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AREC 2018 Feature Interview: Chris Hanley and Phil Harris with Samantha McLean

In our latest feature interview from the AREC2018 Elite Agent Studio, Samantha McLean talks to Chris Hanley and Phil Harris about their takeaways from the conference, what makes a great business culture and what agents need to focus on to succeed.



Samantha: Hi everyone, Samantha McLean from Elite Agent Magazine at the AREC 2018 couch. This is one of my most exciting interviews with two of the best guys in real estate: Chris Hanley from Byron Bay First National. Welcome, Chris. And Phil Harris who’s just come offstage this morning from Harris Real Estate in South Australia.

Now Byron Bay and South Australia are a long way away, but you two are actually mates, so how did you two meet?

Phil: Well, ‘mate’ is probably a little bit of a stretch, but I’ll let you answer that.

Chris: We met in a lift at the Star Casino in Sydney, and I’d heard about Phil, but I didn’t know him. He was heading up. I was heading down. We were speaking at a conference together. I think it was an AREC. Or you were going to AREC or I was speaking. I can’t remember. Long time ago. I’m guessing a decade ago. But we met in a lift. He got in, or I was getting out or something. We met and we said hello, and then we met a bunch of times after that.

Phil: He’s really been a mentor and a coach probably for the last decade, I would say, Chris, you been really helping me.

Chris: Probably ten, yeah.

Phil: I’ve always put his business on a pedestal in Byron Bay, and I saw that model. I liked the way he operated. Since then, we’ve become great mates.

Samantha: So culture is something that you two are really big on, and particularly having an office culture that supports your team. So talk to me both about how you develop that in your own offices in your own ways.

Chris: We both focus on employing good people. You can’t build a great culture that’s sustainable unless you constantly recruit good people to add to the good people you already got. We just try our best all the time to do that. We get it wrong sometimes. You don’t really know until you give someone a job, but you can try with recruitment.

Culture’s the only thing that cannot be copied by competitors. It’s your DNA, and it’s a little bit like having in-built GPS. You’re away from your business for a while and you got a great culture, you don’t have to worry that things aren’t being done the right way.

Phil: If you knew nothing about the owner, you could walk around an organisation and in about five or ten minutes, you could probably almost create a profile of what that business owner would be like, even if you’d never met them before. So I see culture as being a real extension of the owner.

And the tricky thing with culture is you can’t fake it, so if you’re trying to be something that you’re not, it’s only so long before that culture will collapse down, and so I think if you’ve got good integrity, you’ve got a genuine set of values, and you believe in what your mission and your cause is, then gradually that starts to manifest across the organisation.

Samantha: We did a bit of a poll around the couch: who’s the most popular speaker? Everyone’s like Phil Harris, Phil Harris, Phil Harris, Phil Harris. what are some of the messages that you hope to leave people with at AREC 2018?

Phil: The things that I try to focus on in salespeople is less about hype and less about social media, but just what are the two or three key things that are gonna really have a profound impact in your business?

Probably the big thing I’ve noticed now in real estate compared to maybe going back a decade or so ago. There’s a lot more stuff to get distracted by now. So there’s so many more distractions, but ultimately it comes back to, have you got strong relationships in your marketplace, and have you got a great skillset? And relationships aren’t built through social media. Social media’s important. Relationships are met by this, one-on-one, face-to-face, and then you having the trust in the fact that I’m really good at what I do.

And so if you’ve got great relationships and you’re a professional at what you do, then you’re always gonna have success in real estate. So I’m always thinking, how can I break it down to those two basic simple philosophies?

Chris: I’ve heard the word authentic put out in conferences the last few years like it’s something that you can go and develop. You can’t really. You either are or you aren’t, and I think that in order to build trust, people wanna deal with real, authentic people, and I think the same with bosses. I think audiences are just like the public or sellers. They wanna deal with agents who are real and authentic, and through that, trust gets built. Through trust, particularly in a changing market, you’re able to help educate owners so they can move.
Try and focus on things that make a difference, rather than a lot of the noise around the edges.

Samantha: And just one last quick question, you’ve both been sitting through other presentations in the auditorium. What stood out for you, Chris?

Chris: I loved Megan yesterday. Can’t beat her. It’s never a fluke or an accident that someone runs an amazing business, and she walks the talk. And I just watched her interact with the people who were in her team, and they all admired her, and you felt the warmth. But you also felt her care. So I think her story yesterday connected with a lot of people who all had their own reasons.

Samantha: Yeah, fantastic. And Phil?

Phil: Yeah, I thought Chris Helder was outstanding. Peter Fuda in the morning was exceptional as well.

Chris: Yeah, he was good. He was good.

Phil: I think he gave that analogy of picking the right screw and which screw to turn and those sorts of things. The three percentage thing, I thought that was brilliant. As always, I’m gonna walk away with a bookful of ideas of what we can implement in the office.

Samantha: Yeah, absolutely guys. Thank you so much. Enjoy the rest of the conference.

Chris: Pleasure to talk to you. Thank you.

Phil: Yeah, thanks, Sam.

Samantha: Thank you, Chris. Thanks, Phil.

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