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No items found An Opportunity For Real Estate Photographers

Published: 06/02/2008

About a month ago I noticed an ad in Inc magazine for, a company that was founded in New Zealand in 1999. Open2view has grown to 200 franchises expanding into Australia in 2004 and to the US in 2007. They are starting out in HI, CA, AZ, WA, GA, NC and FL. I've spent some time checking open2view out and talking to Eric Chase in Auckland, NZ. Eric is leading the expansion into Canada and the US. Actually, I woke him up early Monday morning because I didn't pay enough attention to what time it was in NZ. It's 9:30AM on the west coast so everyone in the world should be out of bed right? Wrong! Eric was a good sport! He talked to me anyway.If you take a close look at a property page, for example , you can see the level of quality that open2view photographers do. Looks pretty good I think. This particular listing is in Hawaii but the quality between photographers is remarkably consistent because they've all had the same training. Some start with no photographic background. They have a large image slide show of all the stills, several cylindrical 360s and some excellent floor plans that hot link to still photos along with maps and the other standard property tour things. Their list of services reads like my ideal list plus extras. Prices listed here are for Washington thanks to Stephen Armstrong:

  1. 20 stills - provided in web, print and full size- $198
  2. Full-screen 360s (up to 3 tours) - $120
  3. Interactive floor plan- $150
  4. Twilight shots - up to 3 images - $176
  5. Elevated pole shots (PAP) - $176
  6. 24-hour turnaround - Standard
  7. Photo Walk-through on website - $20
  8. Agent CD with all photos with contact sheet - Free
  9. Seller CD containing a disk version of the tour... for an agent gift to seller - Free
  10. Agent door hangers (to 25) to promote the listing to neighbors - Standard
  11. Video tours in development
  12. Package deals containing a selection of the above the above services are available for $258, $369 and $469 Contact for more details.

Open2view is a franchise type of business where the photographer purchases a franchise and independently owns and operates the business. With the franchise you get the benefit of the Open2view brand and marketing approach, the use of hosting site, comprehensive training program and ongoing support. The major benefit to a photographer of taking this franchise approach to real estate photography is that you don't have to figure out the marketing or technical aspects of the business. The franchise is a successful formula for running a real estate photography business. They have developed and refined all aspects of the business in the process of growing to 200 franchises. There is less risk in this approach but of coarse you have to invest in the franchise. For more info on how the franchise works or what it costs contact: Thur 2/7 8:30PST: Eric Chase sent me this photo of Open2view vehicles to show what they look like. Eric said: "All our franchisees are proud of their branded vehicles. Actually when people see our photographers driving around with what they think is a missile launcher or Bazooka on top they can’t help but stop and query what it’s all about. Another great way to market what we do, and agents love it!"

Larry Lohrman

64 comments on “ An Opportunity For Real Estate Photographers”

  1. [...] Commercial Real Estate Kleer Team wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerptAbout a month ago I noticed an ad in Inc magazine for a company that was founded in New Zealand in 1999. Open2view has grown to 200 franchises expanding into Australia in 2004 and to the US in 2007. … [...]

  2. This looks like an interesting franchise, I note that the turnaround is 24hrs. Turnaround is one aspect that I often struggle with, PPing well into the night to get jobs ready for dispatch. Does open2view handle the PP and delivery centrally? freeing up the photographer/ franchisee to just do the photography? If so it may be of interest, though it doesn't seem to have got to the UK yet.

  3. Before this story is glossed up too much, there is always two sides to a coin.

    I looked into an O2V franchise over a year ago, but was turned off for a number of reasons.
    Keeping only 64% of gross takings was the main one.
    It may be a bit more involved, but basically, 36% is going back up the franchise pyramid. Somebody is making money, but it isn't the guy taking the pictures.

  4. Also, there is a quantity over quality issue.

    Go to the O2V website and look at the listings, some will have in excess of 30 pictures.
    Apart from being ridiculous, it is quite opposed to the general theory of many high-end and boutique agencies over here. Show just enough pictures, say 10-15, to whet the appetite to generate enquiry.

    The 'more is better' philosophy is akin to McDonalds and hamburgers. The mainstream McDonalds type agencies like Ray White, ReMax etc love it. Boutique agencies dealing in quality properties don't.

    Don't get me started! 😉

  5. I was in New Zealand last Christmas and frankly the overall standard of real estate photography was vastly better than what I'm seeing in America. Whether the agents do it themselves, or get professional help, the expectted standard is much higher by sellers.

  6. @Adam,

    In their defense, 36% has to go towards other business expenses. I doubt that's a number pulled out of thin air. They're in it to make money.


    I totally agree about the expected standard. This is something I've been working on locally w/ some agents. Unfortunately many just look at the price tag and nothing else.

  7. I was indirectly approached to buy an Open2View franchise from a photographer who was getting out of it. I wasn't interested, you have to drive around in a vehicle painted up in their colours and that didn't appeal to me at all. I think she was asking around A$70k for her franchise, which I thought was ridiculous. I'd love to know why she was getting out...

  8. With all due respect for Larry's suggestion, I'd advise people to stay away from these franchises. These are companies trying to make megabucks ( and guess how they do it) and in the end I don't think it's a very good deal for the photographer. I considered one of these companies before I was able to get my own business going. No thanks. Do it yourself and you'll get much more satisfaction ( and financial rewards) as an independent photographer. This isn't rocket science and with hard work and patience you can do it yourself. Better.

  9. I'm with Open2view New Zealand. For the past 4 years and 8 months in fact! It's the best thing that has ever happened to me - combining a hobby with a passion - photography and real estate. What some of the respondents don't understand yet, is that O2v has taken real estate photography and internet marketing to a new level and it's taking the world by storm. Many independent real estate photographers are finding it hard to compete, because O2v is such a popular concept in NZ for both agents and buyers. Agents love us because we provide them with professional photos AND a world class website, while buyers in today's busy world prefer to shop for property on O2v because we are an independent site that hosts properties of most of the real estate companies. Buyers simply don't have time to surf around on hundreds of individual agency websites. Our viewers are from all corners of the globe. Many o2v properties in fact sell to overseas buyers, sight unseen! The days of "show them just a few pics to make them want to see more' is something of the past. Buyers want to see as much as possible because they don't want to waste time and energy.

