Robert Ward takes helm following Di Jones LJ Hooker Wahroonga merger

Robert Ward takes helm following Di Jones LJ Hooker Wahroonga merger
Robert Ward takes helm following Di Jones LJ Hooker Wahroonga merger

Robert Ward has taken the helm as chief executive officer of the newly-merged Di Jones Real Estate and LJ Hooker Wahroonga, effective 2 April.

Mr Ward has worked at LJ Hooker Wahroonga between January 2003 and March 2016.

Following his appointment he said LJ Hooker is a great brand, but the direction and change I wanted to take the business in, was not aligned with the LJ Hooker strategy.

"LJ Hooker is a cottage industry," he said.

"By obtaining a brand that is independently owned, we eliminate the middle layer of the franchise owner allowing us to implement growth strategies far greater than possible within a franchise network."

Q&A With Robert Ward – CEO Di Jones Real Estate 

Age: 33 Years Old

How did you get started in Real Estate?

I started my real estate career in 2001 and got my certificate whilst at Richardson and Wrench – Turramurra. After a very positive start to my career, I purchased the asset PRD Nationwide Wahroonga in 2003 – I was only 21 at the time and the Youngest Franchise Owner in Australia (REI Magazine). The franchise changed to LJ Hooker in 2005 – 2015.

During that time I was awarded ‘Best Young Talent in LJ Hooker internationally 2007; 2011 Franchise Owner of the Year. 2013-15 Top 3 in the network and the LH Hooker Office - Top 5 in the Network

I grew up with 3 sisters. My mum was a university lecturer and my father was in I.T. Unlike my sister’s, I didn’t do very well in school at all. My mum used to cry every time she found out I skipped school because she was worried about where I was headed. However I found myself in real estate and in doing so, found my passion, which in turn created success.

Why do you think you experienced such rapid success?

I think it was just probably a combination of confidence and naiveté.

As a young leader – how do you motivate people?

Lead from front and set a good example. Trust the direction that your staff chose to head in. Understand the Why! It doesn’t matter whether they are 25, 40 or 60 years old, everyone works for a different reason. Not everybody is motivated entirely by money. It is important to understand why people work and when you do this, you can effectively lead them to achieving whatever it is that motivates them.

Aside from an expanded footprint, how will your appointment as CEO benefit DI Jones and what can we expect to see from the brand?

What we bring to the table is an understanding of technology and todays customer. We empower the consumer, our agents and our clients and their listed properties through better technology – it enables us to provide a better service and maximize reach whilst keeping our sales team happy. I always say I in business I have two types of clients - the sales team/our agents who need support, tools and information; and external clients. We look after them by providing unparalleled service to them which in turn keeps them happy leaving us with exceptional staff and client retention.

Why did you decide to move on from LJ Hooker?

LJ Hooker is a great brand, but the direction and change I wanted to take the business in, was not aligned with the LJ Hooker strategy. LJ Hooker is a cottage industry. By obtaining a brand that is independently owned, we eliminate the middle layer of the franchise owner allowing us to implement growth strategies far greater than possible within a franchise network.

Why did you approach Di Jones?

It was quite simply the values, history, reputation and the people. We wanted a sexy brand, which is attractive to both potential clients and employees whilst standing for the right values. Di Jones came with 25 years of sexy and is extremely well known with a great reputation and values.

LJ Hooker is a very well respected brand globally and is losing one of its top performing offices in the network, how do the staff feel about the merger and what feedback have you had so far from existing clients and colleagues?

Our clients and staff in the office have been 110 percent on board since announcement. Everybody worries about whether their clients and staff will stick with them or will they be fearful when they are subjected to change, as people are naturally anxious about change. However we have such a great culture and team, that there has been no doubt at all about this merger from our staff and clients and they support the direction the business is headed in. People generally rely on experiences from the past, and if that is positive, they generally trust the plans for the future. In fact many of our clients have asked why it took us so long. Brand is about the people not the colours.

Are there aggressive growth plans in place outside of Sydney – if so what are they?

Growth strategies are about creating efficiencies, migration patterns, demographics, key areas where clients exist and offering a centralized service via a company owned model. It is a fairly targeted approach and one that will result in providing a better service to the existing and potential client base.

What is the feeling about Di Jones on the North Shore? Are they familiar with the brand – how do you see the transition from both a client and employee point of view?

The merger announcement has been extremely well received. The Di Jones client demographic is very similar in our key areas. It has actually been very interesting and informative educating our market of the changes. Many of our clients have asked in the past if we could help them with their properties in other suburbs, however now the requests are far more pronounced. We have been receiving an influx of requests on a weekly basis and this merger has been extremely well received.

The traditional franchise real estate model has created a stereotype that you can only operate in your suburb, which in turn can lead to pigeonholing. The second you drop the suburb, you open up your opportunities to a wider market. We have far greater reach as a whole, but also in the eyes of our existing and potential clients.

Personal Life

Rob is married and has three sons.

 

Di Jones Real Estate announced the merger with LJ Hooker Wahroonga February 2016.

 

 

Tags: 
Real Estate Agents Merger

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