A day in the life of Huizemark franchisee Kobus du Plessis is somewhat different to how an estate agent franchisee might look.
While being a multiple-unit franchisee isn’t out of the norm, the fact that he doesn’t do business from an office and can practically run everything about his R50 million a month business from his tablet is what really sets him apart. This is how he does it.
The days before Huizemark
”I have always been in business. My business partner and I built a successful corporate identity furniture company and put time and resources into making it virtually-based. Then around 2006, having always been interested in property, my partner and I approached Huizemark about buying a franchise and running it virtually.“
Although Huizemark wasn’t too keen on the idea back then, he tried again in 2010, this time on his own, and convinced the intrigued franchisors that a virtually-run franchise was possible.
“I did thorough due diligence on a number of brands, and I had great synergy with Huizemark, so in September 2010 I opened my first virtual office in Centurion.”
Getting into the swing of real estate
Adrie Barnard, the COO, helped Du Plessis with all regulatory requirements of being a principal agent such as NQF level four and five, and all training.
“My first office started off slowly with only two agents, while I spent time developing the web-based listings. I found the traditional model inefficient – an agent typically arrives at the office, has coffee, leaves for appointments, fills in paperwork, returns to the office to submit new listings, admin needs to process it, and there’s a delay in the listing going live.
“I wanted to make the admin burden on my agents as light as possible, and give them the tools to be more efficient and effective, as well as build my own database of buyers and sellers,” Du Plessis explains.
”The benefit of now running a mobile business means my fixed overhead costs can be curbed and controlled better, and greater brand visibility is achieved because I’m not restricted to a static location. The database also helps match buyers and sellers, dramatically shortening the marketing time,“ says Du Plessis.
When you’re in an industry where staff earnings are commission-based, agent retention is a big challenge.
“I believe that if you enable your agents to earn as much as they possibly can, they will stay. We work using a competitive split on commission, and I also give them milestones to encourage achievement: Agents start with generic business cards and after ten listings get personalised ones. After their first sale, they get an iPad with two gigs of data, their second sale gets them branding on their vehicle. This all requires capital, but because my spending isn’t going on renting a location, it can go to this strategy.”
The arrival of Huizemark Plus
With this new method of processing, Du Plessis set about creating Huizemark Plus, the largest independently owned group of Huizemark franchises consisting of five offices covering the whole of Pretoria, Centurion and the north eastern areas of Johannesburg.
He now has 48 agents on the ground, three admin assistants, and a monthly turnover of R50 million. He also has very happy agents: “At the National Conference we’ve won the Team Spirit Award, Most Innovative Marketer award, runner-up for Best Agent, Rising Star Award runner-up, and placed third nationally for volume and unit sales.”
Advice for aspiring franchisees
Du Plessis is a huge advocate of due diligence: ”You need to assess whether the brand is moving with the times and what its growth potential is. Research your area to see what brands are visible and which ones can use more visibility. Take the time to research brand reputation on Hellopeter.com to see how the public perceives the different brands.”
Then, once you’re in business, Du Plessis says, “Networking is very important. The franchisor helps with attorneys and bond originators, but don’t be afraid to branch out and find your own who share your vision.”
As for the money question, “Huizemark is an affordable franchise to purchase, but it takes time to make and process your first sales, so make sure you have capital to tide you over until you develop some cash flow.“
- 06:00 Rise and shine (but his 17 month old has him awake at 05:00)
- 06:00 – 08:00 Rotating area expo once a week. A group activity of parking branded cars, banners and gazebos alongside busy commuter routes for brand visibility.
- 08:00 ‘Office’ hours start.
- 10:30 Sales meeting once a week per branch.
For the rest of the day, Du Plessis spends his time on branding and growth. He is continuously interviewing agents, meeting developers, and closing big deals to pass on to his agents. As the principal agent, he signs offers, pays agent commissions, follows up on admin, agent queries, training and new business.
- Visit: www.huizemark.com
- Call: +27 (0)11 789 4448
- Contact person: Adrie Barnard