Geoff Lucas: How to create a hub your team will love

At The Agency, we do things differently, and one of the core ways we symbolise this, both physically and metaphorically, is with our hubs.

Gone are the traditional shop fronts with their bold signage and listings in the window. 

Instead, we’ve opted for high-end, functionally appropriate hubs – a tailored space where agents collaborate, meet, bring clients and get the business of selling real estate done.

And it’s a trend that’s starting to catch the attention of the wider real estate industry, with the Jellis Craig team from Stonnington in Victoria recently making the trip to Sydney to check out our new Neutral Bay hub.

They wanted to see the hub in action to gauge whether something similar might work for them, and with this in mind, I’ll share with you the key steps, as The Agency sees them, to setting up the ideal hub.

  1. Ask the agents

For any hub model to work, you must first collaborate with your agents to understand the most effective way for them to conduct businesses.

Our agents told us they didn’t want to be office-bound, but they did want a space they could tap into on-demand.

2. Location, location, location

One of the key features of our hubs is that they are easy to get to and simple to use.

Our new Neutral Bay hub is located within 15 to 20 minutes’ drive from all of our key Lower North Shore markets – Mosman, Balmoral, Kirribilli, Milsons Point, Crows Nest, Cammeray and, of course, Neutral Bay. 

It’s also close to two major supermarkets, which means our agents can work and grab something for dinner on the way home.

That might seem arbitrary, but it’s something multiple agents have mentioned they appreciate.

We also have an exciting new hub that will open in Brisbane at Eagle Farm Racecourse.

That location is second to none, has unparalleled access to parking and will comprise a contemporary, custom-designed floor for our agents.

3. Get the fit-out right

The key to a successful hub is meeting the standards your agents need it to.

Our Neutral Bay hub is perfectly set up for hot-desking so agents can plug and play and get their deals done as efficiently as possible. 

But it also contains collaboration spaces for team members and sales meetings, as well as areas agents can take clients should they want to meet in an office-like environment. 

One of the biggest features our newer hubs contain are sound-proof phone booths where agents can make private calls.

This means our agents can close a confidential deal inside the phone booth and then step outside to collaborate with a colleague who just might have a tip on the ideal buyer for their new listing.

It’s the best of both worlds.

4. Branding and exposure

A long championed argument for traditional main street real estate offices is that the associated street signage helps build brand and business.

At The Agency, we don’t believe you need a shopfront to do business and do it well.

Increasingly, business is done online, and that’s where we see having brand presence as most critical.

Gone are the days of customers coming to an agency because they spotted the bright lights of your main street office.

Instead, people select agents for the service they give and the relationships they build.

5. The bottom line

As with any change implemented in a business, it must be cost-effective.

The Agency sees our investment in hubs our agents love and use as an investment in the future.

Not only that, the money we don’t spend on expensive high street fit-outs in every suburb is redirected back into the business.

It can cost as much as $800,000 to fit out a single 300sq m office, and if you have 50 offices, you’re looking at $40 million.

We don’t think that’s an appropriate allocation of capital.

We prefer to channel that into marketing, the community, remunerating our agents with competitive splits and reinvesting it in the processes, practices and technology our people need to be their best.

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Geoff Lucas

Geoff Lucas is the Group Chief Executive Officer of The Agency