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Downturn opens doors for realty service

NNBW Staff

Randy and Sue Sidwell started selling franchises that deliver photography, marketing and Web site services to residential real estate agents just as the residential business was headed into the tank.

But the Reno couple, who head franchise sales in Nevada, Arizona and northern California for New Zealand’s Open2view, say the industry’s downturn helped open doors at real estate offices.

“They need to be armed with as many marketing tools as they can,” says Sue Sidwell. “That’s what we bring to the table.”

Open2view franchise owners provide photography of homes ranging from standard still shots to virtual tours and aerial shots.

The photos, which are owned by the real estate agents, are posted on the Open2view.com Web site and can be linked to Web sites such as Realtor.com or the agent’s individual site.

Open2view’s pitch: Its photography helps real estate agents win listings, and outsourcing the photography and Web functions allow agents to focus on sales.

The company has one franchise operating in northern Nevada, and it’s looking for more. The costs of opening a franchise runs from about $35,000 to $65,000.

The first franchise, which is operated by the Sidwells’ son, Randall, is booked solid, Sue Sidwell says. It has provided service to more than a dozen real estate agents in the region.

The Sidwells also are looking for area franchises to oversee development of the business in regions of Nevada, Arizona and northern California.

Open2view was founded in New Zealand in 1999 and expanded to Australia in 2004. It has about 200 franchises in those two countries.

In the United States, state franchises have been sold covering Georgia, South Carolina, Hawaii and Washington in addition to the state franchises purchased by the Sidwells.

Before their involvement with Open2view, the Sidwells oversaw the development of 100 locations as area franchisers for Mail Boxes Etc. and also developed a chain of convenience stores in the East.

NNBW staff


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