August 14, 2022

Anybody can start a business. When it comes to scaling and toughing it out in a competitive industry, it’s another story. In April of this year, Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty celebrated its 40th anniversary. The property heavyweight has overcome many challenges over the decades, and we took the time to find out how.

Adapt or Die

It doesn’t matter what business you’re in, there are certain principles you have to abide by if you want to keep going strong. You’ve got to make sure your product or service continues to be applicable or fitting. How you start out and how you move along will ultimately determine how you end up. You need to think about management and day-to-day operations and how that impacts your track record. 

There has to be a vision, sacrifices must be made, and risks and rewards must be understood. Creativity factors in, focus is necessary. The competition must be studied and the market must be researched. Surely this is what Lew Geffen and family did to take the company where it is today? 

From the Horse’s Mouth

“Every business is unique, but in broad terms, achieving, establishing and growing such a business comes down to offering products or services that continually satisfy customer demand, along with nuanced growth strategies and a close understanding of the competitive marketplace.

“The most important asset you can have, though, is a good team, so employ the best people you can afford and give them the chance to grow. And treat them like family, because they will return the favour and such a team will always work better together and, ultimately be more inspired and motivated.”

Judging from the quote above, it’s clear that good leadership has played a role in the success of the business. Geffen doesn’t believe in micromanaging every aspect of the business. He talks about establishing your strengths and focusing on them. He proclaims the importance of discovering your passion and he recommends delegating tasks that are beyond you.

What’s Good for the Goose

Geffen also owes the success of the business to a unique marketing strategy. This, he says, has been important to “ensure that your business stands out from the competition from the get-go.” He recognizes how marketing has been his strong point and he says he “loved to create cheeky ads that grabbed people’s attention and got them talking.”

One thing that established Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty as an international brand was affiliation. Sotheby’s International Realty took the company to new heights. As a 300-year-old global brand with a formidable portfolio, the collaboration was a no-brainer.

The Lew Geffen formula for consistency involves taking opportunities and standing firm in your values. It’s for this reason why he’s even broken the law. When it was illegal to sell property to black people in the apartheid era, Geffen chose to sell to Richard Maponya. This he did knowing very well what the risks were, a decision he doesn’t regret even today. 

Keep your Head Above Water

So now you see what it takes to build a mammoth of a property brand like this. While you can follow Lew Geffen and his team’s example, you need to set yourself apart from the rest. You’ve got to swim against the tide and prepare for the ebb and flow of the market. Lew Geffen’s story teaches us that in property, you can survive nearly anything if the right mindset is at the rudder.

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