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Suellen Hale: Getting back to basics

Cassandra Charlesworth talks to Gold Coast sales agent Suellen Hale about playing to her strengths, personalisation, building relationships and unforgettable service.

In the competitive real estate world that is the Gold Coast, sales agent Suellen Hale is a firm believer in running her own race.

While other agents utilise social media and tap into the trends of video, Suellen has successfully built a vast database of loyal clients via door-knocking, handwritten cards, and a genuine interest in the people she represents.

Each morning, you’ll find Suellen at her desk, a stack of cards in hand, pen at the ready.

Her first task of the morning is to write to all the people she spoke to the day prior, thanking them for their time, and offering any assistance they may require.

Before the doors of Professionals Newlands Real Estate swing open, this is her ritual, and it’s critical to her success.

Each card is handwritten, and each message is personal, because it’s not about wanting something, but rather about offering service.

“I’ve always worked off the principle of good customer service,” Suellen explains.

“I really feel if someone has taken the trouble to talk to you on the phone or they have responded to a door knock, it’s important to thank them for their time.”

Later that morning, Suellen will have the cards posted.

Perhaps she’ll even personally drop the note in the recipient’s mailbox if she happens to be in the area.

It’s time-consuming, but it works, and above all, it’s about Suellen being true to herself.

“It takes time, but it’s about the long-term, and I’m in it for the long haul,” she notes.

“I’m not a showy agent, that just isn’t who I am. I’m a country girl from Kyogle. I believe in working with people and doing the right thing by them.

“I’m really good at hard work and integrating that with customer service.”

THE CUT-THROUGH

Make no mistake, Suellen has an appreciation for technology.

With a business marketing degree, she knows the power of Facebook, she gets the appeal of video and she’s more than happy to use them as well.

“Technology is great for promoting property, and there are agents who are amazing at video,” she says.

“But for me, it’s all about getting back to basics and how you cut through so people get to know you.

“I find handwriting to people offers that cut-through because it’s far more personalised, and people remember that.”

In addition to personally writing to the people she has spoken with, she also writes to the residents where she secures listings.

“If I list a property I’ll write to every owner letting them know about the property and the market.”

Her call to action focuses on asking them if they would care to receive further information from her.

It’s an offer of expertise, rather than a request for business.

“I think people must get really tired of agents contacting them, asking for a listing, so my aim is to provide them with valuable information.”

She follows up with quarterly reports and insight about what is going on in their area.

“Each quarterly report is personalised for each property owner, and they only go to the people who want to receive them,” Suellen says.

“It’s a good way of building my database and community and, in terms of results, I’ve had listing presentations where I was the only agent they felt the need to call in because I’ve built a relationship where they know me.”

A BACK-TO-BASICS FOCUS

Suellen’s thank-you cards are just one example of the back-to-basics strategies she employs to great effect.

She delivers her own flyers, carefully curates her database, and is a big believer in door-knocking.

“Door-knocking is a hugely effective way of getting in front of people and being memorable,” she says.

After 17 years in the industry on the Gold Coast, Suellen doesn’t need to cold call like she once did, but still puts in allocated time on the phones.

“These days I have a large contact base, so it’s more warm calling,” she notes. “If I’m new in an area I will put aside time to cold call other property owners, but it’s always with the purpose of offering them something like market information.

“I pride myself on having great market knowledge, of knowing the statistics really well.

“I make sure I’m always abreast of what’s sold and what’s being listed because that’s the expertise people seek.”

STRUCTURE AND STRATEGY

Suellen explains her week is carefully structured to ensure she puts in the work behind the scenes.

“One thing that really has worked for me is being super organised,” she reflects.

“Every day I write a list of the things I need to achieve that day, so nothing gets missed.

“I do the administration outside of productive prospective time. Between 9am and 5pm, I’m talking to people and showing them properties.

“I also have a structure in place to make sure there’s time set aside for targeted door knocks of the people around the properties I have listed and sold, and those door knocks are all strategised.”

In addition, there are set times when Suellen is on the phone, but it’s not about ticking off a specific volume of calls.

“I have found over time that I am not so concerned about the number of people I connect with each day but the quality calls and conversations I have with people,” she says.

“If I block out an hour for phone calling and only speak to five people but have quality conversations, I’m okay with that.

“It is all about building relationships with people, because ultimately we are in a people business.

“I am genuinely interested in what people do and where they have come from, and I find that if I know a story about a client, it makes it so much easier for me to remember them and their property.”

Meanwhile, Suellen notes organisation and structure allow her to dedicate time to her clients.

“If I’m rushed, my energy is all off, and the clients can feel that,” she reflects.

“I always make sure I have plenty of time around each appointment so I can spend as much time with the client as they need.”

Suellen notes her strategy is all about good old-fashioned hard work and she follows the mantra of some of the industry’s best.

“I do look to other successful agents and work some of their strategies into my own, but I try to run my own race,” she says.

SUCCESS IN CLIENT SATISFACTION

When it comes to results, Suellen believes her success is measured in satisfied clients rather than ranking and awards.

“I’m not big on boasting about results,” she says.

“Real estate can be quite competitive, but owners aren’t interested in that.

“It doesn’t matter to them who won what award or who ranked number one. They’re more interested in how an agent will help them.

“It’s about cutting through to what the client needs and that brings its own success.

“I feel if I help a client achieve their goals, then I will, in turn, achieve mine.”

For now, Suellen’s goal continues to be ‘running her own race’ in a role she believes is a lifestyle rather than a career.

And it’s one she genuinely enjoys.

“I started in this industry at 22 and I’m 39 now,” she says.

“I feel my best years are ahead of me because I’ve harnessed my own strength.

“I’m happy to outwork the competition, over-service clients and consistently do that with the long game in mind.” 

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