Nursing and property management may not seem to have much in common, but that’s certainly not the case according to Bev Pellow, Principal at Ray White Rural Temora and Narrandera. After 30 years in nursing, she made the move to real estate and hasn’t looked back. Since setting up her first agency in December 2010 with husband Craig, she’s gone from strength to strength. Now running two offices, with a third due to open mid-year, Bev knows that the skills she developed over three decades as a nurse are at the core of her success in real estate.
Before her time in property management, Bev Pellow started practising as a nurse back in 1978. “I completed my training at Royal North Shore Hospital in Sydney and then worked at a few different private hospitals before moving back to the country.
“Later I moved into teaching. I was at TAFE and taught AINs (Assistants in Nursing) who worked in nursing homes. At the time I was also working part-time in a nursing home as a Registered Nurse, so it was a nice complement.”
When Bev was offered the opportunity to step into a managerial position at the nursing home to fill a 12-month maternity leave opening, she jumped at the chance.
“That position really gave me a solid foundation, in terms of skills and knowledge, to run my own business,” she says. “I had to deal with everything from staff inductions, position descriptions and employment agreements to industry awards and workers’ compensation. Everything! That experience really gave me a lot of confidence as I made the move into real estate.”
MAKING THE MOVE
Changing career direction was not a decision Bev took lightly, but she knew it was the right one.
“My husband is a stock and station agent and he worked rebating through a franchise,” Bev remembers. “He decided he didn’t want to spend the rest of his life building a business for someone else; he wanted to build one for himself, for us. So we went looking for opportunities and Ray White was a great fit for us.”
At the beginning Bev worked part-time in the business while still working part-time in the nursing home. “At the time, we just had Craig, a trainee receptionist and myself. As sales and property management work came through the door, I did it. But as the business built, we put on a full-time salesperson which allowed me to focus on property management and train our trainee in that area of the business.”
According to Bev, the training, business management and people skills she developed over the course of her nursing career have stood her in good stead.
“The skills I learnt while teaching at TAFE have been a real asset. From the time we opened the doors to our agency, it’s been my responsibility to train everyone who comes to work for us,” she says. “Operating in a country area has meant that the pool of fully trained property managers has been very shallow. So, out of necessity, most of our team have needed to be trained from scratch.”
Her business development skills have also been readily transferable into real estate and she uses these each day. But the number one ability Bev draws on is her people skills.
“Dealing with people, and dealing with difficult people at very stressful periods of their lives, is common to both nursing and property management,” she says. “Nursing definitely teaches you the skills you need to deal with all types of people in all sorts of circumstances.
“Real estate is all about people and we are focused on building a customer-service focused business. Our aim is to build long-term and lasting relationships with our clients and provide them with the best service. In terms of property management, we hold on to our managements – and when our clients invest in their next property, they come back to us. For us it’s all about providing the best service, so the people skills I developed over the course of my nursing career have really been a great benefit.”
For Bev, it all boils down to always doing what you say you’re going to do. “The key in property management is good communication. It’s the number one thing clients will complain about. But if you communicate with people and do what you say you’re going to do, it goes a long way.”
Like nursing, property management is always interesting and you never know what the day is going to bring. “We recently discovered that one of our tenants was growing marijuana on the property,” she recalls. “The tenant had complained that the water pressure was low. We sent someone out to repair it and he discovered the plants hidden behind a row of trees.
“Obviously they needed water for their crop,” Bev says, tongue in cheek. “But needless to say we terminated their lease immediately!”
Crops aside, Bev loves living and working in the country. “We get to know our clients really well. It’s part and parcel of living in a country town,” she says. “It can be a plus and a minus; a plus because you know who you won’t rent to in a million years. But a minus because sometimes it’s hard not to get emotionally involved with what’s going on in clients’ lives – and you do tend to get cornered in Woolies with clients asking questions.”
But it’s definitely the country life for Bev; she truly enjoys living and working in the countryside. So much so that each year her team heads to Sydney for the Lifestyle Expo to encourage city slickers to make a tree change. “We actively promote Temora and Narrandera, and we’ve helped many people relocate here,” she says. “It’s so rewarding to see them make the move and end up with the lifestyle they’ve been looking for.”
And the relocations are good for business in more ways than one. Bev has even employed a few of these tree-changers. “It’s been a really positive experience for us. We live and work in such a wonderful community.”