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Barry Plant Eastern Group takes a collaborative approach to growth

Just over 12 months on from the successful acquisition of Philip Webb Real Estate, Barry Plant Eastern Group has successfully navigated the rapid expansion thanks to a collaborative approach with members of the new team.

The acquisition saw Barry Plant Eastern Group grow to 170 staff, more than 7000 properties under management and, significantly, retain more than 90 per cent of the team.

Barry Plant Eastern Group, Managing Director, Spiro Drossos said they worked incredibly hard to find the right way to merge the two teams and maintain the company culture.

“With two cultures coming together, we had to create a new culture and we called it culture 2.0,” Mr Drossos said.

“The way we did that was to sit down and look at what the best things the previous company was doing so we could bring that forward and then leave the rest behind.

“We said, if we’re going to move forward and be united with what we do, we want to keep things that are working and also those that are adding to our positive internal culture and also our customers too.”

Mr Drossos said they used a collaborative approach across different segments of their business to go out and find the best practices they could adopt that would help drive the company forward and also gel with the new team members.

“We looked at things like our customer service, training and our CRM and we wrote down everything we wanted to keep and what we could leave behind,” he said.

“And then, once we established what that looked like, we could then start working on each one and then making it our own.

“That really was the start of the new culture and where we really identified the new standards.”

Mr Drossos said that their primary goal was to choose the right system, so they empowered top experts from each business area to identify and select the best practices and ideas for the company.

“The members were then able to come back and report to the rest of the team,” he said.

“So we set up teams that champion each category, and then they would report back to and then together they would assess it and work through it and then create it from there. 

“I think that was the most important thing was actually setting up the people that wanted to be part of a particular segment.”

He said the process was very consultative.

“While we own the business and we’re driving it, it’s theirs,” he said.

“They’re the experts, they’re the professionals in this space so let’s really talk to them, let’s really understand what they’re wanting.”

They also focused on not just thinking about the current 7000 properties under management, but what they needed to put in place to get that to 15,000 in 10 years.

“We’ve got to be able to have the systems to get us there,” he said.

Mr Drossos has embarked on an aggressive growth strategy since 2016, introducing highly successful and well-known partners, Theo Politis and Mark Di Giulio.

Together, the trio has acquired four rent roll businesses and more than tripled their territory areas, making the Eastern Group one of the largest and most successful real estate businesses in Australia. 

“Having the right partners makes all the difference in growing a successful business,” Mr Drossos said.

“This could not have been achieved without a highly motivated and experienced partnership group working in sync.

“Mark, Theo and I have worked together for almost 20 years and we all understand the values and dedication needed to create a business of this calibre.

“The Philip Webb acquisition was a great decision and a strategic move, and a year on, we couldn’t be happier with the current position the business is in.”

“Our people are our priority, and they are thriving; our customers are satisfied and we are seeing fantastic results – it’s truly a win-win,” he said.

“We are now attracting the best talent in the industry, receiving inquiries and resumes across all areas, including sales, property management, marketing and operations.”

Mr Drossos said the company aimed to build on what they had achieved over the past 12 months.

“The goal is really customer service focused, both internally and externally,” he said.

“Internally we have to ask what does my team need to excel in their role?

“Then on the customer experience side of things, how can we further improve that to ensure the landlords and tenants are getting the best experience possible through our property management team?”

He said the goal was to provide the team with all the tools necessary so they are happy, which will in turn lead to the customers being happy.

Mr Drossos said they would also put added emphasis on the human side of the business, which he feels has been lost in the industry with the influx of new technology in recent years.

“Human interaction between our property management team and our customers is high on our agenda,” he said.

“The phone calls, the face-to-face meetings, not just emails or SMSs.

“When we looked at our system that’s the biggest thing that I identified, that was being lost in property management. 

“Everything was being automated.”

Barry Plant co-founder Barry Plant said he and wife Karen were like ‘proud parents’ as they watched their legacy live on in the new generation of real estate.

“Spiro and his team have built an unbelievable business, he has accomplished beyond what we could have imagined,” Mr Plant said.

“To independently fund an acquisition of this size shows what a solid business they have been able to create.”

“Spiro was a young aspirational agent who joined our team in the early 2000s, swiftly establishing himself as one of Australia’s leading agents.

“His commitment to excellence and client satisfaction propelled his rapid rise, culminating in his transition to becoming one of Australia’s distinguished leaders in real estate.”

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Rowan Crosby

Rowan Crosby is a senior journalist at Elite Agent specialising in finance and real estate.