When Christoph Braier and his family moved to picturesque Canmore, Alberta in 2010, the entrepreneur was set on getting his real estate license.
An architect by trade, Braier knows his way around the real estate business, having spent the previous 25 years developing homes in Germany. Yet, the more he thought about it, the more he realized investing in the industry as an agent didn’t make much sense.
“Canmore might be a small place, but we have ninety-four agents in town,” Braier says. “All of the agents provide the same service for the same cost. Why would I want to become the ninety-fifth? More importantly, why would people in town hire me instead of one of the other guys who has been there for decades?”
So, with some reservation, Braier held off on getting his license, instead finding work as a condominium manager. As fate would have it, this decision turned out to be for the best.
Not long into his new job, the Canadian newcomer saw an ad in the newspaper for an employment opportunity with Canmore’s local PropertyGuys.com franchise. Intrigued by the business that puts home buyers and sellers in the driver’s seat, Braier did his research and finally bought the franchise with his wife, Birgit, in 2014.
Known across the country for “disrupting the real estate industry,” PropertyGuys.com’s unique business model has gradually grown in popularity since its founding in 1998. At the time, founders Jeremy Demont, Ken LeBlanc and Walter Melanson witnessed an increase in people independently selling their homes. PropertyGuys.com was born when the three entrepreneurs decided to create a business centred on this growing niche market.
Today, the online real estate business enables home buyers and sellers to view and list properties on a shared web forum with the help and expertise of the PropertyGuys.com team. Not only do sellers and buyers get to become their own real estate agents, but they reap the financial benefits as well. With no set commission price to pay, users are keeping more in their pockets, a leading factor that drew Braier to the franchise.
“I love helping people run the show and keep 95% of their commission,” he says. “It’s a fantastic and appealing part of the business for both franchise owners and our clients.”
A typical day
A client-focused business by nature, Braier says his days are consumed speaking and meeting with the people his PropertyGuys.com location serves. And because his territory covers communities in both British Columbia and Alberta, this is no small feat.
Yet, Braier says his goal is to connect with clients on a daily basis. As such, the franchise owner typically gets into the office at nine o’clock where he checks on any incoming communication and plans out the remainder of his day, which usually involves two to three in-person appointments with prospective sellers.
When he’s not meeting with local homeowners, Braier spends his time ensuring all other aspects of the business are running smoothly. In other words, he’s making sure all of the 200 listings in his franchise territory are proudly displayed on the PropertyGuys.com website and clients are receiving their complimentary property magazine.
With his days ranging anywhere from 10 to 12 hours, Braier says he gets help from local team members spread across his territory who help him meet with clients between the two provinces.
“When I first started, my territory was fairly small. When we extended it to cover more communities, it become impossible for me to travel between areas in BC and Alberta in a small amount of time,” Braier explains. “I needed the help.”
And although the extra assistance has helped him better manage his days, Braier’s goal for 2018 is to let his employees handle the day-to-day tasks in individual communities, while he ensures the business is running efficiently for everyone.
Educating the public
Though PropertyGuys.com has made waves across the country, buying and selling homes through a real estate agency is still a popular and trusted business model. Still, the company is trying to change this mentality and Braier says the number one way to do this is through education.
“We’re not changing real estate overnight,” he says. “It is still a process that involves explaining to people who have never heard of us what we do and why it works. It can be a challenge sometimes but once they understand it, they love it.”
For the 85,000 people across Canada who have discovered this new way to sell their homes, taking the time to understand the business has lead to many walking away with more money and enjoying a stress-free buying and selling process.
Braier says these are just a few of the many benefits of being a franchisee with PropertyGuys.com. In addition to being able to set his own work schedule, the franchise’s training and support equips all prospective business owners with the knowledge they need to succeed whether or not they have the professional or educational background.
Although Braier says his history in real estate has benefited him on the job, head office’s mandatory one week training program in Moncton, New Brunswick helped him better understand his new role as franchise owner before he took over. Known as PropertyGuys.com University, the training gives all on boarding franchisees the opportunity to meet with the team from head office and learn the ropes of the unique business model.
Ultimately though, Braier says that to truly find success as a PropertyGuys.com franchisee there are three things to keep in mind. Any prospective business owner needs to have a strong work ethic, a positive attitude, and an outgoing personality.
“If you just wait for the phone to ring at home it won’t happen,” he says. “Visit the community, talk to people, and love what you do. That’s what you need to do to find success.”
Living by these words seems to be working well for him. In 2017, the franchisee and his team set a strategic goal for their location after they were named one of the top ten locations nation-wide. By the end of the year, Braier doubled his locations’ revenue and now sits as one of the top three PropertyGuys.com business owners in the western region of the country. And in 2018, he’s gunning for that top spot!
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By Kristin Di Tommaso