Setting up your own estate agents is not for the faint-hearted. With all the competition, it can be a daunting task but with a bit of grit and determination, running a successful estate agency can be very rewarding. Julian Ferrier talks about the highs and lows of setting up and running his estate agency, Pearson Ferrier.
When Julian Ferrier was first starting up at 27 years old, he wasn’t sure what he’d signed up for. He understood that estate agency could be a tough game but was eager to assert himself and his new business with Mitchell Pearson in the Ramsbottom property market.
Since then, the property market has undergone rapid and dramatic change from the financial crash to the introduction of more and more online agents. Pearson Ferrier too has undergone several changes and now is a thriving franchise spreading across the country. The challenges are constantly changing but Julian and Mitchell are both determined to move with the times.
As Pearson Ferrier reaches a new stage in its development, hoping to open their 50th branch by 2017, Julian considers the advice he would give his younger self and what he would tell aspiring estate agents now.
I underestimated the challenge of setting up a new business
Julian: I was only 27 when I went into business with Mitchell so I was still a bit idealistic about going into the property market. At first, I thought it would take about 3 years to become an established business in the local area. With this idea I decided I’d work really hard until I was 30, then I’d be able to take my foot off the gas and sit back a bit. Well, 3 years went by and I started to think, ok, maybe it will be 5 years then. The years went on and eventually, 10 years after I had set up initially, I realised that I wasn’t going to take my foot off the gas at all. The market is constantly changing and I want to keep moving with the times.
In my first year I don’t think I took any time off. I was working 7 days a week trying to get the business up and running. To be honest, I was grinding myself into the ground and it wasn’t a very healthy way to be working. I just wanted to have a granite-like foundation to build the company on. In my second year, I did take some holiday and relaxed a bit by comparison but even now, I’m still working hard to maintain our great business reputation and enjoying our success.
We thrive on word-of-mouth recommendations
Julian: Of course, gradually people have come to know us and recognise our brand. Putting all that work in did pay off and now we are expanding to become a national franchise. It’s great to see that after those tough few years building that granite-like foundation, all the knowledge I gained and the experience I had can be used to help our new franchisees get set up. I’m not saying that it’s easy to set up as a franchise, there’s still a lot of hard graft getting up and running, but at least we can share the things we discovered.
A lot of the time, especially in Ramsbottom, we are recommended through word-of-mouth, friends telling each other about us and the services we provide. For all that I’m working hard to keep up with the competition, it’s great to see that we have a good reputation in our area and that people appreciate what we do.
When we get thank you cards, it makes all the effort worthwhile
Julian: Sometimes it can be tough getting criticism or bad reviews from clients. As an agent, we have to police problems and sometimes put our foot down. Naturally, we always want the best for everyone and to get things right but realistically there are also times when we have to be firm – polite, but firm.
The good reviews and thank you cards make up for these situations, though. You have to understand that people are often quick to criticise and don’t often give praise so when they do say thank you, they really mean it. I don’t need praise to keep going, but when we got some chocolates and flowers last week from a happy client it gave us all a boost. We really do want the best for everyone and these small acts of kindness make it all worthwhile.
Would Julian do it all again?
Julian: Yes. Without a doubt. Every time.
At Pearson Ferrier we work hard to reap the rewards of a successful estate agency business. We take the good times with the bad and we are always pushing to do better. As our network expands across the country we are looking for more partners to join our franchise. With our network of Pearson Ferrier branches we believe we can find ‘a property for everyone.’
If you are interested in joining the Pearson Ferrier Franchise, please visit www.pearsonferrierfranchise.co.uk, where you can find more information.