The franchise Owners Council has expressed its concern about the fairness of the process used by the New South Wales Office of Fair Trading in compiling its list of Most Complained About businesses in NSW.
The OFT has published the first of its lists recently, being a summary of the complaints received by OFT for the month of July. OFT has treated all members of franchise chains as one single business for the purpose of this list and this has the real estate industry up in arms at the patent unfairness of lumping businesses under totally different ownership and operated under individual licences together simply because they have a common trading name.
Council’s Richie Thornton (of LJ Hooker Tamworth) slammed the process as unfair and misguided in that it did not take to account that LJ Hooker has 231 offices in NSW and yet was treated as a single office. “Most of the complaints are in respect to property management and are generally of minor intensity and offices that were the subject of a complaint did not even get the right of reply” he said.
Council is very concerned that no qualification of a complaint was made and the agent’s side of the story was not sought or heard before these statistics were published.
Apparently a high percentage of these complaints were unfounded once the Agent had an opportunity to disclose their side of the story together with the relevant documentation Mr Thornton said.
In raising this issue at Council’s recent committee meeting, Mr Thornton said that the policy was discriminatory and was always going to feature the larger real estate networks purely on the basis of numbers. “The rules apparently say that if a business has 7 complaints recorded OFT would make a call to that business, and if 10 complaints were made, a physical inspection was likely. The reality is that on average our offices in NSW received less than 0.2 complaints per office during July, only a fraction of the minimum trigger point for OFT action and yet we have been singled out. This makes my blood boil” he said.
He also commented that it was no coincidence that the number of complaints received per real estate network was a close correlation to the number of properties each network managed.
Council has taken this matter up with CEO Grant Harrod who has been directly in touch with the President and CEO of REINSW and has also written a very strongly worded letter to the Director of the Office of Fair Trading.
However it has to be a collective fight. As individual offices, Members can help by writing to their local Member of State Parliament on their own letterhead. State your own case but if you wish, we suggest you use the draft provided by Corporate at
As they did with Negative Gearing, the major Franchise Groups are again going to unite to fight this travesty.
One of Council’s major concerns with this process is that it is a case of being declared guilty until proven innocent, which is totally unfair and contrary to the principles of natural justice.
Should any Member receive any negative feedback or worse, loss of business, as a result of the bad press on this issue, or you would simply like to discuss it further, please contact your local FOC representative.
Mr Thornton said “Members should be assured that the Franchise Owners Council is not going to lie down on what is an ill conceived piece of legislation. Please do your bit by lobbying your local parliamentarian and advise us of any negative feedback”.
Council committee members were saddened today to hear of the passing of Grahame Cooke this morning at 6.30am. Grahame will be sadly missed and fondly remembered for his outstanding leadership of the company during his ten year tenure as chief executive from 1994.
Grahame was well and very favourably known to all of the Council Committee as the majority of Committee were franchisees during the period when Grahame was leading LJ Hooker. Grahame was an outstanding mentor to many within the network and provided insightful predictions of future trends within the industry and plotted a course that took the company from very troubled times to undoubted industry leadership.
It was Grahame Cooke who established the strong working ties between Corporate and Council and laid the foundations for the resilient and respectful relationship between the two organisations today.
From the time Grahame assumed the leadership role his vision and entrepreneurial attitude became infectious and the network adopted a progressive attitude supported by Grahame’s enthusiasm and pro-activity.
Grahame was one of the few in the industry who recognised the disruptive potential of the commercial internet websites and campaigned vigorously for the major brands to nurture their own branded sites and to keep off the industry-wide sites. Of course history has proven the wisdom of Grahame’s judgement and the fact that his advice was not followed has left the industry highly disrupted and subject to external control.
He was the creator of the Captain’s Club and the Admirals group, the marketing straplines of “thank you Mr Hooker” and “nobody does it better” and he pushed the network to live up to those qualities.
Together with his wife Lynne, Cookie made an indelible impression on our company and our industry, according to Franchise Owners Council President, Richie Thornton.
“All LJ Hooker franchisees will be mourning Grahame’s loss as he is indeed one of the company’s great legends and sits on the right hand of our founder in terms of impact on the strength, structure and position of our brand in the real estate network” Mr Thornton said.