..Says Negative Perception Fueling FDI Apathy
Real estate entrepreneur, Amb.(Dr) Babatunde Adeyemo, has urged the nation’s real estate developers and its handlers to pay attention to the country’s reputation, especially the perception of it by the Nigerians abroad, saying poor reputation management is a major force driving the brain drain, foreign direct investment apathy and youths japa syndrome.
Adeyemo expressed the concern that the nation’s army of youths appeared to have reached a junction where they no longer see or say anything good about their country, and with many of them in despair, the impression and opinions have been formed rightly or wrongly that it is only through sharp practice or brain drain, that a seemingly hopeless situation can be changed for the better.
The Chief Executive Officer(CEO) Pelican Valley Nigeria Limited, a frontline player in Nigeria’s competitive and dynamic property market, gave the advice while fielding questions from newsmen at Abeokuta, the state capital shortly after delivering a lecture titled, “Reputation Management: The Experience In Real Estate,” during the monthly business meeting of Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR), Ogun State chapter.
The business meeting had in attendance, communication scholar and Olota of Ota, Oba (Prof) Adeyemi Obalanlege, state chapter chairman of NIPR, Mrs Seun Boye, Vice Chairman, Mr Waheed Ogunjobi, Secretary, Mr Kunle Olayeni, former chairman, Tope Adaramola, former Chief Press Secretary to Governor Gbenga Daniel, Pastor Dare Folarin, his counterpart, Mr Kunle Somorin who served as Chief Press Secretary during Governor Dapo Abiodun’s first term in office among other dignitaries.
Adeyemo who lamented what he described as inconsistency in government land policy and bureaucratic bottlenecks as major clogs in the wheels of progress for most developers, urged the operators in the real estate business to concentrate on value-adding and always buy more time to get high returns on investment for themselves and their clients.
“The situation in the country is not making things easier for an average developer but when you know that real estate is a long-distance run, propelled by value adding, you will look like a magician.
“There are still opportunities in Nigeria for an average Nigerian youth to build a solid foundation and that is why I am here to show an average Nigerian youth that it is not over yet for them. There is hope, you can always grow in this challenging business environment.
“I will want to call on an average Nigerian youth to be patient, to persevere and build a solid foundation for growth. Definitely, things will get better with time and commitment to worthy and legitimate ventures,” he said.
In his lecture titled, “Reputation Management: The Experience In Real Estate,” he described reputation management as the practice of influencing what people think of your business or brand and emphasised that its core elements entail how others see it, how the company operates or performs and what the brand communicates about itself.
According to him, building a strong brand reputation involves monitoring what people think and say about the organization, responding to misleading information, malicious allegations, negative reviews, and generally looking out for and acting on opportunities to boost the organization’s reputation.
He warned that reputation management isn’t just about taking charge of the story around your brand, saying ‘on the contrary, it’s also about tuning in to what people, customers, and audience are saying about it.
Adeyemo said the feedback from people should be taken to heart and responded to in a way that builds trust while showcasing one’s values even as he identified online review management, Google, Yelp, and Glassdoor among others as critical tools to manage and monitor one’s or brand reputation.
He made a case for both reactive and proactive ways to manage reputation, recommending that organisation needs to respond quickly to feedback and mentions cultivating online reputation over time and avoiding public missteps.
He, however, noted that even with best efforts and strategies, people make mistakes sometimes, and the best brands also do receive some not-so-great reviews, but submitted that a strong reputation management strategy will help an organisation weather any storm that comes her way and position her brand in the best possible light.
When asked during the questions and answers session how he has been able to run a real estate business in a precarious environment without having court cases, issues with the Omoniles, Ajagungbales, and land and town planning authority, he said, “I did my research to know which land is free from Government acquisition or not. I was able to discover where we are at the Pelican Brief after two years of thorough research and due diligence. So, how I was able to do that without having myself or getting issues is that I do my due diligence very well. I make sure that all my lands do not fall on Government acquisition area and also thoroughly investigate the roots of land titles.
“Secondary, I always try to get proper documentation that I need to get on the land. Also, possession–taking is very important before you make a real estate investment. Establish your presence, real estate business is a long-distance race, you can’t start and say you want to break even in three or four years, you have to add value, keep adding value, and wait for the time for the land to appreciate before you make any move.
“All these ajagungbales, they look at your dispositions, your body language too. Once they perceive you to be someone who adds value to your property and practices due diligence, you are not greedy about it, you search for the true owner (s) of the land, the root of the title to the land, it is not about getting land fraudulently and rush to do your CofO. How about the origin of the title? When you look at it, get closer to the custodians of the land, and do your research very well, it will be very very difficult for one Ajagungbale to come into your land. And that has always been one of the secrets of my achievements so far in not having any Court case or dispute in the last 15 years.”