    Open2view doesn't have a typical franchise system, which is why a franchisee's cut is lower than other franchises. I'm sure Eric Chase will explain the whole concept to anyone interested. I make a damn good living. Others in bigger cities are making a killing. Yes, O2v photographers work hard and do enhancing at night, but heck, I would much rather do that than sitting in an office from 9 to 5. I don't blame you guys for not seeing the benefits yet as O2v is brand new in the USA. But watch it grow and let's talk in a year's time. As far as I know, Canada and the UK will be coming on board sometime soon, and several other countries have expressed interest. Get on board now, but be prepared to work very hard, especially in the beginning. To get agents to start using you and educate buyers to shop for property on O2v doesn't happen overnight.

    I will still be with O2v 10 years from now - they will have to kick me out to get rid of me.

  10. "Open2view doesn’t have a typical franchise system, which is why a franchisee’s cut is lower than other franchises."

    Alta, would you be kind enough to ellaborate on that statement? That comment means nothing to the rest us of us, and raises more questions, if anything.

    Why is the cut so big? (36% here in Aus!)
    How is the cut distributed? (Area franchise > State Franchise > Country franchise > NZ )
    What support is given?
    What is the role of the franchisee before and after the photos have been taken & PPed?

    O2V in New Zealand is THE property website, there is no denying that. But, that is simply not the case here in Australia. In fact, many agents haven't even heard of O2V.

    The bottom line is, most Aussies look on, and no amount of wishful thinking from an O2V franchisee will change that. is our #1 property website, and always will be.
    If a buyer bothers with any other websites, they are still looking on in the first instance. Other websites come second. What is on the O2V website WILL be on
    Because the agents know that where people go to.

    That then raises the question, why would an agent want to pay a premium for the photography? (because at the end of the day, that is the only tangible benefit they are getting out of it). I have verified this myself by speaking to agents that admit they only use O2V for the photography. The O2V website means nothing to them, because they know first hand that sales aren't a result of enquiry due to the O2V website.

    As you can see from comments above, there are mixed feelings about franchised photography outfits, and there are differences not only country by country, by state by state.

    Liker I said, I looked inot myself, and it just didn't add up.
    If my situation changes in the future, I may take a fresh look at a franchise. This is your chance to tell us all about it - but please - spare us the sales pitch.

    I'm glad to hear you are doing well out of it though.
    Keep up the good work.

  11. Hi
    I've been a State and Area franchisee with open2view for over 3 years now and some of the comments here are a tad ill informed and inaccurate
    I run the State of Western Australia and we have had only 3 photographers leave in 3 years. Yes there are percentages taken out of earnings but part of our business assists photographers chasing monies from agencies. Part of percentages go into a pool to assist marketing and help with group buying
    We are finding that consumers want to see more than half a dozen pictures and the "Y" generation certainly want everything "Now"

    Isn't it better for the buyer to do all their research in the comfort of their own homes than going out to see 20 properties on a Saturday afternoon? Once they have looked at images,floorplans and virtual tours they can make a shortlist.

    By the way there is nothing wrong in traveling around a town in a yellow branded open2view vehicle. This assists the photographer to be seen and recognised in his local territory.

    The facts are these

    Open2view is growing
    It offers a superior service to agents than most of the individual operators
    The website is extremely user friendly
    Franchisees are staying in the business and making money--even after franchise fees
    The brand is getting well known and this assists open2view photographers in their marketing
    The IT team is second to none and is innovative
    Watch the site--its going to grow and be very successul not only in Australia (it already is) and NZ but also the USA, Canada and beyond
    Brad--$70k to get into business with vehicle,cameras,computers is cheap.The return on investment is almost within one year--not bad really !

    Please don't bag the business before you really know what you are talking about. I speak as a proud franchise owner. Its not perfect but nothing in life usually is. Open2view IS a success and the facts are that agents love the service and our business ethics. Join the bandwagon and have some fun!

  12. I purchased one of the first Open2view Photographer Franchises in Western Australia a little over two years ago. What a ride.

    In the two years since purchase I have grown the business from a one man band (me) to a business that now employs my wife (we both work from home) and two casual staff to help with the computer editing of the images. My business has become so successful that I am about to split the territory and sell half of it for AU$70,000 and both territories will still have excellent opportunity for growth.

    More and more people are browsing websites when purchasing a home. Why drive around all weekend from home open to home open? Buyers are now making their shopping list while sat in front of their computer in the comfort of the own home or office. The best way for a seller to get on that shopping list is to have professional photography that gives the buyer as much information as possible.

    Real estate agencies have loved the revolution that Open2view has brought to the industry. A number of boutique agencies I work for have disregarded the mainstream RE web sites and chosen to advertise all of their properties on Open2view because it is simply better than anything else out there. That suits me fine. Providing a one stop shop for agencies has proved to be a blessing. The elevated photography always draws a crowd and has quickly become an important part of my agencies marketing arsenal for a variety of property types including vacant blocks of land.

    As far as the percentage retained by Open2view goes, from my experience a great deal of it is reinvested into the system and not just our own franchise but the industry as a whole. From keeping our website up to date with the latest technology, research and development, sponsorships of RE conferences to subsidy of stationery and much more. With such a great range of services in their toolkit the split will not concern a good photographer franchisee. By providing two, three, four and even more services to many listings a photographer can draw an excellent income. If you’re not up for hard work and think that just giving your customers only what they ask for is OK then Open2view is not for you. If on the other hand you like variety, enjoy challenges, like to provide great service and enjoy being praised for your efforts (that’s right, people actually phone you just to say thank you for a job well done) then Open2view could be the best thing that ever happens to you.

    I am so impressed with the franchise system that when given the opportunity to purchase an Open2view Area Franchise I jumped at it. (an Area franchise manages a group of Photographer Franchisees providing ongoing support and training). Starting with 3 photographer franchises in my Area I can see that in less than two years that will grow to 10 or so. There is no way in my opinion that a sole photographer can compete with the service that Open2view offers. So my advice is get in early and enjoy the benefits of franchise.

