Born to Compete: Hayley Van de Ven

As a kid who was at school just to play sport, Hayley Van de Ven could never have imagined herself owning and running her own business in Brisbane’s inner suburbs. Success wasn’t automatic to Hayley; she’s worked hard, taken every opportunity handed to her and come out the other side as the confident and successful leader of RE/MAX Results.

Entering the real estate industry straight out of high school, Hayley Van de Ven was a successful sales agent by the age of 18 – something she can barely believe now.

“When I think about it now, I wonder who would have taken me seriously at 18,” laughs Hayley.

She initially entered into a youth training program run by Ray White and moved on a year later to become a fully qualified sales agent. Another five years selling with the network gave her a passion for real estate and a hunger to move on to bigger and better things.

“I needed a change. I’d been selling for six years; I was getting really good traction in the area and was really enjoying it, but I needed something new because I was at that point where I could feel the glass ceiling.”

She approached her principal, who ran three offices – one of which didn’t have a licensee at the helm – and asked for a chance. But he didn’t feel she was ready, so he turned her down. Hayley was frustrated with the response, and when a franchise owner from LJ Hooker approached her about taking over at one of his agencies she leapt at the chance.

“At 24 I didn’t really know my value. I accepted the role because it was a challenge; there was no monetary benefit to it. It was just something that was going to give me the feeling of proving to the boss who’d said I couldn’t do it that I could. We grew that office to an amazing market share – it was phenomenial. I really loved that place; I treated it as if it was my own.”

The right opportunity

Within a few months with the network, Hayley made it into the Captains Club and her star continued to rise. A move to Mackay during a difficult time in the market didn’t dampen her spirits, but by the time RE/MAX approached her she was ready for a change again.

“It was right time right place. I was going through a divorce when they rang me and said, ‘What would it take for you to come to RE/MAX head office?’. I was like, ‘When can I start?’ I packed up my car, left everything behind and moved to Brisbane.

I want to encourage all women who are holding off having a family or following their dreams because they don’t think they can do it; They absolutely can.

“I spent two years in the head office doing franchising for Queensland, and I fell in love with the brand, the message and everything. It meant that I was very passionate when I was selling the brand throughout Queensland. It was an easy sell for me, because I really believed in the product and the service that they had.”

Next up for Hayley was the move to RE/MAX Results, where Deborah Evans had been running the business for 18 years. Ready to move back into a salesperson role, Deborah was looking to sell the office, and Hayley took the reins as principal in April 2016.

“After the purchase, we decided to reinvigorate the business; I’ve worked hard for two years to turn it around. We went from 14 staff to 42. The property management department has grown in two years by, like, 200 per cent. We’ve forged this crazy path, and in the meantime I’ve remarried and had two kids.”

Family values

Her family is something Hayley is incredibly passionate about. Her role as a business owner has been a steep learning curve and it’s meant dedicating a lot of time and energy to growing the office she loves, but she’s determined to have it all. From spending the weekends with her kids, now that she isn’t working in sales, to taking her family on holidays whenever she can, she’s the first to admit the journey hasn’t been easy – but it has been worth it.

“Not for a second can you ever say that it’s easy, but it’s also okay to believe that you can have it all. That’s the biggest thing that I’ve struggled [with]; for every person that says ‘Good on you’, there are just as many people that make you feel bad that you aren’t at home with your children. I don’t know any of my friends in business that don’t suffer from mother’s guilt. I don’t know any of my friends who haven’t had to deal with the struggle of dropping their kids off at daycare and having them say, ‘Mummy, please don’t go’.

“But, ultimately, that’s every working mother; you can allow that to hold you back, or you can look at it as, ‘Because I’m working I can have quality time with them and we can go on great holidays’. And, because I’m not a selling principal,  it means that I don’t work Saturdays and Sundays anymore, so I can have two days of awesome quality time.”

Not for a second can you ever say it’s easy, but it’s also okay to believe that you can have it all.

Learning new skills

Taking over the business at RE/MAX Results has presented a whole host of new challenges for Hayley. The requirements of being a business owner are far different to those of a sales agent, which is how she found herself involved with the Acceler8 program. The program, designed for women in business, aims to educate, inspire and empower women by improving their financial literacy.

“I went to school to play sports. I was a competitive netballer. That probably helped make me the competitive salesperson that I am, but it didn’t give me any hope of being a business owner. I was a salesperson through and through, and the skill set you need to be a business owner is just completely different.”

Hayley has graduated from the Acceler8 program and is now tackling the Elite Program. In addition, 2018 saw her give birth to her second child and achieve recognition as an ‘Awardee of Merit’ through the Women in Business Awards of Australia. With her learnings from Acceler8 behind her, she’s ready to continue the impressive growth of RE/MAX Results in 2019.

“We grew by over a million dollars’ turnover in 2018, and I want us to grow by another 50 per cent in 2019. On the property management side, we’ve made some huge changes and we’re implementing more next year.

“I just want to encourage all the women out there who are holding off having a family or following their dreams because they don’t think they can do it; they absolutely can. There are so many great movements, different resources for support, and other people, mentors and programs they can engage in which are full of women just like them. They don’t have to do it alone.”

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Hannah Blackiston

Hannah Blackiston was an in-house journalist with Elite Agent. She worked with the company from January 2018 to January 2019.