How to scale a property business internationally
If you are running a successful property company, you may be considering international expansion. It’s an attractive way to reach new customers and drive additional revenue streams. International expansion also meets the needs of entrepreneurial personalities and delivers continuous challenges to keep teams engaged. Here are some top tips on how to scale your property business around the world:
Deliver a blueprint to help people succeed
Expanding into a new territory doesn’t mean you have to do everything differently. In fact, the biggest opportunity is to take your winning formula and share it with new global offices. In the rental market, for example, you could arm your country leads with a proven growth plan including at what stage to hire additional cleaners, maintenance and receptionists – so they have a strong framework in place. You can also set clear parameters for selecting flats and furniture, including things like mattress size and recommended artwork. This ensures consistent high quality and fast decision-making.
Put operational excellence first
The key to scaling successfully is having an efficient back office. This should become the engine room to manage all operations – from customer service enquiries to property booking requests. Efficiencies can be gained from having people who are completing these tasks all the time and, of course, by using technology. You could, for example, automate initial interactions with landlords and tenants. This could mean a landlord submits a website enquiry, gets an automatic email, and a call or visit is scheduled without human input. After the visit, software can generate a report based on key information from the property outlining the rent valuation of the flat, and an offer is sent to the landlord. This will save critical time so country managers can get back to running and growing the business.
Landlords and property owners want to speak to local people, so you need to get the right people on the ground. These individuals must embody your company values and be trusted to represent your business around the world – and they need to be able to turn their hand to anything. In every country where we have launched, we started with a sales lead, and this person then transitioned to become the country manager. This ensures they take full ownership for growing the local office.
Build a team culture
Once you’ve identified the right country lead, bring them to your headquarters. We try to do this with multiple hires at the same time, because then when they go off to get started in their local market, there is a sense of camaraderie and competition between them. They also get visibility of the broader company and feel more supported.
Getting the family feel right is important be successful in each market – but this is easier said than done when it’s not possible to meet in person. Video conferencing, instant messaging and online meeting software are all helping us to stay connected with our international colleagues.
Embrace cultural differences
While many of the processes involved with running your business around the world will remain the same, the culture and people can be very different. You may have a tried and tested technique for engaging and signing customers in one country but find it doesn’t translate in another. You need to be open minded and anticipate an element of ‘test and learn’ to find out what works in each market. Getting a grasp of the nuances between different cultures is all part of the fun of growing internationally.
One of the biggest differences we observed working across multiple territories in Europe is the different approaches to negotiation. In one country, having a strong brand is the most important thing to attract new customers and, in another, having strong financial accounts is the most important factor.
2020 was, undoubtedly, a challenging year. Yet research by Globalization Partners found that most companies are still moving ahead with plans for new or expanded international operations. As we enter 2021, now is the time to set your intentions and go for global growth.
This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Johan Hajji .
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