30 Jan 2017
The UK master franchise for Keller Williams has changed hands – and ambitious new plans have been announced for the American franchise operation in this country.
Matt Fetick, one of the three new UK franchisees, said that in the medium term, the plan is to grow each of the three existing “market centres” by adding 24 ‘brokers’ to each. Currently, they have 100 brokers between them.
He also said that four new market centres will be launched, each with a minimum of 30 brokers.
Within the next five years the ambition is to have 50 market centres, each with a minimum of 100 brokers.
Currently there are three market centres – in Victoria and Mayfair, London, which have been rebranded respectively to KW Premier and KW Prime Properties, and in Leeds.
Keller Williams launched in the UK in 2014 – in contrast to an alternative fact in an article in the Sunday Times which said yesterday that the firm is launching in the UK next month.
In fact, in October 2015, EYE interviewed the then UK master franchisee, Donald Morris, just over a year after the enterprise went live in Britain.
At that point there were the same three market centres, with 106 brokers, all self-employed, between them. The enthusiastic Morris also announced plans to open two more market centres.
While it would appear that there has been stalled growth, Fetick emphasised that the operation has not failed, and that so far its time in the UK should really be seen as a soft launch – although it would appear unusual for a soft launch to have quite such a lengthy timeframe.
Morris has now relinquished the UK master franchise.
Fetick, who together with Diane Griffin, the Leeds franchisee, and Ben Kinney who co-owns the Mayfair centre along with Fetick, took over the UK master franchise in November.
All three are Americans who also own Keller Williams franchises in the States.
Fetick, pictured below, told EYE that initial projections for the business had been too advanced. “We have hit our own targets, but not other people’s,” he said.
He also revealed that the business is recruiting a new managing director for the UK, who he said will be a top candidate, well known in the UK industry.
In addition, he said, there are candidates for owning Keller Williams franchises in Manchester and Bristol.
How much does a franchise cost? “The franchise itself is £35,000 but we also recommend a minimum of £150,000 cash reserves.”
All the property consultants are self-employed, with the accent mainly on sales rather than lettings.
The attraction for the property consultants is that they keep 70% of their commission, although they do have to hand over a large chunk of their earnings to Keller Williams –π up to £60,000 in a year. Once they have made the company that £60,000, they get to keep 100% of the rest of their commission.
Clearly, the brokers are valuable commodities for the organisation, since they hand over a chunk of their earnings to both the local market centre and to the international Keller Williams.
However, Fetick says that the proposition is appealing to a growing number of high-quality agents with both independent and corporate backgrounds. Some, he said, are already working out their notices in order to join.
The big question is whether an American franchise operation will ever truly succeed in the UK. Their successes here have, so far, been under-stated – as have attempts by UK firms to crack the US market.
However, Fetick is upbeat, saying that Keller Williams – described on its website as a training company that just happens to be in estate agency – is different. Instead of focusing on building its franchisees, it instead puts its property brokers at the centre.
The firm is also this week launching a tie-up with Gazeal, which offers a system by which buyers and sellers are contracted once a sale has been agreed.
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