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Jodie Stainton: The power of putting people first

Jodie Stainton is a force to be reckoned within Australia's property management industry. Dedicated, determined and passionate, she has built a career many aspire to. Here, Jodie shares how she got her start in real estate, the hurdles she's overcome, why people are her passion and what's next in her exciting new chapter at Harcourts Solutions.

People and passion.

They are two simple words but they have formed the basis of Jodie Stainton’s entire real estate career. 

With 20-plus years of experience at some of the nation’s biggest real estate brands, Jodie has forged her success based on tenacity, dedication, knowledge, and above all else a devout passion for putting her team first.

It’s a skill money can’t buy. 

It’s intangible, but in Jodie’s mind, it’s her superpower. 

“Passion is what gets you going and keeps you going,” Jodie says.

“It’s what helps you work the long hours, sacrifice some parts of your life and put in more.” 

A little over three months ago, Jodie joined the Harcourts Solutions network in Brisbane as a part owner in the business and director of property management. 

Excited to work with managing director Brendan Whipps, sales director Etienne Labuschagne and founding director Martin Millard, Jodie says she’s honoured to join forces with the trio and is keen to embrace the opportunity to have them as mentors and business partners. 

It was a move that surprised many, especially given her previous role developing a property management franchise. 

“The move was a surprise to me too,” Jodie admits. 

“I don’t think I really thought I would move and Brendan and I joke that at first, I was a no, but it turns out I was a yes, I just didn’t realise it right away.

“Brendan, Etienne and Martin were a big part of my decision to move to Harcourts Solutions, as was my desire to own part of what I built.

“They are amazing leaders with runs on the board. If you’re going to join a company, look at the leadership bench and then look for clues as to whether they live by their values – it’s something that has served me well my entire career.” 

It was a return home of sorts, with Jodie having first worked as the property management state operations manager for Harcourts Queensland between 2009 and 2013. 

“Harcourts is one of those places – everyone says, once you’re infected with blue blood, you have blue blood for life,” Jodie explains.

“It’s where my career really took off and I will be forever grateful.” 

Jodie’s first priority when she returned to Harcourts was to swiftly establish strong relationships with her new team. 

“My first goal was to build rapport and credibility with our people,” she explains. 

“Any leadership changes inspire a lot of uncertainty and heightened emotions for team members.

“A lot of, ‘What’s in it for me?’, ‘How is this going to affect me?’” 

Getting to know her team

Jodie explains establishing the building blocks of any solid relationship starts rather simply – it’s all about getting to know who your team members are. 

What are they like inside the office as well as outside of it? Do they have a family? Where do they see their career in real estate in 12 months, two years or five years? 

“I just really wanted to understand who they are,” Jodie notes. 

“What’s important to them? What career aspirations do they have? How can I help them? 

“I’ve found over the years that one of the most important things I can do is to help someone get out of their own way, but I can only do that when I understand them and know how to help them through their fears.” 

Jodie notes that one of her first key tasks was to do a “skill versus will” analysis.  

“You can teach anyone who wants to be there the skills,” she says. 

“But to really move someone forward, you also have to understand the gap in their skills and build enough credibility for them to believe you will help them achieve something that’s not part of their skill set, or in many cases, even have a desire to do.” 

Once rapport is established, credibility is built, and with credibility comes the ability to get the best out of your people. 

Jodie’s second goal with Harcourts Solutions is to analyse its growth engine and discover where it generates the most leads and what the business’ “leakage” looks like. 

It might sound strange, but Jodie doesn’t view leakage as a negative. 

All she sees is opportunity. 

“How do we stop the losses and what levers do we need to pull?” Jodie says. 

“How do we bridge the gap between sales and property management and make sure the leads are flowing each way as they should? 

“For every 100 properties, I estimate that business owners are losing at least $80,000 in revenue to their competitor. It’s mind blowing.

“It’s all about customer service, retention and growth.” 

And when it comes to growing the team and attracting good people, especially if you’re looking to entice someone from another agency, Jodie again says it’s inextricably linked with the second of her two favourite words – passion.   

“Good people need to see your passion to inspire them to want to work with you,” she explains.

“They have a lot of choice. They want to work with someone who understands them, can see their strengths and knows how to leverage it for their benefit.” 

Developing self-belief 

But before others could put faith in Jodie as a leader, she had to develop faith in herself. 

Growing up in a housing commission home in the Brisbane suburb of Keperra, Jodie says she never imagined where her real estate career would take her.   

“Real estate has given me an identity, a career, travel, the ability to help people and the ability to experience some of the most amazing learning opportunities,” she says.

“It’s given me things that once seemed so far out of my reach.” 

Real estate lift off

That real estate career Jodie speaks of started in 2000. 

Despite studying journalism at university, Jodie knew she wanted to work in real estate and she quickly found herself as a sales cadet at a real estate agency. 

She showed some initiative and turned her writing skills towards rewriting the agency’s website at a time when websites weren’t seen as particularly important. 

But it showed the boss she was a self-starter, and they offered her a spot in the property management team. 

“I found out later that there was a mass exodus, and my entire sales career was derailed because they needed a bum on a seat in property management that day,” she says.

“But I think it’s the best thing that ever happened to me.” 

Taking a whistlestop tour of Jodie’s career reveals she’s worked in property management, led teams, built PM teams and helped others develop their teams. 

