If it were Day 1 in real estate again… what would you do differently?

Coming out of the COVID-19 crisis is the perfect time to adopt a “learner mentality” and treat things as though it’s your first day in real estate, a top sales director says.

Speaking as part of a Transform 2020 Leadership Lesson, The Agency’s Thomas McGlynn (now CEO at BresicWhitney) says too often agents think they know it all and have done it all.

“How can you learn anything new when you think you know it all,” he says.

“I can guarantee you that everyone who said they’ve seen it all and done it all came into coronavirus and reached for the handbook to deal with the crisis and found it wasn’t there.”

Thomas says now is the perfect time for agents to fall back in love with creating new, exciting energy in their business.

He says energy transforms into success, and that creates activity and monetary gain.

“At The Agency we talk about ‘new business energy’ or ‘startup energy’, which is that energy you have when you walk into a new job for the first time,” Thomas says.

“That learner mentality can be a really good thing.

“We’ve encouraged our team to look at coronavirus as a great opportunity to say ‘if I was to start my business again today, what would I do differently? Now is a great opportunity for me to implement those things’.”

We asked this year’s Transform 2020 participants what they would do differently if they could return to their first day in real estate and they shared some enlightening answers.

Ashleigh GoodchildDirector property management, SOCO Realty

In Transform 2017, the same question saw me answer that I would not use my business bank account as my business budget and I would start with a proper CRM from the beginning.

Since then, I have employed a bookkeeper to manage the accounts and explain our financial position, while our CRM is now managed correctly, with regular correspondence, by a third party.

In 2020 the answer to that same question is a little different.

I wish I had started with more landing pages on my website for suburb profiles, and I have already started rectifying this with my IT department.

The other thing I have absorbed from Transform this year is Lisa Novak’s social media selling plan involving sneak peeks, teasers and live video updates, as well as Sam McIntyre’s case study video inspiration.

I have already incorporated this in my marketing as it is incredibly informative for the public.

I am a big believer in the saying “you don’t know what you don’t know”, and unless people invest in learning and self-development, it’s impossible to move forward in business.

Casey HealeyDirector/BDM, Century 21 Novocastrian

I started in property management 17 years ago so there would be a lot I would do differently if I could go back to Day 1.

I would realise that not all business is good business.

I would bypass cheap landlords with poorly maintained properties who chase low fees rather than grow doors under management at any cost. I now know my worth and what it costs to manage a property. 

I would invest in self-education from the first day. I’m not sure why it took me so long to start attending big training events, such as the Australian Residential Property Managers Conference and Transform, as they have had a massive impact on my personal growth and that of the business.

I’d also engage a coach sooner, as I love having someone hold me accountable, to bounce ideas off and who has my back. Working with a coach has defined my business. 

Another area I’d focus on is knowing my numbers, from profit and loss through to average management fees and average weekly rent. Knowing my numbers allows me to set the right KPIs and understand the projected growth of the business.

E Sha HatSales consultant, Leyton Real Estate

I would focus a lot more on managing my time and working out of my comfort zone. 

Instead of following bad news, I would focus on being positive and turning bad news into good news in the community.

I would change how I prospect and increase the rate at which I look for new business, rather than just doing what I have always done. 

I’d focus on being more energetic when liaising with potential sellers and buyers, and I’d stop looking for the silver bullet and instead focus on going back to basics.

If I implemented these earlier I would achieve my goals earlier.

Jarrod FlintoffSales associate, Kore Property

If I could go back to Day 1 I would regularly practice the law of reciprocity and give more local market insights, local business vouchers, and small gifts.

I would focus on telling less and asking more. I would have deeper and more meaningful conversations by asking better questions.

I’d also consume less and create more by sharing more than one piece of social media content each day. This would not only include just listed or just sold videos but client testimonials, buyer videos, sneak peeks, local products, meals, people, tradies and reviews.

I’d be more efficient and increase my capacity through implementing structure, systems and procedures to follow an ideal day.

Creating a local business networking group and a volunteering group would happen under my plan to stop hesitating and start initiating ideas before the competition does.

I would also fuel my body and brain for better performance by seeing a health professional to create a meal plan.

Karen ChantLicensed real estate agent/Stock and station agent, Bob Berry Real Estate (now at Chant and Co)

I would focus on automating workflow to reduce the time I spent on regular tasks such as confirmations, reminders, follow-ups and new client detail forms. 

Instead of working weekends, I would offer private inspections by appointment on set days during the week to qualified purchasers.

I’d also develop a more comprehensive database that contains descriptive details about each person, such as birthdays, anniversary dates, children’s names, pets’ names, favourite colour, and our last conversation topic.

This would enable more intimate conversations and connections with people, which would assist in growing and nurturing my business.

