When thinking of potential franchises, the realm of real estate photography is not something that usually comes to mind. However, for Israel Rodriguez of Halifax, it opened the door to operating his own business.
Last year, Rodriguez fulfilled one of his lifelong dreams when he invested in Snaphouss, a business bent on keeping photography services simple for franchisees. He found the transition seamless and soon became eager to expand his operations throughout the Halifax area.
Rodriguez spoke with Canadian Business Franchise about why investing in SnapHouss was an easy choice, how the company supports its franchisees, and what a typical day looks like for an East Coast real estate photographer.
Canadian Business Franchise (CBF): Did you always envision yourself as an entrepreneur?
Israel Rodriguez (IR): Before joining SnapHouss, I had a successful sales management and training career. I worked as a territory manager for Rogers Communications, supporting various locations throughout Nova Scotia. I always envisioned owning and operating my own business, so it was top of mind every day while I was at Rogers.
CBF: Why did you choose franchising?
IR: I chose franchising because it was the fastest way into a niche market without the trials and tribulations. You invest in a proven system, follow the steps, and reap the rewards—straightforward and to the point. I tried opening my own small business a few times in the past, and I would always come across roadblocks which would stop me in my tracks. Franchising eliminates most of those roadblocks, so you go down a relatively straight path.
CBF: How did you discover this franchising opportunity?
IR: I stumbled across one of their advertisements while I was searching for homes in my area. A light bulb went off in my head and I thought, “I could totally do this and live a happy life while doing it.”
Plus, real estate was picking up like crazy at the time. Once I inquired about the opportunity and got a little more information, it was a no-brainer.
CBF: When did you buy your franchise?
IR: I purchased my franchise more than a year ago, in June 2021. The startup costs were very low—I invested only $15,500, so I did not require financing, and everything was handed to me on the first day. From the training to the equipment to the marketing, it was really something amazing. I knew I wanted to serve the Greater Halifax area, because at the time, I lived in a suburb called Eastern Passage (about 15 minutes from the city) and knew the real estate market very well there. Everything was finalized and the paperwork was completed in about 14 days. In a matter of 30 days, I was fully trained and had customers booking me immediately.
CBF: What was involved in opening your franchise?
IR: The beauty of SnapHouss is it does not require a brick-and-mortar storefront or office. It is just you, your car, and the equipment they give you. With most franchises, you need to invest in improvements to a retail store, but with SnapHouss, once you receive your equipment, you can start the virtual training program. I was planning on operating myself, so I did not need to hire anyone, and the online marketing was all done by SnapHouss. The only extra steps I took were getting my face out there and shaking some hands.
CBF: Describe your opening day.
IR: Opening day is a little different compared to brick-and-mortar stores. With SnapHouss, all our bookings are placed online through our website.
When I was ready to start taking customers, they put a pop-up on the website notifying visitors we were now serving Halifax. We also had a limited-time promotion for first-time users. Then, suddenly, bookings started flowing into my calendar, one-by-one.
CBF: Describe a typical day of running your franchise.
IR: A typical day involves planning my route between appointments, ensuring my equipment is fully charged, and looking my best in my SnapHouss uniform. Next, I go from property to property and capture some beautiful content. Halifax has some amazing landscapes and awesome oceanside properties, which adds to my business satisfaction. Luckily, I do not need to process any of the photos, videos, or floor plans, because SnapHouss does it and delivers all the content to the clients for me. All I need to do is capture the raw footage and my job is done. Then, I go back home and enjoy the rest of my day with my wife and kids.
CBF: Do you feel your educational background helps in your day-to-day tasks and overall business decisions?
IR: My previous sales experience has helped me understand how people communicate. No two people are the same, so being exposed to all walks of life and different circumstances helps me provide a better customer experience. Once I understand their requirements, I can offer them the best solutions.
CBF: What have been the highlights and challenges of running your franchise?
IR: The challenges typical business owners face have been eliminated with SnapHouss. They take care of 75 per cent of the operations, including post-delivery, support, and billing. I guess the most challenging aspect is juggling appointments. If I have six appointments in one day, then I have to capture content a little quicker at each appointment, instead of hanging around and taking my time.
CBF: Is there anything unique about your market?
IR: The main difference is the culture and the people who live here. They are down-to-earth and friendly clients who enjoy working with me, and vice versa. They invite me out to their events outside of work, they check up on me, and they truly see me as part of their extended team—which is great, since I feel the same way about them.
CBF: How does your franchise stand out amongst others in the market?
IR: To my knowledge, SnapHouss has the most competitively priced services in North America, when you compare the individual services included in their premium bundle. Coupled with a fast turnaround, exceptional quality, and our new mobile app, we stand out as leaders in the marketplace.
I would not say I am in an underserved area, but it is also not an overpopulated market with a ton of real estate photographers. Although I know the other competitors are satisfied and have sufficient business, SnapHouss Halifax has quickly dominated the market.
CBF: How has the business evolved since you started?
IR: The business has completely transformed since I first got involved. Not only have they expanded in almost every province in Canada, but they have also expanded into the U.S. and are currently serving parts of Texas and Florida. Additionally, following the launch of the mobile app, they have enhanced their “news” division and are now pumping out lots of real estate news content. The company has beefed up its social media presence, and it just expanded its corporate headquarters. I give kudos to the entire team, and more specifically, founder and CEO Kris King, for truly pushing everyone in the right direction.
CBF: What are your future plans?
IR: I have recently acquired the remainder of the Halifax region. My plan is to truly dominate this area and hire more staff, so we can do two to three times our current volume and increase the evaluation of my business into the millions.