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NAI Harcourts: Building a Business for ProsperityWhen two great real estate brands come together, the result is exciting for the whole industry.
- BUSINESS FOCUS AUSTRALASIA MAGAZINE- Issue 39, page 83
NAI Global is a network of independent commercial real estate firms and one of the largest commercial real estate service providers worldwide. Within its network there are 5,000 professionals at 350 offices in over 55 countries, completing more than $45 billion in transactions and managing over 200 million square feet of commercial space.
Harcourts is the biggest real estate group in New Zealand and the fastest growing in Australia. It has 780 offices in eight different countries, including the United States, exceeding $20 billion in written sales in the last financial year.
put two power houses like that together and something special is going
to happen. In 2010 that's exactly what happened, when NAI Harcourts New
Zealand came into existence. Already we are on our way to becoming one
of the New Zealand's biggest real estate brands, with over half a
billion dollars in written sales achieved over the last year alone.
It's a fantastic opportunity. Richard Laery, general manager of NAI Harcourts New Zealand, is visible excited by the possibilities.
"We have seen such a high level of growth at levels that are simply not normal for the industry, and it's unusual that you have two big players coming together to form one business like this," Laery says. "We've already done $70 million worth of business in August, settling over half a billion dollars in the last 12 months. We're seeing big numbers and we're only just starting. Once we get going I see huge opportunities." And all this in three years!
Of course, while this joint venture is doubtlessly profitable, that doesn't mean it was easy. There were challenges along the way. Each company had their own culture and way of doing things. and for the venture to be a success they would have to meld those methods together.
"Effectively the way i reviewed it was we needed to establish a culture inside both companies, a culture of sharing information and working as one team," Laery says. " it sounds fluffy and nice but it had to come out of strong leadership. We now have a team of professionals ringing each other up across the company, comparing and exchanging information. A lot of companies say they do that but don't actually do it, but you can see from our growth what we've been doing."
Indeed, NAI Harcourts' resuls speak for themselves. From the 70 professionals they stared out with in 2010 the company has grown to employ 116 full time sales professionals, with representation in over 60 locations around New Zealand. In 2012 and 2013 the company saw 41% and 39% growth in written sales accordingly, and settled values have risen by 60% and 49% over the same period.
The combined culture of both companies, NAI Global and Harcourts places an emphasis on providing their clients with an exceptional experience. Their mission state is "To create clients for life through the finest service" and for NAI Harcourts this isn't just lip service, it's an idea at the core of everything they do. The believe in putting people first, doing the right thing and making courageous business decisions.
"Our unique selling point is how we put our clients first," Laery explains. "We put our clients first in every respect, looking after their interest, and providing a level of service that surpasses everything else in the market. We exceed their expectations and provide a service they will want to use again and again."
At the heart of NAI Harcourts' approach is the knowledge that every business is different. Everything from cash flows, inventories, location and reliance on key staff can be crucial variable that influences the value and returns on a property. The firm also boasts a team of business brokers made up of highly qualified specialist consultants. Every member of their team is constantly working to stay on top of industry, technological and social trends and engaging in their professional development in areas such a s employment law, tax and contract law.
"We've found our biggest challenge has been getting the right leaders," Laery emphasises."We work hard to put the right people in the right seats. The process of finding those people is extensive and thorough. A lot of it is just talking to people, asking questions, finding out what makes them tick and where they want to go."
This is particularly important because NAI Harcourts works on a franchise model, where every outlet needs to operate as a business in its own right.
"It's a franchise, so we want people who can set up an independent business. So we choose the right business leaders who have a vision of themselves as part of a network and are able to share information across that network and work as a team," Laery explains. "A surprising number of companies out there don't have a system in place for sharing knowledge and that makes it harder for them to look after their clients. But we have everyone working together, networking to help our clients succeed"
This means that very early on you need to identify the right qualities in people, something Laery has developed a knack for.
"I suppose it comes down to finding what their key drivers are," Laery reflects. "After sitting down with a lot of people you tend to get and understanding of what they want. You want to get those people who are dedicated to creating something with long term clients. They provide us wit the motivation and personal qualities we need in business owners, and we provide them with technology, training support and the systems they need to succeed."
It's a strategy that is panning out well for the company.
"This last year has been fantastic, it couldn't be better to be honest," Laery tells us. "We have seen the market pick up, we're seeing more transactions settling, it looks like banking confidence is returning. People are getting more confident in the market place and are beginning to make positive decisions."
Things are looking bright for the future of NAI Harcourts as well. "Things are going exceptionally well in New Zealand, and I've just been appointed CEO of NAI Australasia, based in Brisbane," Laery says proudly. "We're now rolling out the strategy we have in New Zealand across Australia. I'm convinced we've got a fantastic model that's working exceptionally well. We're bringing in good people who want to grow a great business, and it's hard to go wrong from there. We're going to be pushing the business out into Australian markets. They're dominated by a few big players and a lot of smaller independents, so there's a huge opportunity for a new player in that market that has that small business cultural feel but is connected on a national and international level. We want to grow something that's lasting, something that's still here in 50 years."
We're looking forward to checking back in 50 years to see how they're doing.