A brief history – and some significant moments - of the LJ Hooker Franchise Owners Council

-Founded in the late 1980s, the LJ Hooker Franchise Owners Council is an organisation that represents franchise owners within the LJ Hooker real estate network.

The Council was established to provide a platform for franchise owners to voice their concerns, collaborate on important matters and have input on the direction and policies of the LJ Hooker network. It serves as a collective voice for franchisees, advocating for their interests and working towards the mutual success of all members.

Throughout the years, the Council has played a crucial role in shaping the policies and strategies of the LJ Hooker network. It has provided a platform for franchise owners to share best practices, discuss operational issues and propose improvements to the overall franchise system. The Council has also been pivotal in many key moments in the LJ Hooker network's history, as past President Matthew Herbert recalls.

The sale of the network by the liquidators of Hooker Corp to Suncorp in the late 1980s

The Council was formed following Suncorp's acquisition of the LJ Hooker business. At this time, ALL franchisees were considering whether they would stay with LJ Hooker. It was the Council's agreement with Suncorp and the joint roadshow that convinced all franchisees to stay with the brand. If the Leading Franchisee (who became the Council Board) did not recommend we all stay together, many franchises would have been lost.

The rebranding of all offices that began around 2007

LJ Hooker, under the leadership of Warren McCarthy, required an international rebrand and a capital infusion from Suncorp of about $10m was sort. Suncorp had refused Warren McCarthy's request for the funds several times. It was a time when the McGrath brand was on the rise in Sydney, and Ray White was on a large expansion drive. It was perceived that local offices wouldn't put their hand in their own pocket to rebrand their offices and might instead rebrand with another network. Both the franchisor and the Council were convinced that the rebrand was overdue and very necessary. Warren McCarthy couldn't convince Suncorp to spend the money. Sam Russo was the President of the Council at the time, and he engaged with the CEO of Suncorp on a regular basis. Eventually, the Suncorp CEO met with the Council to discuss the matter, and Suncorp agreed to the $10m funding. Without the Council, this would never have eventuated.

The sale of the network by Suncorp

Suncorp was in the market to sell the network. The Council was aware of the rumours. Suncorp approached the two Council members who sat on the Franchising Board (Sam Russo and Matthew Herbert) to sign non-disclosure agreements preventing them from discussing the matter with either the Council or the wider franchise network. Matthew Herbert, as President, met with Suncorp to advise them they risked breaking up the network once rival bidders became aware of the impending sale. It might become a case of 'every man for himself 'if there was no confidence and the Council were outside the tent. Matthew convinced Suncorp that if they included Council in the process and allowed formal contact with potential buyers, we could work with Suncorp to ensure the transfer of ownership went smoothly and brought along ALL the Franchisees. Eventually, Suncorp agreed. Matthew had meetings with several potential buyers, including Janusz Hooker. When it became clear the Janusz Hooker group was going to be the buyer, Council had no hesitation in recommending the transfer of ownership to the Franchisees. This meant that there was no 'leakage 'of franchise offices, which benefited the seller, the buyer and the franchise network. At the time, there were over 700 franchised offices.

In addition, the Council has initiated many projects throughout the years, including:

  • My LJHooker
  • The permission marketing initiatives that were a decade ahead of their time
  • PI insurance was launched with CoverForce and is run by the Council to this day, giving franchise owners a great policy at a competitive market price. (Log into the "members only" (link) section of this website to learn more).
  • Council ran the first PIM Conference when corporate didn't want to do it.

The Council plays an essential role in the LJ Hooker network

Over the years, the Council has focused on various initiatives, including marketing and branding strategies, technology integration, training and development programs and business support services. It has been involved in discussions and negotiations with the LJ Hooker management team to ensure that the franchise system remains robust, competitive and supportive of the individual franchise owners.

The LJ Hooker Franchise Owners Council continues to play an essential role in the LJ Hooker network, ensuring that the interests of the franchise owners are represented and safeguarded. By fostering collaboration and unity among franchisees, the Council helps to create a strong and vibrant community within the LJ Hooker network, promoting growth, success and professionalism among members.

Past President's Stories

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