CEOs about how much individuality the big names in real estate sallow their agents and why brand compliance doesn’t need to be a scary term.
“Obviously, protecting the brand is in everyone’s best interest ... [as is] making sure that you’re consistent in how it’s being represented, but there’s a lot of flexibility that can be offered within that,” LJ Hooker’s Grant Harrod said.
Mr Harrod conceded that franchising in the past was “all about brand compliance”, but he says agents these days are looking to enter into a franchise agreement would have more independence “than they probably realise”.
“Certainly, things in the past would have led some operators to go down the independent path, because they probably felt they were going to be too constrained. But that’s changing and it’s certainly changed very much for us ... our model is about the quality of the offices we have,” he said.
Another franchise that aims to do away with constricting franchise agreements is Barry Plant. Its CEO Mike McCarthy said the company encourages its franchisees to be open with the head office about their ideas and changes they want.
“They’re independent in the sense that we’re not saying we have all the good ideas. We want people to contribute to that and they do in a big way. We’re never closed to good ideas and to tweaks and changes and things, because the market’s always shifting and moving and the customer experience needs to develop with that,” Mr McCarthy said.
He added that where the brand does maintain control, they do it because that’s why agents join as a franchisee – for guidance and the grunt work that is done for them.
“Once we set the course and direction though, things generally sit under the brand because that’s where they’ll get the most value out of the brand,” Mr McCarthy said.
He said the perfect marriage between brand compliance and independence lies in the tried and tested method of meeting franchisees to hear, and consider, their suggestions.