The battle begins

Dear Brian

Your support for the path Affy and I wanted to take with the merger was a leap of faith which humbled me, I did not know you well, but I certainly knew enough to understand your desire for success and your intolerance of failure.

I don’t know what you had conveyed to Michael when you met with him after our meeting in Brisbane, but instead of Affy and I coming back to Sydney and being immediately able to get things moving, we were confronted every day with Michaels continued presence in the office.

Whatever my differences with Michael, I respected him and it was hard to balance this ongoing respect with the need to make a fresh start.

Michael insisted on being part of every decision, I would have meetings with franchisees in the board room and Michael would insist on sitting in. Paul would come down supposedly to assist with change process but he and Michael would head out to lunch. The situation was intolerable and unfair to both Michael and myself.

As much as I was frustrated by this, I had to focus on bringing all the offices on board, getting the branding sorted and, attending to all the things that needed to be done if we were going to launch the new identity at the conference scheduled for late October.

One of the great pleasures at this time was the opportunity to work with Michael Bryce. Michael was an expert in his discipline of branding identity  and I learnt a lot from him.

Combining the ERA and Ray White branding, questions of color, even; the presence of ERA on the new logo, were bitter issues for franchisees on both sides of the divide. Michael Bryce was instrumental in helping us sell the new branding to the ERA members in NSW, his quiet professionalism, tolerance and patience made my job a hell of a lot easier.

The final logo and signage continued the Ray White colours of yellow and black but placed the ERA international logo promiinently within the new identity. It did not satisfy everybody and certainly pissed off the  USA connection but, this was the identity we chose to run with and it was my job to sell this to the ERA people. Weeks of talking and listening to disgruntled franchisees was starting to pay off, as they grudgingly came on board .

Several offices in Sydney and the Country held the key to the success of this move. A large part of my time was spent, shuffling between these offices, negotiating with them, cajoling them and pleading with them.

I remember calling you very late one night, I had spent weeks trying to unravel the Kensington situation. They would only move across if we could deliver the Maroubra territory to them and I had to negotiate with another franchisee to make this possible. I was exhausted, but I had finally put it all together.

My scribbles in my diary for Thursday 1 October display no sense of triumph, just a sense of relief this battle was over.

Paul was questioning me about Double Bay, Trevor would change over but, only if he could move to Double Bay. I had an undertaking from Trevor that he would commit to building a big business. I had met with Trevor’s potential partners and I was satisfied they could deliver what we wanted in this flagship marketplace.

Paul was unconvinced, urging me not to give away this prized location to a group of unknowns. I am glad and relieved that, for most of the past 30 years, my “group of unknowns” have been at the top of the rankings for the group internationally.

I am pleased and humbled you backed me on this one.

There was just one thing at the forefront of my thinking: “back good people “. I learnt this simple adage from you.

There would be many disappointments, but there would be also many great wins as this philosophy spread across the group.

My diary records that, in September 1987 the group had a record turnover of $170 Million for the month, this became our benchmark on which to build.

I would love to say the Conference late in October was a success, many parts of it were, but tensions especially amongst the Queensland group, still ran high. I went to bed one night, nursing a very sore jaw courtesy of one of the Queensland franchisees. Thank god he was three sheets to the wind and his aim was not that good.

Myf was the gem at this conference, her “down home” friendliness and simplicity, just the tonic needed to mend bruised egos and build bridges across the group.

Our first Ray White branded office opened in NSW, November 1987and we had our first in rooms, City Auction scheduled for 5 February 1988.

Affy had worked tirelessly to bring new offices on board in Neutral Bay and Mosman. Neutral Bay in particular, was a massive coup. We would proudly use the sugning of this office as a sign  of faith with other prospective offices.

Neutral Bay and Double Bay would chalenge each other for supremacy  for the next twenty years, it was this  type of healthy competition on which we would build a market leading business

We were on the move.

Brian, 1987 was a year of triumph and heartache. Your support for Affy, Cathe and I, during this turbulent year and, your confidence in us; is something I will never forget.

Best Wishes

Bruce

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