By Mike Perras
As a PropertyGuys.com franchisee in Sudbury, Ont., I’m living out my entrepreneurial dream with a program that helps people sell their homes and save money with a flat-fee marketing plan. It was a challenging business to launch in this region in 2006, but overall growth has been steady, as we realize more of the franchise’s potential with each additional year in business.
A surprise package
I was born in North Bay, Ont., in 1970, the youngest of seven children. My father passed away when I was seven years old and we moved to Sudbury when I was nine. I’ve lived in the area ever since.
My mother was 43 when I was born. There had been a 10-year gap after the previous child. I was a surprise package!
With the big age gap between me and my siblings, it was almost like being an only child. My nieces and nephews were closer to my age than my sisters and brothers, so I grew up with them, especially when we spent our summers at the family camp on Long Lake.
Our family was very athletic. Mom was a figure skater. My brother Paul played major junior A and minor-pro hockey, my brother Mark won two Canadian golf championships and my sister Barb won a Canadian mixed curling championship. I played hockey and football throughout my youth and remain an avid sports fan today.
I was a decent student, but with sports and part-time jobs, school was not my number one priority. However, I did manage to graduate with honours from high school and went on to Laurentian University.
I had been working part-time since the age of 14 for a contractor in the mining industry. When I was 18, I was assigned to work at the smelter. I got to work with heavy-duty vacuum trucks, but soon switched to field administration, overseeing approximately 200 student workers and managing their schedules. That’s where I honed my organizational skills.
A strike at the university resulted in a late start to the school year, so I continued to work full-time. I did another year at Laurentian and then studied business at Cambrian College, but by this point, school had become part-time for me.
I stayed with that contractor for many years, then worked with another for more than 10 years, becoming a branch manager for Northern Ontario. During that time, I met my wife Deb and we had a son, Alex, in 1995. I never did finish college or university. Life had taken over!
A new way to sell homes
Real estate has always been an interest of mine. I bought my first house with a friend when I was 20, then my second at 22. I looked into real-estate courses and considered becoming an agent.
In late 2005, I saw a newspaper ad for PropertyGuys.com. The company had been launched in 1998 in Moncton, N.B., and was just starting to expand into the Ontario market. They offered a flat-fee marketing alternative to the real estate industry. It was designed for homeowners who would prefer to handle by themselves tasks like fielding calls from potential buyers and showing their homes. This represented a big change in real estate.
I was immediately attracted to the broad exposure of the PropertyGuys.com brand, especially as the Internet was continuing to explode. They provided the web platform, training and support. Right from the start, I had a belief in the brand and its positioning.
Further, although I was happy at my job, I always wanted to run my own business. So, I continued to work in the mining industry while starting up my franchise. Back then, it was not a requirement to work full-time in the PropertyGuys.com business like it is now for new franchisees.