At a recent Property Portal Watch conference in Bangkok, founders of the premium property portals got together to share insights and learning among leaders in the industry. One story had particular resonance over the course of the three-day event and that was the global property portal Lamudi.
Lamudi expanded globally in a very short space of time, now with offices everywhere from Mexico to the Philippines. Growing at such a fast pace is complex; founder and managing director, Paul Philipp Hermann gave an interesting overview of what it takes.
Work fast, work lean
When Lamudi opens in a new country, it is like a military operation—It took the company just 535 days to open in 13 countries. Firstly, a highly experienced managing director is hired and given just two days to find an office and one week to get his head of sales and head of hr. This is the triangle that lays the foundations for future growth. Getting the right people at the start is paramount.
“The next few days are spent scouring the city for top developers and brokers —ideally those with the most listings—and once they are onboard, the website is launched, said Hermann. It needs to be a lean process, comparing the staff total in Lamudi, currently 300-400 for the entire Asian and Latin American operations, to Zameen in Pakistan, who have 500 staff, just in Pakistan. Lamudi have their HQ in Berlin, so are able to recruit top tech and marketing talent, and this enables them to keep the engine of their business running smoothly. Local sales teams are employed that have an intimate understanding of real estate in each country.
SEO is crucial
Buying traffic is not really a sustainable option. So hiring experts in search engine optimization is fundamental for any internet business. “If you are not coming up as number one or number two in every google search for property in the country, then you can forget about it,” said Hermann. “We drive as much organic traffic as possible to the business, and this is the best way to get noticed,” he said.
Be number one
Entering markets where there are few established players is crucial. Lamudi were able to get the number one position in Bangladesh in just four months. But in countries like The Philippines, it was necessary for them to acquire MyProperty to claim the top spot. They now have a 3x position ahead of Property24 in terms of visibility, no mean feat considering their competitors have been much longer established.
Potential of emerging markets
Across Latin America and Southeast Asia —the countries that Lamudi operates in—growth of 55 percent is expected, and with that a more affluent middle class will emerge, looking to buy and rent property. With data gleaned from a variety of sources Hermann predicts that “there will be roughly 1.9 billion transactions in the Latin American and SE Asian real estate classifieds markets with around 11.7 billion euros spent on advertising.” He expects 11 percent of that to be spent online. That’s a market of 1.4 billion, and an opportunity for several billion dollar companies.
Knowledge sharing between the local teams and HQ in Berlin, Germany, is a key part of creating a unified business. Annually, Lamudi invites all their managing directors to Berlin to share ideas and learning points from the year. This is a great example of how a global business can create ‘one voice’ and have a clear strategic goal that each local office understands. Managing a global business is complex but with clear communication and regular updates incredible growth can be achieved.