Melbourne Real Estate’s business philosophy is a simple one – it wants to be the sun in each client’s universe.
But rather than being a vague catchphrase that doesn’t mean much to anyone, every member of the MRE team lives by that ethos and the desire to service clients throughout their entire real estate lifecycle.
Now, and well into the future.
General Manager Jake Workman says the MRE team operates with customer service at its core and with a desire to retain clients – renters, landlords, buyers and sellers – with the agency irrespective of what stage of the real estate journey they are in, or moving to.
“We have our renters and they’re going to become buyers, who might become rental providers, who might become our vendors and there’s this infinite loop,” Jake says.
“What I tell everyone in this business is that all of us have a really important part to play.
“We should be the only estate agency anyone should ever need – we should be like the sun.
“When someone comes into our orbit, they should want to bask in our warmth and our glow infinitely because we are a full-service agency that can give them anything and everything they need.”
Some may say they’re lofty ambitions, but a quick look at recent statistics shows that of the 109 properties sold this year, 87 of them came from referrals from the property management team and a further four came from staff or other referrals.
“Ninety-one of our sales have come from our infinity loop referral approach,” Jake notes.
It all starts with service
The big question is, how does MRE use the infinity loop with such clout?
Residential Sales Manager Michael Fava explains it all starts with over servicing each and every client.
He says rather than waiting for clients to contact them, usually when there’s a problem, MRE agents have “flipped the script” and work proactively.
“A lot of landlords or vendors have to constantly call their real estate professionals to get updates,” Michael says.
“We’ve flipped everything, where we actually don’t want our landlords and vendors to contact us, we want to be proactive and on the front foot.
“We want to be communicating with them but not waiting for that six month review if you’re managing the property or not waiting for the weekly review if it’s a prospective vendor, but constantly touching base with our clients on a weekly basis to ensure they’re in the loop.”
Michael says the MRE team also provides their clients with wider industry information and education, even if it doesn’t directly impact their property.
But he says the focus isn’t about ‘getting’ or ‘immediately getting’ results from their clients.
“It’s not about looking at our clients and saying, ‘What can we obtain from our clients? We really want to get them to sell” Michael notes.
“It’s about having a common goal to give the best possible service and if we’re truly giving that value to our clients, regardless of what sector of the company is providing it, it’s essentially going to ensure that they’re going to come back to us when they’re looking to sell, whether they’re looking to rent.”
The right people in the right jobs
Jake says the key to the infinity loop is ensuring the property management and sales departments talk to each other well and frequently.
The agency manages 4000 properties and the large majority of first contact with MRE comes via renters or prospective renters who connect with the agency’s “liveability agents”.
“We call them liveability agents but they do leasing and field services for us,” Jake explains.
“They’re the face of the franchise to more people than anyone in the business and first impressions matter so they look good, they smell good, they’re punctual, they’re knowledgeable, they’re helpful and they’re engaged.”
The liveability agents are different to the property managers, who look after the tenancy and the landlord-renter relationship long-term, and if and when a renter decides to become a buyer then MRE’s client-buyer managers are activated.
The client-buyer managers work intricately with the sales team as well and are there as a conduit between the parties to ensure no opportunity is missed and no client is left unserviced.
“Circumstances change and we know that often our renters are going to become buyers and we want them to buy through us,” Jake says.
“We have client-buyer managers that work with Michael’s team that are there solely for that purpose.
“Those buyers, at some point, might then also want to become rental providers and we want them to be able to entrust us with that asset and if they’ve bought or rented through us and had a positive experience why would they trust anyone else?”
A numbers game
Providing that level of service requires a solid staff base and the MRE team comprises 70 people in more than 30 different roles.
Michael points out that this not only allows the team to service clients better but leads to better job satisfaction and staff retention.
“We understand that we have to have individuals that specialise within different sectors and really ahead of the curve in their individual field to ensure they are staying and remain captured within that orbit,” he says.
“Another different position to what you’d commonly see in the industry is we have individuals that are dedicated to meeting buyers day-in, day-out to match them to the perfect property.
“They’re someone that doesn’t have to worry about vendor feedback or obtaining the listing opportunities.”
Jake says having such a high-touch model does mean there’s a decent cost base, but the agency’s ability to scale is driven by its infinite service levels.
Breaking down the real estate positions from those traditionally seen in an agency has also provided MRE with a greater opportunity to provide career paths for team members.
This allows team members to try out different roles to find the one that’s the perfect fit for them and to specialise in an area they love.
Jake notes employees know there are opportunities to ‘move up the ranks’ and they’ve even created custom, bespoke roles for some team members.
“We’ve actually created completely new, tailored positions on the back of team members identifying a niche or a gap in what we do or what we offer,” he says.
Jake says career satisfaction and building a happy, healthy team is paramount in his mind.
“If someone leaves MRE but stays in real estate somewhere else in an equivalent role, then we have failed them,” he says.
Changing the perception of the real estate industry in the eyes of public and potential property professionals is also high on his agenda.
“Real estate, as an industry, would benefit greatly from further professionalisation so that we are seen as a genuine career pathway,” Jake says.
“So that we are seen as a professional service provider akin to consultants, akin to law, akin to accountancies and akin to all of those services that one sees.
“Our goal is to really change the way that the industry is perceived and to provide those career opportunities.”