Charles Marinakis

Data to serve the franchise network

President of Century 21 France

Century 21 is a real estate franchise network imported from the United States of America 35 years ago. Mr Michel Tollé, founder of the network, has structured the real estate agent profession through a franchise organisation. 

Could you introduce your company? 

As of today Century 21, represents 937 agencies that offer all types of real estate services: 

  • Residential 
  • Property management 
  • Professional transactions with our network Century 21 Entreprise et commerce which includes 30 agencies specialising in these fields. 

Worldwide 88 countries are covered by our brand, 14,000 agencies and obviously it is the world’s leading operator of real estate transactions.  

What are the objectives of Century 21? 

We still have an image challenge regarding the perception that French people may have of the real estate agent’s profession, which is sometimes quite controversial, and we have been campaigning for thirty years to change people’s mentalities. Then there is the challenge of transparency in how we deliver the service and the business, and then we personally have the challenge of maintaining our position as the leading French real estate transaction network.
These are our short-term objectives. In the long-term we want to maintain our market shares and then once again continue to build our brand image. Century 21 is French’s favourite brand or real estate. Beyond this mission, we also intend to ensure that French people appreciate the profession of real estate agent and recognise it as being useful and not necessary.

Why do you need data in 2022 as a real estate franchise network? 

I think that data is the black gold of the 21st century. Everybody says so, so I think there are good reasons.
As for today our communication tools towards our clients are based on the fact that we possess data, although there are strong legislative requirements through the CNIL (National Commission on Informatics and Liberty), so of course we strive to respect them. So yes, holding data is permanently maintaining contact with our clients, which is essential today in the way that we can deliver the profession and then conveying information. 
Everybody is somewhat eager for information notably when it comes to real estate, on the evolution of market prices, the evolution of the price of a property… The most direct and spontaneous way to communicate with our clients is by having either their phone number or their email addresses. We can not always go to theirs, which is what we used to do and what we have to continue to do. It is not always possible so if we want to communicate more spontaneously, we do it through data. So, holding data is essential for us! 

Why did you choose EXPLORE/Codata solutions? 

Originally, it is because we systematically search for the most efficient tool for our franchisees. In this case, regarding the Entreprise et commerce branch since these tools are more directly targeted at them, we needed to have two tools that EXPLORE/Codata provide us with. 
Firstly, a tool for winning market shares with structured data that allows us to have market shares winning actions, proximity marketing actions such as mailings or personalised follow-ups and then data that we would call “professional” with a certain number of elements on the organisation of the company or the shopkeeper.
Then, there is the Codata solution which is the most precise commercial cartography that I know. It is incredible, when you are a retail business person and you are dealing in retail/business properties. Having Codata is like being capable to travel to the city centre of Marseille or Avignon in 30 seconds. It is just incredible.
As far as I’m concerned, I have been a fan of this data for a very long time. I have always thought it was remarkable and it got better with its digitalisation. Typically, when you are dealing with a retailer, they have establishment criteria. In those criteria, they may have a requirement for car traffic or footfall.
So not all of them, but the more advanced ones that are advanced networks, they need these features. And besides, sometimes Codata is a reference for them and they will tell you: “I want a shop located in a Codata site […]”. It means that they are guaranteed a quality location “and in the Codata cartographic interface, we want to be in the odd numbers of the street, we want this type of location and we want foot traffic or car traffic data according to our activity”. So, it is quite precise. This technology enables us to be extremely relevant in the selection of sites that we can offer to our clients.
I am more of a “drive-to-store” kind of person. I am interested in data that allow us to refocus on our agencies. I do not believe in the technological evolution of the real estate market to be entirely digitalised, as some platforms that offer online real estate purchases are trying to do. I do not believe in it. Nor do I believe in the online business transaction.
Nowadays, as in all other transactions, professional transactions have become more sophisticated and the requirements of the brands are precise, calibrated and defined. 
I think data is useful when we want to be precise, when we want to be professional in our approach, that’s it. It is a tool not a finality, it needs to be taken as it is. It truly is our philosophy.
So yes, I will say that I dreamed of having a digital version of Codata for 20 years and I think that those who do business transactions but do not have this tool are not keeping up with the times.