When Alice Geddes first dreamt of her ideal career, real estate never came into the picture.
Instead, the then Gold Coast teenager had grand plans of ruling the culinary world as a top chef.
But, as it turned out, fate had other ideas.
“I’d always been interested in hospitality, with food being one of the most important things in my life,” Alice recalls.
“I actually really wanted to be a chef, but I discovered I wasn’t very good at cooking so I put a fork in my plans to have that sort of career.”
Alice did a school-based apprenticeship in the final years of school and then attended Griffith University, where she studied hotel management, before heading to London.
For the first few years she moved up the ladder working as a food runner at the Savoy Hotel, before moving to the Wyndham Grand where she worked her way up a supervisory position before securing a major role with a high-end Japanese restaurant.
But Alice soon found herself with a gnawing feeling that it was time to move on and escape the long days and impact on her social life.
She notes that her story is ironic in that respect as real estate requires much of the same work ethic and dedication.
But securing her first job wasn’t easy, and after numerous interviews Alice finally had success in obtaining a leasing role with major London real estate agency Foxtons.
“I originally wanted to go for sales but they thought my personality was more suited to leasing because it was a faster-paced job,” Alice notes.
“So we had targets of eight appointments a day, one per hour, and you had to show five flats in every hour, so it was a really full-on job.”
It wasn’t until Alice moved back to Melbourne a few years later that she first ventured into sales.
While she was pleased to be back on Australian soil, securing her first real estate job here also proved to be difficult due to her lack of local experience.
Again there were suggestions of working in property management, but Alice was determined to make the switch to selling and she finally had success with Barry Plant Docklands Director Daniel Cole giving her a chance.
“I basically had to chase him for a job for six months to hire me, but I was lucky enough to get the job,” Alice says.
Six weeks later, Alice had sold her first property, a one-bedroom apartment, which offered not only reward but a little security.
Her goal was to break even on her retainer in her first year and, while she fell just short, Alice exceeded that target and made money in her second year.
She says the key was managing her diary and time well and ensuring there were structures in place for every process.
“Obviously building relationships with people and getting your name out there (helped too), and the more sales you did, the more people started to see you and the more well-known you became,” she says.
Alice admits the job was tough and there were points during that first year where she wondered if she was in the right job or if she should move on.
“It’s not just a matter of standing at properties, opening doors and ‘bang’, you’ve got a sale,” she notes.
“I decided not to quit and then, after that point, things started to fall into place for me.
“But it is really tough to start with. If you really have a desire and passion to be in this industry, you’ve just got to keep going.”
Alice worked her way up the ranks at Barry Plant and is now the sales manager at both the Docklands and the new Yarra’s Edge offices.
She’s also an auctioneer, something that’s unique on two fronts: it’s a point of difference in the inner city apartment market and she’s flying the flag for women in the industry.
“I’d love to have more female auctioneers here in the city,” Alice says.
Alice says during the peak COVID-19 period in Melbourne the apartment market was hit hard, particularly with overseas migration restricted and a large supply of apartments to fill.
But she says that has turned around now, even with interest rates climbing.
“I think the suburbs are feeling the pinch a lot more than we are here because we never had that huge amount of growth,” Alice explains.
“We’ve primarily got a lot of first-home buyer, owner-occupiers in our market and that mid range is moving well.”
What success looks like
Alice says when it comes to prospecting, the apartment market has its hurdles, given door-knocking and sign boards are largely out of the question.
“If you press a whole lot of buzzers on an apartment building, people get rather annoyed with you,” she says.
Instead, she says a strong database, with clean data, is key, while a little bit of letterbox dropping also doesn’t hurt.
And when it comes to the most challenging part of her role, Alice says it’s the “emotional side” of things that can get her down.
“Especially when you’re trying to do the best you can for your owners and you’ve got things working against you to be able to achieve that,” she notes.
To help keep her energy levels up and her stress levels down, Alice likes to hit the gym for a workout three or four times a week and have her days planned out and organised.
But perhaps her ultimate advice is to stay focused on your own work and not what everyone else is doing.
“Success to me means achieving my own goals,” she says.
“I set goals for myself in my personal life and also in my working career.
“Things don’t happen overnight, but if you can set yourself some goals and you manage to achieve them, that’s a really good version of success.”