How Nicholas Faulkner grew SDL Property Partners to 17 franchisees within the first year of operating

The new property management franchise is already on its way to achieving a network of 150 franchisees

How Nicholas Faulkner grew SDL Property Partners to 17 franchisees within the first year of operating

If you’re in any way interested in UK properties, then you’ve surely heard about the SDL Group. The company has in some iteration or another been a heavy hitter in the industry since the late 1980s. And it’s hardly surprising given how it has franchises like Century 21 and mortgage broker Stonebridge Group under its umbrella. But in 2017 it took another step and launched SDL Property Partners, the franchise aiming to transform the world of property management.

However, while the concept was officially launched over a year ago, it was years in the making. “[The] idea behind it has been forming in my mind for more than a decade,” says Nicholas Faulkner, managing director of SDL Property Partners, when speaking to Elite Franchise. The epiphany to create a business aimed at invigorating the industry came after years running and growing management businesses and working for other property brands. But it was when he agreed to merge his company Alexander Faulkner Partnership with the SDL Group that he saw his opportunity.

Faulkner quickly found support from Paul Gratton, the SDL Group’s co-founder and CEO. He was particularly interested in the idea and played a pivotal role in making the vision of the new enterprise a reality. Speaking about it at the time of the launch, Gratton said: “Coming from a similar professional approach, Nick and I both understood what we wanted to create. In the current climate, there is not enough support for entrepreneurship within the property industry and the creation of new businesses is key to the sector’s growth and prosperity.”

And there was never any doubt that Faulkner wanted to take the company down the franchise route. “I’ve always seen franchising as an effective model because you get the best of both worlds: ambitious agents working on the ground providing local property management services, supported by a central compliance, marketing, IT and accounting network,” he explains. And the SDL Group was more than happy with the idea. “The company already had a number of successful franchise operations, so the senior management team was well aware of the benefits of expanding business using this system,” Faulkner says.”

A year on from the launch and the company has already signed up 17 franchisees. But the new franchisor still had to tackle some obstacles. “One of the biggest challenges is helping some of our franchisees change their mindset from being employed to self-employed,” Faulkner says. “It’s natural to worry about whether you’re going to earn as much as you perhaps did in your day job and while there are always risks in any business, it’s an exciting opportunity to build your own wealth.” To alleviate these worries, the franchisor ensures each new member of the network receives the support they need. “As part of their membership, our partners receive training and support for marketing activities, how to use the software and compliance, for instance, on GDPR,” he explains. Franchisees also receive help around acquiring their Qube licence, company set-up, marketing and VAT registration.

While finding budding franchisees aspiring to join the network has been easy, SDL Property Partners recognises that their success depends on its ability to only pick the cream of the crop. “Some of our franchisees have experience in property management and, of course, that can be an advantage,” he explains. “But what we always look for, above anything else is enthusiasm and the ambition to develop a successful business.”

Ultimately, Faulkner believes SDL Property Partners could grow to be more than 150 franchisees strong. And he’s bullish that the company is already on its way to achieving that goal. “I wouldn’t be surprised if we reached 30 by the end of the year,” he concludes. “We’ve had a lot of enquiries from really strong candidates, so it could be even more.”

Eric Johansson
Eric Johansson