What goes into building a #1 business

As Place Estate Agents celebrates 20 years in business this year, Managing Director Damian Hackett looks back at the foundations of the Brisbane-based group’s growth.

In a conversation with REB, Mr Hackett pointed to the different growth strategy that underpins Place compared to other real estate companies, noting that their expansion “is not stunning by design”.

Despite this, their growth trajectory has seen them expand from an original office in 2002 to 16 offices plus the head office in 2022.

He also saw the company evolve its business model “probably four times along this journey.”

Since 2015, the company has operated under a head office model, where “every part of the process is done at head office.”

With a team of 60 responsible for brand marketing, agents and seller properties, the head office is also responsible for finance, contract processing, recruitment and human resources.

“We manage all of these activities unrelated to sales or property management to achieve a high level of consistency,” he explained, revealing that he is modeled after law firms and accounting firms – and allows partners and shareholders to have buy-in with the company.

For those in the partnership, Mr Hackett explained that “it allows them to focus on generating revenue”, whether that’s through sales and team growth, or property management. .

As well as enabling brand consistency, the CEO also believes it has helped them achieve their priority of putting “the right people around you”.

“It wasn’t about growth for growth’s sake. It’s all about growth with the right people that we can manage growth and maintain our brand,” he said.

From his point of view, while the growth achieved by the company is exciting, it is more important that the core of the company has remained unchanged: “We help people through property management or sales. Everything is pretty basic. It is a human interaction.

This positioning permeates throughout the company’s goal: to help people find their happiness.

“[It’s] a very good goal to have as an organization,” admitted the CEO.

“We say you are a landlord, tenant, seller or buyer, or someone who works within the organization, our goal is to help you move to that happy place.”

In practical terms, this means different things to different people: “If an owner, it’s financial independence and the growth of an asset. For a tenant or a buyer, it’s finding a place where life is good. There’s a salesman going on the next leg of the journey. »

Internally – and for its employees – this means that Place Estate Agents “spends[s] a lot of time focusing not on finances, but on all the different parts of people’s lives [lives] and how can we help them be the best possible versions of themselves.

Re-emphasizing the importance of culture and brand, Hackett acknowledges that maintaining them in a growing organization can be difficult.

And that’s all the more reason why he considers it important for people to know “that we care about each other”.

Arguing that business can’t just be about the money, he said of the nearly 500 team members that make up the Place Estate Agents brand: “We’re on this journey together. We know where we are going, we are aiming for this goal. We get there as a team, we will get there.

Then, once this objective is achieved, “we will set another one,” he says.

This trip is something people need in their lives, according to Mr Hackett, acknowledging that it can’t just be “showing up here every day [and] pay the bills “.

“You want to feel like you’re actually adding value. This is, in essence, what culture is.

With a strong culture in tow, this enables Place Estate Agents to embrace its ‘very clear mission’ of what it wants to achieve: to be the number one property business in Brisbane through market share and customer satisfaction. .

“When you have a pretty clear mission of what you’re trying to accomplish and how you’re going to do it, it’s easier to bring the right people along on the journey,” the CEO said.

Growth is certainly on the horizon – but that doesn’t mean Place realtors will be popping up anywhere else along the east coast anytime soon.

While Mr Hackett said the firm had received calls from people wanting them to go to the Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast or another area, it is ‘very clear’ that Place Estate Agents is a Brisbane.

With operations in around 55-60% of the city, he believes the brand has “more work to do” in Brisbane.

“And we will open these businesses, but we will open them with the right people at the right time,” he said.

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