‘Clear business rules’ allow real estate boss to keep expanding

An Australian principal has received international recognition for turning his seven offices into a synchronised marketing machine.

Canberra-based Matthew Herbert won the World Champion Multi-office category at LJ Hooker’s international awards after creating a corporate structure that combines group efficiency with local presence.

Mr Herbert has a different partner in each of his offices, which he acquired between 1987 and 2012. There are about 100 staff spread across the businesses, which he said is manageable because of the systems that have been established.

“There's a manager in charge of each department. Those managers report through to the licensee and the licensee reports through to the board,” said Mr Herbert.

“It's a simple structure. You just need to have clear business rules and allow each of the managers to be relatively autonomous.”

One benefit of a multi-office group is that agents have access to a wider pool of buyers. A property that is listed at one office can also be sold in conjunction with another.

“Having all the offices cooperating as a marketing group – and that's basically what we are, a marketing group – means we're able to achieve more in the marketplace,” he said.

Staff don’t work across multiple businesses, however, because centralisation would rob the offices of their local identity, according to Mr Herbert.

Mr Herbert said he never had a strategy to open so many offices, but instead responded as Canberra kept expanding. Going into business with so many different partners was also unplanned.

“As a good new person comes along and is trained over the years, rather than leave me and go into the opposition to set up by themselves, I've always said 'let's go into partnership together',” he said.

“Every one of them has been with me as a staff member before they became a partner.”

Mr Herbert’s seven offices are LJ Hooker Canberra City, Dickson, Gungahlin, Kaleen, Kippax, Weston Creek and Projects ACT.

LJ Hooker’s head of sales, training, awards and recognition, Graeme Hyde, said Mr Herbert’s success reflects his skills in using the network’s systems, support, infrastructure, technology, marketing and training across the offices.

[Related: Award winner masters networking, grows GCI by 165%]

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