The making of an International brand

“We change our strategic plan every two to three years. It used to be five to 10, but the industry’s changing so quickly, it’s now two to three.” – Angus Raine

Topic – Never stop learning

Mentor – Angus Raine


Kevin:   Angus Raine is the Executive Chairman of the Raine & Horne group, and has been in real estate for over 30 years. He’s also recognised in Australia as one of the go-to people, if the media want to know about what’s happening in property. We’re proud to say that, not only has he joined us in supporting us in our broadcast from the Inman Connect conference in New York, but he’s here with me right now. Angus, welcome to the show.

Angus:   Thanks, Kevin.

Kevin:   Thank you for joining us. Thanks for your support, too.

Angus:   Pleasure.

Kevin:   Because without support from companies like Raine & Horne, we simply wouldn’t be able to be here. Angus, why are you here? I mean, Raine & Horne is probably one of the most recognised international brands, and you’ve taken that, in your era, to a whole new level.

Angus:   Yes.

Kevin:   Is this about learning from other cultures and other brands, about what they’re doing?

Angus:   Yeah. Well, I was lucky enough to have a session with Brad Inman when he was in Sydney, about six months ago, and we speak the same language. It’s all about keeping up, keeping ahead of the curve, and being an agent of change. So, he sort of spurred me on to actually say, “Right Angus you’ve got to come to Inman Connect in NYC,” and here I am.

Kevin:   So, tell me about the journey, from Raine & Horne, and how you’ve taken it into an international brand. What have you done to elevate it?

Angus:   Well I think it’s very important, Kevin, firstly, if you want to go international as a brand, you have to have recognised super brand in your country of origin. For us it’s Australia, and we’re a recognised household name, and a recognised super brand in Australia. So, the last three years, we’ve been the fastest growing network in Australia. So, you have to have all your ducks in a row in your country of origin first, before you look overseas. I think a lot of companies make the mistake of thinking this is going to to sort of save your growth proposition by looking overseas, but you can stretch your resources too thin.

Angus:   So, what we did, we’re very happy with the Australian operation, and that’s when we looked overseas. We’ve got a general manager of international. So, now we have three offices in Fiji, 12 offices in Malaysia. We’re looking at opening in Thailand. We hopefully will open in Vietnam next month, and we’ve of course opened a corporate office in Bangalore, about one and a half, two years ago. We’ve got eight offices in Bangalore, so big … that’s in India, or Southern India, which is the Silicon Valley of India, which is appropriate to say that at Inman Connect conference.

Kevin:   It is indeed.

Angus:   And we’ve got some huge plans. We could have in five to 10 years, more offices in India, for example than we have in our home country of Australia.

Kevin:   It’s quite amazing. If I can talk about the cultural differences too, because that’s something you have to bear in mind, I guess. When you move to a different country, they do things differently, they think differently. How they buy property is different. Has that been a challenge for you in going into other cultures?

Angus:   Well, you’ve got … our GM of international, he’s already worked in these countries previously, so culturally … in India, for example, they call it the three Cs, curry, Commonwealth and cricket. We have a lot in common, in India. They’ve got an enormous middle class. But you just have to mind your Ps and Qs, and all this thing, it’s just education. You just have to watch what you say, and watch how you act, in other people’s countries, particularly … I didn’t mention Dubai. We’re in UAE, just about to open our second office in Abu Dhabi. That’s a place where you really have to just know about that culture, in particular. And it’s not a big deal. You just have to be conscious of it, and adapt to it.

Kevin:   Does America offer great opportunities for you?

Angus:   Certainly. It’s probably not on our strategic plan, at this stage. Our strategic plan is every … we change it every two to three years. It used to be five to 10, but the industry’s changing so quickly, it’s now two to three. It’s not really on our plans, but you never know. You never know. If an opportunity pops up, the good thing about our company is, we can react very quickly to an … I don’t think there’s … few companies that can react so … as quickly as we can. And adjust to market changes, and adjust to opportunities.

Kevin:   So, why is that? Is that because it’s a family owned company?

Angus:   Yep. One hundred percent. We’ve owned it for 136 years, and you only have to go to one guy, who either says yes or no, and that’s me. Most of the time it’s yes, but occasionally, I tell my executive team in my offices, four and a half thousand people in our network. Occasionally, it’ll be a no.

Kevin:   I know you have a great hands-on relationship with your franchisees. Tell me about what you look for in a new franchisee, and I know you’ve just made a big appointment in the Brisbane market, as an example.

Angus:   Yes. Yep.

Kevin:   So, how do you attract big hitters like that to your brand, and what do you look for in a leader?

Angus:   Well, it’s funny, we were … I’ve just been in a session about emotional intelligence. You’ve got to … When I sit down with people, I can tell if they’re Raine & Horne people quite quickly, and you can connect … if you connect with someone. Frank and Craig from, now Raine & Horne Brisbane West, they were with another national network previously, and we just clicked. We had a lot in common, and he loved the Raine & Horne culture, and you said it, hands on. He knows he can pick the phone up at any time, and he’ll get a response from me very, very quickly.

Kevin:   Yeah, that’s a key thing, isn’t it?

Angus:   Yep, yep. That’s-

Kevin:   That’s what franchisees look for, is that quick response, and it’s good to hear that you’re actually accommodating that. So, in a leader, what are your franchisees telling you about the challenges now in the market? There’s a lot of challenge on commissions, as an example. How are you helping them meet those challenges?

Angus:   So, we saw that … the market changing, about six months ago, so we rolled out this Evolve programme. Again, we made a decision within about 48 hours, to say, “Right, the market’s changing. We’ve got to be in front of the curve, training our people how to really counter the discounters.” I don’t think it’s as big a problem in Australia as it is here, frankly, from what I’ve heard, from my industry colleagues in America, but it’s all about training. As agents, we have to add value, and we have to tell the consumer the value we add to the whole transaction.

Kevin:   I tend to think that, in Australia, we’re probably better at tackling that commission challenge, because our commission is already quite low compared to the States, as an example. There can be a lot of erosion here, and I think there’s going to be some major adjustments needed in this market, and the Australian model is already being implemented in some areas of America.

Angus:   So, in a way, I think our average commission in our network’s 1.9, 2 percent, so … Which is a great, in a way … The good news is, it’s a barrier to entry for the new players coming in. There’s just not enough headroom in the commission space.

Kevin:   Angus, what have you … what’s been … Can you just give me your one takeaway from today. You’ve already shared with me what you’re learning about commissions. What will you take back to Australia to tell your people?

Angus:   I think there’s a lot of talk, in the press in particular, about disrupters. I think disrupters is the most abused term in real estate. Most of the people that commentate on it don’t actually know the definition of a disrupter.

Kevin:   What is your definition?

Angus:   Well, it’s someone that’s totally changing the industry. A lot of these people are just add-ons to an industry. So, I think Inman’s all about really having more of a seamless, streamlined transaction, that’s easier for the consumer, and easier for the agent to transact.

Kevin:   Angus Raine has been my guest-

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