Small town agency delivers big promise

Personalised service and community spirit are the benchmarks of Soul Property Agents – the newest entrant to the Griffith market in New South Wales.

Long-time locals Angelo Cirillo and Nathan Thomas said the time was ripe to create a business that would service a client base they understand all too well.

“Our market place is family based – mums and dads are our core business – so we decided to build Soul around servicing people who are just like us,” Mr Thomas said.

“We named the business ‘Soul’ for everything that word represents. People want to be treated with respect and honesty.

“People are so busy. They don’t have time for anything other than truthful, honest dialogue. One of our core principals is that we’ll have rugged conversations with clients. Raw, honest and up front.”

The business partners are drawing on almost 40 years combined experience in the Griffith property market.

Mr Thomas spent over 18 years with a local family agency, while Mr Cirillo had 16 years in the industry before the two decided to hang their own shingle.

The pair said while they were both grateful for the education and experience, the chance to control their own futures was too tempting.

“The biggest opportunity you can have is to follow a passion. To do things the way you want to do them,” Mr Cirillo said.

Mr Thomas said establishing a legacy also fuelled his drive.

“I’ve got three daughters and nothing is more exciting than when they say, ‘Look dad! There’s one of your signboards!’ I want them to be proud.”

But there are challenges in starting something new, particularly in early 2020 when even local operators in a town of 20,000 residents are up against global issues.

Mr Thomas said while they had the will to launch Soul, logistics threatened to stop them during the planning stage.

That’s where UrbanX came in.

On the UrbanX platform, all the back-end and administrative operations are covered in exchange for a relatively small percentage of Soul’s sale commissions, rather than any upfront or ongoing fixed fees. This gave Mr Thomas and Mr Cirillo the opportunity to hit the ground running.

“The cost of establishing a business is huge. Just open up and all of a sudden you’re in debt,” Mr Thomas said.

“We found UrbanX and started exploring what they were all about. Instead of pumping hundreds of thousands into starting a business, we could do it with UrbanX straight away at very low cost” he added.

“It gave us the opportunity to outsource those parts of running a business and its administration, which are not our specialties.”

Mr Thomas said UrbanX was providing far more than logistics too. They’ve become so integral to Soul’s operations, it feels like they’re co-workers.

“The UrbanX team is part of our team, but we don’t have any of the staff dramas to deal with. The level of energy from the UrbanX team and Dan Argent (UrbanX CEO) is incredible. Dan’s giving us insights, introducing us to other agents and giving us ideas on how to grow our business.”

Mr Thomas also found the support offered by UrbanX had made the transition to self-ownership far easier.

He said while they were nervous about going out on their own, Mr Argent told them from the get go to back themselves. He explained people list with agents, not agencies and that in their service area, winning market share was a matter of drawing on long-term connections.

“Dan was right. People contacted us to take on their listing and had no idea we’d left our old agency – it turns out they wanted to do business with us. So those relationships we’ve built over the years were the most important thing,” Mr Thomas said.

“The bulk of our market is $300,000 to $500,000 and our area only sees between 350 to 400 transactions a year, so client relationships must be a top priority.

“Also because of the size of the community, we see our clients outside of business – shopping or at school gates – so our reputation has to be in line with our public figure,” he continued.

“The UrbanX platform gave us an opportunity to build our own brand because that’s what you need in these regional areas.”

And what keeps them grounded is accountability… on all fronts.

“I’m frightened that the people I’m working for also know my wife, and if they tell her they weren’t happy, then I’ve got a price to pay,” Mr Thomas said tongue-in-cheek.

“Word of mouth is a major marketing tool out here, and the only way you can influence that is by doing a great job.”

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