Kristine KrienkeSales associate, Place Real Estate

When I started in real estate, I was fortunate enough to have landed in a high-performing team, working under the Number 1 sales agent. I started in an administration role, which slowly evolved into a sales role.

If I had my first day in real estate again, I would still align myself with a high-performing agent and learn all that I could. 

I would then take more of a buyer’s agent position within the team. Buyers are crucial to a successful business and are often taken for granted. 

If, from Day 1, I had built a database from buyers, nurtured them and put effort into providing exceptional service, many of those buyers would have purchased and eventually become sellers. 

Buyers own investment properties and they have personal networks they talk to. Many agents brush buyers off because it seems too hard. 

I can’t have my time again, however I can take more time to work with buyers, provide exceptional service and build my database in the hope that one day, the buyer becomes the seller and considers me over other agents because I offered my time and guidance.

Kylie MaxwellDirector, LJ Hooker Queanbeyan (now a coach, consultant and trainer at Real+)

As a business owner, when you do your real estate licence, there is nothing in there about actually running a business and leading a team or how to go about building a client base and prospecting. 

If I had my time again, I would ensure that I was clear on my vision and that I undertook leadership training before recruiting a team.

Knowing how to coach and mentor 20 years ago would have saved a lot of money and tears.

I would also engage an accountability and business coach to guide me, as well as finding mentors and other agencies to see what they are doing that works and what doesn’t. 

Mistakes aren’t always a bad thing. If you have the right people by your side, it can be a far more profitable and less stressful experience.

I now surround myself with people who are smarter than me and I learn from them.

Lourdes PiscopoManaging director, Living Prospect Real Estate

If I had my first day in real estate again, the first thing I would do is set up my network. 

I would create all of my social media accounts, and make sure that my family and friends are invited to each page. 

Then I would focus on learning everything I could about my farm area of no more than 2,000 properties.

In that farm area, I would also start building my network and relationships so as many people as possible know me.

I would also get involved in community events, get to know all the other local businesses and learn to network with them. 

Updating my CRM daily would be another focus as I work to understand my area completely and build the relationships I need for success.

Nathan Roylance – Licensed real estate agent, Holland Price (now director at Roylance Realty)

The Number 1 thing I would do is appoint an accountability buddy and, later on, a coach to help me meet KPIs, set goals, brainstorm new ideas and rectify any issues I’m facing.

I’d better structure my week so I know on which days I will work late and on which I’ll finish earlier. I’m still working on this, and it’s something that’s important for my home life.

I’d immediately create checklists for procedures and I’d make sure that I gave the person working with me a simple rundown on what is needed in each file. We use Microsoft teams for this so we can communicate on the go.

Last but not least, I would practice talking to people, study the area and previous sales. I’d become a sponge to a leader. 

All of this is something you continually work on, but when you start out you are practising on real prospects so you need to get it right.

Neil WebsterSales executive, Stone Real Estate Illawarra

Relationship building has always been a strength in my past employment and I would continue to improve and incorporate this from Day 1 in real estate, including boosting the level of communication with clients, prospects, buyers and colleagues.

I would use technology to do this, combined with simple things such as phone calls and texts.

Maintaining consistency, frequency and transparency in all levels of business helps to build trust with stakeholders and I would focus on this area too.

Technology can help establish consistency, as can planning and scheduling to ensure minor events are not missed.

I would realise that listening is a key factor in communication and identifying the needs of sellers and buyers through questioning and empathy will lead to better solutions and outcomes. This can be done by having more detailed discussions and setting expectations from the outset. 

Personal mindset is something I recognise as important with the benefit of hindsight. Setting time aside to focus on myself, through health and fitness, time with family and downtime to rejuvenate enables me to perform better for longer.

Nick GilesPrincipal, Coronis Group

There are a few things I’d do differently, not just with more recent realisations but with the overall experience.

I would listen with more intent and empathy. I was 19 on my first day in real estate, so I didn’t do much of either. Today, numerous clients and contacts reach out to me for advice and not just in a transactional sense. 

It’s a mission of mine to create a business focused on help, education and empathy.

I’d also advocate running a tech-lead business with advertising, serving clients personally – including video messaging and tailored solutions – inspecting and managing.

Observing what the public expects, not what I engage with, would be another key thing I’d do. I’d survey and ask questions, read studies and engage with the front line of customer service expectations.

Nicole HoareBDM/Assistant property manager, Century 21 Novocastrian

If I returned to Day 1 in real estate, I would ensure I was continuously learning and staying up-to-date with technology. I would add training into my 90-day plan, and I would ensure all processes benefit the way business is conducted and presented.

While it can be difficult to adapt quickly to change, I would be more prepared to make swift decisions, embrace diversity and ensure my mindset is strong and ready for change.

