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Coldwell Banker

ARKANSAS

Coldwell Banker franchisee Michael Ford believes community involvement is key to building a business and a brand.
Source: Mike Ford
Coldwell Banker franchisee Michael Ford believes community involvement is key to building a business and a brand.
Description: Real estate agency
Owner: Michael Ford
Years in business: 22
No. of franchises owned: 1
Start-up costs: $173,000 to $497,000; $75,000 cash/cash equivalents
Franchisor fees: N/A
2015 revenue, 2016 projection: $4.25 million; $4.65 million
2016 projected annual growth rate: 10%

With more than 3,000 independently owned and operated Coldwell Banker broker offices in 43 countries, Michael Ford knew he was investing in a proven concept when he opened his franchise in West Memphis, Arkansas, in 1994. "The name recognition gives me a competitive edge, for sure, but I'm still impressed with the personal touch that Coldwell Banker provides its owners," he said.

Ford, who owned his own small real estate firm before purchasing his franchise, now has 28 employees that cover a territory with roughly 50,000 residents. His agents handle everything from folks ready to buy their first home, to growing families looking to trade up, to retirees about to downsize.

Ford said he looked at a number of real estate franchises before selecting Coldwell Banker. "I liked the fact that all their platforms were user-friendly and really tailored for the franchisee," he explained. The Zap program, for instance, is a digital platform that enables brokers to create their own website that offers clients all the listings, information and lead management tools that are available on the main Coldwell Banker site. The national television ads the parent brand has been running over the past several years have been particularly helpful, Ford said, because it reinforces the company's leadership position in the real estate industry and its dependability.

Additional resources for franchisees

Still, profit margins are thin in the real estate market, he added, and finding innovative ways to invest resources is an ongoing challenge. Given his long tenure as a franchise owner, Ford's best advice for would-be entrepreneurs is to find a franchise that works for you and allows you to be involved in your community. "We sponsor Little League football and baseball teams and are involved in the West Memphis Arts Council," he said. "We don't just write a check. Our people are involved with these organizations so that we're able to become part of the fabric of the community. That's part of building a business and a brand."

"I liked the fact that all their platforms were user-friendly and really tailored for the franchisee." -Michael Ford


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