Gerard Smith, Just Property Franchisee Success Story
Franchisee Name: Gerard Smith
Franchise Name: Just Property
Location of Franchise: King Williams Town & Buffalo City
1. Why did you go down the franchise route?
I had a clear idea of how I wanted to run my business. My previous Principal had his own ideas which I did not buy into, so the only thing for me to do was start my own so I could do it on my own terms.
2. Why did you choose your franchise?
I did my research and found Just Property ticked all the boxes. It’s a local brand, innovative, exciting, technology-driven and has a proven track record in the market. It’s a company with an upward trajectory and with a solid rental foundation. It gives you the platform and foundation to excel. Systems and networks are in place so it allows for faster growth.
3. What did you do before taking up a franchise?
I worked briefly for one of the international real estate companies. I really fell in love with the industry and the significance it has on people. We are in the business of opening doors whilst providing peace of mind along the process. A house is a basic need and the single biggest investment most people undergo in their lives, being part of that is an honour and privilege.
4. How did you raise the finance?
We took a leap of faith and used our emergency fund, which wasn’t much. The rest we built up within the business by giving our clients the best service, working extremely hard and being very aggressive in our marketing. Our plan was clear and that was to dominate our immediate area where we started trading. That allowed us to acquire our second and third franchises within 6 months of starting our first.
5. What training and support did you receive initially and ongoing?
Just Property is a market leader in marketing, technology and training. The support was amazing, taking into consideration we started our business during a lockdown. We have an amazing learning platform that is online. It gives you all the tools needed to succeed. Our technology, marketing and training divisions are second to none. I think it’s the only brand where you have a direct line to your CEO who is always there to support and guide you.
6. What is a typical day for you as a franchisee?
I am first and foremost a sales agent before I am a franchisee. Our model is built on developing previously disadvantaged individuals in real estate. I am very hands-on with their training and development and this takes up a big chunk of my time. I also have to be very active in sales whilst I allow the new agents time to up-skill themselves to be ready for the market. We have developed in the region of 20 agents from disadvantaged backgrounds in our first year, this makes me tremendously proud and gives a lot of satisfaction. Another big part of my area of importance is sourcing new developments. We are currently marketing four developments with a fourth imminent.
7. What challenges have you faced?
The biggest challenge I will say has been our cash flow, which we have been managing well in our first year. My own ambition is sometimes my biggest challenge; 3 franchises within 8 months, coupled with 3 offices takes its toll on the business without huge reserves or start-up capital. I had to work very hard as the main sales agent in the business. I can now see the fruits as more and more of our rookie agents are starting to perform well and reducing the reliance on my sales.
8. Has becoming a franchisee changed your life, if so how?
It definitely has, I am busy building a legacy for my children that will one day be able to take this business to even greater heights. I did not have the opportunities they will have, it is very important for me to give them all the tools to be whatever they want to be in life, this business will put me in that position.
9. What advice would you give to someone thinking of buying their first franchise?
- Do your research and make sure the brand matches your needs
- Immerse yourself from day 1
- Do it for the right reasons; clients and service above everything else and the rest will fall into place
- There is no substitute for hard work. Get stuck in and know the workings of your business. No one will have the same passion for it as you. Lead from the front.
- Be adaptable when things don’t go as planned
- You need to be goal-driven. Without targets, there will be no way to measure your performance
10. What are your plans for the future?
To become the biggest role player for everything property in my area of responsibility. Growing my network to other markets and provinces.
11. Would you do it again?
Yes!!! Most definitely!!! However, I have learnt lessons from my first year so I would most definitely tweak it slightly.