“Being part of a corporate network as well as having independence as a branch is the best of all worlds,” says John Frost of Martin & Co Chelmsford, a franchisee operating its agency independently while under the branding of the extended Martin & Co network.
“We've got brand guidelines to follow and we receive advice from head office, but how the business is run - it’s down to us to make those decisions,” says John. “For example, we've introduced portfolio managers to our tenancy management team. Each landlord has a dedicated manager as their point of contact for the whole of the tenancy and for all of their properties, because it makes their experience as clean and clear as possible.”
The independence for each franchisee to set up the best way to work according to its local market and customer base is then bolstered by the nationwide network of Martin & Co. “We've got access to over 170 Martin & Cos across the UK and we get all the support from head office that we need,” says John.
This support translates into a constant flow of information and updates to share with landlords and helped ensure the Chelmsford branch could easily stay compliant throughout lockdown. “Head office was putting out information and advice for everyone during lockdown,” says John. “We're lucky because it means we don’t have to go out and find the information ourselves.”
The sharing of information is a two-way street, with agents across different branches in constant communication to learn from one another and ensure the best service possible for their landlords and tenants. “Everyone within the group is quite close. The franchisees have all got a Facebook group, where people share their ideas,” says John.
The network shares more than expertise. Once a landlord has established a relationship with one branch, they’re more likely to move within the agency group, if they have properties further afield. “If we've got landlords with properties elsewhere or tenants who are looking at other parts of the UK, we can help them out because we've got that connection.”
Martin & Co’s parent group is the Property Franchise Group, which helps it to offer an even more expansive service. “There are six agencies in total across the property franchise group,” says John. “If it's not a Martin & Co branch that can help them, there'll be someone within the network of over 400 branches.”
Relationship building at the local level is therefore crucial, to ensure landlords trust the global network enough to stay loyal and follow the recommendations of their local branches. “Look after the customers and everything else follows. The clients are the heart of our business and they are everything going forward,” says John. “It's about being the local property expert - to become the go-to person to talk to about property in Chelmsford.”
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