Megan Jaffe learnt an invaluable lesson early in her working life: Be true to yourself. It was a message that came to her time and again in the final words of the patients she nursed as a young health professional, and it’s a philosophy she continues as she leads Australasia’s most successful real estate agency, Ray White Remuera.
The industries may be vastly different, but the care and compassion she offers and the trust she has engendered in both are testaments to Megan being true to what she believes. Her ethos sees her ‘walk with’ rather than manage her highly successful real estate teams and draws agents from across the globe who seek to understand, replicate and learn from her skill.
The result is an agency that has gone from strength to strength and is now consistently ranked at the top of Ray White’s prestigious pile.
A COMMITMENT TO CARE
Megan’s career began in an industry far different to the heady world of real estate sales and it started at a young age. “I left school at about 16 and became a registered nurse,” she explains. “Both my sisters were registered nurses, as was my mum. So I just followed the natural pathway.”
It was a career she felt honoured to be part of and that set the tone for how she interacts with people.
“It taught me the privilege of working with people at a very private level… I also learnt extremely good communication skills… but the real learning was in what they wanted to share in the final moments or days of their lives.
“Most people wished they had been more true to themselves; they wished they’d lived a life which was the life they chose as opposed to a life of pleasing others or fulfilling others’ desires for them. That was a very big message that I came away with from that experience, and it has stayed with me throughout my entire life.”
Her first foray into business came after a brief stint as a drug rep and was in the form of a partnership with her cardiologist husband, Warwick Jaffe. With few jobs available for full-time heart specialists in the public sector, the pair teamed up with other doctors to start their own practice.
“I worked with him as his business manager for 15 years, building that business to be the biggest private sector cardiology practice in New Zealand. It was a business of customer service wrapped around healthcare, so it was really lovely.”
But Megan soon felt the call to pursue her own dreams, and real estate was a natural fit. “I felt it was time to be known as Megan Jaffe, as opposed to Dr Jaffe’s wife. I had been selling properties throughout our time in business… our residential properties. I was always interested in, fascinated actually, by property and the whole process around it.”
Megan went back to school, studying for a Diploma of Management amidst a personal concern she didn’t have the acumen it would take. Her fear gave her a fierce commitment to learning that resulted in straight A’s and saw her invited to pursue a Master of Business Administration.
“So I went on and did an MBA; not because I wanted to, but because I was absolutely rapt that people thought I was intelligent enough to do one,” she laughs. “And I’m terribly grateful that I did.”
Megan has used much of that learning in Ray White Remuera, including a big-picture approach to business and a commitment to customer service. But she also incorporates her own personal experience on the customer side of real estate.
“I had an experience as a vendor which wasn’t necessarily good. I came into real estate because I could see there was an opportunity to help people, to give them a better level of service.
“[As an agent] you have the most wonderful ability to be a part of people’s lives as they’re transitioning from one chapter to the next.”
BRINGING EVERYBODY HOME
Megan’s experience and philosophies on collaboration have naturally flowed through to their stately office in Remuera’s main street, where there’s always a lively ambience and energetic buzz.
Here Megan’s 11 sales teams share ideas while collaborating and offering each other support.
They work together to recognise trends in what is New Zealand’s most competitive market and highest revenue-earning suburb, where there are 9,000 homes and sales average around $1.2 billion a year. Each member of the team is equally valued for the expertise they bring. Questions are encouraged, help is readily sought and collaboration is at the heart of what they do.
That sharing has enabled Ray White Remuera to expand over the last few years into the current 600m2, purpose-designed office space sitting behind a heritage facade in the heart of the bustling suburb. It’s a far cry from the five older offices the business had grown to encompass.
“So basically we outgrew everything we had,” says Megan, “But the nice thing is that in those offices, which were not particularly appealing, the people worked so beautifully that it just grew and grew.
“Once we’d gathered all the people who fitted who we are today, I felt so good about it that I decided to make the investment to build the physical building that would house us and bring everybody home.”
The result is a beautifully appointed, state-of-the-art building that serves the needs of clients and caters to her teams. When areas of the building are not in use, they’re shared with community groups in need of a meeting space.
“That means the building is alive all the time, and it’s for the benefit of the community as well,” Megan says.
THE CLIENT’S INTERESTS AT HEART
Beyond the physical beauty and functionality of the workspace, Megan is acutely aware of her role in supporting and maintaining team morale. Each morning, long before the workday starts, she takes time to meditate, reflect on the day before and exercise, in the knowledge that her state of mind will impact the entire team.
“My headspace is absolutely critical because everyone inside the company gets their lead from me. I also teach every person inside the company to get themselves in a good headspace, because everyone’s taking the vibe from them as well.”
This reflection and shared responsibility allow her to instil a carefully considered vision and culture into the business she leads.
“I have an extremely clear vision for the company: To be the agency of choice, working with like-minded salespeople to deliver service excellence to our customers to the best of our ability. Our company values are so simple: to have the client’s interests at heart, first and foremost, and to deliver service excellence to every person who comes into our realm.”
The result is a warm and inclusive atmosphere that draws other real estate professionals from across the globe to visit and observe what occurs.
“I’m really grateful when people approach us and say ‘We’ve heard about your office. We’ve heard about some things. We’d love to come and take a look’. Because the people that come here are like-minded, they’re swapping ideas, and we’ve made these neat friends which is becoming a global community where we’re sharing ideas.”
This ethos sees Ray White Remuera universally recognised and acclaimed within the industry, as Ray White Group Chairman Brian White notes.
“Ray White Remuera is an absolutely unique business – a one-of-a-kind. Over the past decade, the business has grown from a handful of agents to a high-functioning team of 75. A then-small business accounting for three sales in every hundred in the local areas has transformed into a market-leading agency that now sells one in three homes.”
BUILDING A BUSINESS THAT ENDURES
It’s not just the business model but Megan’s leadership that attracts ready praise. Brian White goes on to say how Megan Jaffe is celebrated as one of the very best leaders in the Ray White Group.
While Megan welcomes the accolade, she’s quick to share the acclaim.
“The reason why this company’s so wonderful is it’s got a great culture and the culture is created by the people who are inside this business. It isn’t me, it’s us, and the neat thing is if I’m not here, it’s still the same.
“I’m very focused on service excellence but it’s also about endurance. It’s about building a company that endures way past the business owner.”
And when it comes to leadership, Megan is renowned for her strong views, noting many hold a position of authority or ownership rather than true leadership beliefs. “Within our industry I see a lot of people focused on profit, I see a lot of people focused on self-interest, I see a lot of people focused on matters related to ego, but not necessarily focused on doing what’s right for their people over a long period of time.
“I completely understand that we need to make a profit. I totally understand our responsibilities as business owners. But when a person joins my company, I’m there for their growth – their growth within the company’s growth, and the by-product that comes is the profit piece.”
It is this passion and insight into her agents’ growth and success that Megan will share when she takes to the stage at the Australasian Real Estate Conference in May.
“I’m very lucky that I sit in this spot where I’m seeing lots of people transitioning from being half-a-million dollar writers. I’m going to talk about the commonalities I see… what they do inside their business and also as people, not only to achieve success but how to build consistency so that’s enduring for them over time. And in addition to that, how they keep balance in their lives.”