EPMEPM: Case Studies

Stephanie Campbell, Doyle Spillane

Inspired while completing work experience at McGrath when she was 16, now winning numerous awards at 22, a career in real estate has been the only thing on Stephanie Campbell’s mind. Now, she manages 320 properties for leading Sydney Agency Doyle Spillane, and we have no doubt a very bright future lies ahead of her.

How long have you been working in real estate?
My real estate career started in December 2005 as a receptionist with Doyle Spillane Real Estate, so seven years – wow, time flies!

What are your qualifications?
I am a licensed real estate agent.

What made you choose a property management career?
I initially wanted a career in sales when I started in real estate. While in a sales support role, I was promoted to a leasing consultant with the intent to develop a ‘thick skin’ and eventually transition into a personal assistant role. However, after a few months in property management, I fell in love with the industry – and haven’t looked back since.

As a property manager, what are the biggest challenges that you face?
My two biggest challenges would be maintaining a high-level customer service and excellence across my rent roll portfolio of 320 properties and, secondly, being at the forefront of new technology and implementing it within our property management department. With new features such as iPads, apps, video and YouTube, you need to keep on top of it all.

Tell us about any awards that you’ve won.
In 2011, I was a finalist for the Leading Property Managers of Australia (LPMA) Rising Star Award, as well as the REINSW Awards for Excellence in Property Management.

Earlier this year, our property management team won the LPMA Award for Excellence in Customer Service. It has recently been announced that I am a REINSW Awards for Excellence in Property Management finalist for the second consecutive year – fingers crossed this year I can make it to number one!

What do you love about property management?
I love the fast pace of the industry and that every day is different. I love the people you meet and the relationships that develop. In this industry you meet all walks of life. I also love supporting my landlords in looking after and maintaining their biggest asset – property.

Why is your agency unique?
We’re 100 per cent focused on property management and all share a common goal to provide excellent service to our clients. We’re constantly striving to improve and develop further, and we’re a very close team.

Our department also has extensive policies, procedures and systems which ensure that we operate cohesively and professionally at all times.

What’s the most memorable or unusual property you’ve managed? do you have an amusing story?
I’ll never forget a particular routine inspection I carried out recently. When I arrived, with no one responding to the door, I went in and started carrying out the inspection. Halfway through the report it suddenly dawned on me that there was in fact a person in bed in one of the bedrooms. Frozen (high heels on tiled floors make a lot of noise), I was torn as to whether I should simply leave and come back another day, or just carry on and finish the report.

I decided to finish it, tiptoed out of the room and headed upstairs. To my surprise I was then greeted by my tenant – naked! To make matters worse, he asked me to give him a minute and then came out in a short silk gown and proceeded to chat and follow me around the rest of the house as if nothing even happened. Awkward would be an understatement!

What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
Six years ago, while studying for my real estate licence at TAFE, one of my teachers gave me the following advice: “Attention to detail is imperative in real estate – you have it; don’t lose it.” To this day this is something I’ve never forgotten.

I also have a favourite quote: “Be so good they can’t ignore you” – Steve Martin. I aspire to this in all aspects of life, both professionally and personally.

What do you think are the key features in maintaining healthy relationships with landlords and/or tenants?
Communication, communication, communication. This is vital in maintaining healthy relationships with both landlords and tenant clients. I put a big emphasis in picking up the phone, as all too often property managers hide behind email. If you can’t get that face-to-face interaction, the phone is the next best thing. I call my landlords and tenants at any opportunity – sometimes purely just to ‘check in’.

Do you have a mentor, or someone that inspires you?
John McGrath has been an inspiration since I was 14 years old, and one of the reasons I actually wanted a career in real estate.

More recently I met a young gentleman by the name of Cameron Ewers at the Leading Property Managers of Australia annual conference. Cameron is the Principal of Pure Leasing and Management in Western Australia and started the business in his early twenties in his bedroom. Cameron’s very successful, yet humble, and inspires me to strive for more.

What would be your dream job? Where do you see yourself in the future?
I’d like to follow in the footsteps of Cameron and establish my own business, solely focused on property management, and own a rent roll portfolio.

To add to that ‘dream’ I would also love to be involved in real estate related television productions, preferably as a presenter – it would be tons of fun.

How do you relax outside of real estate? How do you maintain a work/life balance?
A work/life what? Just kidding. I’ll admit, maintaining a work/life balance is hard, but it’s so important to avoid burning out. I try to maintain it by switching off the email and phone on my RDO and enjoying those days with family and friends. I also exercise regularly which is a must, to clear the headspace.

Do you have a favourite travel or holiday destination?
Italy – I love everything about it. The weather, the history, the scenery and most importantly the food! (The men aren’t too bad either.)

If you could have any three people at your dinner party, who would it be and why?
I’d love to have John McGrath at my dinner party. I did work experience at McGrath head office when I was 16 and didn’t get the opportunity to meet him. I would love a chance to sit with him and just listen to his wisdom about the real estate industry.

I’d love to have Oprah too. She is just such an inspiration, particularly for women.

Lastly I’d love to have Will Smith. Not only is he good looking, he’s funny and I get inspiration from his interviews where he discusses work ethic, skill and striving to be the best in all aspects of life.

What are your predictions for the real estate industry for the next year?
I predict that clients’ service expectations will increase, and the focus will shift from obtaining the cheapest management fee to receiving a superior service from their property manager.

I also believe that the ever-changing world of technology will be significant in property management through the use of software, apps and video.

What advice would you give someone starting out in property management?
Know your facts about property management and property management law. Get involved with networking groups, and be decisive – confidence is key.

A work/life what? Just kidding. I’ll admit, maintaining a work/life balance is hard, but it’s so important to avoid burning out. I try to maintain it by switching off the email and phone on my RDO and enjoying those days with family and friends. I also exercise regularly which is a must, to clear the headspace.

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Samantha McLean

Samantha McLean is the Co-Founder and Managing Editor of Elite Agent and Host of the Elevate Podcast.