Before joining any real estate franchise, it’s critical that you do your homework. You can get the inside scoop simply by asking the right questions. Weichert® suggests starting with these seven questions to help you learn more about franchise opportunities to see what’s right for you.
In addition, you can request our franchising guide.
1. What’s the experience and reputation of the franchise you’re considering?
Think of it as an interview process for a key candidate joining your team. Really get into the weeds on who they are and what they’re known for. Find out:
- How long they’ve been in the real estate businessIf they operate a brokerage and understand the daily challenges brokerages faceHow long they’ve been franchisingHow many franchisees they haveLong-term success stories of their franchiseesWhere the locations areAverage length of time a franchisee has been in businessWhat their reputation is (you can also do your own investigating by looking at posts and chats on social channels, and talking with colleagues and customers)
Ask for referrals, too, so that you can speak directly with a franchisee broker-owner or former owner. A franchisor should have nothing to hide, so they should happily provide this information. In fact, their present franchisee broker-owners should be their best brand ambassadors.
2. What does the franchise require of you?
Before you enter into any binding agreements with a franchise, make sure you’re clear on their business model and your legal obligations. This can include everything from the initial investment and/or financials over time, to the location of where you set up shop.
Here are a few items to look into—and questions within this main question—to ask your potential franchisor: [Source: Real Trends]
- Do you provide guidance on where I should open up my office?Do you need to approve my location?Do you need to approve my lease?Do I need a minimum number of employees to operate?Am I required to use any third-party vendors, such as contractors or architects?Do I need to work with specific real estate brokers? And, if so, who is obligated to pay those fees?How does it work if I want to sell my franchise down the line?
Many of these questions might already be covered in the contract, which you can ask to see before signing. If not, then be sure to ask. No question is too detailed or silly. You want to be fully aware of all expectations and obligations before making your decision.
3. What support will you get once you sign?
Onboarding support is critical in those first few days and weeks of opening a franchise. Find out if the franchisor offers you a dedicated team to help you hit the ground running.
In addition, find out what support they offer to help you convert your business. Do they help you announce the affiliation to your agents? Train you on the franchise’s tools and systems, so you can get the most out of them? Help you replace things like yard signs, exterior signs, and business cards? Send out a press release to your community? These are all important details that can make or break a smooth business conversion.
4. Specifically, what tools and resources will you get?
Once you have a general sense of the support you get during onboarding, dig into the tools and resources you can tap into anytime as a franchisee broker-owner. Sales support and marketing support are typically two huge features of national franchise brokerages. But don’t make any assumptions. Ask for clarification via details of what you get as a franchisee broker-owner, such as selling resources, tools, templates, technology, coaching, training, and networking events.
Ask about the kinds of marketing materials you’ll get, such as website and email templates and cold call scripts. What type of customizations are available? Knowing this can help you reap the benefits of an established brand while still maintaining your personal touch.
Find out about what technology platform they offer—and if it’s available to you as part of your franchisee package. Weichert affiliates get the benefit of a fully built-out tech stack, including agent and office websites, Smart CRM, and a back-end system. It’s all powered by the kvCORE technology platform at no additional cost. We also provide a full suite of marketing tools and resources, including easy-to-use design centers to create and customize flyers, brochures, postcards, and just about anything you can think of.
All of these things will help you and your agents start off on the right foot and grow your business over time.
5. What networking opportunities are available within the franchise?
Networking can be a key advantage to franchising. However, not all franchises have a culture of “sharing.” Find out about formal and informal ways that franchisees can connect with other brokers and owners and agents as well. These networking opportunities will give you and your agent team the opportunity to benefit from ideas, information, support, resources, and inspiration. Tapping into the knowledge and experience of others like you can help you grow your business, which is especially important to a new franchisee broker-owner.
One of the things Weichert owners most love about being an affiliate is the culture of sharing and support. From your first Leadership Academy, to bi-annual leadership retreats and conventions, to quarterly regional broker council meetings, you have the opportunity to compare notes with peers from all over the country. It’s an invaluable way to learn about their challenges and solutions, plus you can share your successes. You’ll never feel alone or wonder what to do next. Plus, we have lots of fun!
We also offer webinars and workshops throughout the year to stay connected and to keep sharpening our saws. Our President & COO, Bill Scavone, is always accessible as a leader, whether it’s through his monthly spotlights or a personal visit to a broker-owner’s office. Bill lives and breathes one of our guiding principles, as does our entire service team, “there’s a WE in Weichert.”
6. What are the all-in costs and fees?
There will be an initial investment, which can vary. You can search Entrepreneur’s real estate franchise database to get a better idea of these upfront costs. There can also be renewal costs, which can be anywhere from terms of five to 20 years, with renewal fees at each interval. The renewal fees are typically 50% of the initial franchise fee. Be sure to factor this into your long-term financial plan. [Source: The Close]
Lastly, ask about royalty fees. This is often a monthly fee paid to the franchisor, ranging from 3% to 6% of the gross commissions and/or a monthly fee of $25 to $400 per agent, per month. The royalty fees are typically passed to the agent and not paid by the franchisee directly. [Source: The Close]
7. What’s the franchise culture?
After you’ve acquired all the nuts-and-bolts information to help you make your decision, remember to also ask about the softer side of the franchise: the people. Understanding the culture can help you determine your “fit.”
For example, the culture at Weichert is that we operate like one, big family, where everyone supports each other and roots for their success. In fact, our core values are typically one of the top reasons franchisees join our network. They feel that our values align with theirs. Franchise broker-owners are often self-driven and motivated. Collectively, we love what we do, and we take great pride in helping our individual team and greater Weichert team to succeed. Being a highly recognized national brand allows us all to operate from a place of confidence, conviction, and consistency.
Opening up a real estate franchise is an exciting business venture. But before you submit an inquiry form with a potential franchise, do your homework. Read their FDD (Franchise Disclosure Document). You may also want to speak with an attorney and/or financial advisor before moving forward to ensure that you’re in the optimal position to open a franchise and succeed.
Reach out to Weichert. Let us help you better understand the franchise process and how it can work for you.