How the Spinella brothers triumphed in Townsville

When brothers Giovanni and Santo Spinella first opened a real estate agency they started with nothing.

Giovanni, who had previously sold hotels, resorts and cars, had been working in real estate for a few months, but Santo, an aircraft maintenance engineer in the military, was completely green.

Still, the brothers set up their agency in Townsville and knuckled down.

“We literally rented 100sq m and we opened the doors,” Giovanni recalls.

“There was no rent roll, no sales business, nothing, just the two of us.

“We just went and worked really hard at it, doing 7am to 9.30pm, doing listing presentations, dropping flyers and walking the streets ourselves.

“We just put the effort in.”

Taking every opportunity

Giovanni says that effort meant leaving no opportunity behind and pushing forward, even when others told them they were crazy for starting an agency in a tough Townsville market.

Santo says that was back in 2016, and while their business has since grown to manage more than 1000 doors and has 32 per cent market share for sales, they still work just as hard.

“We both have the same work ethic and know that what you put in affects what you get out,” he says. 

While some siblings might not be able to work together, Giovanni and Santo say they each take care of separate parts of the business and have the ultimate trust in each other.

Giovanni is in charge of sales and Santo is all about property management. 

After continuing to grow their business and their team, the brothers and their team joined the Ray White Group in February 2023 as Ray White Townsville.

While Giovanni says it was a difficult decision to leave their previous brand, the shift to Ray White was about having the ability to scale their business further, have the best business model, technology and support to grow and progress further.

“We had grown the business to a size where Santo and I needed mentors too,” Giovanni says.

“We also wanted the best systems in the business, because we know that in 10 years time we will still be in real estate, so we needed to look at who’s developing the best systems and the best solutions for the market.”

Santo says they also sat down with Ray White Managing Director Dan White and Queensland Chief Executive Officer Jason Andrew to quiz them on their plans for the future, particularly with technology and data.

“Those are key things in their business and they’re also important for us in our business,” he says.

“So their foundations and our foundations aligned.”

Building a strong culture

The Ray White Townsville team now totals 47, including Giovanni and Santo. 

The brothers both agree that the increasing headcount is the product of investing their team and building a workplace that thrives on a culture of helping each other.

“We’ve never believed in headhunting,” Giovanni says.

“We believe that if we have a good reputation and we do things that are fresh and new, people will see us running our business well and that people will naturally, organically, be attracted to us.

“That’s definitely something we’re really proud of.

“We have a ‘no closed door’ policy, there are no offices and all of our agents sit in one big room.

“All of our property managers sit in one big room and they all get to spend time with each other, laugh and have fun.”

Santo and Giovanni are also in the trenches with their team, each still bringing in new listings, new managements and they truly understand what their team’s day-to-day life is like.

“We see the same pain, have the same bad days and have the same good days they do,” Giovanni says.

“I think that really builds trust because they know that we’re on the same page as them.”

That extends to investing in the team’s professional and personal growth with the best system, training and support.

“We very much invest in our team’s growth,” Santo notes.

“It’s not just about making money, it’s about making sure we can give them the best solutions so they are rewarded financially.”

Giving back to the community

That level of support also extends to the Townsville community.

Ray White Townsville is a big supporter of Ronald McDonald House and various other community initiatives and events. 

But it’s during natural disasters, such as cyclones and floods, that the Ray White Townsville team really chips in.

“We pack up the staged houses, put all the furniture inside and take down the signboards,” Santo says.

“We also try to educate and help our tenants and landlords to make sure their properties are looked after and that everyone has insurance.”

After the event, they check which homes are safe, which have been damaged and even start the cleanup for their clients.

“We put green waste on the kerbside for the council to collect, we cut down trees and make sure things are ready,” Santo says.

“We have a lot of owners that aren’t here, so we just make sure they feel reassured and they know we’ve been around to check on their house.”

The future looks bright

Looking forward, Giovanni and Santo say their goal is to continue to grow the business, but the best way they can see to do that is by investing in each team member and that their success will flow across the business as a whole.

“We’re in a growth phase and we’re really working on developing our agents to be high performance, more successful themselves and to reach the goals they want to reach,” Giovanni says.

“We also want to keep developing our property management arm, work on efficiencies and just have a really good, healthy rent roll.”

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Kylie Dulhunty

Kylie Dulhunty is the Editor at Elite Agent.