    I am really excited to see the expansion that the USA and Canada will bring to Open2view.

  13. Just to set the record straight… started out with a guy and a digital camera back in 1999. Chris Bates the originator walked into my RE office back in 2000 and offered to shoot some properties. I wasn’t that keen but let him anyway! About three days later the phone rang…. ‘I saw your home on Open2view’…... ’Open2who?’ - I said! Long story short I sold about $13,000,000 worth of property through utilizing the services of open2view before I stopped counting…..

    I became good friends with Chris as I watched his vision grow while using his services to assist the growth of my brokerage business. Chris’s business grew throughout NZ and into Australia in 2004. I joined him in 2005 ten days after I sold my brokerage and hopped a plane to the US. Our first franchisees hit the streets in July/August 2007 and are just starting to pick up the pace!

    The open2view franchise system is a basic business model broken into franchise levels to ensure that the business as a whole runs like a well oiled machine. The Photographer franchisee earns the majority of the income with the Area Franchisor earning a smaller percentage for area management and doing the PR with agents in their territory. The State Franchisers look after the accounting, direction and major PR of the business in their State earning a yet smaller percentage. All our franchisees are usually on the camera though and they are all passionate people, especially about their work. We also have a small percentage that goes towards Advertising and Marketing and we have a smaller percentage going towards technology to keep the site improving. The balance is the regional/head franchiser fee!

    If you want to know more about our business hop onto the site, have a look around, click on the Franchise Opportunities icon and one of us will get back to you real soon! We aren’t for everyone but hey which business is?

    By the way Chris and I were in the UK in December and Open2view will be launching there sooner or later…..keep checking back! If you want to chat to me personally you can Skype me anytime you want. My handle is

  14. It seems like the quality of Open 2 View varies widely - take a look at their Australian website - a lot of it looks like images straight out of the camera with none to little PP. Sounds like it is popular in NZ and Western Australia. I've been an independent photog. for 4 years in Sydney and a floorplanner turned up at a property I was shooting who was an open 2 view guy who was farming himself out to also do floorplans only as he wasnt getting enough straight photog. business. This in a booming residential market. I would have to agree wholeheartedly with Adam that primarily and then are the major sites and no one in Sydney would use open 2 view just to get their properties onto their website, that just doesn't make sense (although it sounds good for open 2 view marketing). Take a look at their website and use your own judgement is my best advice. Oh also on the note of number of photos - one of the top, if not the top, agencies in Sydney (mcgrath) regularly use just 3 photos and a floorplan to promote their props.

  15. From what I understand from the one and only 50 minute telephone conversation I had with my local area Franchisor, an O2V franchisee cannot operate outside of the O2V model.
    He must operate as O2V, and therefore cannot make income on-the-side from doing RE jobs (thus avoiding franchise system royalties etc.)
    That sounds fair enough, you either believe in the system, or you don't.

    Sounds like that O2V guy in Sydney must be doing floorplans outside of the Franchise system though. I wonder what his local hierarchy think of that?

    Credit where it is due though, and yes the O2V stuff coming out of W.A. is excellent, so Chris, Kane, industry peers are noticing.

    Having had an interest in a getting a franchise, I was turned off by all the secret squirrel stuff. I was told I was welcome to enquire further, but a non-disclosure statement must be signed before proceeding, and that one would be mailed out.
    Well it arrived eventually, weeks later.
    For somebody who has never held a camera before, that's no obstacle.
    But for somebody who already has an establish RE photography business, that's a brick wall to proceeding any further.

    My area guy said "don't worry it's only a formality".
    Don't worry?
    It's a legally binding document!

    This is a catch-22.
    If you want more established RE photogs to get onboard with O2V, (and that in turn would mean more people with real-world photography experience) there needs to be better way of learning more about the investment they are interested in making.

    My local guy would not even reveal territory boundaries over the phone (and that was a major concern of mine).
    It happens all the time... another franchisee ends up on your doorstep.
    Example: A new Ray White near here opened up not long ago, only 1800 metres away from the long established Ray White. Do you think the original Ray White is happy about this?

    Eric/Kane/Chris, in case you haven't gathered, some of us are still interested in learning more about O2V, but PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE, don't use the sales pitch on us.
    Just talk to us, like one fellow photog to another.

  16. Adam, I like your approach and if you use Skype, feel free to call me...My handle is:

    Here's a tip:
    If you don't use Skype get on line and download it at and come to a whole new world of communicating. You can call me for free if you call me on Skype or you can call me for the price of a local call if you get a Skype 'go to' number. You can use any phone! Skype only brought out their 'go to' facility on the 10th of January 2008, so if nothing else go call anyone on the planet for the price of a local call!

  17. or, -- $0.11/min to Australia from the US, which isn't bad.

    Eric, what kind of upfront cost is there for an established photographer who wants to hop aboard the O2V franchise system? Ballpark range...

  18. Hi Adam
    Thanks for your responses and comments about WA photography on O2V
    There's nothing secretive about our business model but I must say I am reluctant to give out figures,territories,% etc from someone on the phone. After all a lot of the time photographers are just fishing for information so that they can try and copy our model. We get a lot of time wasters so most of the time I ask callers to come in and see us if they are genuinely interested and give them an insight into the business and an overview of what open2view does and where it is going as a business model
    After the initial first visit I wait to see if they call me back and if they do I ask them to come in and sign a confidentiality agreement to protect our intellectual property. Once this form is signed I freely tell the interviewee about our business in detail but at the same time I interview them--I want to know what they are bringing to the table as well as me giving out information

    By the way I have just taken over the State franchise in Queensland last September so if you want to meet and chat about the business then give me a call--I'm in your neck of the woods next week or like Eric you can call me on skype



  19. I can only speak of my limited experience with O2V which is when the franchisee in my area contacted the estate agency I work for, trying to sell her franchise to me. Apparently she was getting out because she wasn't making the return she wanted, this could have been for any number of reasons including her not having the energy, presentation, etc. to make it a winner. She was asking $70k for her complete set up at the time, and I heard she contacted the agency again asking $40k-ish a few months later.

    It seems to me that the website is a major selling point in areas where it does well, and not worth much in other areas. Most of the agents in my area don't know anything about it and are only interested in and their own company websites.

