Renovation Sells Co-founder Michael Valente Discusses How the Brand Positions Franchisees for Success in a Booming Industry
Since 2018, the Renovation Sells team has renovated over 170 homes (and counting) with an average price of $20,000 per project.
1851: Tell us about the history and founding of the brand.
Michael Valente: I spent my career as a general contractor and licensed Realtor™ completing more than 500 client construction projects, working with luxury designers, and buying and selling my own properties. My team and I were working with some really high-end projects and designers, and with that comes a lot more details and a lot more problems. I was tired of dealing with homeowners who were very particular about construction, and I knew there had to be a better way to perform custom rehab work.
I realized that no one was offering professional renovation services for the residential, pre-sale market and knew I could easily do that. As a business-oriented person, I sat down and came up with a solution in November 2017. Instead of focusing on big projects with smaller returns, the focus would be on quality renovations executed with speed at an approachable cost. The results would match what today's buyers are looking for online. And most importantly, we would help listings sell quickly and maximize the homeowner’s equity. Within two months, we got general contractor and friend John Bura and interior designer Briana Gershenzon to join the team. The only thing missing was a name. After putting our son down for a nap and getting some quiet time to think, my wife Amanda came up with “Renovation Sells.”
Since 2018, we’ve renovated over 170 homes (and counting) with an average price of $20,000 per project. We provide a pivotal service for real estate agents and sellers in Chicago and are now looking to expand in markets across the country through franchising.
1851: What makes Renovation Sells different in the industry?
Michael Valente: Our team puts emphasis on design and delivers the look that makes the best first impression with buyers, both online and in person. We handle everything so homeowners and real estate agents don't have to, including the on-trend design, materials and construction. Together, we identify upgrades with the most return, finalize the concept to fit the budget and can complete the project in as quickly as 21 days. We are turn-key — you hand us the keys and we return them when the home is finished.
Construction fatigue is also a real thing. When clients get fatigued, everyone starts to get frustrated and home remodelers and contractors can get a bad reputation. Our business eliminates these challenges by reducing construction time, designing for future buyers, not the homeowners themselves and working in vacant homes. A majority of the time, when Renovation Sells comes in, the homeowners have already moved out leaving an empty home to work with.
For real estate agents , success is about moving a home at the right price as fast as possible. We are their trusted partners that help make this happen and a resource they can lean on.
We’ve been refining the business model for three years now. The average-size home listing is $600,000, and the average project cost is $20,000. In Renovation Sells’ first year, its clients homes sold at an average of 98% of the asking price. In 2019, as word spread, the company saw a whopping 310% increase in sales. Our all-in-one model streamlines our service and makes us more efficient. That is why we get the job over other companies the majority of the time.
1851: Why is Renovation Sells a strong investment for franchisees?
Michael Valente: What we do works anywhere and everywhere. Every home in America built five years ago needs pre-sale renovations before listing in order to appeal to today's buyer. The Renovation Sells brand, process and expert design will make franchisees successful in both the short- and long-term.
The field of general contracting is wildly crowded, and it is important to differentiate yourself. That is the main appeal of Renovation Sells franchise ownership — prospects aren’t just another contractor; they are professionals who help the real estate agent and the homeowner. Also, franchisees benefit from referrals and a network of clients who choose us over anyone else.
In addition, every national real estate brokerage is moving towards supporting their agents with pre-sale renovations (either selecting preferred contractors, or paying for renovations out of the brokerage). We are already here working and others are just getting started on this emerging industry.
Our primary goal has always been to make sure our properties look good online, which has become even more critical due to COVID-19. We are also at the beginning of a massive shift in the real estate industry. Millennials have become the largest buyer pool and now Baby Boomers are the primary sellers. But, as millennials come of age and start buying homes, they’re looking at properties that haven’t been updated in 25 years. There is a large disconnect between what millennials want and what boomers are selling, which means the timing is perfect for us.
1851: What makes an ideal franchisee?
Michael Valente: Our ideal franchisee is hungry, relationship-driven and willing to go all in with us. We want hard-working, dedicated people at the core. The design is only as good as the person who is servicing it.
Ideally, we want someone who has a construction or real estate background. More importantly, we are looking for prospects with a track record of success in project management. We are also looking for someone who can network, build relationships and be a trusted individual in the community. Many of our ideal franchisees want what a franchise offers, including more income potential and job security.
1851: How does the Renovation Sells brand train and support franchisees?
Michael Valente: Our team is dedicated to making sure franchisees are positioned for success, which includes help with training, staffing, marketing and more. We help franchisees find the subcontractors and team they need to fulfill the design coming from corporate. Franchisees also have access to our marketing toolkit which focuses on social media, because it is a great way to get in front of real estate agents. The local market publications also bring in a lot of great leads and we work to ensure that franchisees are well-positioned on the PR front.