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How COVID helped the FIRST Property Investment franchise group DOUBLE their footprint

Throughout a year fraught with snap lockdowns, job loss, increased government spending, numerous social implications and more, it was a battle of the fittest in business.

However, Anna Porter, Suburbanite CEO, used the time to change the game and take solo-preneur business owner from one man operators, to a national brand.

With the property market heating up and opportunities for passionate property professionals to calve their own way in the business world, Anna Porter of Suburbanite has taken a leading step in the industry by becoming the first property investment franchise group in the country.

“The real estate sales industry have been predominantly franchised for decades, but the buyer’s agent and property investment sub sector is more commonly sole traders and solo-preneur style operators.,” says Porter.

“Leaving a gap in the market for a household brand name that can provide the systems and infrastructure of a national firm.”

Anna Porter says she never set out to start a franchise and initially thought the ‘dirty F word’ would not be the right model for her. Porter started looking at licensing models but soon learned that if she wanted to provide her group with training and mentoring, it legally had to be a franchise and not a license.

“Our franchise group grew more than ever when COVID hit – which was a massive surprise to me,” she shares.

“I now realise it was because smaller operators found it more challenging to be alone in that environment and trying to solve big problems on your own is hard,”

“We also found that because borders closed single operators who traditionally were FIFO to the areas they bought in (usually more affordable interstate markets) could no longer do that and didn’t have the budget to hire people in multiple locations to inspect properties for them and do all the ground work.

According to Porter, there were two types of operators at this time, the ones who got the selling agent or a friend to do their inspections for them, and the ones with integrity that wanted to keep their standard high for their clients and only use qualified reps who didn’t have any conflicts of interest.

“Those are the ones who came to us because we had that infrastructure on the ground and they could leverage that – so it was a perfect match,” says Anna Porter.

“We only want advisors with integrity and this drew them to us. It was the perfect storm for our model to really thrive.”
Whilst franchising is expensive and daunting, Anna was very fortunate that she had three very high profile friends that she could lean on for advice that were all gurus in the franchise world, including the likes of Mark Bouris who she was on the Your Money program with when her franchise journey started. Anna recalls picking his brains in the green room before their live segments. Mahan Shishineh formerly the CEO of Harcourt group and now General Manager of Ray White as well as Tina Tower who was the founder of the Begin Bright franchise group also shared insight.

“Having a mentor that has ‘been there done that’ is so important when you are franchising,” shares Porter.

“If you don’t know anyone, you can hire people that can help you – but make sure you hire a business coach or mentor that has been part of a franchise group as it is its own beast,”

“Tina Tower now coaches businesses through this journey as she spent over a decade running a large franchise business herself and there’s no doubt insights from people like that are invaluable.”

Franchising has been a journey with many lessons to learn along the way for Porter, but she likes to think that there are some amazing people in the group now, which has allowed her to grow her reach so much faster than under other more traditional models.
Porter shares that when every team member has ‘skin in the game’ they really do give it their all and are the heartbeat of the business.