    I'm not sure if the comment was directed at me, but I wasn't trying to simply bag something that I don't understand. At the time, and still now, I think it would have been ridiculous for me to spend $70k on a franchise when currently I have just about more work than I can keep up with, four excellent RE offices as clients, don't pay any franchise fees to anyone, and can drive a car of my choosing.

    I can see how it could be attractive to somebody just starting out without any experience or customers but it wasn't a fit for my situation. For what it's worth, I've had a few non-photographer or real estate people ask me about O2V because they have seen their cars on the road, so I guess they are getting the message out there. I think that the website will need to become more prominent and important in Melbourne if O2V are going to replicate their success in other areas (NZ, WA).

  20. Scott
    Call me on Skype ( and I would be happy to go through it all with you. Naturally there would be savings if you already have all the gear and are ready to go! To give you a ball park figure would be highly dependent on what level you wanted to enter the business at. In the US at the Photographer level your looking at USD$10,000 plus an approved branded vehicle with mast and all your equipment. There are other franchise levels you can enter open2view at, dependent on how big you personally want to be in the business.

  21. Thanks Eric. Admittedly I'm just curious & not interested in joining O2V right now, but that's not too bad to get started. I paid USD$5,000 into another franchise a few years ago that is still way less mature than O2V. I've since branched out fully solo & don't have plans to get onto another system anytime soon. Plus, as cool as it'd be, a [new] vehicle + a vinyl/whatever graphic wrap + a mast could easily run USD$40,000-60,000.

    I'll hang onto your Skype info, regardless.


  22. Adam,

    O2V provide the following services to the RE Industry.

    Photography - day / twilight
    Elevated Photography from 20m
    360 Degree Virtual Tours
    Floor Plans - can be made inter active with photos and vt
    Walkthrough - presentation slideshow
    Google Mapping with POI's
    24hr turnaround in most cases
    All photos are accessed online via the excellent agent dashboard setup in the backend of the website. No discs, no storage on their computers and all fully backed up.

    The guy doing floor plans is operating totally within the franchise frame work.

    I suggest you do some more research on what the franchise is about.


  23. Just to clarify, the O2View guy I mentioned in my post was doing the floorplan as O2V i.e. arriving in company vehicle, wearing company t-shirt. Apparently you can use O2View for photos and floorplans, just photos, or just floorplans. Which is good, gives flexibility. Have a nice weekend everyone!

  24. I have to ask the obvious question:
    If you get O2V to do the floorplans, why wouldn't they do the photos as well???

    I thought O2V didn't provide floorplans only, but rather, it was an add-on to the basic photo shoot?

    ie; I can't order the pickles alone without the BigMac. 😉

    Can any of you O2V guys clarify this?

  25. Thanks Sydneygirl... you posted while I was typing.
    Clarifies that one.
    I thought the other services were add-ons only, which seemed a bit restrictive. Not the case, so good.

    Hey think about it Sydneygirl, at least you know you take better pictures!

  26. Adam,

    the Real Estate business is a very interesting one to work in. Nearly every agency I come in contact with has a different philosophy on the value of the humble image.

    Some think doing things they were doing twenty years ago still applies today, others like you mentioned only stick with 3 to 4 images thinking the buyer will have to come and have a look, and most are still trying to deal with how they incorporate the type of services we have into there business models to get upto date with how buyers are now looking for potential properties.

    As you say, it would be nice to do photos and a floor plan, or photos and virtuals, but some agents will stick with their own shots for insides and get us to do only virtuals. Doesn't make sense but that is the market we are in.

    We are able to manage our business according to the needs of our local agents. It is hard work walking into an agency who has been doing the same thing for 20 years, and trying to get the benefits across.

    We are working hard in O2V across the country to make an impact and in the short time we have been going this is now starting to happen. Both and Domain have made pitches to the agents they deal with for better image quality for display on their respective sites in the last 12 months.

    " least you know you take better images!" I think this is a cheap shot at those in our business - wheres the comparison?


  27. I would like to chime in on this discussion and give everyone reading a personal perspective from a New US franchisor. First of all I would like to say I have owned several successful businesses and had NO photographic or franchise experience before open2view.
    Franchises are not for everyone. I had my doubts just like a previous post who sounds like has not owned a franchise business before. Every franchise I have looked at in the past required me to pay some sort of royalty either to the master franchisor, for marketing, or something else. This part did not concern me since as a business owner I realized that any brand/product has cost associated. You can call it whatever you want overhead, cost of goods, royalties, whatever.
    I certainly do not pay my sales people 100% of the gross sale. I am sure I don't have to explain this concept to anyone reading. So if you look at franchisors in open2view as sales agents then you can get a better understanding of the split. Saying that, I know of no business that offers 60% commission to the salesperson and the owner splits the remaining 40%. OK Yes we paid a price for the franchise but that is what a franchise is and based on what we saw we decided it was a fair trade off.
    As a small business owner it was a relief for me not to be a ONE MAN SHOW, have an international brand to sell, 24 hour support, extensive ongoing training, forms, procedures, apparel, and much more already established and in place. The fact that this forum has so many blog shows me that I have made the right decision. One man shows are great and rewarding but so is being part of something bigger.

  28. I looked at O2v site; very sophisticated, but not sure it would cater well for the upscale European market.

    Internet is NOT global.

    Things to remember about NZ property market:
    It's the most advanced Internet in the world. Almost ALL Kiwis use internet for searching homes.
    So NZ is ahead of everybody on the game.
    Look at NZ for what's coming.
    So, overall, this is good news.

    O2V is a real estate website, who is constantly watching ranking, and competition with other aggregators. The success of o2v could change pretty quickly if competition intensify on real estate services.

    What i mean is the realtor who is booking an o2v photographer is benefiting not only from the images, but also by being featured on the o2v site, who is obviously bringing in leads.
    So the realtor CAN afford to spend on pro photography KNOWING that he's also getting ranked and prominent visibility.

    But in France, for example, there are 3 major realtor aggregators that are ranking first, consistently, and i'm not sure of what sort of SEO marketing budget o2v would need to come and beat these big 3.

