Three young professionals. A growing rent roll. Loads of youth and enthusiasm. With a lively and interesting presence on social media that made us take notice, these ladies are all about having fun while building a serious business. Just over a year ago, aged 21, Jess Mazzocato, Director of RealEstate Precinct, started her own property management company by recruiting her sister Molly and good friend Kaitlin, and has not looked back. Samantha McLean spoke to Jess, Molly and Kaitlin to find out more about how their youthful, fun and ‘just do it’ approach has created a thriving specialist property management company.
FIRSTLY A QUICK run down on roles and responsibilities. Jess, 22, is the Director of the business and handles most of the business development, inspection and other client facing duties. Kaitlin, also 22, is the Marketing Manager, and Molly, Jess’ sister, is just 16 and is personal assistant to Jess and Kaitlin.
I firstly ask Jess what led her into starting her own business. “I started in real estate at 16, and went straight into a reception role for just over a year. And then went to another and worked from assistant to property manager. I just felt that property management needed to have more focus. I wanted to create a business that isn’t your typical property management business. I wanted to do things differently and have fun doing it”.
I ask Molly how she came to be in business with Jess. “One day during the holidays Jess was really busy; she asked me if I could come in and do some admin for her. So I came in for a week and enjoyed it, and I’ve been working with her pretty much ever since.” Do you think you’ll stay in real estate, or are you considering other career options? “I’m thinking that I’ll go to Uni next year to study nutrition and health science. But I do like real estate, and while I’m in Uni I’ll continue to work in real estate.”
Having found these young dynamos on social media, I was keen to know a bit more about their approach to marketing the business. “We do make the time to put something up every day that is clever and a bit interesting, to make people want to come to our page and look at what we’re posting. We do plan it out though and then schedule our posts for the entire week at once.”
Do you find it’s successful for bringing in leads? “Yes, we are increasing the number of people who follow us, particularly on Instagram and Facebook. We post things that show we are constantly working and constantly busy, but with a fun edge. We wanted to create a good vibe there, and I think we’ve been successful in what we set out to achieve.”
Their rent roll has grown to 160 properties under management in the past year and Jess has a goal of reaching 300 in the next year. I ask Kaitlin what other types of marketing she focuses on to build the rent roll. She explains, “As well as social media, we do lots of flyers and letterbox drops where we have rented properties. We do a lot of handwritten prospecting letters so it’s really personal. Jess is also involved in the community, and it helps that a lot of people already know her. And that, mixed with our social media, is what is working right now.”
What sort of things do you get involved in? Jess says, “Anything and everything! Molly and I coach the local netball team; we grew up playing netball so that’s something that we wanted to do anyway. We do a lot of things with local schools where we can help, and a lot of charity events as well. We’ve just finished one. It wasn’t so much for our community, it was actually for an orphanage in Bali. But we just got everybody in our community involved; we had a lunch, and everybody brought an item.”
What have been your biggest challenges to growth? Do you find your age any sort of a barrier to what you’re doing? Jess says, “We don’t let it stop us. If someone ever says, ‘you’re young’, to me when I’m out there, it’s a case of ‘yes, I’m young, but Im a business owner!’ – It’s never stopped me, to be honest. And I just wouldn’t let it stop me.
“We aren’t your typical 22-year-olds, I suppose. We’re actually serious about what we do, but we make everything fun. So if we’re at a listing presentation, it’s not the typical listing presentation that most other agents do. I think people enjoy the personal experience we give them; we make it enjoyable, and I think that shows. And Molly – well, she’s really mature and no one thinks she’s 16. When they find out people love it; they’re like, ‘Wow, I actually can’t believe it!’
I ask Jess if she was scared at all, taking the leap to start her own business. “Yes, there were times, but I’m really lucky that I have the support of my whole family. If I fail, it doesn’t matter; I just keep on going. There’ve been plenty of times when I’ve called Mum and Dad and had a mild freak out, and they just say, ‘What do you need us to do?’ Mum sometimes helps deliver flyers, Dad will go out and put ‘For Lease’ signs up; they just do whatever they can to do to make it work for me. So I’m pretty lucky. There’s no need to be scared – I mean, what’s the worst that can happen? That’s the way I approach it!”
What are the big challenges that you face on a day to day basis, and how do you deal with those? Jess says, “Definitely branding is a challenge. When people think of a real estate agent, they think, ‘We’ll ring Ray White’, or somebody like that because that brand has been around forever. So that’s why we’re so focused on building our brand; that’s why Kaitlin is full time, just building our brand so that when people think real estate, or property management, they think us. We’re constantly researching branding, and how to do it better. It’s definitely the biggest thing for us, but it’s something that we can overcome, and quite easily overcome, I think.”
What do you think are the key things for success for anyone in property management today? Jess says, “I would think consistency.” Molly agrees and adds, “I would say being determined and just not giving up when the first thing knocks you down. You’ve just got to keep getting up.” Kaitlin chimes in, “I’d say customer service. That aspect, the people aspect, that’s everything in most endeavours. If you don’t have that, then it doesn’t matter what you are providing; if you can’t provide customer service you don’t have anything.”
I’ve also noticed the girls at a few training events recently and I ask them how important ongoing education is to them. Jess says emphatically, “It’s one of the top things that you need to be doing daily. We do some sort of education and/or training every single day, as a group, whether that’s studying one of the Acts, or reading books. We don’t have radio on in the car; we have an audio book, for example. It’s really important. And the industry changes every day, so if you’re not learning I think it would be very hard to keep up!”
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given? “I guess it wasn’t advice, but Richard Branson’s quote, ‘Screw it, just do it.’ I love that!” says Jess. “There are things that I really want to do, and think, ‘Let’s just do it; let’s just try!’. So that would be mine.” Molly says honestly, “I get so much advice because I’m so young! But I take on board as much as possible. And I think not giving up is the key. If you persist at something every day, if you think about it all the time, you’re working on it subconsciously, and if you just keep working at it you’re going to succeed.”
Last question. What do you think the future holds for RealEstate Precinct? Jess says, “I think in the industry in the next few months and years people are going to become a lot more aware that they have to step up their game. Property management is no longer ‘collect the rent and do the occasional maintenance’. There’s so much more to it; it’s about education, so I think there’ll be a lot more property management training becoming available, which will just be fantastic to see.”