Ray White Rural & Livestock held its annual muster on the Gold Coast last week with almost 200 agents coming from all over Australia to learn and get inspired.
The speakers at the one-day conference at the Marriott Resort, Surfers Paradise were economists, industry thought-leaders, elite agents, progressive entrepreneurs and even disruptors.
Stephen Nell, Ray White Rural managing director, said “growth and momentum is oxygen to a business like ours”.
“Without it, we die. We’re never comfortable, never satisfied, never looking backwards, always striving, always seeking more. But the fact of the matter is that what made us successful in the past may not be what is required to make us successful in the future,” Mr Nell said.
“We now sell 12 per cent of all farms in Australia through our 120 offices and 1000 members.
“But if each principal identified a young leader who they could support into directorship, we’d have greater longevity and continuity in our businesses.”
Ray White Rural & Livestock chairman Paul White said he was so very proud of the network’s success over its 25 year history.
“It’s good for my heart and soul to see you all. A lot of people who work for public companies don’t get such a connection with their network but this is what my family does and we have done for 25 years,” Mr White said.
“Marketing is our philosophy at Ray White. We are marketing mad and marketing your name through marketing property is the best way to get your name out and people notice you,” he said.
“It’s great to celebrate our 25th anniversary but we’re focused on looking forward.”
Keynote speaker and former Wallabies captain Stephen Moore spoke to the Ray White Rural network about the sovereign risk and political uncertainty worldwide affecting the industry.
In his day job now as the Corporate and Commercial General Manager of the North Australian Pastoral Company, Mr Moore helps run a herd of 200,000 cattle across 14 stations.
“It’s been dry and it’s continuing to stay dry but we are optimistic that it will break. It’s happened before and it will happen again,” he said, before talking about the rise of ‘alternative meat products’.
“A lot of people think it’s a fad but we are seeing more supermarket shelves being stocked with plant based meats.”
He said the key to getting people to work in remote communities was for organisations to care about its people.
“You will always attract people to rural and remote and regional Australia if you are known as kind and good to your staff.”
Mr Moore – the 14th most capped Australian rugby international player, said he was definitely missing rugby in the lead up to the World Cup.
“I haven’t missed rugby I since I retired 18 months ago but I am missing it now. I was lucky to be involved in three World Cups and it’s such a great thing to be a part of, it’s life changing. The whole nation comes with you and I am sure the lads will do well.”
REA Group chief economist Nerida Conisbee told the audience that while many areas of Australia were affected by drought, many mining towns were seeing big improvements.
“The worst of the property market was January, when there was very little to be positive about but it all drastically turned around in May after the election,” she said.
“Chinese buyer activity is at its lowest level ever in residential housing but not in rural where there’s still a lot of interest.
“Agricultural and mining demand underpin the rural market – just have a think about the fall in demand for sugar cane now compared to the increase in demand for almonds.
“Trade wars can be a big benefit to many rural areas, along with improvements in transport and employment to a region.
“Look at Tamworth where prices are up more than 20 per cent in the last 12 months, while Townsville has experienced the toughest market in Queensland where prices are down 20 per cent since 2009. The western outback of WA is also down by 35 per cent, and it’s also tough in Perth.
“We are starting to see positive conditions for example in Mackay prices are up 2.4 per cent, and nine per cent higher growth in rents in the last 12 months. Mining towns are back especially in Blackwater and Dysart.”
Australian hockey royalty Mark Knowles (pictured) inspired the members at the Ray White Rural Annual Muster with his story of being one of the game’s best, most hardest working and highest rewarded players.
Mr Knowles, a four-time Olympic athlete, played at the elite international level for more than 15 years in the extremely physically, mentally and emotionally demanding sport of field hockey that provides very little financial support or material reward.
“Leadership can be different for everyone. When I retired last year, I never looked back but it was my absolute honour to be the flag bearer at the Commonwealth Games last year. I loved being able to share the flag with the athletes and I walked with the team, I wasn’t out the front and that’s the way I have shown a different style of leadership.
“I encourage you all to look to evolve and look for different ways to do things and empower people.”
Enigmatic leader Ray White Bankstown principal Tony Roumanous – who runs a team of 35 and has decades of experience in the property market – spoke about ‘how to survive the doom and gloom’.
“Be real and ask a lot of questions of yourself every week. How many calls did I make last week? Anxiety and stress are not good, it’s not healthy as it comes from focus on the results and not the process,” he said.
“Everyone from elite agents to elite sportspeople know you need to work on the basics.
“If you don’t have process, you’ve got nothing.”
Ray White head of property management Emily Sim showed the members how to make “serious money” out of their rent roll.
At the Ray White Rural Annual Muster, she discussed the ways businesses could create growth in property management: increase revenue, increase their sales, increase profitability, integrating the sales business, technology, leveraging the sales business, private landlords expansion and acquisition.
“Once a customer is in your business, you can expose them through technology to each of the streams of your business. For too long we’ve seen investors as only investors, and landlords as only landlords.”
“We know through our data that 10 per cent of a rent roll will sell every year, which are all opportunities for your sales business. On a rent roll of 500 properties, 50 will sell worth $575,000 in commission. But are you going to sell those? Or your competitors? That number is an elite performer! It’s already in your business. But you can’t get it without happy property managers who create happy landlords.”
Ray White New Farm principal Matt Lancashire talked about “news feeds and newspapers”.
After three tough years when he started out, the now leading agent made a decision.
“Ask yourself, how low does the bank account have to be before you do the activity that you need to do? I didn’t have any structure or a plan back then that I needed to make it happen and I had success,” he said. Matt now sells more than $100 million in property each year.
“When I started in real estate. I flew to Sydney and I met two of the best real estate operators in the country and received the best advice of my life and that was to dominate newspaper advertising, do auctions and work extremely hard.
“So I made it my one thing to focus on these three areas. You only have one shot at life. This industry can change your world. This industry rewards the hard working and crucifies the lazy but always be a good human.”