Asteco turns to franchising

Asteco has developed an innovative way of expanding its business — a franchise system of services, which it will offer to independent real estate agents and start-ups.

Franchising is not a new concept. However, as a UAE-based real estate brokerage and management company, Asteco is offering this licensing model in the region for the first time. And its 30-year track record has helped attract attention.

“Franchising is becoming increasingly popular around the world. Being the only locally established, full service real estate business offering such a unique proposition, we expect interest to be high,” says John Stevens, Managing Director at Asteco.

The real estate services company has been growing its network in the UAE, Jordan and Qatar. Additionally, franchising offered a speedier growth path, as the company’s corporate strategy was to grow locally and internationally, says Stevens.

“Franchising is a fantastic way of entering new markets with strategic partners who can add value to the brand, without any need for us to create subsidiaries or branches. It also allows us to expand into new territories much more quickly and provides a bigger distribution platform for ancillary services,” Stevens explains.

Asteco will offer tailored access to its brand and network, bespoke operating areas, regional brand visibility, set-up support services if required, round-the-clock online marketing support, as well as high-value referrals service and its dedicated intranet with a comprehensive range of resources, including industry-leading real estate software and CRM platform.

Focus on GCC
A lot of thought has gone into formulating a recipe that works, although each franchise will be created individually. “There’s no one size fits all scenario. Costs for purchasing a franchise depend on a large number of factors, and are discussed with potential franchisees,” says Stevens.

At first, the company will focus on the GCC before moving on to Mena over the next year. “We are happy to look at franchising opportunities in other countries and have already been approached by several parties about potential opportunities,” says Stevens.

The decision to focus on the GCC and Mena is based on Asteco’s existing client portfolio. “We work with some of the most influential and well respected individuals, companies and funds in the world, and often receive purchase or sale mandates from clients for areas across Mena. Having a network of professional franchisees will complement our existing GCC coverage, adding extra value,” says Stevens.

The new licensing services division will be available to independent realtors and regional entrepreneurs looking to diversify their existing businesses or launch a start-up.

Asteco’s business model has been tried and tested. Its sales and leasing portfolio, often appointed on sole exclusive mandates, listed properties worth more than Dh2.1 billion for sale, as well as 1.5 million sq ft of leasable space in 2013-14. It has sold more than 7,000 units to date, generating Dh12.8 billion.

“A part of our unique offering is that franchisees will have access to an enviable network and property listings. These are designed to support them while allowing them to successfully build their own portfolio, contacts and network. It’s about bringing the best of both sides together,” says Stevens.

It is easy for a potential franchisee to trust a business with a proven name that is not limited to pure brokerage but also works in valuation and advisory services as manager of various assets and owners associations. Rather, the challenge seems to lie in finding passionate partners with good commercial sense and credible professionals with integrity, in adherence to Asteco’s ethics.

“Quality and ethics — these were probably the most important and key considerations when considering franchising,” says Stevens.

“We’ve built a reputation that is second to none through our expertise and transparency. Our commitment to quality and ethics is recognised and trusted by a significant number of the region’s top property owners, developers and investors.”

Asteco’s franchise agreement, operations manual, systems, procedures and guidelines are designed to promote quality and reinforce ethical practice. To ensure franchisees adhere to the guidelines, Asteco created an online portal called The Grid. It provides centralised online support, followed by house calls.

“Our franchisees will benefit from visits by dedicated relationship managers who will support them by providing direction and ensuring all is as it should be in terms of the elements of the franchise, including branding and ethics. We fully support the ethics code of Dubai’s Real Estate Regulatory Agency,” says Stevens.

Source: Nicole Walter, Special to Property Weekly


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