Company Profiles November/December 2021

The Right Moves

Real estate franchises across Canada make smart choices in the ever-changing landscape

By Gina Makkar

Partnering with a real estate franchise allows franchisees to leverage tried-and-true resources. Access to training, networking, and coaching provides unparalleled support, and the credibility of joining a national brand is a major benefit for franchisees launching their own business.

Here, Franchise Canada takes a look at four real estate franchises that are adapting to changing times to help Canadians find their perfect home—and franchisees find success.


Gary Charlwood opened the first CENTURY 21 office in B.C. back in February 1976.Today, the company boasts 400 offices across Canada, which are part of 13,000 offices across the globe. 

“We offer everything an agent needs, from the moment they enter the business to the day they retire,” says Martin Charlwood, president and CEO. “If you’re a newbie to the real estate industry, CENTURY 21 is a great place to start. As your career evolves, it’s an excellent place to continue hanging your license, because we have a variety of tools for all levels of your career.”

CENTURY 21 recently launched a technology platform that offers everything from marketing material and a CRM system to client presentation templates. “We share ideas at different levels of growth so they can learn from our ecosystem of knowledge with 45 years of successful business,” notes Charlwood. As a brand with a large international footprint, listings benefit from global exposure.

Though the pandemic brought about challenges, Charlwood says Canadians still believe owning a home is one of the greatest goals to achieve. “[Real estate has] remained so strong and robust, with record sales across the country.”

The brand hopes to expand in lower mainland Vancouver, Ottawa, and Montreal. Prospective franchisees are passionate about growth and enjoy the idea of leading, coaching, and helping others succeed and meet their goals. Once onboard, training includes Campus 21 TV, an internal video network of on demand videos, and CENTURY 21 University. Weekly owners’ meetings allow franchisees to glean expert advice from fellow colleagues.

As for Charlwood’s advice for future franchisees: “Ask yourself, what makes you different in your local community? What makes you stand out?” He also advises to seek out individuals that will contribute to the office and culture. “Take advantage of the tools available to you, but also put your own personal spin on it to create that culture in your own office. Use the tools and training available to you, and make sure you set time aside each week to learn. You can learn until the last day of your life.”

Unlike traditional real estate models, is a private sales network that empowers homeowners to sell their homes on their own time, at their own pace. As the largest private sales network across North America, it boasts 100 locations and continues to grow and expand internationally.

And as a perspective business opportunity, the affordable cost of ownership, coupled with a proven and profitable business model and extensive franchisor support, offers franchisees the opportunity to change the way real estate works in their community.

When looking at opportunities to expand in 2002, the company settled on franchising as a way to ensure the future of the brand. “Franchising is important because it adds that flavor of local charm to each area,” says CEO Ken LeBlanc.

Though the pandemic brought about changes, had already experienced and survived past recessions. As a result, they didn’t need to pivot as much as businesses in other industries. “We were able to go online at a quick pace and continue with business as usual,” explains LeBlanc. “We learned that people feel more comfortable with online interactions.”

In a competitive market, offers exclusive franchising territories, a flexible work schedule, and a team at the ready when help is needed. Successful franchisees are self-starters that take the system and adapt it to build lasting relationships.

Once on board, University (PGU) offers an orientation to all new franchisees, followed by nine weeks of training to develop all the skills needed to set franchisees up for success.

LeBlanc says that success comes with building networks and relationships, and getting out in the community. “Franchisees should focus on growth and getting listings as a start. From there, it all comes down to becoming a figure in your community, one that can be trusted to have the seller’s best interest in mind.”

Royal LePage Canada

With approximately 19,000 sales representatives across Canada, Royal LePage Canada participates in around one third of real estate transactions in the country. As a seasoned franchisor, it offers innovative technology, tools, training, and support to enhance its franchisees’ productivity and efficiency.

Norman Hertzman, vice president of business development, says that owners can also benefit from financial guidance and one-on-one consultations to help support business goals. In addition to offering residential real estate franchises, they can also develop a commercial practice within an existing brokerage or as a standalone franchise. With a collaborative, inclusive culture and opportunities for continuous growth, owners are positioned for success.

At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Royal LePage converted many of its in-person services into enhanced online offerings and added pandemic-specific support to ensure business could be conducted safely. This support involved training and resources to franchise owners, teams, and individual agents. The pandemic also coincided with the rollout of rlpSPHERE, a digital ecosystem which gives owners the opportunity to automate their brokerage operations. The product provides access to Smart CRM technology, lead generation tools, and more. In addition, a Business Continuity Response Team was implemented to provide support and assess the rapidly changing landscape.

Franchisee training is offered virtually and in-person, and support includes tools and services to help maximize business and increase productivity and profitability. Dedicated account management routines and consultations help franchisees keep sight of their goals. The company also hosts several leadership events, including a national conference and regional broker meetings, and offers private social channels for daily collaboration, referrals, and sharing of best practices.

For franchisees looking to enter the real estate world, Hertzman says a strong understanding of the real estate industry and the market is a must, as well as the ability to build, articulate, and deliver a value proposition that resonates. “The real estate franchise business is largely focused on establishing strong relationships, and at Royal LePage, franchise owners have access to industry experts, mentors, and network resources to guide them. Successful brokerages are flexible and can embrace change and adapt to new environments, as we have seen throughout the pandemic. Embracing technology and utilizing these tools can also be an effective way to increase your profitability and enhance the services your brokerage provides.”

Sutton Group

A commitment to excellence, integrity, and innovation is behind the success of Sutton Group, founded in 1983. With more than 6,000 realtors and 200 offices across Canada, Sutton closes billions of dollars in real estate transactions annually.

Like many companies, Sutton redefined the way it does business at the start of the pandemic by pivoting and moving online to conduct video tours, meetings, and remote training. “I think the main takeaway is that you have to remain adaptable, and that you may need to change parts of how you do things, but if you work at it, the business will be there,” says vice president of operations, Rick Taron. “I think that we’ll continue to promote some of the processes that we’ve found beneficial over the past year, while hopefully regaining some of the in-person, face-to-face interaction that we feel is a strength of our company.”

Thanks to more than 35 years of business in Canada providing national support, branding, and education, Sutton franchisees have access to a host of tools to take control of their business and spend more time doing what they love: selling homes.

Through its online training resource, Sutton University, the brand offers self-paced training and webinars that feature top industry trainers. “One aspect of our company that I feel makes us unique is that we’ve created a tight community atmosphere, where there is plenty of one-on-one support available for our franchisees—whether it’s between myself and a franchise owner, or any member of our marketing team helping an individual agent,” Taron says.

Despite the pandemic, Sutton’s dedication to franchisees has remained unchanged. “We’ve had to emphasize the online tools a bit more, but the brand is still going strong, and our community is still there to have each other’s backs.”

Taron advises perspective franchises to start with an accurate business plan. “It should be realistic and include all the potential successes and failures that may come.” He suggests a five-year plan broken down by the year, quarter, month, and week to keep things on track. He adds that money and income is not always the measure of success. “Finding a good balance in your life is success to me.”