Striving for excellence - focused on franchisee profits!
January is the time of year when I reflect and plan. Looking back on 2022, one thing is clear: at Prep’n Sell, we never sit still! Here are just 5 of the new initiatives undertaken during the past year.
In an upcoming blog, I talk about how market fluctuations in the real estate industry impact our two Brands, but for now, let’s just say that the white-hot seller’s market we saw during the early part of 2022 made marketing directly to our RENOmagic homeowner customers a top priority.
Maybe I should back up a bit and explain, for those who don’t know, about our two Brands.
When someone buys a Prep’n Sell franchise, they get both our licensed Brands – Prep’n Sell and RENOmagic – for one low price. (How’s that for a deal?) The two Brands work hand in hand, and both are closely tied to the real estate market. The difference is in their ideal customer avatars or personas, and the subsequent marketing approaches, even though ultimately we offer the services to them both.
Now back to that crazy real estate market …
The unusual market conditions meant it was time to design a marketing plan for RENOmagic customers, focused on homeowners who bought fixer-uppers just to get into the market, and homeowners who now had enough equity to transform their home to suit their family’s current stage (nursery? home office? chef’s kitchen? spa bath?). These homeowners wanted to make their homes more comfortable, functional and appealing. So we put ourselves in their shoes and came up with an attractive full-colour 3-fold brochure that has multiple applications; it can be given to homeowners on a first visit or used in a direct mail campaign, plus a digital version can be viewed or downloaded from each franchise owners website, or it can be send directly via email. Now new franchise owners get their own customized printed brochures as part of their Starter Package!
For the past couple of years we’ve experimented with when and how often to “bug” our franchise owners, and this year, we’ve hit on a support plan that seems to be working well. Weekly coaching is a short 15 minute phone call from one of our corporate team to each franchise owner, but it can also prompt a longer follow-up meeting when requested. It’s a check-in to see how things are going while everything that happened is still fresh. Corporate team members keep each other up to speed, so there is no time wasted on explaining an issue at the start of a call. Franchise owners have boots on the ground and they are very close to what’s happening with their projects. We have the luxury of taking a more analytical approach, or the longer view, and we’ve found that sharing when costs seem out of line or profit margins have dipped helps to address issues before they get out of hand. The focus is always on learning. The feedback we get is invaluable. and we’ve been able to get insights and suggestions from one franchise owner that we were able to pass on to other owners to help them with similar challenges. This is all part of being connected as one team working together.
B2B marketing can never be forgotten – working with real estate professionals is at the heart of our original Business Model, and the reason that Prep’n Sell was created over 20 years ago in 2002! With pandemic restrictions finally easing in 2022, we were all itching to get out and meet our important real estate professionals face-to-face again! We didn’t want to show up empty-handed, so we developed the Realtor Envelope program, had everything professionally designed, and arranged custom printing for each franchise owner. Colourful envelopes are chock-full of helpful and persuasive marketing materials – some to educate the real estate professional, and some destined to be passed out to their clients. There are even high-value gift certificates. The response so far has been very positive, and we’re now investigating other means of delivering these messages.
This kind of initiative is a benefit that franchise owners can expect, but one that is difficult for a solo entrepreneur to pull off on their own, due to lack of expertise and lack of time.
We started 2022 with a good, simple to use, multi-functional CRM/Operations App that handled Estimates, Invoices, Expenses and Reporting for us. We were fairly happy with it, but it was designed with a different industry in mind, so there were features – great features – that didn’t suit our business, and that we couldn’t use. There were other features we needed that weren’t available for the same reason – they didn’t fit into the business model of the industry it was designed for, so the developers couldn’t change it just for us. We developed and implemented work-arounds for those missing features, which worked fine. But we were always on the hunt for a better system.
It’s amazing what you find when you keep your eyes open!
In late summer, we came across a new app, designed and built by contractors to address all the pain points we were feeling. It’s so innovative that it attracted developers and investors from Silicon Valley, even though the creators were Alberta-based! Go Canada! It’s so amazing that it’s patented!
For our franchise owner, this app allows them to create proposals faster and faster over time. It links to supplier websites to access updated pricing. It checks profit margins before proposals are sent to the customer. The way it’s designed means that it’s impossible to forget any aspect of a typical project. And it handles Proposals, Invoices, Expenses and Reporting. What’s not to love?
But there’s more. From the customer’s perspective, the proposals this app creates are unlike anything they’ve seen before. Customers get a visual representation of the materials and colour selections for their project, and can see how different elements work together, playing with their choices until they are exactly what they envision. Customers can add and subtract items and see the resulting effect on their bottom line, all from the privacy and comfort of their sofa – without any interaction with the salesperson. Stats show 83% of customers using the App upgrade their own scope of work – and what a difference that makes to our franchise owners’ two most important numbers – gross sales and profits!
Not every customer considers financing their home improvement or renovation project, but for some, it makes sense. People who are planning to sell their home after living their for many years often find they need to do some updates to see the greatest possible sale price for what is most people’s biggest asset. Often they have lots of equity in the property, but it’s locked in until the sale goes through … and the sale is unlikely to happen until the needed renovations are complete. It’s a vicious circle.
Homeowners with good credit always have the option of applying for a Homeowner’s Line of Credit (HELOC) with their bank, but they soon discover that there are hundreds of dollars of fees for things like a property appraisal, legal fees to register the HELOC on the property’s Title, and then legal fees again to remove the HELOC when it’s paid off.
We’ve sourced out at better option that allows homeowners to defer interest and payments for 3 months – often enough time for the home to sell and close. Other than a low (currently $39.95) application fee, there are no costs at all to borrow up to $100,000, if the loan amount is paid in full within that time period. If the home takes longer to close, the homeowner just makes low monthly payments until the closing date, then pays off the balance in full with no pre-payment charges at all.
Another handy phone App, this is just another tool in our toolbox to help homeowners get the renovations they need to realize the best possible price for their home. Like any other tool such as a mitre saw, for instance, you might not need it on every job, but it sure does make the job easier when you do need it. The best part is that there is no cost to our franchise owners, and they get paid in full as soon as the project is completed.
We Welcomed a New Franchisee in a New Province!
Kelly Langevin, Winnipeg North, joined us in April 2022, becoming our first franchise owner in the beautiful province of Manitoba. Having worked with Kelly these past few months, I have to say he is one of the most cheerful and positive people I’ve known, and we really appreciate and enjoy his jump-in-with-both-feet approach to business and life. Kelly’s business and confidence are growing steadily and the local real estate professionals regularly recommend him to their clients. We see great things ahead for Kelly!
Our Whole Team Wishes You Health, Happiness & Success in 2023!
We all have dreams and some of us like to talk about them a lot. If you’re ready to do more than just talk about your goals, email me at email@example.com – let’s get down to business!
If you’re ready to join us, or not ready yet, we appreciate your taking the time to look into our franchise business.
May 2023 be a happy and healthy year for you and yours, and the year you go after your dreams,