The secret to Paul Abassi’s 53 per cent market share in Ropes Crossing isn’t his tailored suit.
Nor is it the kind of car he drives.
What Ropes Crossing locals love about the Laing + Simmons director is his down-to-earth approach and his commitment to helping the community.
A real estate agent with 20 years’ experience, Paul says the 16-member team has maintained that level of market share for the past five to six years.
“We’ve embedded ourselves in the community,” he says.
“We do the Ropes Crossing community garden, we do the Ropes Crossing Strikers Football Club, we do the carwash for the school P&C and the money goes to them, and we do the Ropes Crossing donation drive as well, which is where we hire a truck and go around to collect furniture from those who don’t want it, and it goes to those needing furniture.
“Your time is more important than just writing a cheque.
“We can give someone a cheque and sponsor them, but I think what we do well is to actually be there for the Strikers team, be there for the community garden and just be there for people.”
This emphasis on playing the long game and the desire to assist without immediate return applied again when the COVID-19 pandemic hit Australian shores last year.
After the initial confusion and worries about what it would mean for his business, Paul asked his team members to hit the phones to check and see if their clients and potential clients were OK.
“We called people to ask, ‘are you OK? Can we help you in any way?’” he says.
“We didn’t call them about selling or call them about anything else; it was just a call to say we would help with anything they may need.”
Paul and the team also helped promote local businesses via their social media channels and their database. They ran competitions and genuinely tried to help others that were struggling.
As a big believer in karma, Paul says the team is now starting to receive some referrals and listings as a result of their kindness.
“We’ve probably secured six of seven listings over the past three months as a result,” he says.
“But that wasn’t at the forefront of our minds, it was just about people coming together to help each other.”
Paul started his real estate career fresh out of high school as a property manager with a portfolio of about 800 doors.
After four years, he left the industry to move to a wholesaling business before returning to real estate as a selling agent five years later.
“It took going for me to realise that it was what I wanted to do,” Paul explains.
Stints at agencies in Campbelltown and St Mary’s followed before he finally joined LendLease, where he was one of the founding agents in the land release in Ropes Crossing.
After three years there, Paul decided the time was right to go out on his own.
“There was no room for growth,” he says.
“Back then, if you became a salesperson you’d done well. That was it.”
So Paul opened his first office in 2010 in St Mary’s as, at the time, there was no commercial space available in Ropes Crossing.
In 2014 the Ropes Crossing office opened, and the team hasn’t looked back since.
As well as embedding themselves in the community so that they’re a recognised and trusted face, Paul says they also focus on “the basics”.
“I was door-knocking when I first started,” he says.
“Now it’s all about consistency.
“Consistency is really important, as is remembering to do the traditional things alongside the newer digital things.
“Between my associates and myself, we do 250 calls a week.
“We do just listed and just sold calls, we also do investment calls, and there’s something in everyone’s letterbox at least twice a month.
“If people do not see something in their letterbox at least twice a month, we’re going to lose traction.”
When it comes to social media and digital marketing, Paul and the team like to change things up a bit and focus on giving rather than just getting.
He says they’ve put in a strategy that enables clients to find out what their home is worth in minutes, and they also offer links to market reports and other useful information.
“I’m not the agent that’s going to say, ‘hi, I’ve made 100 sales,’” Paul says.
“We might say we’ve sold this as well as saying ‘here’s a link to download this report’.
“I’ve seen a lot of agencies out there put on social media ‘sold, sold, sold’ and that’s good to have, but for us, it’s more about how we can serve the community better.”
Paul says this method generates goodwill, trust and, in the long run, appraisals, listings and sales.
“It’s about building relationships, and it’s about building trust,” he says.
“Not everyone is going to love you, but not everyone is going to hate you either.
“But if you can create a good group of people that trust you, care about you and who will be there for you, then when you’re sitting in their lounge room they’re not arguing about what you charge or about your marketing costs.
“They trust what you do because they’ve seen the results.”
Paul says there are plans to invest in the community even further this year, and he’s been in talks with the local retirement village to work out ways to get residents involved in the wider community.
It could be by inviting residents to come and watch a Strikers game or to help with planting at the community garden.
“Some don’t have family around and some don’t have people that are close to them,” Paul says.
“I think it’s going to be really helpful for them and for us as well.”
Other goals for 2021 include holding investment information sessions for mum and dad investors who’d like to enter the market but aren’t sure how to go about it.
Paul says their social media will continue to be bolstered, but the emphasis will be on giving back.
“There will be some advertising for appraisals, but it’s more about what else we can do to help the community in favour of their investment properties, their home and how we can increase their profits on their homes at the moment,” he says.
Of course, there are also plans to grow the team, but Paul says that their growth will be geared towards expanding the areas they offer services in rather than hiring a cast of many.
“I think if you get the right combination of four to five salespeople that have four or five areas that we can break into, we can start chipping away at the (market share) percentage,” Paul says.
Given taking a straightforward approach has worked so well for Paul over the years, it should come as no surprise that his advice to new agents, and his younger self, is relatively simple.
“Be consistent and do the basics,” he says.
“You need to do digital, but you still need to do the traditional and combine that with being consistent and honest.
“If you come from a place of thinking, ‘I can help people’, you’ll get a return.”