In a recent deal, property developer Sunac China Holdings (01918.HK) agreed to pay 2.6 billion yuan (US$376.83 million) for a 6.25 percent stake in Beijing-based online real estate agency Lianjia. The deal put Lianjia’s valuation at 41.6 billion yuan.
Big names like Tencent Holdings (00700.HK), Baidu Inc. and Fosun International (00656.HK) have all invested in Lianjia, and top developer China Vanke (02202.HK) has set up joint ventures with it too. So what’s so special about Lianjia?
Using big data technology to improve its operation is what sets Lianjia apart from its rivals, among other things.
Founder Zuo Hui, 45, graduated with a bachelor’s degree in computer sciences from Beijing University of Chemical Technology in 1992.
He set up Lianjia in 2001, after many personal awful experiences with poor quality agents and the hassle of searching for and renting flats.
To rectify bad industry practices like using fake home listings to lure customers, Zou is known for his highly disciplined, even military approach to manage the sales team.
His hardline style has worked well. In 2012, Lianjia became the top agent in Beijing, claiming a 50 percent market share.
Shih Wing-ching, founder of Centaline Property Agency in Hong Kong, which has a substantial operation in Shenzhen, once spoke favorably of Zuo’s approach.
Shih, however, wondered if the approach could be scaled up and applied across the nation.
Zuo has proved it could be done – by using big data.
Through real-time data, Zou keeps close tabs on his army of agents, monitoring their daily and even hourly performances, the number of calls they made, when they are made, how they interact with customers on the phone, etc.
Management can also react quickly when there is a deviation from target, or when a certain branch lags behind rivals in terms of transactions.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Jan. 13
Translation by Julie Zhu
[Chinese version 中文版]
– Contact us at [email protected]