I sat down with Dean to gather some of his learnings as a business leader of a growing company, and some insights on the opportunity property can play in wider business strategy.
Dean is the Managing Director here at TwentyTwo. He has been with the organisation since 1992 and has led a number of significant changes and seen some exciting growth within the business.
"It’s been six years since we re-launched our business under the name TwentyTwo. The business has evolved significantly even since then, the learning is never over.
Currently we’re moving into a new phase of the business, our service offering is broadening, our capacity and team are growing and so is our sector reach.
Our business has matured significantly over the last couple of years. More business leaders are motivated by the opportunity property can play within their wider business strategy and I’m excited about the opportunity of this, and the role we can play in helping other organisations evolve, grow and take their offerings to the next level."
What is the key lesson you’ve learnt as a business leader?
"This is an easy one (in hindsight) - we’re not experts at everything, as owner/managers there is always a temptation to ‘do it all yourself’ – but engaging specialist staff can save you time and fast track your goals more efficiently.
In the last five years TwentyTwo has put in place an Advisory Board, has engaged a branding expert to help re-position the business, uses an out-sourced HR adviser, has traded their top-tier accountant for a trusted provider, and has an in-house Marketing Manager in place.
You learn you can’t do it all yourself, and more importantly, people know a lot more about specialist areas than you ever will - paying for expert advice and experience as needed is critical to get momentum.
In some way, this should not come as a surprise, as TwentyTwo sells specialist advice.
TwentyTwo provides independent commercial property and workplace strategy advice to organisations that own or lease property for their business needs – office, retail, industrial, or special-purpose – across New Zealand – from our Auckland and Wellington offices
For our clients’ property is not core business – merely an enabler – a place to house people, manufacture, distribute, sell, teach etc. And while more businesses recognise the value of specialist advice (and the opportunity property can play) – property is typically one of those areas where business leaders think it can’t be that hard, until it goes wrong."
What would be your top tip for those growing an organisation?
"We’ve been a disruptor in the commercial property sector since our inception. Setting out to provide independent business-centric commercial property advice to help NZ businesses (large/small/public/private) to be more successful.
My advice for owners/managers focused on growing their businesses – don’t forget about the bricks and mortar and use it as an opportunity to reinforce your business strategy.
As your business grows property related costs (rent, outgoings, capital) increase and typically become the 2nd or 3rd largest overhead – after staff and increasingly technology
If you own your premises/workplace the issues are the same – you’re just trading rent for the opportunity cost of the capital you have invested (and is this capital better invested in core business?).
Apart from the cost implications, your physical base (office, retails shop, accommodation, factory, warehouse ..) impacts on your business much more widely than some people think
The property-related decisions you make impact on:
o Your brand expression
o How your clients perceive your business
o Your employment brand and your ability to attract and retain key people
o The culture you’re trying to develop
o Your risk profile and the contingent liabilities you are prepared to accept
When a business decides to relocate or invest in new premises, it is also a great time/opportunity to implement change across a business:
o Where people work and how they interact with customers and suppliers
o How people work
o How new technology can be integrated
For any business considering what to do at the next lease expiry, wanting to lease or purchase a new or additional premises, roll out a network of stores or accommodation, or upgrade a current facility – take some time to step back and take a more strategic view on how this initiative will support your business plan moving forward.
Too often we see clients rush into decisions and into project implementation mode without understanding ‘why’ and ‘how’ this initiative fits. Linking your planned investment back to your business strategy is the ultimate test. And, while it is often tempting to try to do it yourself, you may need some independent specialist advice to help you navigate through these decisions, to ask the right questions of the right people in the right way.
My journey has taught me to seek advice and to challenge my decisions. A specialist adviser is often best placed to do this as they are removed from the business and can look at the issues objectively. They can also bring first hand/real world experience in a specialist area that you’ll never be able to have in-house."