She’s started rent rolls from scratch and mentored others in doing the same. 

Over the years, Jodie has worked with some of the best in the business, including Ben White, Jo-Anne Oliveri, Jason Rose, Rob Honeycomb, Peter Camphin, Andrew Coronis and Jodi Ford. 

“Everywhere I have worked has given me a piece of the puzzle along the way,” Jodie says. 

“I’ve had the opportunity to work with some of the most amazing people in the industry, and each of them has given me something money can’t buy. 

“Leadership is everything. 

“Working for Ben was a real highlight. 

“Learning about how tech heads work, their frameworks for solving problems and being in a start-up environment was really exciting.” 

Jodie had the idea for Coronis Now, a property management franchise model that had been marinating in her mind since 2010 and which was established at Coronis in 2019.

“It was this thing that I just had to do,” she says.

“I believed there was room for it in the industry. You could see that with cloud technology, property managers were going to be able to work from anywhere and I’m passionate that property management is one of those businesses that not only provides stable revenue, but an asset value.

“It’s just a great business to be in and I wanted more women to have a slice of the pie.

“I was so grateful to Andrew because he just backed me on it, and gave me the confidence to run with it.”

After just 11 days, Jodie had her first partner and from there they built the plane as they went. 

“If you’ve got a burning desire to do something, just jump in wholeheartedly. Don’t let perfection get in the way of actually doing,” Jodie says.

Property managers can fly

Over the years, Jodie says one of the biggest lessons she has learnt, which still needs to be taught today, is that property managers can do much more than what many agency leaders give them credit for. 

With the right leadership and passion, Jodie says property managers can soar. 

“Property managers are mainly women who do extraordinary things every day,” she says.

“They’re the ones who manage to juggle their career and their kids, their husbands, their family and their friends.  

“They can sell, and they can build the business. 

“I found this over and over again. I would start with a property manager who has never made a prospecting call and who has certainly never sold real estate but soon enough they’d be doing it all. 

“I just had to do it with them, hold their hand and allay their fears. I show them how and they do the rest.” 

For those thinking of starting a rent roll, Jodie says the key is overcoming the fear of picking up the phone and calling everyone you know. 

“Work out where your lead sources will come from and build relationships with other agents in your area,” she advises. 

“I tell my team to go on realestate.com.au and see every agent in the area that’s sold recently and book an appointment with them because they will refer to you,” Jodie explains. 

PM pain points

Trust is the key to correcting one of the property management industry’s primary pain points – landlords struggling to find someone they trust to help them make their most important property-related decisions. 

Jodie says this problem often manifests or becomes apparent in how property maintenance is processed. 

“When I started at Coronis, and I did the same thing just recently at Harcourts, I downloaded all of the Google reviews to analyse key issues,” Jodie says. 

“It showed that most of the complaints are around communication for maintenance issues.” 

Clients often feel property maintenance isn’t properly attended to because they receive calls from different team members, or the workflow is assigned to a junior property manager. 

The solution is to have more senior team members attend to the communication around those tasks. 

A lasting legacy

On the topic of leaving one brand for another, Jodie says she’s always tried to do so with respect for all involved. 

She notes that if you work with the best leaders, at some point you will need to leave the best leader and to burn those relationships would be the “antichrist of growth in your career”. 

“I’ve never taken managements or team members from a previous employer…my reputation is everything,” Jodie says. 

So, where to next for Jodie and the Harcourts Solutions property management department? 

Jodie says her first priority is helping her team shake off the “hangover” from a tough few years interrupted by Covid, natural disasters and now a change in leadership. 

“The other thing I’m thinking about is growth,” she says. 

“I think investors are coming back to the market and, in Brisbane at least, we’re going to benefit from that. 

“For us, it’s all about growth, and if my growth plans come off, I will need to employ someone once every two months.” 

A Christmas wish

Along with her personal wish list, Jodie would like to see Santa Claus deliver the property management industry “real leadership”. 

“Real leadership in property management that really helped property managers move their lives forward,” she says. 

“As an industry, it would mean our customer satisfaction scores would increase, our processes would improve and our investment in technology would increase.” 

At Harcourts Solutions, one of the changes Jodie is implementing is how the property management team views its KPIs. 

Instead of KPIs that measure the basics around routine inspections, arrears and lease renewals, they’re looking at revenue, growth, net gain, customer satisfaction scores, team happiness, and loyalty. 

“We’re reorientating everything,” she says. 

“Someone asked me the other day, are you concerned about rising property management wages?

“I said, ‘Let me put it this way, the average wage in Australia is $91,000. Wouldn’t we want at least someone average to manage our largest business asset?’ 

“The key is to reorient the traditional KPIs to actually support the business’ objectives and add bonuses that make sense. 

“If the revenue is growing, the asset is growing and the satisfaction scores are growing, they deserve more.” 

And Jodie’s one fail-safe piece of advice for any property manager? 

“Invest in your own career,” she says. 

“Don’t wait for someone to give you a hand, go find the right leader who’s passionate about you and wants to see you grow, but know that the best leaders often have choice so you want to stand out.

“This is my favourite quote, and it’s something I live by: The hand that is dealt you, represents determinism. The way you play it, is free will.” 

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Kylie Dulhunty

Kylie Dulhunty is the Deputy Editor at Elite Agent.