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Franchising – you’ll never walk alone!
While around 4,000 estate agency offices had closed by the end of 2008 (Daily Telegraph 27.12.08) Winkworth Franchising Ltd continues to expand.
The significant number of cuts in the industry over the past 12-18 months, both in branch closures and staff cuts, has resulted in thousands of very talented estate agents leaving the industry. These are the type of people who would now be well suited to a franchise opportunity. Added to this, the set-up costs have now reduced as shop leases are at attractive levels and premiums for A2 units are now almost non-existent.
An excellent recent example is Simon Scott-Nelson, franchisee of the new Devon and Cornwall waterfront branch. Simon was made redundant from a highprofile firm last year, as the market downturn took hold. Taking up a Winkworth franchise meant that Simon could fulfil his dream of working for himself, but with the backing of well-respected brand. Winkworth, in turn, welcomed an estate agent of Simon’s calibre and with his knowledge of the area.
“I have always had an ambition to run a company specialising in the sale of top-end property,” says Simon. “In terms of going straight to where the buyers are, Winkworth offers a highly prestigious and recognised brand with a network of 55 offices in London alone and many more around the world. I will have access to thousands of high net-worth buyers nationally and internationally.
“A franchise offers the opportunity to combine my local knowledge and expertise with ‘The London Agent’ and its wealth of buyers. The franchise option also allows me the flexibility to adapt to the local market and offers large scale support, such as PR, marketing, internet exposure and IT services. It will give me the time to concentrate on what I do best – marketing property.”
So far this year, Winkworth has opened five new franchises, in Basingstoke, Shoreham-by-Sea, Market Deeping, Worthing and, most glamorous, Antibes in France. The office in Antibes expands on the success of established Winkworth France offices in La Garde-Freinet and Mougins and is very well located on the coast road linking it with the Cap d’Antibes and Juan-les-Pins.
Franchisee David Lee said, “The Winkworth Antibes office firmly establishes the Winkworth name on the Côte d’Azur, enabling us to work this fabulous coast all the way to Cannes.”
Three more offices are due to open this month, bringing the total of new offices to eight in only five months. While Winkworth bucks the trend, Dominic Agace, Managing Director of Winkworth Franchising Ltd, attributes its continued expansion during this difficult time to the franchise structure, adopted back in 1981. Winkworth became the first franchised estate agency operation in the UK under the leadership of Simon Agace, who continues as Chairman of the company. Simon’s son Dominic has been the Managing Director of Winkworth Franchising Ltd since 2005 and is responsible for opening 50 per cent of Winkworth offices.
“In boom times the market place was continually growing. Now that this has shrunk, people need to look at growing their market share. We can help successful agents in key locations expand their business. With the rate of redundancies in the industry so high, property professionals with redundancy payouts can turn to the franchise option.”
Over the years, the Winkworth franchise network has grown significantly. The network began in prime central London and has now expanded to include Hampshire, East and West Sussex, Kent, Dorset, Yorkshire, Lincolnshire, Cambridgeshire, Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, France and Portugal with Devon and Cornwall joining this month.
James Trimble, New Business Manager says, “The Winkworth name is recognised and respected in many parts of the UK and Europe. Many new franchisees find that their local market already recognise the brand and have dealt with Winkworth in the past.”
Tim Winney, Franchisee of Winkworth Highcliffe, converted his agency to Winkworth in 2006. As an independent agency, the stock he achieved was at the lower end of the market. Since converting to Winkworth, with its strong London links and strong marketing presence, he is now the agent of choice across the mid to upper levels of the market in Highcliffe and further. Tim says, “Estate agency is a changing business and clients are demanding more and more from their agents. As a small independent agent, it became very obvious to me that I was only offering the same as my competitors and I really wanted to gain that allimportant ‘edge’. It was without hesitation that I decided to join Winkworth and utilize the tools and resources on offer to help my business to grow and to move into the higher end property market. The response from our clients has been fantastic. Everyone recognises the Winkworth name and they are proud to have their properties associated with the brand.”
The strength and support of the Winkworth franchise model is derived from the fact that the company is completely geared towards franchising. There are no corporately owned offices and so the focus is on helping franchisees to maximise their income.
Log on to www.winkworth.co.uk for more information.