    (i don't know the US market, but i'm sure you can draw similar observations)

    But o2v is good for the real estate photography industry, as it is setting standards - no matter if YOU believe that these are great or not so.

    o2v is also setting standards for RATES, and i would use this as benchmark.

    For me in France, right now, i think it's going to take a little longer before this kind of budget is spent on properties that are less than 1M€.

    Then for the upscale market, i doubt realtors and buyers are going to like their "unique" property being stacked like a sardine, among 1000s of other sardines.

    Still, i think o2v is a very impressive business. Congratulations to its creators.

  29. Having being an agent, the costs to the franchisor are irrelevant for this we get an international website. A team of six webmasters working endless hours to keep us up there in a world of constant changing technology. We provide exceptional service so each of our clients use us for different reasons. Some for photography, some for exposure of their properties and some just to help them with todays ever changing technology. 18 months in Open2view now and I would never do anything else ! If you are thinking about joining do it now before it becomes really expensive !

  30. Open 2 View! Good topic choice! I like the concept and the systems…………..But…..

    O2V just needs to improve on their franchise selling skills, I had such a negative experience with O2V when I was looking at the franchise that it motivated me start up my own business.

    O2V is not for everyone, it’s a model that would best for some one who has little or no sales or marketing experience, no photography skills, minimal IT skills and has a desire to be self employed.

    For me I was turned off about the whole deal because it was not sold correctly to me and there was limited communication from them.

    The other main issue was the initial outlay and the ongoing marketing costs.....36% for marketing/brand image is very steep!

    I went from working for someone to starting up my own business and the costs of starting up my self were a hell of a lot less than O2V's price. I did my homework and realised that I could get the exactly the same clients, same volume of work, and create better margins while still being competitive. So why would I want to fork over $30k-$40k + 36% on going when I can set up my own for a lot less without the restrictions on territories and the opportunity to easily expand.

    Also the $14,000 - $15,000 for the aerial pole system turned me off a bit, Considering mine cost about $3000, for $15,000 I could build 4X 20 metre masts.

    My company offers all the same services and more and has the infrastructure in place to be national.

    I think the O2V system is a good, however I think the on goings are a little steep....please correct me if I am wrong. O2V will defiantly be strong player in the RE photography game but it will also be very easy for someone to replicate that system and offer a better deal.

    At the end of the day there is heaps of work out their to go around. O2V will be around for ever and so will the independents like me and Adam.

  31. Hi Vince
    Appreciate your comments--would love to know about the pole for only $3000--as a State franchisor for open2view in 2 States we are always looking for alternative pole suppliers and have not come across any good qulaity systems for under $14,000 that fit out business model

    Please tell me more about your $3000 system

  32. Vince's comments seem pretty spot on to me. That is a lot of money to pay someone to use their brand.

    Let's dispense with the marketing hype and ground this discussion back in reality....O2V's website is FAR from being "international" and honestly is one of the most archaic and confusing property search sites I have ever come across. The photo thumbnails are smaller than most local MLS's and the VR tours run in quicktime. The only properties on the site are O2V photographed listings.

    Why would someone searching for a house ever go to the O2V site? As an agent, why would I want my property tour listed on a site with a bunch of other competing property tours? Am I missing something here?

  33. I have to agree with Aaron that buyers in the Puget Sound (Seattle) area already have a wide choice of real estate sites to choose from that have ALL homes on the market.,,,,, just to name a few. can in no way be considered contender for a property search site, it's simply a tour hosting site. I'm sure the same is true for other large markets.

  34. Aaron,

    not sure where you get your facts from or how you make the comparisons? When you do a quick comparison of the main sites Larry speaks about this is what you get.

    search page - 100x70
    property page - 400x300 [main photo size]
    thumbs of extra photos - 75x55

    search - 105x79
    property page - 450x345 [main photo size]
    thumbs of extra photos - 70x53

    search - 100x67
    property page - 280x210 [main photo size]
    no extra thumbs
    but get this - you have to register to get access to see the other 2 of the three images in total!

    search - 100x67
    property page - 200x138 [main thumb] other thumbs of remaining images [50x33]
    Size of actual photos when viewed 800x533!

    Hardly any difference in thumbs across the sites, but open2view is presenting photos in the largest format for buyers to see. That is the reality.


  35. Never mind what we at Open2view have to say, this below is an extract of what agents who are already utilizing our services are saying about us on the Open2view 'Feedback' Tab on our site in the US.

    Hear from our clients

    "My Clients have loved the website and I have had great feedback from everyone who has gone on the site. Thanks for a great marketing tool. Sandy Bishop"
    Sandy Bishop

    "Wow! You guys made this property come alive through pictures! We are very pleased with how the photos turned out. FABULOUS PHOTOGRAPHY! I would certainly recommend anyone to you guys!"
    Matthew Paul Brown, REALTOR, Broker, Pinnacle Sotheby's International Realty

    "Michael- Thanks for the beautiful photos you did of our home. We sold our house in less than a week for over the asking price with multiple backup offers. Your photos generated a ton of interest in the house which resulted in a great open house and a quick sale. We’ll be recommending you to all of our friends. Thanks again! Trent and Wendy Lythgoe"
    Trent and Wendy Lythgoe

    ""Michael, I just know your business is flourishing! I am now able to immediately recognize your photos the minute I see them, even before I look at the listing agents virtual tour address. It’s going to be a great year for your business and hopefully I can spread the word through out all the islands." Warmest Aloha, Karyn Shaunnessy RA "
    Karyn Shaunnessy

    "I am impressed with the level of professional service and personal attention the guys in Charlotte Open2View conduct on each and every listing. They stage the house at least a little when it barely needs it, and go out of their way to make sure each picture looks its best. They use great angles and the right lenses that translate right onto the viewers computer screen, always with the right exposure and lighting. I think they are incredible and getting even better by adding new services and more experience with each shoot. You are making a mistake by using anyone else. Downtown Dan Dan De La Portilla Owner- Leader RE/MAX Cosmopolitan "
    Dan De La Portilla

    "Very professional, immediate impact with showings, and very prompt with appointments. I would never think of using another company! John R. Bolin"
    john r bolin

