What goes up must come down – unless your name is Tom Hector.
The golden boy in South Australian real estate and one of the nation’s premier agents, Tom Hector’s rise to the top 11 years ago was nothing short of meteoric.
Perhaps even more startling is that over the past decade the Harris Real Estate salesman and auctioneer has stayed firmly perched at the top of the pile.
He’s achieved record sales, recorded an average of a sale a day in March last year and wrote a massive $500,000 GCI in the first quarter of 2018.
To say the Hector brand is a household name in Adelaide, and particularly in Rostrevor, is an understatement.
But how has he done it? What’s his secret?
Come June, Tom will reveal all when he returns as a guest speaker at the two-day Australasian Real Estate Conference 2019 on the Gold Coast.
At just 28 Tom is already a veteran in the industry. He got his big break when he was still a teenager, winning the 2008 South Australian Auction Idol competition.
It meant Tom pressed pause on a plumbing apprenticeship he had lined up for when he finished Year 12 at Rostrevor College.
He hasn’t looked back since.
“Winning the South Australian Auction Idol competition in 2008 was a turning point in my life and set the wheels in motion for my career in the real estate industry,” Tom says.
Tom’s interest in the real estate game was first piqued as a 12-year-old, when he would attend open homes with his parents.
In a booming market some homes would have 100 people passing through. He loved the busy atmosphere and testing his knowledge, picking out properties and keeping a close eye on how prices were moving.
“Mum and Dad were hunting for investment properties and I’ve always had an interest in buying and selling houses,” Tom says.
Following his Auction Idol success Tom scored himself a job as a trainee at Toop & Toop, where Phil Harris acted as his mentor. When Phil went out on his own in 2010, Tom joined him as his right-hand man.
Tom’s star continued to rise and now the Hector team comprises three selling agents, including himself, along with two administration employees.
The hard yards
So how did Tom make his mark in an industry known for its competitive nature and as many failures as there are success stories?
“By doing what’s right, not what’s easy,” he says.
Coincidentally, this is the first point Tom will discuss when he takes to the AREC stage in front of his peers.
“At the end of the day, before you lay your head on the pillow you need to ask yourself, each and every night, if you’ve done enough activity that day,” he says.
“Have you made enough calls, have you had enough appointments?
“In real estate today no one is successful without hard work.
“You need to make the calls, you need to door knock, you need to have face-to-face appointments whether they be appraisals, listing presentations, vendor appointments or buyer appointments.
“Nothing will ever make you more successful than doing the basics really, really well.”
In a 2014 training video with real estate coach Tom Panos, Tom Hector revealed that what built his career was working about 2,000 homes in the Rostrevor area, where he had grown up, played tennis and gone to school.
He door knocked, he cold called and did whatever he could to get market share.
Doing the basics well saw Tom work the market to his advantage, culminating in a record first quarter in 2018 where he wrote more than $500,000 GCI.
He sold 31 houses in March alone.
Tom also attributed that success to changing the way his business operated, including only doing auctions on a Friday.
Nothing will ever make you more successful than doing the basics really, really well.
Under the hammer
That’s right: Tom has done away with the traditional Saturday auction.
He says that belief in the auction process saw him significantly improve the auction clearance rate in the area, as well as giving him his weekends back.
But, he says, the market has dipped since that high.
“This year has been nowhere near as good,” Tom says. “I’m still selling a lot but not record numbers.
“At that stage, I was using the market to my effect but now it’s important not to rest on your laurels and develop a false sense of security, as it is hard work that reaps the best rewards.
“I have a very grounded upbringing and I make sure I don’t get too arrogant,” he says.
“The market shifts month in and month out, and just because you have one good month or one good year doesn’t mean it can’t all fall to pieces.”
Routine, routine, routine
Tom will also talk about maintaining peak performance at AREC and how working smart is just as important as working hard.
“It’s about having consistency every single day in your business,” he says.
“You need to set out what your structured, ideal week looks like and from there you also need to look after your health and fitness.
“In fact, health and fitness should be number 1.
“I start every day with exercise of some description, followed by a team meeting at 8am where we run clear systems to ensure everyone is on the same page and clear on their tasks for the rest of the day.”
Tom says systems include listed and sold checklists as well as ensuring clients’ expectations are met every time.
He says Friday auctions also enable him to take weekends off, which allows him to recharge and come back fresh on Mondays.
“Sure, you can earn lots of money working seven days a week, but how sustainable is it?” Tom says.
“Life goes by so quickly.”
Tom says he’ll also discuss how he went from “me to we”, or how he grew his team, at AREC.
“When you do get established and have created a career for yourself, you can’t continue to provide exceptional customer service and grow your business without a team around you,” he says.
He says that, as a rule, one would put on an assistant after making 30 sales and continue to add team members as the number of transactions grows.
“You need to employ the right staff, have the right team culture and have a clear job description to have success in real estate,” Tom says.
“You need to share the journey with them, keep them hungry and keep them motivated every day.
“You need to drive performance, drive KPIs and make it a fun work environment. Each month we have catch-ups, monthly lunches and team bonuses. Most of all, we respect each other.”