An Australian Franchisee Case Study
NAME: LEO DARDHA
Why did you go down the franchise route? And why did you choose hockingstuart franchise?
I finished high school and went straight into real estate. Growing up, I knew of my local independent real estate agent, but I wanted to be part of an iconic Melbourne brand. Working for a franchise with the reputation of hockingstuart was an easy choice – it gives you immediate access to established marketing, training, business and mentoring support systems through the corporate office – not to mention a brand name synonymous with Melbourne real estate.
What did you do before taking up a franchise?
I went to university to study international trade, but after twelve months I realised it wasn’t for me. At 19, I noticed a couple of real estate agents in a restaurant one day and introduced myself. I asked them how I could break into the business and they told me if I completed a real estate course, the job would be mine. Two weeks later and with certificate in hand, I took up a position at hockingstuart Altona, working for the directors who would later become my partners.
How did you raise the finance?
I was a junior partner in my early 20s at three hockingstuart offices. This gave me the opportunity to grow my own capital to start the Yarraville office.
What training and support did you receive initially and ongoing?
hockingstuart provides brilliant training and offers a range of leadership and training courses for staff at various stages of their career to help them advance. When I started here, we had monthly meetings every Tuesday where the entire network would come together. This was a great opportunity to gather words of wisdom from many highly regarded international and local speakers. In the last decade, I’ve been through a range of different training courses such as sales induction training, preparation workshops, negotiating training and behavioural courses. Now as a director, the network still provides advanced sessions in managing a business and leadership. No matter what level you’re at, if you don’t strive to learn more and improve, you’ll get left behind.
What is a typical day for you as a hockingstuart franchisee?
Every day is different – it’s jam packed and exciting. I do everything from attending team meetings to overseeing sales, securing listings and providing direction to staff across each section of the business.
What challenges have you faced?
It’s no secret the global financial crisis presented a big challenge for the economy and real estate industry. Sales were lower than normal and competition was intense. This placed a lot of pressure on the team to maximise every opportunity, so it was very important as a director to provide a supportive environment to boost morale during this period.
Has becoming a hockingstuart franchisee changed your life, if so how?
Undoubtedly. It’s a big responsibility owning and running a franchise. It’s changed my life in the sense that I am always focused on nurturing my business. It’s like having an extra child – it’s a lot of work but you wouldn’t want to change it.
What advice would you give to someone thinking of buying their first franchise?
Do your research and choose the right franchise for you. You will be in business with that franchisor for the next decade or more. It helps to speak to people in the network and gather their opinions. Ensure the franchise’s values align to yours. If you don’t have a lot of experience running a small business, pick a franchise with strong support and training from head office to help you hit the ground running. And like any small business, hire a great solicitor, a great accountant and be prepared for lots of hard work!
What are your plans for the future?
I’ve been a director for six years and I plan to be here for many more. I would like to continue to build my business and hockingstuart’s reputation as the agency of choice in the inner west area. I really enjoy working with my team so our future together is very bright.
Would you do it again?
I would no doubt do it again. I was a junior partner at hockingstuart at 23, which opened up the door to many opportunities – I’ve travelled the world with other senior agents, met some brilliant mentors and watched my business become a part of my local community in Yarraville. My journey has been hard but wonderful. Being a real estate agent is a different lifestyle – it isn’t a job, it’s my life.