The fourth-generation custodians of the Ray White group of businesses have offered an insight into how they approach growth and innovation in a family enterprise that dates back 120 years.
Taking to the stage at Ray White Connect 2022 on Monday, brothers Dan, Sam and Ben White discussed innovations occurring within their business and provided a candid insight into the decision-making and family conversations that happen behind the scenes.
Each of the brothers has responsibility for key assets in the Ray White group of businesses, with Dan the managing director of Ray White, Sam heading up private mortgage brokerage Loan Market and Ben at the helm of property management business Ailo.
Despite being Australia’s largest real estate brand and enjoying success in both mortgage and investment services, the brothers said the Ray White Group was not the type to rest on its past achievements.
Instead, the family and leadership team were continually focused on “doing better, overcoming challenges and grabbing opportunities with two hands”.
That approach has seen the group grow across their core business areas both historically and in recent years.
However, the brothers explained the aim was to avoid becoming average, and instead capitalise on opportunities, leadership and the people the collective network has worked so hard to build.
That’s why, despite their remarkable history, the focus remains on the future and the growth and innovation the network has the opportunity to embrace.
“We have a core business, but the question becomes how do you expand and grow it? Often that’s by going into areas connected to your core business, but they require different skills,” Dan White said.
And here, the White brothers explained a “three-horizon approach” was applied.
Examining the concept further, they said Horizon 1 comprised the core business where the group currently has market share and success. This includes the businesses of Ray White, Loan Market and White & Partners.
At this level, the aim of the business is growing market share further and attaining greater efficiency.
Horizon 2 involves the emerging business ideas that have traction and customers, but haven’t yet fully evolved.
“These are businesses that have revenue, but need to build scale to be more effective and we’re not quite sure what their full potential looks like,” the brothers explained.
They noted NurtureCloud software and the property management platform Ailo fall into the Horizon 2 category.
Meanwhile, Horizon 3 businesses are in concept stage and experimental.
“Horizon 3 are concepts that come from what we see, from listening, and from problems we see,” they said.
“It’s experimental and some won’t work.”
At present the group has several Horizon 3 concepts in the pipeline, including a price index that would offer greater market insight for the brand’s agents.
Looking at how the Horizon model had helped shape the collective business, the brothers said 28 years ago Ray White financial services was a Horizon 3 business, with the focus on how that business could be made to work.
Now it is a Horizon 1 business at the core of the group’s success.
As for how each idea progressed and growth was achieved, the White brothers said there was robust family discussion behind the scenes.
This included constant questioning on how to allocate resources, whether it was the right time, and looking at ways to ensure each business aligned with the full vision and ethos of the collective Ray White Group.
“These are chunky issues we need to discuss as a family,” Dan White stated.
He noted the aim was to find answers for five and 10-year problems, and many ideas stemmed from the members of the group.
“It’s about understanding learning and improving. Every time we do it, we seem to get better,” he said.
With the market changing, the White brothers conceded some might question whether now was the time for innovation and growth.
“You can’t choose when a good opportunity emerges and sometimes the best emerge when the times are the toughest,” Sam White reflected.
“But the biggest risk we can take is not to take any risk at all.”