I was disappointed, but there was no way I was ready to give up the passion I felt. I asked Daina for advice on what to do next. She simply said, “Find a way to buy a franchise.”
When she mentioned she was hiring someone to work in her territory, I jumped at the chance. There was no denying I was meant to be part of the PropertyGuys.com family. I loved everything about the job and enjoyed going through listings, seeing nice houses, meeting homeowners, creating relationships and then coming home, putting on my slippers and uploading listings. I even liked installing signs.
My third day on the job, I looked at Daina and said, “I can do this.” I carefully crafted an e-mail to Ken and asked if the Pictou franchise was still available. He got back to me the same day and told me there were a few interested parties, but they were saving it for someone special and it was mine if I wanted it.
Armed with support from friends and family (especially my mom) and a business loan, within a week I was signing the papers for the franchise rights to Pictou, Antigonish and Guysborough, Nova Scotia, with a plan to open in September 2010.
I worked full-time with Daina from May to September, soaking up as much knowledge, advice and best practices as I could.
Learning to list
During the summer of 2010, I attended PropertyGuys.com University (PGU), a week-long mandatory training program in Moncton, N.B., designed to arm new franchisees with the knowledge and skills they need to hit the ground running. As I had been working full-time in the business for a few months with an incredible mentor, I felt more prepared than most people in the class.
However, I was also 20 years younger than everyone else, and that made me stand out to some classmates as inexperienced. Thankfully, head office didn’t see it that way, and their support from day one has helped me maintain confidence in my business and myself.
I left PGU determined to succeed. I was also going to show people that my age wasn’t going to hold me back, but instead make me work harder to prove any naysayers wrong.
September arrived and there I was, the youngest franchisee in Canada, living with my mother. If anyone had something to prove, it was me. Failure was not an option—in fact, it never even crossed my mind.
Love at first site
Selling the concept of PropertyGuys.com and the product was the easy part. I knew I could do that. My shortcomings at first were the nitty gritty of actually running a business. I didn’t know the first thing about how to start one. I didn’t have a Goods and Services Tax (GST) number, and I didn’t know how to register my business’ name.
No matter what struggle arose, I just kept telling myself to get out there and sell. I’d figure everything else out.
And I did.
I worked really hard to establish myself in the market over that fall and winter. I even resorted to sampling customers with complimentary listings just to get our round signs on lawns. I would have a celebration every time a sign went up—it didn’t matter how much money I made. I could see the big picture. Signs on lawns are the best marketing for a real estate company and I knew that to get people to consider using PropertyGuys.com, I needed credible results and referrals from local homeowners who had a great experience using our system.
I remember my first customers who sold their property. It was on Hawthorne Street in Antigonish, NS, and I listed it in the middle of January 2011. The homeowner called me two weeks later to ask me to put the ‘sold’ sign on the lawn. In a sea of stale agent listings in the dead of winter, the house with the big, round lollipop sign sold within two weeks. Suddenly, PropertyGuys.com had credibility in my market.