Having been married for almost 30 years, Shelley and Tony Bezuidenhout know exactly what to expect from one another.
They understand each other’s strengths and weaknesses, making them a pretty good team, both as business owners, as well as husband and wife.
“Sometimes we push each other out of our comfort zone,” Ms Bezuidenhout said.
“But that’s usually a good thing because we do have a common goal – the success of our business.”
It’s so far so good for the pair, having recently opened their third Century 21 office, five years after Ms Bezuidenhout bought her first office at Aldinga Beach.
She’d been an employee at the Century 21 South Coast office when the owner retired, and despite having less than four years’ experience in the real estate industry, Ms Bezuidenhout decided to seize the opportunity and buy the business.
“There was never any question or thought about changing brands, as Century 21 was well known and respected in the area,” Ms Bezuidenhout said.
“We also knew what Century 21 offered, not only being the largest real estate franchise brand globally, with a great reputation and high-quality systems, but also the excellent corporate training and support we would receive.”
This year saw the couple open both their second and third Century 21 offices, in the Adelaide CBD and Northfield respectively.
So, what’s the secret to their success?
“We don’t really think of it as a secret to success,” Ms Bezuidenhout said.
“But we do work hard and constantly strive to achieve the best possible experience for our customers across the three core areas of our business – residential, commercial and holidays.
“We provide a supportive environment for staff to work in and encourage challenging the status quo.
“We are always looking for new opportunities and are able to adapt to an ever-changing industry and plan for unexpected occurrences.”
A case in point was a strategic decision the pair took more than four years ago, when they began implementing cloud-based systems into the business.
“The first was our telephone system, it was replaced with a Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) system, and then we transitioned all of our business IT systems to the cloud as well,” Ms Bezuidenhout said.
“This has served us very well, particularly in the recent pandemic and with the addition of two more offices.
“This allows our staff to work from anywhere whilst continuing to provide our customers with the same level of service.”
Along with the successful opening of two new offices, the South Coast office recently sold five Aldinga Beach blocks as one package, for a record breaking $6.1 million.
Not only was it a record sale for Aldinga Beach, but it was also the biggest ever transaction for the South Coast office.
“This is a really great example of how the business works as a team,” Ms Bezuidenhout said.
“The five blocks were listed by sales consultant Kazim Khan, who ran a great campaign and worked with hundreds of buyers to present a number of offers to the vendor, however the market was improving and so were the vendor’s expectations.
“Tony had a client who was looking to do a joint venture, Kazim identified two of his contacts who were receptive to the idea, Kazim and Tony made the introductions and put together the $6.1 million deal that worked for the vendor and purchasers.”
But it hasn’t been without its challenges. Ms Bezuidenhout said cash flow was always a challenge, particularly in a softer market, as is managing growth when the market is strong.
Maintaining culture was another focus, she said, especially with a growing team that now included two of their children.
Ms Bezuidenhout said having a clear and common vision for the business, while respecting each other’s opinions and contributions to the business, was a critical factor in their success.
“We have been in partnership with other people where this was not the case, and it highlighted how, even with a shared goal, everyone has a different idea of how to achieve this goal,” she said.
“If you don’t value other people’s input, then you get stuck trying to resolve conflict, and are unable to drive the business forward.”
As for the future?
“No more expansion!” the pair say, in jest.
“Seriously though, our focus is to ensure all three offices are operating optimally and the business continues to be proactive and innovative, customer focused, and nimble enough to adapt to change.”