    "Open2View has helped me take my business to the next level! My listings are getting more activity than ever thanks to the high quality photos & interactive options! In an ever-changing market, Open2View has helped me stay a step ahead of the competition! Thanks!"
    Tommy Williams

    "I really like the look of this. Please tell your photographer, that her photos are INCREDIBLE... I thought mine were OK, but hers are in a completely different league. Thanks! "
    Brian Miller

    "I'd love to help contribute to your future success. Aloha, "
    Vickie Graham RA ABR

    "Thank you, Again, your entire team is awesome! Very professional and super nice too! Thanks Peter "
    Peter Moritz

  36. That’s some great feedback guys.

    However I think you missed the point, the thread is not about your ability to provide good service, it’s about the justification of what you are charging to be part of the franchise group. Rather that spuking your clients comments, perhaps you should spend time convincing the unconverted on why they would be better off as part of the group and how open 2 view will make all of us more money than being independent. If you can convince me that I would be in a better position if were in the group then I would consider buying a franchise.

    Chris- Thanks for your comments. Unfortunately I’m not really in the business of selling aerial systems……but if I was what sort of volume could you move?, . The reason I decided to develop my own as did Adam is because the guy that builds yours won’t sell them to anyone but O2V and the price is too much for what the system is.

    For my new 20 meter mast I am getting the aluminum extrusion and Delran mounts manufactured locally based on my design. The cost for this will fall well below the 10K mark.

    My original system uses a Clarke mast, $3000 is what it cost me in total. If you were to buy a new Clarke mast it would proebley punch the price up to about $7000 all up by the time you buy the mast, pan tilt, adjustable tow bar/roof mounts, laptop and wireless system.

    Why don’t you offer you new franchises a lower cost system such as the 12 meter pull up mast systems, You could get them built for peanuts!

    I find that the masts are a great marketing tool when driving around time, while I get a lot of work for PAP I personally don’t really like the look of elevated photos on most properties, but clients want it… we provide it.

  37. I do have to agree that all this defense of O2V by those involved w/ it isn't really all that attractive. I agree w/ Vince:

    [blockquote]However I think you missed the point, the thread is not about your ability to provide good service, it’s about the justification of what you are charging to be part of the franchise group. Rather that spuking your clients comments, perhaps you should spend time convincing the unconverted on why they would be better off as part of the group and how open 2 view will make all of us more money than being independent. If you can convince me that I would be in a better position if were in the group then I would consider buying a franchise.[/blockquote]

  38. Scott,

    I think a lot of it has been correcting some of the information that people have been putting out there about O2V.

    An example is;
    from Vince "O2V is not for everyone, it’s a model that would best for some one who has little or no sales or marketing experience, no photography skills, minimal IT skills and has a desire to be self employed."

    I disagree completely here - high skills in all these areas will guarantee you success, for others it is a chance to build and develop these skills in a franchise where help and assistance is not too far away.

    No sales or marketing - unless the area managers have warmed a couple of agents up prior to you buying in, selling your self, your photography skills and your "independent" franchise business requires very good skills in these areas to make it successful. No switch is turned on when you sign up and the phone suddenly starts to ring with work.

    No photography skills - you have to be able to take reasonably better shots than the agent, [it is after all central to the service we offer] while the technical abilities of using a camera and flash etc. can be learn't, great photos come from the person behind the camera.

    Minimal IT Skills - my experience here is that many agents and offices are below par in this area, so having better than minimal skills is a real plus.

    Having a desire to be self employed - agreed it helps, but the main attraction here is that you are provided with the opportunity [for little cost] to change your lifestyle from 9-5 type job, travelling 1-3 hours a day [to get to and fro] to one where the hours you work are flexible - this fits well with the hours agents work and making appointments with vendors and the fact that photographers generally are working in the areas they have bought into.

    O2V as it grows is and will continue to have an impact in the market in the areas it operates in. Another player in a big market as Vince has stated.

    I think Vince should be able to answer the question he posed. He has mimmicked the O2V model to a "T" in his own business, given the belief he can make more money than entering into the franchise. That says alot about what O2V has been able to achieve in a short period of time.

    I would be interested to hear from Vince how much of a cut he retains when he takes on his photographers as he has recently advertised for.


  39. Franchising is not for everyone!
    In many businesses there are individuals that are able to survive and thrive without the need to belong to a franchise. Take real estate sales (the market we service for example) in just about every area there is an independent operator that is able to compete with and in some cases excel against a franchised competitor. You could also say the same for hamburgers or pizza’s, there’s always a special place that makes the best burger or the best pizza in your area. Unfortunately most of what makes the business successful is what the owner has developed over the years of operation through trial and error. When you go to another area you cannot guarantee that the independent business in that area is going to offer the same product or service that you have grown accustomed to. It’s hit and miss so you go to the franchised burger or pizza place.

    A franchise offers the customer an expectation of service and value. Most of the value of a franchise system is in the processes, systems and the brand.

    Franchise selection is a process, not everyone is suitable for a particular franchise.

    A potential franchisee needs to determine whether there is value for them in the first instance and whether they are comfortable with whom they are entering into a business relationship with. Some people will find aspects of a franchise too restrictive and may be more suitable to doing their own thing. Others may also be declined by the franchisor because they don’t think the applicant is suitable.

    The bottom line is that you don’t need a franchise to be successful, but the statistics in regard to the success of a new business clearly show that being with a proven franchise system vastly increases your chances of success. There are also failures in any franchise system. The franchise system and selection process does however significantly reduce the chances of failure. If the business owner does not work the system, the system will not work for them.

    Human nature being what it is… the franchisee will always blame the system for their failure and not their actions. There are however, in my opinion franchises systems that are better than others. By talking to the franchisees in the system you can get a feel for how good the system is.

    In business no one likes to pay fees… it’s just like paying tax. If you want to live in a country with good infrastructure a stable economy and a predicable future for your family then you pay a portion of your earnings toward the overheads of the country. (The government and its expenses) If you think the tax is too high you can always move to a lower tax structured environment.
    Open2view is a proven model that like any large business has systems and management in place to insure the highest success rate for our franchised photographers, Including a franchised local Area manager that assists and advises their local photographic franchisees, and State franchisors that provide the initial capital to establish the business and provide ongoing business management and strategic planning for their Area Franchisors.

