Alison Hatch: Power to the people

When Alison Hatch scored her first job in real estate more than 20 years ago, she immediately had an affinity not just for the properties she was selling and leasing but the people behind them. So when she started her own agency 18 years later, she knew she had to make her clients her priority. Best Nest was born with the clear goal of meeting a gap in the market and it's this passion that has seen Alison take out the Transform XII title and zero in on what she needs to do next.

When Alison Hatch started Best Nest Property Management in 2018, she knew she had to do things differently.

A cookie-cutter agency wasn’t going to cut it in a market that was becoming increasingly disgruntled with the property management industry.

“There was a gap in the market where real estate had lost its way,” Alison explains.

“It was all about the property, it was all about the money, and it was all about, ‘Quick, let’s get this property on’.

“I just found that it needed a really strong people-orientated approach.”

Best Nest takes off

So that’s what Alison did; she built Best Nest, named after her children’s favourite P D Eastman book The Best Nest, based on what surveyed landlords and tenants told her they wanted.

“I asked them what they needed out of it (a property management agency) and I built the real estate around that,” she explains.

“So how they wanted the fee structure? That’s what we did.

“How they wanted the communication? That’s what we did. How they didn’t want to be passed around from property manager to property manager? Our business model filled the gaps in their needs.”

So much so that Alison vets landlords as much as she does tenants to ensure they’re a good fit to list their ‘nest’ with the agency.

“I don’t just take every property and every person,” Alison explains.

“We’re a referral-based business, and I talk to people and make sure they fit our values, that they fit our community and that what we offer is for them.

“I want to know from our landlords what their goals are and who they see in their home. Then I connect those dots and what I find is our property matches stay a really long time.”

On the other side of the coin, if Alison has a fabulous tenant ready to move into a property but without a nest that suits them, she’ll advertise that person and call for landlords to list their property.

“I’ll put a photo of them with their pet or their family and say that they’re seeking a home and do any of our landlords have a property that fits them,” she notes.

“Everything we do is about people and property matching.”

An unusual beginning

Alison got her start in real estate in the most unusual of ways in Queensland in 2000.

After growing up in the Hawkesbury, she moved to the sunshine state for a change and, without a job to go to, found herself door-knocking, prepared to turn her hand to almost anything.

“I scored one in real estate,” she recalls.

Alison later started the sales department of another boutique agency before returning to the Hawkesbury in 2003 and working in the childcare sector.

She started Best Nest Property Management in late 2018 and built the rent roll via referral, with consistently high growth. 

But during Sydney’s lengthy lockdown last year, it slowed right down.

Winning Transform XII

Alison was named the winner of Transform XII after devising a 2022 marketing plan that focused on rebuilding market presence lost during Sydney’s lengthy COVID-19 lockdown.

She scored the coveted award, including $5000 in prize money, after completing a 30-day challenge concentrated on all things digital, including attracting new customers through leveraging digital traffic sources such as Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.

Alison says she took part in Transform earlier in 2021, but when she saw Transform XII would focus on digital marketing, she knew she had to take part again.

“Transform came at the perfect time as our team had been assessing how best to lift our digital profile, including reflecting on our relationships, relevance and presence to correct referral drop,” she explains.

Creating happy and delighted clients has always been the cornerstone of the business, and while existing clients know this, potential clients don’t truly understand what Best Nest stands for.

“Referral growth gave us value alignment and a positive scalable rent roll, so we never felt compelled to market ourselves to foster people into our system,” Alison says.

“But our presence is now underperforming as we fail to showcase our USP and the dimensions of our business to the broader market with the reliable frequency that’s needed to show our expertise.”

Digital first

Alison notes Transform enabled the four-member strong Best Nest team to reflect and analyse their current habits and develop enough knowledge to devise a consistent, reliable and relevant digital marketing plan to make sure their relationships, relevance and presence all work together.

The 30-day challenge also covered how to nurture leads with simple but relevant digital content and convert prospects to clients with targeted messaging throughout their whole property journey.

Alison says the biggest takeaway from Transform was that content could be repurposed across different social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube.

“We had stopped going across all platforms because I felt I wanted to do one thing and do it really well, and I didn’t want to do a lot of things and not do them as well,” she says.

“Repurposing content was a game-changer for saving time to cover the platforms we align with.

“Our focus is on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube, with an extra commitment to Homely

“Transform showed us to look at each platform from a user perspective so our content would reflect the personality of that platform to meet consumer expectations in each space. 

“Facebook is perfect for covering the dimensions of our business story, Instagram our brand and personality, LinkedIn our professional voice, and YouTube can showcase marketing and informative content.”

Marketing you can measure

Alison says Best Nest now has a marketing plan they can measure against key metrics, including rent roll growth and retention, client happiness in reviews and referrals, as well as interaction, shares, follows and feedback across social media platforms.

To put the plan in place, Transform taught how to time block and devise a content strategy, which the Best Nest team has linked to their calendar to ensure they are committed and consistent.

They also plan to leverage the Homely market by doing street and suburb reviews every fortnight.

Alison says the $5000 prize money would go towards a social media consultant to analyse their plan and give them the tools to optimise its implementation. 

A portion would also go towards a “unique idea to digitise and personalise” their letterbox drops, and buying equipment such as lighting, a gimbal and a microphone.

“The plan we have created is consistent and holistic and embeds our client focus,” she says.

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Kylie Dulhunty

Kylie Dulhunty is the Editor at Elite Agent.