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Jawitz Properties: Damon Jawitz

Eskel Jawitz Real Estate went from being a small regional player to the national big-time

Juliet Pitman

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Herschel Damon

Running a small, successful family business is one thing. Expanding that business to become a national market leader in just two years is another, especially when the industry in which you operate is the notoriously competitive one of real estate. Jawitz Properties is one of the few companies that has managed to make this transition.

Central to the success of the expansion has been a highly successful rebranding exercise that opened up new opportunities for growth and allowed the company to focus its attention on what was required to go national and do so successfully

Eskel Jawitz, founder of the company, has developed a reputation for integrity and service over 30 years, and his name had long been the strength of the company’s brand. But when sons Herschel, chief executive and Damon, franchise director, joined the company, it was time for a change.

“The company had become more than the person of Eskel Jawitz himself, and the brand needed to reflect this while still retaining the essence of what Eskel had built up,” explains Damon Jawitz. But this wasn’t the only impetus driving the Jawitz brand overhaul.

The market had changed and customers were far more sophisticated. The challenge was to meet their needs with a professional and sophisticated brand, as well as expand into areas that the company had never before operated in.

For these reasons, the brand transformation that took place in 2004 was about more than just getting a new font, new logo and new corporate colours. As Damon Jawitz says: “We needed to look at the company on all levels and implement changes that would allow us to enter the new territory we wanted to expand into.”

So many companies make the mistake of thinking that change, growth and success will follow naturally from a new look and feel, but what Jawitz Properties did right was to investigate how behaviours needed to change to embody the new brand, thus ensuring that the facelift went more than just skin deep.

Part of this was getting marketing experts to conduct an extensive 18-month market research and strategic exercise to ascertain precisely what customer needs and expectations were. The new markets earmarked for expansion – Cape Town, Plettenburg Bay and the areas of the West Rand and Johannesburg South – were comprehensively investigated.

Finally, branding experts were called in and the new look and feel decided upon. Jawitz Properties was the name chosen as it echoed both the past success and foundations built by Eskel Jawitz, while at the same time moving slightly away from the man as an individual brand and reflecting the new future of the company.

Corporate colours were changed from black and yellow to the more sophisticated black and stone. The company now had a new face. The next step was to decide on new values that would drive internal behaviour.

Damon Jawitz outlines the challenge of launching the brand to staff, none of whom were aware that a new brand was on the horizon. “At the company’s 35th birthday party, we unveiled the new brand internally and the response was overwhelmingly positive. The next day, everyone had new business cards and all buildings had new signage. We wanted to ensure an overnight transformation,” he explains.

Intensive training and workshops with staff ensured that the values and desired behaviours of the new brand were entrenched.

“A successful media launch and communication with the public was vital to ensuring customers understood that, although they may see a different For Sale sign, what they could expect from us was just an increased level of professionalism, integrity and service,” he adds.

In addition, the company has invested in developing a strong outdoor media presence, making extensive use of billboards and street-pole ads. The exercise was long, involved and costly, but it has paid off. Market awareness of the Jawitz Properties brand is at an all-time high.

“There’s no doubt that people know who we are,” says Damon Jawitz. But the biggest tangible benefit is that the increased brand presence has been matched by phenomenal business growth, especially in the lucrative Cape Town market.

In just two years, the company has gone from having three offices in the Johannesburg area to a national presence, with 18 offices and over 300 employees. If you’re looking for an example of how to do it right, there’s no doubt that this one foots the bill.

Juliet Pitman is a features writer at Entrepreneur Magazine.

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25 Of The Most Successful Business Ideas In South Africa

Find out who’s making waves in numerous industries and how they managed to differentiate themselves in local and international industries.

Nicole Crampton

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“Disruption is all about risk-taking, trusting your intuition, and rejecting the way things are supposed to be. Disruption goes way beyond advertising, it forces you to think about where you want your brand to go and how to get there,” says Richard Branson.

