Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Today's Real Estate Office

At Real Living we’ve been hosting 1-2 companies per week in our offices for our Real Deal Presentations. It is during these presentations where our team shows prospective franchisees all of the tools, services and overall value of a Real Living franchise.

During these visits and in my travels a common question arises for companies interested in start-up opportunities. “What kind of office space should I have/do I need?”

At Real Living’s owned stores in Columbus and Cleveland we’ve taken the “old-school” approach to offices – mainly because we’ve been around since the 50’s and have over 3000 agents. Our offices are large, 5,000-8,000 square feet, mega offices hosting private and “plug and play,” areas. When visiting these spaces, often occupied by 70-150 agents, there are typically under 10-15 agents actually working in the office at any given time.

Today’s agents are mobile. They can tap into Real Living’s web-based system anywhere they can get online (Starbucks, home, Verizon Wireless Cards, and other "hot-spots" all over town).

With this mobile trend becoming the norm, we are seeing and encouraging our franchise partners (and even our own offices) to strategically place office(s) in their area with smaller square footage. Start-ups will have one 800-2,000 feet to start and eventually grow to more offices of similar square footage – typically in prime and visible areas. The environments are well branded and offer the primary items today’s agent require – conference room, casual meeting spaces, areas to plug their laptops into, etc.

If a brokerage can grow using this model they will save tremendously in their P&L. Brick and mortar is among the leading expenses brokerages incur and this model saves significant dollars to invest elsewhere.

Additionally, we are encouraging our franchise partners to save money via reducing dollars spent on phone systems, fax machines, and the like. I mentioned the mobile nature of agents today. Agents are using expensive phone systems and the physical phones (which can cost up to $400/phone) for the simple purpose of forwarding their calls to their mobile phone. With that said, why purchase a high-end phone system with capabilities a plenty when you can enable agents to publicize and exclusively utilize their personal, mobile phone? Fax machines are another expense that can be eliminated with a $5-$7/month e-fax account. I cannot tell you the last time I actually faxed something via the dinosaur fax in our offices – faxing can inexpensively be accomplished online.

When thinking of opening your first or another office, think twice and call Real Living. We’ve been in the business for over 50 years which has taught us a lot. We have ideas to save and increase your profitability. Visit
www.reallivingfranchise.com, call me directly 614-203-0801 or e-mail chris.svec@realliving.com.

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