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Is There More To Utility Connection Services Than Meets The Eye?

IN 2013, UTILITY CONNECTIONS COMPANY YOURPORTER launched as the only real estate industry-based connections company. We spoke with Tony Zarka, the General Manager of YourPorter, to find out more about how real estate offices can use the service to enhance their service offering and grow their business.

TWO YEARS AFTER its launch, YourPorter is still the only connections company in Victoria owned by real estate agents, boasting an equity model delivering market leading commissions and annual distributions to all participating offices.

Can you provide an overview on what YourPorter is?
YourPorter is a connection service business assisting people who are moving home.  YourPorter is the buffer between the client and all service retailers, providing  a single point of reference when arranging single or multiple  utility connections – all with one phone  call. We offer a full suite of connection services such as electricity,  gas, water, telecommunications and pay television, from several top tier suppliers including AGL, Origin, Click, Telstra, iPrimus, Belong and Foxtel. Originally launched for tenants, the company is now assisting both buyers and vendors with discounted offers across the product suite.

What is the YourPorter business model?
The YourPorter business model is built around four primary pillars.

Firstly, we focus on returning high commissions to agents. In the past, utility connection companies paid agents minimal referral commissions. However, YourPorter’s structure offers equal commissions to all offices and as a result the utility connections market, in some cases, has tripled their commission rates.

Secondly, YourPorter’s unique equity model enables agents to build equity in the business by simply using the service. In essence, every application an agency submits adds to their share in the business.

Additionally, because agents can earn equity, we share our profits via annual distributions. All agents submitting applications will receive an annual distribution based on profit and individual office application volumes.

Finally, YourPorter provides a no-fuss, simple service delivery.  Our easy-to-use agent portal,
two-hour client contact window, choice of providers, regular communication with property managers
and ongoing property manager  and tenant competitions keep our clients and property managers
engaged and connected.

What was your objective when launching YourPorter?
YourPorter’s primary objective was to provide real estate agents with an opportunity to maximise the value of the utility connections service that they offered their clients. What we realised was that utility connection companies benefitted only themselves and had no real interest in creating any long-term value back to real estate agents. Specifically, recent sales of similar businesses had been reported in the tens of millions – YourPorter felt it was time real estate agencies were given the opportunity to share in the rewards.

How is the YourPorter business going after launch?
YourPorter is arg uably the third  largest utility connection company in Victoria and continues to generate benefits back into the real estate industry. We have just celebrated our first full financial year; we have already paid offices over $730,000  in commissions and are poised to pay $250,000 in annual distributions. In fact, we have exceeded our annual distributions forecast by approximately 30 per cent.

The feedback from property managers and the clients we service has been exceptional. A recent survey with participating property managers highlighted over 85 per cent of respondents felt YourPorter was very easy to use.

What’s next for the company?
While YourPorter has come a long way since its launch almost two years ago, the company will continue to grow market  share.  We have started to move into NSW and SA with a view to having a footprint in all Australian states.  We have implemented many market  firsts with our equity model and branching out to vendors  and home purchasers, and we plan to continue to innovate.

Can any agent participate in YourPorter?
The opportunity to join YourPorter is available to all real estate agencies and franchise groups across Australia.

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