Emma Shean recently interviewed John Goddard, CEO of Rockend about his attendance at the twentieth Best Practice Retreat, a three day learning experience and opportunity to meet other industry practitioners.
People want to hear the good, the bad and the ugly, and the ways speakers cover these issues are very truthful.
Emma Shean: John, what was the theme of this year’s Best Practice Retreat?
John Goddard: The name says it all; the Best Practice Retreat is a three day event and focuses on how you improve the performance of your real estate business. Most of the speakers are business owners, who tell of the practices within their businesses, whether they are single presentations or part of a panel. The general themes of Best Practice are measuring performance constantly, and knowing what you are trying to achieve. Through learning and discussing the processes within these themes, you are able to improve your business performance.
Most of the people in attendance are business owners, however, there are other people who work within the real estate industry that do attend, such as a head of property management within a business, business partners and some invited guests such as Rockend.
Invited guests such as Rockend attend the retreat as we are a trusted partner of Best Practice. Many of our clients attend the retreat, which gives us an opportunity to meet with them and talk about their businesses.
Business owners attend for two main reasons: It is a fantastic opportunity to network – many of the business owners who attend the retreat attend for a number of years, as it is the perfect environment to learn about peoples’ businesses and how they operate. I have attended five or six times, and you meet a lot of the same people, so it is a great place to meet friends, but ultimately it comes down to the second reason: How you can run a better business. Attendees pick up techniques on a range of business practices, whether it be how to increase staff selling ability, or how you use technology to gain return on investment, to how you can motivate your staff in a way that will encourage them to go above and beyond.
Were there any “stand-out” speakers?
It is hard to pick out specific individuals because the standard of the speakers was very high, especially when most of them are business owners. They are not professional speakers, however, they bring a sense of rawness behind their story about the business that they own, and have the ability to answer audience questions honestly and fearlessly through personal experience. There was a guest speaker by the name of John Shackleton, a New Zealand business coach/personal coach and athletics coach who brought a unique dynamic to the retreat.
What were the key points/interesting facts you learnt from John Shackleton?
Training, training, training! John used the analogy of athletics and facts throughout his discussions to emphasise the importance of training. He also coined a new term for role play being “role practice”, and the importance of it in business, as well as the importance of team building and personal bests. The topic of being “gifted” vs “hard working” was discussed, with the example of the Olympic gold medal winning swimmer Michael Phelps. Phelps was said to be gifted due to his body build, however when you train seven days a week for ten years, it is the training that rewards you, not the “gift” that he has. John spoke of age and how you can still be a top performer at a senior level both in work and personal life. Some interesting facts that emerged in John’s presentation included the oldest man to climb Everest (77) and the oldest professional catwalk model (80). You may think that these facts have no correlation with running a business, however, he used these examples in the context that anyone in the room can achieve anything they desire if they want, however, they must train. In a business context, you would use this to motivate when setting goals and training to reach them.
Was there a recurring theme to success?
The main theme that was recurring to success was the importance of planning; to set goals for different areas of a real estate business such as sales, property management and development. In saying this, even more important is measuring those goals, and particularly financial performance. By executing this it puts into place solid structure, and good processes to ensure that the goals you set are obtainable and are kept in focus.
How were the days delivered?
Everyone sits in the main ballroom and there is a large screen the width of the room. The audio visual aspect is incredible, with the ability to simultaneously project about four different images on this large screen. The physical aspect of viewing presentations on such a large scale medium is spectacular, and really draws the attention of the audience. The speaker format is usually a single presenter or panel, and the audience is encouraged to ask questions. There are also lunches and dinners for attendees and speakers to network and ask questions at. The welcome dinner has a session in it with five to six panel members, and attendees are free to pose questions to the panel for discussion.
How are agencies using technology within their business?
The use of technology in business was brought up by speakers during the retreat, with the common themes being the use of websites to list and sell property, and how the web is now clearly the de facto mechanism for advertising and sourcing contacts. The trend for web is still increasing, although some agencies still prefer to advertise through print media. Contact management systems were discussed at length, as well as the benefits of using CRM systems and property management systems in business. Social media was also a topic that was raised throughout the retreat, and how it can be used in business. I believe the hype of the craze has decreased, as businesses owners are trying to understand whether it is the right avenue for their business.
What makes the Best Practice Retreat different from other real estate conferences?
One thing that is really special about the event is that every year Best Practice organise a number of awards that are for categories such as work in your local community, use of technology, and the best agency of the year. The awards are presented at a formal dinner during the retreat and are a great camaraderie builder. People love to win awards, and the winners are always unsuspecting. The winner of the best agency award was Michael O’Sullivan of Starr Partners Campbelltown. He is a client of ours, and it was great to see that all of the award winners were Rockend clients. The Best Practice awards are great as the retreat is quite an intimate environment, and that is another key differentiation. Every year speakers will talk about the mistakes that they have made, in fact it is almost like a badge of honour to stand up and admit that you have had a failed business or major project. It can easily happen to anyone, but to learn and become a better business person from it is commendable. People want to hear the good, the bad and the ugly, and the ways speakers cover these issues are very truthful, these speakers are not there to self promote, they want to share their experiences so others can learn, and Best Practice does this in a unique way.
Emma Shean is the Marketing and Events Coordinator for Rockend, the leaders in property software. Their products consist of REST Professional (property management), STRATA Master (strata management) and fileSMART (electronic document management).