    Many Open2view franchisees are able to charge significantly more for their services because of the brand and the promise of service that that brand delivers.

    So I guess the more relevant question is not: what are the fees? But what do you get to keep? So is an independent photographer charging $100 a shoot and keeping 100% better off than franchisee charging $150 and paying franchise fees?

    Fees are also contributed to a dedicated marketing fund, this helps everyone’s business.

    Open2view has a franchise council (made up of franchisees) that meet regularly and drive innovation in the franchise.

    Our expectations on ourselves to deliver value to our franchisees are very high; we take our responsibilities seriously and are confident we will be able to stay at the forefront our industry.

    Our goal is to constantly deliver more value to our franchisees to enable them to deliver more value to their clients.

    What is my business worth to sell?
    At some point you may wish to exit the business, you will want to get the best possible return on your investment of time and money. Any business sales consultant will confirm that a franchised business in the same category (i.e. food or photography) as a non franchised business netting the same amount after costs depreciation and taxes is worth considerably more when it comes to sell. (I can confirm this is the case from our resales)

    The Real estate photographic business is a hard business; the real estate agents that we deal with have very high expectations put on them by the homeowner who is entrusting that agent with probably their biggest asset. There have been very few professional photographers traditionally able to thrive in this high pressure environment or even want to be in a high volume photography business. (Most photographers would traditionally be more comfortable in a controlled environment where they can take their time to fully extend their artistic capacity)

    Open2view has simply taken all the lessons learned from shooting hundreds of thousands of properties for real estate agents, documented and systemized all those successful processes added some smart backend processing and website technology so as to provide an infrastructure for their franchisees to use.

    It is the franchisees themselves that then contribute the most value to the system because without the great individuals that we have been able to attract the model would simply fail.

    The success of any franchise system can be judged I think clearly by the people in that system.

    Open2view has achieved extraordinary success over the past 8 years and has attracted some amazing talent.

    We also have some fantastic competitors. There is room for everyone who delivers value to the customer; Completion is very healthy in any industry. In my opinion Open2view has done a great job in legitimizing professional photographic services to the real estate market by lifting the photographic standards and expectations of buyers and sellers.

    It’s only the beginning of the journey as there is rapid change across all aspects of our industry.

  40. I'm a real estate agent who loves doing my own photos, which is why I found this site to get tips.
    However in the Remax office that I am in o2v has become very poular and do quality work at a reasonable price. Their pole shots are terrific. Most real estate agents can't justify the cost or realise how important an investment is in decent photographic equipment is. They also don't have the knowledge or understanding of photo imaging programs. I am lucky having moved to Australia from US to have a fairly skilled use of the computer. I have found in the past 2 years our point of difference was the quality of photography. Now many more agents are using companies like o2v to get quality photography and o2v are the most high profile. I can't do pole shots so when I need some I will be certain to use them.
    On a quick note, the old method of a few pictures to whet the appetite is long gone. The Internet is now the first inspection. allows 26 photo's and I usually use all 26.
    Having lived in US and here in Australia the real estate business here is much tougher. (no MLS) and every agent is fighting for point of difference. Good photography sells houses which is why our quality has to be top notch

  41. Interesting reading, as an independent photographer I like to keep an eye on trends here in NZ. Open2view used to be the second most visited real estate site here about 2 yrs ago, it now ranks 5th or 6th on Neilson ratings, If this is a website gaining greater popularity, I'd hate to see it in decline. Much of what has been said above is very valid, many are people with no photographic experience buying into a franchise and "offering" themselves as professionals. While some photography on the site is very high quality, most of it is the point and shoot variety, a lot of bluff and only the skill of the particular camera being used on Auto. It seems all about traffic on a website not photographic skills, and if the website keeps losing ground as it has, I wonder what the franchise holders will do then ?


  42. I am hoping to purchase a franchise with Open2View in the very near future. This forum has been very helpful in my decision making process. I believe there is a huge market for this company in the US and can't wait to get started. I have done my research, and although there are many nay-sayers, it seems the people in the field, using the franchise are successful and very happy with their investment. Hard work coupled with a proven business plan seems to be a no-brainer to me.

  43. I have read all of the coments posted in this blog and have leared much about O2V. i am a profesional photographer (travel photography, landscape, potrait, etc) been in the editorial business for over 2 years and love it.
    I live in MEXICO CITY - Giatn Market for O2V!!, Paralell i have a business degree and love doing business I am interested in geting my self in O2V i know it would be quite a hit, specialy because this city is a complete desaster and trafic is mad!, buyers what to go to see a property only if its a top choice. time is money. also to consider there is quite a lack of profesionalism in this business. photo cuality is awefull and just few are starting to do the virtual tour. but coming back.. web sites are not that grate also.. so i see i big business oportunity. some considerations are prices. Mexico is a growing economy but still it is not as solid and settled as NZ or USA. some thing interesitng is that Mexico city is one of Latin Americas most wealthiest cities.
    I feel this could work quite well. any one has had a similar experience?????


    Pablo Prieto

  44. I want to purchase a franchise with Open2View at Adelaide SA in the future. But I have not any photography for real estate experience and I have no customers and I do not know how to get the customer. It’s seems the best choice to start my own business from the comments post in this blog.
    I have added Eric and others Skype want to get some reply.
    my skype is hatoyu , I want to know the detail about open2view.

  45. I too spent a bit of time and went through same basic due diligence. I was offered a single area that had limited real estate agents I could approach, thus limiting my earnings. I offered to buy two regions so I could make a reasonable return initially and once growing the region I would put another vehicle on...reply from them, not interested. My concern was existing photographers (and the area manager) covered what would be my region, thus a loss of income to them. Went with the O2V Area manager to real estate agents for a sales presentation, not very professional at all.

  46. In reply to the last comment, it was part of a Victorian franchise (Australia)

  47. O2V seems to be a bit dodgy. Registered on their website to get more info. No reply at all...

  48. This is a very interesting trail of comments. there is no doubt that many people in the O2V system are enjoying their participation and there are great arguments for and against the purchase of the franchise system. I have no doubt that it works but having investigated this myself I found it certainly was not for me.

