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LJ Hooker drives growth via online strategy

LJ Hooker drives growth via online strategy

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Simon Parker

Savvier and more integrated technology platforms along with enhanced links to international buyers are two major initiatives already netting results for LJ Hooker, its recently appointed CEO has said.

In an exclusive interview with Real Estate Business, Georg Chmiel said his core focus after being appointed CEO in April this year was to continue the group’s push to become the number one real estate group in Australasia.

The 700-office real estate group said recently that it aims to expand the local agent’s reach via the web. To this end, the company reported that, based on Google Analytics, the number of people visiting the hundreds of websites run by local LJ Hooker offices increased by 350 per cent since October 2011.

Social media is an important aspect of this success, Mr Chmiel said.

“Probably five years ago, Facebook didn’t really matter in our industry,” he said. “Now, 55 per cent of our offices are actively using Facebook, not just having a Facebook presence but really actively using it, and Facebook has now become the fourth biggest lead generator for us, which is pretty amazing.

“It’s the result of the integration of the office websites into the social media.”

The company also recently reported a 56 per cent rise in traffic to the corporate property website, and is now Australia’s most popular real estate agency website, according to Nielsen Market Intelligence.

Earlier this year the group launched 582 new mobile websites for every Australian local office, part of a three-year internet marketing plan.

“Year one is the building phase, in which we build the basic infrastructure. In the coming, second year, we are moving to the education phase, in which we focus on training agents and principals and encouraging the use of the new tools,” Mr Chmiel said.

Enhancing the group’s access to international buyers has been another initiative Mr Chmiel has pushed, through strategic partnerships with Countrywide, a prominent residential agent of integrated property services in the United Kingdom (UK), and Asia-focused property listing portals, Juwai.com and iProperty Group.

This approach has already yielded some success for the group, he said.

“We secured a $4 million property in the south of Australia recently just because people read about these international alliances,” he said. “The sellers wanted to expose this property to the Chinese market.”

Mr Chmiel has set his sights on more growth, although not solely through more office openings.

“The core metric for us is market share,” he said, with the group recently reporting its residential market share is now 20 per cent higher compared to when it started its online initiative, based on statistics from RP Data and its own internal sources.

“Market share is being measured as having the most sales transactions, and also the most dollar volume of sales transactions … and that’s not necessarily correlating with the number of our offices.

“It’s very, very important, especially in times like this, to look after your existing offices … giving them the right tools and products so they can grow in the market.”

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LJ Hooker drives growth via online strategy
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