Entrepreneurship came as a gift
In 1998, Mr. Chao XUE started Ming Ming Real Estate in Shanghai, when he just stepped into his 40s. Before Ming Ming, Chao has already practiced his entrepreneurship for about two decades. He turned 20 when the cultural revolution came to its end. The nation’s economy was close to collapse.
As a Shanghainese, Chao was aware of the high demand and popularity of Shanghai’s textiles in other parts of China. His first attempt in wholesaling Shanghai textiles proved his business instinct. Later, he got involved in trading various products, such as milk powder, electric meter, fruits, etc. In the 1980s, he joined Shanghai Commercial Storage and Transportation Co. Ltd. to replace his retiring father. And in the 1990s, he was engaged in another totally different sector: tourism.
Start early, learn in advance
Decades of practice and experience in frontier markets made Chao an openminded, confident businessman with a sharp vision. His attention was soon drawn to the real estate industry, which was just going through the process of privatization in the country. Property is the tradable asset with the highest unit value, which seemed to promise Chao a profitable business. Before getting his hands on the trade, he took tremendous amount of time to study the industry knowledge, not only through the books but also in practice. He learned the property ownership deals at real estate bureaus and related departments; he learned administrative and operative details in a private real estate company; he made friends with property managers to learn every practical aspect of property management. As a result, Chao was fully equipped with the knowledge of the whole value chain of the real estate agency.
Birth of Ming Ming Real Estate and its early stage
At the moment of the housing marketization in 1998, Chao opened his first Ming Ming Real Estate store adjacent to where he and his family lived. After years of research and study, Chao believed that he came to the point where he is well prepared for a life-long career: real estate. He named his business Ming Ming. In Chinese language, it means brightness and transparency, which set the tone of the company’s value and culture.
Within four years, Ming Ming developed into a chain with over 60 agent stores. At that time, Chao didn’t stop with his glory. He was convinced that this was just the beginning and there must be much advanced business models in the developed countries. As a matter of fact, he went on multiple trips to the USA to get to understand the market. In the country with a mature property market, franchise has been the dominating model of all big real estate companies. Meanwhile, he enrolled in the Shanghai Jiaotong University, majoring real estate management. During Chao’s journey of continuous study and research, Ming Ming was vastly developing that the number of stores reached 400 in Shanghai. The brand could be seen in every corner of the city.
The wise always predict the risks and opportunities
Along with the scale and revenue growth came with the difficulty of the management as well as the skyrocketing cost and expenses. Some Ming Ming stores began to lose money. Chao realized it was the bottleneck of the current model and he made a swift decision to close down the deficit stores. In his heart, he was confident that the future lied in the franchise model and there was no point sticking to the chain stores. Past success wouldn’t guarantee future victories.
As the franchise model being introduced and developed in Ming Ming, Chao was exploring something new again: the Internet. It was the beginning of the 21st century and the never-heard dotcom economy started to impact many traditional businesses. Chao was excited to learn about how his business can get online. And he encouraged his franchisees to buy ADSL ports on the first internet website operator in Shanghai —— the Shanghai Online. Ming Ming was the first of the industry to go online in China, which opened the door of corporate ‘platformization’ to Chao.
Award is not the end
Since day one, the average lifespan of Ming Ming’s stores has been 13 years. At present, the franchisees’ total number has gone over 150, with more than 1000 employees. Ming Ming’s performance has been ranking in the first ten of the industry, regarding the total price value, floor area, unit number, and commission. In a 5-consecutive-year period, Ming Ming has been the winner of the most authoritative award of the RE agency industry —— the Golden Bridge Award.
Awards and honour still could not stop Chao. His development strategy was shaping: he was prepared to set up a multiple listing service (MLS) platform in China, a well-proven model in the USA. Again, Chao is ahead of his peers.
Great minds think ahead
Chao’s is vision is not only in his career but also in his attitude toward his son’s education. Unlike typical Chinese parents, Chao was relaxed about his son’s school study and lifestyle but tough on his moral education and personality development. The son’s name is the same as the business’s name: Ming (brightness and transparency). As young as 15 years old, the young Ming was sent to Singapore for further study as dad believed that a globalized view and mindset is paramount for the younger generation. Deeper in heart, Chao also had the wish that his son would someday help the business to go international.
Future lies in platformization and internationalization
This dream came true in nearly two decades when Ming finished his 8 years living in Singapore and then his further study in Melbourne. He started up Ming Ming Real Estate Melbourne. After two years of operation in Melbourne, the business is now interacting and integrating with the Shanghai operation, to provide one-stop services for property buyers, sellers and owners in both countries. This enables customers in China to buy, sell and rent properties in Australia, and vice versa.
Where the future leads them is bright：platformization and internationalization will be the trend of the industry and the father and son are making it reality.
Article by Jenny Photography by Simon Cee