South Africa has its fair share of innovative and disruptive businesses taking both local and international industries by storm. From cutting edge space technology to reimagined logistics, and innovative business models, here are 25 of the most successful business ideas in South Africa:

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Colin Timmis Says ‘Position Yourself For Success By Starting With The Numbers’

People pay first who they feel pressure from, so people will pay you when they feel pressure from you.

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Entrepreneur Colin Timmis founded South Africa’s first cloud accounting practice in 2011, Real Time Accounting. Then, a few years after being appointed as South Africa’s first Xero partner Colin became Xero Country Manager South Africa. Xero is the emerging global leader of online accounting software that connects small businesses to their advisors and other services.

Related: Pat Pillai On How He’s Helped Over 5000 Entrepreneurs Using 3 Key Steps

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Two 20 Year Olds Reshape Entrepreneur Landscape With New Social Investment Platform

The Merge vision is to become the ‘go to’, digital meeting place for entrepreneurs and investors, and to truly make a difference in the world.

Merge Connect

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It’s no secret that finding the right investor for your venture is a challenge that most entrepreneurs face. The current process of finding investment is one that is outdated, and limits entrepreneurs due to a lack of time, and network that is needed to find the right investor. But, this doesn’t have to be the case in today’s digital society, says Zander Matthee and Brandon Bate, co-founders of Merge.

“By making the Internet the middleman, we are able to connect with each other much simpler and faster than before” was Zander’s response. “We have taken advantage of this, and have created a digital meeting place for entrepreneurs and investors” added Brandon.

Merge is a social platform that connects entrepreneurs and investors. It aims to simplify, refine and accelerate the process of finding investment for entrepreneurs, and the process of finding investment opportunities for investors. From idea to developed, the platform allows entrepreneurs to present a brief outline of their venture to a network of all investor types. While doing this, entrepreneurs are able to browse through, and connect with investor profiles that suit their requirements.

Related: 8 Codes Of Success That Helped Priven Reddy of Kagiso Interactive Media Achieve A Networth Of Over R4 Billion

From Private Investors to Venture Capital, and everything in between, Merge allows all investor types to join. Investors have the opportunity to personalise their feed to suit their investment preferences, and will be able to connect with innovative businesses – that are looking for investment – at their fingertips. Only once there is a mutual interest in each other, are users able to enter a secure private chat where they can discuss further and share documents under the protection of a digital NDA.

The two boys became good friends during their time in high school at St Stithians Boys College. However, it was only in their last year, 2016, that they decided to pursue their dreams and create the platform. They didn’t know how to code, so rather ironically, they needed some form of investment to get the platform off the ground.

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“We knew we had a mountain to climb, but we believed in our vision and that we were really trying to make a difference, and if we could get others to see that, they would be onboard.” said Zander.

Related: Lessons From The Rich And Famous: Manage Your Money Like Oprah To Avoid Going Into Debt Like Nicholas Cage

Chris Peters is one of these individuals that bought into their vision, and became Merge’s first investor. As a successful entrepreneur and part time investor , Chris saw how much value the platform could bring to all entrepreneurs and investors alike. His marketing and strategic background gave him insight into how Merge could play a vital role in a lucrative space, Brand involvement.

“Entrepreneurship and SME development are two key factors that drive economic growth in developing countries like South Africa. That is why brands are currently getting involved, and looking to support entrepreneurs through various means. We have built a platform that allows these brands to successfully market, and execute on the programmes they have created to assist entrepreneurs.” said Chris

Merge was created to assist all entrepreneurs and investors in finding exactly what they are looking for, regardless of age, race, sex, financial position or social status. That is why anybody can sign-up as an entrepreneur. As long as you are determined and willing to work for your dreams. For too long has the investor space been seen as an “elite club for the select few”, and Merge is here to change that. Whether you’ve gotten your bonus at the end of the year and looking for new investment opportunities, or are an active investor, you can sign-up. Whether you’re currently working, or a retired industry leader, you can join as a mentor.

Their vision is to become the ‘go to’, digital meeting place for entrepreneurs and investors, and to truly make a difference in the world.

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