It was Diane who first saw the advert for Hunters Franchising in the local free paper and it came at a time that she was looking for a change of direction having worked in recruitment for a number of years (latterly on a self-employed basis). I was a self-employed independent Financial Adviser at the time. I have known the Director (Kevin Hollinrake) for a number of years and was involved in Hunters when it was first established back in 1992, so I knew that Kevin was a forward thinking person that wouldn’t be afraid to try new things.
On meeting various members of the team, everything felt right – they had similar work ethics to ourselves, in that they wanted to do the job the right way taking time and effort to make sure that both vendors and applicants had a good experience. They also had extremely strong brand awareness, which was an important consideration as Diane had no previous estate agency experience, whilst I had a brief period with William H Brown a number of years ago.
The costings model that we signed up to works for us in that Hunters take their cut from what we earn rather than a regular franchise fee – this does mean that their take is higher than for other Personal Agents (PA's), but it means that in the weeks where we may not make a sale, the outgoings aren’t excessive.
The training was good although it’s impossible to take everything on board immediately and it’s very much a case of learning the job as you go. In reality it was probably easier for me as my financial services background meant I was used to dealing with mortgages and conveyancing but otherwise there was a lot of new systems based work to get used to.
We were told it would take 6 months to earn any money and it was almost to the day before we received our first income from the agency! I would say it’s vitally important for anyone considering the business to be aware that there is going to be such a lead in time. We have made money most months since then, but there can still be the occasional “blanks” so it’s important to manage cash flows.
We don’t pay ourselves a regular salary, but just take from the business as we need it – we have a good relationship with our business banking manager at Nat West and he really helped us along the way with a business loan to set things up. Without this, we would have been snookered, but they really helped us out.
We have recently expanded our area to include another village on the outskirts of York which we felt was imperative for us – a lot of the territory that we have includes outlying villages where the turnover of property is very low indeed, so we needed a more transient area to give us the opportunity of making regular sales.
It is great to work with other like-minded individuals who take a real pride in their work and know that the way in which we approach our individual businesses has an impact on all the others – there is a real kindred spirit amongst the PA’s. It’s long hours, but we would certainly recommend it, if you like taking ownership of your own business and are prepared to put in the time and effort, it is a very rewarding role.
To find out more about the opportunities available attend one of Hunters free careers seminars running during May, by logging on to www.joinhunters.co.uk. or call Louise Cowen for a franchise pack and details on 01904 756128