    I did not like the up front costs, they were way to high for what I perceived I was getting, the cost of the elevated photography system seemed much higher than what I could develop myself, the limited and location of the areas available was not acceptable and I certainly felt that the ongoing fees were too high.

    I have taken the steps now to open my own business, only doing it part time but building slowly while maintaining my primary job. I have invested some money in registering a business, developing a web site, business & editing software, computers, elevated system and cameras. All up to get myself running I have spent less than $10,000.

    Every agent I have approached has purchased from me, I'm very strategic in the ones I speak to and when I speak to them. I'm in no rush to get too much work before my system is developed for the volume that it will eventually have to handle.

    So the moral to the story is, if your in a hurry to be successful then maybe a franchise is right for you but you will pay for that desire to be up and running quickly. If you take your time and build up slowly maintaining great customer service along the way you will not need to make the same investment in cash but you will have to make it in time, blood sweat and tears.

    Everyone will make their own decisions, hopefully the right one for them. I'm happy with mine so far...

  49. What a lot off varied comments re the O2V franchise setup. I am a franchisee and have been for 2 years in South Australia. Before buying my franchise I had established my own business as a sports photographer and also worked as freelance photographer. After looking at the O2V model and all the costs I decided to write to every Ageny owner within my area and introduce myself as professional photographer. I hand delivered all letters and followed up via phone and had a nil response. So I decided at that time it was not for me. Six months later O2V re contacted me again and I looked at my situation and decided to get on board. Even though I thought I had skills being a sports photographer I realised quickly that real estate photography wes a totally different game. I realise now if those agents who I had first contacted had givenme a go I would have failed as the quality of my work then was not what was required. Thanks to the initial training and the ability of a know brand name to open a door for a sales opportunity. So now 2 years down the track those agents who didnt give me a thought as an inderpendant real estate photographer are now my biggest customers. Sure there are drawbacks to franchising, but there are also many benifits.

  50. Well I would like to say after looking into and talking to some of the open2view people I think that they are being ripped! literaly as I see it its all for the open2view brand photog driving in roving bill board, and paying 36% and of course A % of this money is for advertising I put it to open2view I HAVE NEVER SEEN TV OR RADIO ADVERT at least not in Australia ????? so who spends the money and on what I did ask this question to only be stone walled, the answer I recived was at leased questionable eg giverways ect crap in other words not much direction, and last but not leased the photog gets to work his or her but off and promot the bran only not the photography............

  51. Well I would like to say after looking into and talking to some of the open2view people I think that they are being ripped! literally as I see it it's all for the open2view brand photog driving in roving bill board, and paying 36% and of course A % of this money is for advertising I put it to open2view I HAVE NEVER SEEN TV OR RADIO ADVERT at least not in Australia ????? so who spends the money and on what I did ask this question to only be stone walled, the answer I received was at least questionable eg giveaways' ect crap in other words not much direction, and last but not leased the photog gets to work his or her but off and promote the brand only not the photography............

  52. Yep, O2V at the photographer level is a rip-off, the business concept is great, but all the work is done by the photog franchisee who gets only 64%.

    The problem is to many layers ("pyramid") which all stems from the original roll out. The head franchisor banked a heap dollars selling State
    Franchises, who were sold the idea they'd get all their capital back when they sold Area franchises, in turn the Area franchisees were told they'd get all their money back selling to photographers plus they'd get 20% of the photographers billing.

    The deal just stinks, yes some photogs have good territories and making good money, but there are plenty who are "walking away" having spent the money, done the work, only to find they can't make fair income.

    The O2V franchise model is just flawed, the Area franchisee level should exist, then the photogs (workers) would get 84% for their efforts and that would be fair and a great opportunity.

    If you're considering joining O2V in US / Canada don't buy in below state or area level.

  53. If you think a 36% cut is bad, someone I know in NZ was quoted 45%!!

  54. Ex o2v franchisee, I am interested to know what your reason was for leaving the O2V franchise? Are you in the USA or Canada,what area were you working in? and will you tell us the negatives of being an O2V franchisee. There are positive and negative sides to every story and you have been working within the system so can you give us some more information please?

  55. well in australia yes your right 64% , what has been forgoten is GST yep that 36% loss depending how much you earn add 10% most likley on adverage 42% thus reducing your 64% to 54-58% just somthing else to think about

  56. As a real estate investor in NZ, I don't use o2v, I use which has all the real estate agents on it.... There are private property sales, which you find on auction sites... As a Photog, digital cameras means agents can do their own pics, so for real estate it's only high end stuff where there is money, think big interiors and lighting kit. There is a market for aerial real estate photos, but its minimal. There was one guy in the 1990’s with a helium balloon and camera under it, who got half of the NZ market, think photos of sport stadiums that are to be sold or renovated … O2v is hype and does get used, but if there was money in it for Photog's, then why are their always franchises for sale on auction sites??? For me, o2v, Eric Chase and co are rhetoric con men, who find it hard to give a straight answer. If you are selling real estate, the trend these days in NZ is not even to use a real estate agent. You ask a friend who can do a half decent photo to make some photos (as most people can do it with a modern compact), place an ad on an auction site (as for sale). Buyer gets a builder to check the property and to check council land files, buyer and sellers have a lawyer each and use the lawyers for contracts and trust accounts for deposit and transfer balance (which you traditionally need anyway)… easy, why pay someone $10,000 to act a mediator (finding a buyer) for you?

  57. Dear Sir,

    I am doing draw floorpalns to UK and Australia.I can draw your plan best quality and accuracy.If you can send me your jobs.Pl tell you prices there.I can agry with you that your prices.
    Send me your jobs sample.I will do that plan in very accuracy and without charging.
    I hope you joind with me.Pl consider me.
    Kind Regards

  58. Ex o2v franchisee I am quite interested in why you left as well, I also am an ex o2v I questioned a marketing levy I was paying & asked for it to cease I also asked for a set of accounts regarding this levy, a few days later my franchise was terminated for failing to meet minimum performance criteria, and that seems fair!!
    Never again will I get involved with a franchise, especially that one.