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10 property experts share their franchising secrets

Most of the men and women you see running Winkworth offices on your local high street are not employees of a vast, anonymous corporation, but franchisees. In a nutshell, they are entrepreneurs. They bring their own ideas, enthusiasm and local knowledge to the network of offices across the UK. Here you can find some of their top tips to running a successful Winkworth office.

One of the great strengths of the Winkworth brand – in fact, arguably its greatest strength – is that we are not just a family, but an extended family.

Most of the men and women you see running Winkworth offices on your local high street are not employees of a vast, anonymous corporation, but franchisees. In a nutshell, they are entrepreneurs. They bring their own ideas, enthusiasm and local knowledge to the network of offices across the UK.

The Winkworth sign above the door may be the same, but no two franchises operate in quite the same way. It is this that has worked well for Winkworth over the years. You will see subtle differences in their marketing techniques and approaches to customer service, which has kept the brand among the leading estate agencies in Britain. It has helped us escape the trap of uniformity that has bedevilled some well-known brands. And it has been good for franchisees, too.

Here you will catch a glimpse of their varying approaches. Ten experts share their secrets of being successful in franchising. Some of them own one office; others have acquired several different franchises over time.

But they have all embraced the franchising concept: a happy marriage between a nationally respected brand, with a proven track record, and enterprising individuals, prepared to work hard, innovate and succeed.

Dominic Agace (Winkworth CEO)

“I see a direct correlation in the more you involve yourself with the head office, then the more successful you'll be, and the happier working life you'll have. It’s a long-term commitment and so it's important we are always communicating with each other and of course, that we have fun along the way.”

Matthew Hallett (Director) Winkworth Salisbury

“Success is a combination of passion, hard work and an unwillingness to compromise on anything other than the very best. Winkworth allows the individual to flourish by encouraging them to work in their own, unique style, as an expert in their local markets and in their particular vernacular style.
“Marketing is important, but so is reputation. Recommendation is the best source of new clients for any business. By winning the right work and delivering results by going the extra mile, clients become your best advertisements.
“Winkworth is excellent at providing all of the tools you need to run an agency business in a national network. It is determination and real customer service that produces success. What does it take? 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration.”

Michael Foldvari (Director) Winkworth Reading

“Our success has come through using our excellent local knowledge and local contacts, while leveraging the Winkworth brand and strong links to London. The brand has given our clients the peace of mind to choose us over our competition and gives us a head start over being an independent. Using the brand, the network of offices and higher end properties that the Winkworth brand attracts, has been very successful. This coupled with plenty of hard work and good staff, who have been trained through the Winkworth academy, has allowed us to make an excellent start in Reading.”

Bill Jarvis (Director) Winkworth Winchester

“Try your hand at all the jobs involved in running an agency by joining an existing agent and learning the ropes (for those taking on a franchise without much experience). Then gain as much experience of how to run a business.  Marketing has to be consistent and regular. Use a wide variety of media, certainly until you are firmly established. If the franchisee doesn’t have much experience in a geographical area, employ a well-respected local valuer/manager to develop the franchise’s profile as quickly as possible.”

Jeff Cohen (Director) Winkworth St Albans

“The brand is a great start, but on its own not enough. Hard work, talent and commitment plus a good marketing/advertising budget allied to the trusted brand will be a winning formula.” 

Josh Kravitz (Director) Winkworth Harringay

“Employ the right people - don't just fill a desk. The right staff will make your business money and carry it forward when you’re not there.
“Set negotiators clear, but fair, monthly targets. They have to be aware that you are not there to carry low performers in your business. You need a team of highly-motivated individuals, not plodders. Each negotiator should be monitored for performance each month by way of a private meeting over a coffee.
“Praise employees as much as possible when they do a good job- everyone loves being praised and it inspires them to do even better.
“Offer negotiators incentives. The better they perform, the more they earn. Strong sales people need incentives to make it worth their while.
“Get ideas from employees regarding social media. Listen to what the guys on the shop floor have to say about clients etc.
“Train your staff, so they must have exemplary customer care. Communicate your vision.   
“Train negotiators to speak to applicants as much as possible. Emailing does not create a personal relationship. People like people, so staff should form strong bonds with clients and not constantly email. A bit of personality never does any harm. 
“Promote the brand where possible in your territory and within the local community.
“Get as many Winkworth boards as possible as they are a powerful tool to attract new business.
“Do regular leaflet drops in your territory - a drop every four months works for us and isn't too annoying for residents.
“Service your database of perspective vendors and landlords until they make a decision (regular emails of sales/ rentals you have agreed in the area and a phone call at least every 6-8 months after the initial appraisal. Keep the relationship alive.
“Make sure your employees are presentable, professional and love what they are doing.
“Ensure your office looks immaculate when it's closed as residents form an opinion of service based on what they see through the office window. 
“Try to get feedback from all clients at every opportunity. Criticism can be very helpful and used to transform your business into a perfect model.”

Tom Dogger (Director) Winkworth Knightsbridge, Chelsea & Belgravia

“Having the ability to run your own company as an entrepreneur, while enjoying the support of a reputable and well-established brand, is the perfect platform to operate a successful estate agency. It is important that clients realise that the franchisee and corresponding staff have a vested interest in the service they provide. This repeatedly delivers a fantastic customer experience. Local expertise and direct accountability, combined with individual ownership, is the most conducive set of parameters to meet the high levels of success that Winkworth is renowned for delivering.”

Carl Burgess (Director) Winkworth Shepherds Bush

“Ensure that your service is what you would expect to receive yourself, treat your staff in the manner you would expect to be treated, too. Pay attention to the details, but don’t sweat the small stuff. The Winkworth brand is the foot in the door, but not a right to the business. The rest is down to you and your team.”

Mark Bygott (Director) Winkworth Nottingham

“For me the secret is to treat the Winkworth brand as one big family. If you are seeking ideas or looking for a new strategy, then there are some very gifted agents out there, who will share their ideas as to what they have tried and what works best. Just kicking ideas around with other business owners is useful. I am in Nottingham, but found myself in Exeter recently and dropped into the local Winkworth office. It was great to meet the team, where I came away with many useful ideas.” 

James Peacock (Winkworth Head of Brand)

“A successful franchise has three key ingredients: the right team, location and a trusted brand behind it. Each element plays an important role in establishing a strong presence both off-line and increasingly online. This is the corporate glue that bonds franchisees together for the long-term.”

Have you been thinking of starting a franchise? Winkworth is looking for new franchisees to continue their successful growth. 

Contact Gina Piper (Business Affairs Manager) on 020 7355 0200 or via email at gpiper@winkworth.com to find out more about starting your own Winkworth franchise. All conversations will be strictly private and confidential.

Learn more about franchising with articles, tips and advice on taking the next step in franchising: www.winkworth.co.uk/estate-agent-franchise

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