Leading Australian real estate franchise group Raine & Horne has more than 250 offices, covering all of Australia’s states and territories, as well as across international locations, such as India and Malaysia. It’s a 100% family-owned real estate franchise group, therefore we sat down with Executive Chairman Angus Raine to hear his insights on the importance of good people – and being adaptable – for a long-term, successful family business.

Raine & Horne was founded in 1883 and is now in its fourth generation of family ownership. The organisation’s inherent culture and values have played a key role in building the resilience needed to survive and thrive over such a long period – and also during what has been a challenging few years for the sector due to COVID-19.

As the Executive Chairman of a 100% family-owned real estate franchise group, Angus Raine knows a thing or two about the importance of attracting and retaining good people in an organisation. This is Angus’s story about how Raine & Horne has navigated the past 18 months from a people and culture viewpoint.

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Sticking to your values in the face of change

Doing business ethically is a value we’ve always lived by. You could say it is honesty or integrity, and treating everyone equally, but we just think of it as “doing the right thing”. This was something my father Max (who started the franchise business model in the 1970s) always ran the business by and we do our best to carry it on. I actually found an old picture of dad and had it enlarged and framed for our head office, so he watches over us Mona Lisa-style making sure we don’t stop “doing the right thing”!

There’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to your people

Lockdowns have been hard for everybody, although like a lot of businesses we are now quite used to holding Zoom meetings. Generally, everybody keeps their cameras on which we think is a good sign! Last week (week three of the extended Sydney lockdown) when we were all working from home, we sent everybody a care hamper of Australian products as a thank you and also just to let them know we were thinking of them.

We also have to remind ourselves that it’s not a one-size-fits-all approach, some states might be in lockdown but others aren’t and the people's needs will be different. A large part of our network has not been affected by COVID at all and we need to remember that.

We also really encourage people to speak to each other on the phone or online, rather than just send emails. Or at least call each other before sending an email cold. We’re also really conscious of situations where people are living alone and lack their own support networks. People like myself are fortunate that we have people to go home to, but not everybody has that luxury.

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Creating a culture everyone wants to be part of

Since we moved to new premises two years ago, we’ve always made an effort to provide a welcoming head office environment, so during the periods we aren’t in lockdown, our team can take advantage of our break out areas, and facilities like our bar, table tennis and pool tables. Some people have said we are a bit more like a tech start-up than a real estate business in that respect! At 4.30 pm every Thursday or Friday I ring a large ship’s bell and we gather together for drinks.

We are really proud that despite the impact the pandemic has had, we didn’t lose one office. We put that down to the sheer hard work of the people in our offices which has enabled us to keep going and achieve the longevity we’ve enjoyed.

People are with us for a reason, a season or lifetime

On top of that, we have been fortunate to hire some good people during this period. We use the usual recruiter networks, our existing staff are a good source of referrals, and also personal approaches via LinkedIn is a good source for us. To be honest, we find that retention is not a huge issue for us. Being able to create a career path for everyone is a challenge, and we have learned to accept that people will leave us to continue their careers elsewhere, which they do with our blessing and thanks for their contribution.

People here know that if they “stuff up” they won’t get sacked, we always try to treat human error as a learning opportunity.

"We have a great culture and great people. This needs to be underpinned by a strong and resilient business. We’ve impressed on our team that financial strength is a key element in being resilient. This includes being debt-free, which in turn presents opportunities to buy rival networks to strengthen our base further. When you’re all pulling in the same direction, you can achieve anything."

Angus Raine, Executive Chairman at Raine & Horne

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Robert is a family enterprise and succession planning specialist who is a fully accredited Specialist Advisor Member of Family Business Australia, the peak body representing family business and their advisors in Australia. Robert is a regular speaker on family enterprises and SME-related issues, and has been frequently interviewed for publications including the Australian Financial Review, Business Review Weekly, and The Australian.

Robert Powell

Robert Powell