Back in 2013, Nick Neill was an early adopter of the EweMove model, becoming one of the first franchisees. Since 2017, he’s taken over the reigns as Managing Director with the aim of making the hybrid brand a household name and quadrupling the size of the network by 2025.
In this exclusive interview with The Neg, Neill reveals how the franchise model offers the best of both worlds to agents and customers and whether their high street presence marks a turning point for their traditionally remote approach.
A flexible franchise
It’s not often that flexibility and franchising go hand in hand. Tried-and-tested models usually mean rigid systems and processes. But for Neill, his time working in customer service for First Direct Bank, taught him the art of personalising a process, which he believes is a philosophy he has carried throughout his career.
At EweMove, developing a successful property franchise was as much about a replicable business model as it was the ability to implement a flexible and tailored approach for the benefit of buyer and sellers, landlords and tenants.
“As a franchise, we have a business and operational model that is clearly defined and if replicated by ‘following the plan’, agents can be hugely successful,” says Neill.
“But there must be flex in the operating model as each customer and each transaction has its nuances. You only truly find out what these needs and wants are through close personal interaction which tends to be at appraisals and viewings, hence having the same person manage the whole gambit of listing, viewing and selling or renting a property personally, from start to finish, is critical to EweMove’s success and our customer experience journey.”
High-service, high street operators will do well…But we’ve learned that the physical site is probably the least relevant aspect of the agency.”
Success is not guaranteed for EweMove franchisees and instead hinges on their willingness to learn the ropes, the market and their customers.
Neill added: “As a franchisee, you get the immediacy of knowing what works, trained how to deploy it, have a recognised brand, systems, and processes to follow – you’ll still need to bring your energy and determination to succeed.
“Top agents, who engage with their customers, keep in touch, are community focused and provide high-quality personal service will succeed.”
From in ‘homes’ to high street operations
To date, the EweMove model has been renowned for its 24/7 everywhere and anywhere proposition but the brand now has around ten shop-based franchisees. So why the move from ‘homes’ to high streets?
“The decision was made to enable a fully cloud-based technology platform that allows agents to be where the sale happens and not be chained to a desk in a shop relying on vendors to host their viewings,” says Neill.
“As time has progressed, however, several independent agents have moved their businesses across to EweMove – meaning we have had to find a way to accommodate shop-based franchisees. And I am delighted to say the model works equally well, regardless of the premises used, be it home-based, office-based, or shop-based.”
Despite this, Neill remains reluctant to encourage physical premises within the EweMove franchise network, but accepts a blend of options is right for customers and the overall health of the industry.
He added: “Customers have become used to dealing with all sorts of businesses remotely so customer expectations have changed, and I don’t think they will revert to type anytime soon.
“Post-lockdown customers will enjoy the freedom to walk along the local high street and spend money with local businesses, that they have been craving to do for so long – quite right too. And those high-service, high street operators will do well…But we’ve learned that the physical site is probably the least relevant aspect of the agency. The two top aspects are the technology to support the agent, and the agent themselves.
The foundation for the EweMove model has and always will be its investment in technology that maximises time with customers and facilitates integrity and transparency.
“Working in any business with a strong growth strategy and showing it can grow is very exciting in today’s environment. And that’s what I enjoy the most. Navigating the challenges to growth during pandemics, technology developments, changing consumer expectations and demands and meeting our franchisees’ ongoing needs, ” added Neill.
Interview kindly arranged by Assist Inventories.