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By Gina Makkar Franchisees of the Year never planned on opening a franchise. “I’ve always been one to walk to my own beat,” says Donnie. “Elaine was more open to the franchise idea.”

In looking at the opportunity, they realized the pros of working within a franchise system outweighed the cons. “What drew us to was the business model. It made sense to join a system that was already nationwide and had a structure in place. I realized quickly it was a lot easier to work in the system than to develop a system on my own,” he adds.

The model helps homeowners sell their homes privately, often saving costly agent commissions. Over the years, the Lysons have spent $80,000 in commissions, something they will never do again. With the real estate industry poised for change, they saw huge potential. “What really intrigued us was that it was an industry disruptor,” says Elaine.

In the early days, introducing the concept to the market was a challenge. “Our biggest problem was getting the brand out there. In central Alberta, it was a non-known entity,” says Donnie. They endeavoured to earn market share, rather than buy it. “We worked hard for our first client and went over the top to make it the most pleasurable experience we could offer.”

Today, the franchise system continues to evolve its teaching and coaching techniques to stay current. “From when we started seven years ago to now, we’ve consistently improved training programs. It’s always a work in progress. The minute you say your training programs are perfect, you’re probably out of touch,” notes Donnie.

“We’re in a quickly evolving industry,” adds Elaine. “We’re trying to stay a step ahead. As franchisees, we need to be nimble and change quickly. We lean on each other, and is very much a family.”

Donnie advises perspective franchisees to be aware of the challenges of franchising. “For most franchisees, it’s their first foray into the business world. The franchise is there to assist, but it’s still a lot of work.”

Donnie says they’re honoured to be the Franchisees of the Year, but they continue to do what they’ve always done. “We’ve always been involved as much as we can locally and as a national system to assist the company growth. Maybe it does give us a little more impact or put more punch behind our voice.”

This post is an excerpt from an article that appears in the November/December issue of FranchiseCanada Magazine. Click here to read the full article online or order your subscription to FranchiseCanada Magazine here.