Best of Both Worlds

Darren Cole, CEO of Landmark Harcourts, says that there are things that both city and country agents should learn from each other.

Do you remember old Aesop’s fable of ‘The Town Mouse and The Country Mouse’, where the proud city mouse visits his country cousin? The country mouse provides a meal of simple rustic fare, but the town mouse scorns it and takes him to the city for a taste of the fine life. The two cousins dine in style until the superb banquet is disturbed by a band of dogs, making the mice abandon the food and scamper to safety. The country cousin decides to forego the abundance of the city, preferring the peace and security of the countryside.

Around five years ago the ‘tipping point’ of the urban millennium was reached. Globally, and for the first time in human history, urban populations outnumbered rural and regional populations.

Australia’s urban demographic is no different, by now far outweighing the rural and regional population growth.

In growing Australia’s leading regional and rural real estate business, we are proud to be assisting the ‘Country Cousins’ with tools, technology and efficiencies that are as good as, if not better than, their city counterparts.

In fact, a number of our team who spend a great deal of time with our regional and rural businesses have observed the good old-fashioned country values we offer, such as the amount of empathy that is shown and the volume of listening that is done before attempting to do any business. Is this a norm of the bush, rather than city culture?

It is really interesting to consider empathy as a skillset, not just a natural personality trait. If you hark back to your early days of listing and selling real estate, working with landlords and tenants in your property management career or even your early days of managing a team, you will note that often, in early skill development and training sessions, plenty of attention is paid to consultative selling – questioning techniques as well as active listening processes.

As careers progress and experience increases, could it be that those of us who have developed an unconscious competence with certain skillsets could easily let slip such important aspects such as the deliberate act of role reversal and putting yourself in the other’s shoes – truly empathising with our clients?

There is no doubt that empathy, and actually really listening, not just driving a pre-determined agenda, is one of the greatest tools for human collaboration – or what some in our industry might call selling.

In a village or regional atmosphere, having a yarn or saying ‘g’day’ to the person standing next to you, even if a stranger, may be more of a norm than it would if you were standing in Collins Street, Melbourne or Pitt Street, Sydney.

Without wanting to blanket or categorise a whole segment of the agency population, could some of our city cousins increase their opportunities with a more deliberate approach to empathy and understanding, while the country cousins improve theirs with more use of technology, social media and brand building strategies? After all, the future for regional and rural Australia is filled with abundant opportunity.

The next 30 to 40 years will see global population swell to around 9.5 billion people, with the bulk of that growth being in Asia, and with that growth comes peak food demand. We are uniquely positioned both geographically and figuratively, with a compelling agricultural future, which will see potential for regional and rural Australia to prosper and flourish as the food bowl for the world.

As you know, having the right tools and technology is important – but a focus on quality of relationship is critical.

Darren Cole

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