Diversity in Franchising Franchisee Success Stories July/August 2021 Next Generation in Franchising

Next Generation in Franchising: Tried and True Real Estate

How CENTURY 21 franchisee Arshad Rashed turned his passion for real estate into a thriving franchise business

By Stefanie Ucci

Since he was 16 years old, Arshad Rashed has been a budding entrepreneur, always trying new ventures to get a variety of business experiences under his belt. Today, Rashed has been a real estate agent for about a decade, which eventually led him to take over as a CENTURY 21 franchisee when the opportunity emerged last year.

Based in Calgary, Alberta, Rashed bought the brokerage in March 2020 from the original owner who had been operating it for more than 25 years. The CENTURY 21 franchise provides real estate services for residential, commercial, farm, and ranch properties.

“What drew me to real estate is that no day is ever the same; I’m always doing something different,” says 34-year-old Rashed. “I like the social aspect of it and helping people, so it’s a very fulfilling industry. All the things I knew I needed as an agent, I wanted to bring those tools and help other agents and incorporate them in the business going forward.”

Building a strong foundation

CENTURY 21 was introduced into Canada in 1976, and today the Canadian owned and operated franchise has nearly 400 offices across the country. Worldwide, the brand has expanded to 13,000 offices and 145,000 real estate agents located in 86 countries.

Describing CENTURY 21 as an “agent-centric brand” that provides forward thinking, and modern technology and tools, Rashed notes that franchisees have the benefit of joining a brand where the systems have already been created, tested, and put into place. Additionally, he says there’s a template to follow, value in numbers as a larger organization, and better buying power, recognition, and brand power.

As a millennial business owner, Rashed points to benefits including being young, energetic, and seeing opportunities differently and as long-term ventures. “You have the ability to take opportunities that if you’re older you may not take just because the time doesn’t allow for it,” he explains. “So being young and optimistic, I feel you can do more and take advantage of all the new things that are coming in with trends and technology.”

On the other hand, Rashed says the challenges are being fresh in the game and having a lot more to prove as a business owner. Fortunately, “with a franchise, a lot of the challenges get taken out because the systems are in place, templates are there, and they’ve been tried and tested.”

Rashed calls CENTURY 21’s training and support “second to none,” especially since the start of the pandemic. “They’ve actually doubled up on training: we meet every Friday for broker webinars, and we’ve got training every Monday for the entire brand.” He says there are also quarterly meetings where everybody knows each other, and annual conferences (which have since been halted due to the pandemic) for franchise owners to get together and build relationships.

Plus, CENTURY 21 has stayed up to date on technology and trends, implementing the new Campus 21 TV training program that provides real estate video training through a Netflix-style streaming service. “They have renowned coaches on there with custom training for us, and systems, tools, and video training that show agents how to do it,” explains Rashed. “Also, there’s coaching for a prospect and how to get new clients, build your clientele, and work by referral. It’s set up like Netflix so you can live stream it on your phone, TV, anything that has access to the internet.”

Unique challenges amid a pandemic

The numerous benefits don’t come without their own set of unique, but conquerable challenges. Rashed points to time management as a new task to juggle. The key is learning how to manage your time upon becoming the owner and operator of a business where many different people require your personal time and attention.

“For me, I’ve created a system using my calendar and allocating time. Before, when you scheduled your days, you would book times in and just go about it,” he explains. “But now I’m very conscious of the times so in my calendar, everything’s in 15-minute intervals. You learn quickly that everybody wants your attention, so you should try to delegate it.”

Additionally, Rashed took over the CENTURY 21 franchise just as the COVID-19 pandemic began in spring 2020. As expected, that brought its own set of challenges, in addition to being a new and young business owner. “At that time, it was all fresh and everything was so unknown, so it was very stressful for a minute, but it’s all about being resilient,” he explains. “So, we went remote fairly quickly and business continued like nothing changed except for the physical office space.”

Rashed says he was able to take advantage of the closures and make some much-needed changes to the office. “We took advantage of it. We renovated the entire office, gutted the whole thing because we were going to be closed. We weren’t sure [if it would be] a month or two months so it was the perfect time to do it and we needed it,” explains Rashed.

Fortunately, his real estate franchise was considered an essential service and eventually reopened with new safety protocols in place including spreading out desks, adding hand sanitizing stations, and installing glass face shields for the front desk and in their bullpen section. “We actually did it with glass and made it permanent because I don’t think this is going to go away anytime soon, so we’re prepared for it,” says Rashed.

The office also updated their phone services, implemented new software, switched to remote operations that can be turned on and off as needed, and introduced staff back into the office on a rotation, while allowing everyone to work at home (or from anywhere around the world, thanks to the ease of technology).

Opportunities are around the corner

In addition to his real estate brokerage, Rashed explains that he also owns a Real Property Management franchise, which is owned by the Charlwood Pacific Group, the same parent company with franchise rights to CENTURY 21 Canada. “It’s still real estate but it’s property management for investors, landlords, even accidental landlords,” he says. “Some people downsize, or upgrade and they purchase but haven’t sold their property, and now they’ve become an accidental landlord.”

With his Real Property Management franchise, Rashed and his team manage properties, place tenants, complete maintenance repairs, and take away the hassle of looking after a rental property, at a low monthly fee for property owners.

The property management franchise is an additional opportunity for CENTURY 21 owners, and Rashed says it’s also an option for those who are existing property managers who are looking to invest in a franchise system. “I took the franchise on and integrated it with the business, and it worked out much better because the systems and backend tools they have are for property management,” he explains. “So, the entire process is a lot smoother, and it just meshed together.”

As for advice Rashed has for prospective franchisees, he emphasizes that “you do have to work hard, and you may have to be the first person in the office and the last one to leave. But if you follow the steps, systems, and tools that are given to you, then your success is almost inevitable, because it’s been proven and tested. It’s not that you have to invent or reinvent the wheel; it’s there for you to use and take advantage of.”

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