I would ensure I had flexible work arrangements, so I can work effectively between appointments and be more productive.

Office expenses would be regularly reviewed, as would all the processes and systems with monthly subscriptions. During a time when costs need to be tightened, this would ensure all the add-ons in the business are being used.

I would also build strong relationships with local businesses. 

Supporting local business and edifying them would be structured into my day through sharing my purchases or experiences, and sharing/tagging them on social media to support them and their services. I would also add an opportunity for videos or live feeds to allow them to give an overview of their business.

Nikki HornerSales consultant, Hayman Partners (now at Hive Property Canberra)

If it were Day 1 in real estate, I would include professional development in my career from the start. I would find the right people to follow and learn from on social media.

I didn’t complete any real professional development early in my career, and once I did, it was eye-opening to see how other people were doing business. What I had been absorbing wasn’t making me better. 

I strongly believe this industry is about seeing what others do, making it repeatable and scale-able. 

COVID-19 has presented a chance for reflection.

During this time, I have realised that some of the things I was afraid of were of no consequence, and it has highlighted missed opportunities and how I can do better.

Peta RenshawSales consultant, Elders Real Estate

If I could start in real estate again, I would not rely on just one person’s view of the industry to influence and inspire me.

I would go to as many seminars and webinars as possible, as early as I could. 

I was not confident enough to do this early in my career, and I have suffered from a lack of a variety in knowledge from industry leaders. 

It took four years to join sessions and groups, and I have grown in confidence significantly over the past two years. 

I plan to continue to regularly update my knowledge and ideas base each year to get the best out of myself and my business. 

Rachael ThomasBDM, Jackson Bell Property (now senior property manager at Altitude)

The biggest thing I would do differently would be to create a better work-life balance and learn to stop working when I got home. I have always ensured I complete every task, every day, even if it has meant working overtime.

My clients appreciate it, but they also say things could have waited until tomorrow. It’s a bad habit I would not want new staff to adopt as they might burnout.

To help make the change, I would turn off all work technology at 6pm and move it to another room. This would form part of the onboarding program so new staff are aware of the expectation to only work business hours.

I would ensure tenants and landlords know we are not contactable after business hours and who they should contact in an emergency.

I would also make more decisive decisions.

Prior to COVID-19, I wanted to implement video walk-throughs, virtual tours and videos on social media, but I hadn’t followed through. 

COVID-19 forced me to take action, and now I wish I hadn’t waited as it has drastically changed the way we do business. 

Sarah KorbelLicensed estate agent, Nick Johnstone

I would work first and foremost on my mindset as this impacts 80 per cent of my business. I may even engage a coach to help me. 

I would be proud of my industry and all that it does for the community and support a local charity to give back. 

I would nurture every contact I met with the utmost care and make them feel special. I would use my heart to engage with people and focus on building relationships. 

I would offer value at each encounter and have no expectation of anything in return. 

I would focus on creating productive habits and learn the best processes top performers use. 

I would build a strong network and learn to network. 

Most of all, I would be unapologetically me.

Talisha ButtsworthProperty manager, Island Sands Asset Management

If I was able to turn back the clock to my first year in the real estate industry, I would become a local real estate expert who is known in the community and who has a strong presence online.

To achieve this, I would share information to social media to generate online interest and potentially bring in new landlords, tenants and referral partners. 

I would socially network in person by attending community events, connecting with family and friends and cold-calling.

When potential landlords are looking for a new property manager they are looking for someone different and something new. 

If I have seen the properties and know the suburbs inside out, I will be able to help a tenant find the perfect home through my business network.

New landlords and tenants would be able to see that I am well connected and capable of marketing their property in new and innovative ways. Tenants can also interact with advertised properties through the social media network.

I would also create an outstanding website that filters back to my database, and set up community Facebook pages to link everyone together, which is another great form of marketing for future clients. 

Tina MeirSales consultant, Hayman Partners

If it were Day 1 in real estate again, I would let go of any preconceived ideas about the industry and know that I don’t have to follow traditional methods to be successful. 

What works for one salesperson or area may not work for another. I would be fearless, embrace my points of difference, be authentic and be consistent. 

I would focus on people’s needs, not sales targets.

I would have the best technical training, the most advanced computing systems, particularly a great CRM, and utilise this to create structure and consistency from the get-go. 

I would have a mentor who can provide advice, support and accountability, and I would also focus on building an online presence sooner.

Another focus would be to invest more dollars back into the business, particularly in areas such as training, creating a marketing plan and building a digital presence.

It’s crucial to have downtime away from real estate so I would spend time with family and friends, and schedule activities that make me happy.

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Kylie Dulhunty

Kylie Dulhunty is the Editor at Elite Agent.