Huizemark is a real estate brand that’s stood the test of time, having recently turned 52 years old. But a brand that lasts is one that’s able to change with the times, and for that real leadership is required. This is how they do it.
Huizemark has a strong tradition in property, being founded over 52 years ago. But being the property industry, it’s faced its fair share of challenges.
Co-franchisors André Hamman and Bryan Biehler are the captains steering this ship through change, and they’ve been able to do this by being exceptional leaders.
Tactic 1: Doing what you’re good at
While both co-franchisors have worked their way up the property industry ladder – starting as assistants right up to experienced agents in the 80s – they’ve found what they’re good at and leverage their skills to better the brand.
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“We’ve been friends and business partners for 30 years, and we bring very different things to the table, which we believe has really helped to grow the brand,” says Bryan Biehler.
“For example, André’s focus has always been on tech and creating systems and tools that not only make the franchisee’s lives easier, but also that of their agents too. When you take away the admin, suddenly there’s more time to focus on sales.”
“I on the other hand, am much more focused on marketing. Over and above running my own office, I assist my agents in their listings and negotiating efforts, and I even do sittings of show houses if need be,” says Biehler.
Tactic 2: Stay at the coalface
“We’ve never wanted to be those head offices that sit in an ivory tower and dictate policies and procedures without fully understanding the market and its needs,” says Biehler.
“For many years we maintained our own Huizemark offices for precisely that reason: We never want to be divorced from the coalface. We want to understand what franchisees go through, and in André’s case it helped him to develop better systems.”
Tactic 3: Know when to cast off ballast
Huizemark was originally founded by Hamman’s father, Piet Hamman, in 1962. Come the upheaval in South Africa’s political history and the excitement of new beginnings, Hamman and Biehler bought the business from Piet Hamman. At this point the business was called De Huizemark and consisted of 15 brands under one umbrella.
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“Change can always be disruptive and needs to be managed carefully,” says Biehler.
“When we took over the company, one of the first things we did was stop running Home Buyer’s Circle (which was the holding company’s name) adverts in the newspaper which took up a full third of the property section in the newspapers each week. Yes it looked great but we also knew the strategy was no longer working.”
They then went on a mission to consolidate where they could, close or sell off what they couldn’t. “We decided to keep the De Huizemark company and its name because it was the most recognisable. For the next six years we focused on consolidation as we believe that simpler is better.”
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The result of these three tactics has meant the brand hasn’t just stood the test of time, it was actually able to survive the property crash, and even grow during the recession. “We’ve now 43 agencies open across the country.”