Real Estate is one of the best industries to select as a franchise business opportunity for those who want to start their own business with low risks and high rewards. Today, real estate is not only about buying and selling property but also specializing in rental and property management, home inspection, redecorating, and other related services.
An entrepreneur at heart, Ken LeBlanc, CEO of PropertyGuys.com, saw his first business opportunity in real estate in 1998 when the industry was operating in a traditional way and there was no advancement to connect buyers and sellers directly. By combining knowledge and technology together he and his partners founded PropertyGuys.com to empower homeowners to sell their homes on their own. It is not only more affordable than a traditional agent model, but also delivers a far superior experience for the homeowner.
Let’s find more about Ken’s entrepreneurial journey and how he has transformed a start-up into an international franchise system through an interview conducted between him and The Franchise Universe.
Below are the highlights of the interview:
Give us a brief overview of your position at PropertyGuys.com, and your journey since inception.
At PropertyGuys.com we’ve perfected an innovative approach to real estate over the past 23 years. As Canada’s Largest Private Sale Network, we’ve helped over 95,000 sellers discover The Future of Real Estate™. Leveraging the power of the internet combined with our team of experts, we provide an efficient way for buyers and sellers to connect directly while avoiding the high cost of traditional real estate commissions. From our humble beginnings in a small city in Eastern Canada in 1998, we continue to be on the cutting-edge of leading industry change and technological innovation. Today, we have franchisees in over 90 locations across Canada and three Master Franchise locations serving Florida, Texas, and South Africa.
As the President and CEO what is your opinion on the impact of the current pandemic on the Real Estate Industry and franchising in general?
Even during a global pandemic many people still need to buy and sell homes. We have been very fortunate that PropertyGuys.com was able to adapt quickly to safely serve buyers and sellers in this challenging environment. With franchisees spread out across North America (and beyond), we had existing technology and processes in place to conduct much of our business online, which we were able to use to serve customers remotely in most areas throughout 2020 and 2021.
We are leading the way as early adopters of tools like virtual home tours, which have become one of our customers’ biggest assets, especially over the past year and a half. We also incorporate video chats and phone conversations to better serve and support customers safely, taking the place of traditional face-to-face appointments.
We continue to introduce innovative services to ensure that franchisees and customers are supported, from e-signatures, remote signings and buyer services to introducing an online DIY offering for private sellers and hosting our national franchise conferences virtually.
What is your opinion on the necessity for businesses to align their offerings with newer technological developments?
Technology and especially new technology play a major role in the success of our business. We use it to keep our franchisees, and more importantly our customers, better connected to make their lives easier. We consider ourselves a high tech, high touch company, which means that we use a combination of people and technology to empower our users to take control of their real estate experience, with support only ever a click or a call away.
Please list your strategies and services that make you and your company standout from the competition.
One of PropertyGuys.com’s unique benefits is that our flat fee packages are based on the level of service home sellers choose, not a percentage of the home’s value like a traditional agent would charge. PropertyGuys.com puts our customers in the center of the real estate transaction, instead of on the sidelines. This way, they benefit from the control and transparency of what’s happening throughout their property sale. Sellers’ also have access to a team of experts to help guide them through their journey. These experts handle marketing, pricing, photography, offers, legal, and more, providing as much hands-off or hands-on service as they need.
In what ways do you or PropertyGuys.com contribute to the community? If given a chance, what change would you bring to help other Real Estate start-ups?
As active members of the Canadian Franchise Association, we provide ongoing support and mentorship within that organization to new and existing franchise brands alike. I am a past Canadian Franchise Association board Chair, avid speaker at events, a champion for franchise advocacy, and an active mentor to new franchisors. I am also the Chair of a new “Emeritus” committee where CFA past-chairs offer guidance and experience to the current Board of Directors.
We are bringing change to real estate by pioneering a new segment within the industry – private sale. We allow our users to choose the level of service that suits their needs instead of a one-size-fits-all percentage commission model offered by traditional brokerages. By offering various levels of service ranging from a DIY approach or to full-service expertise sellers would expect from a traditional agent (for a fraction of the cost), we’re proving that the traditional real estate model is truly broken and there is a better way.
Our main area of focus corporately is with youth entrepreneurship organizations like Junior Achievement. Just recently we sponsored a “Pitchfest” event for high school entrepreneurs in an innovative experiential learning program. We recognize and embrace that these ambitious students are our future customers, partners, employees, welcomed competitors and peers.
As an established business leader, what would be your advice to budding entrepreneurs?
I believe that being a “self-starter” is the key. Leaders are networkers that bring the game to them, they don’t wait for it to come to them. You cannot advertise or buy your way to the top, it needs to be done through hustle, respect, and nurturing ongoing connections within your market. You can only become an expert in your field once you’ve put in the hours. A key for budding entrepreneurs is to fail and fail often – you’ll learn from your mistakes. Brush it off, move on and be 100% accountable for your own success.
How do you envision sustaining your company’s competency in a cutthroat and volatile world of business? Where do you see your company in the next five years?
We continue to strive to become the all-encompassing platform for the Future of Real Estate. A platform, where no matter what road they want to take, and what services they choose, they’ll always be exactly where they belong; at the center of it all.
In terms of what’s next for our company, we continue to focus on expansion, especially internationally. We hope to award 10 more Master Franchise agreements in the US over the next three years. We’re also predicting extraordinary growth in technology-driven real estate experiences over the next five years. We expect to reach over 10,000 listings per year in the coming years, thanks to international expansion, innovations in our product offering and enhanced services. We also predict that all of our Canadian franchise opportunities will be sold in the next five years.