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The Changing Face of the Agency

The market has changed and the buyers have changed, so why haven’t you? If your business structure still looks the same as it did ten years ago, chances are your sales results are stuck in the groove too. John Percudani gives his opinion.

In simpler times, a real estate agency was generally made up of a principal, a group of agents, a property manager and maybe, if you were really lucky, a full time receptionist. The principal was the business owner or franchisee and as well as running the business, he or she still spent a majority of their time working as a sales agent.

There was a time when my business was like this and there was a time when this was all an agency needed to be. This is definitely not the case today. Over time, real estate agencies have had to become far more sophisticated. Spurred by changing technologies, growing competition and increasingly savvy buyers and sellers. A ‘corner store’ approach is not how you build success in this industry anymore.

The businesses that are showing real success in this industry are working with a far more ‘corporatised’ business structure. And it is not just the big guys that are doing this, agencies of all shapes and sizes can make the decision to operate this way.

Moving to a more corporatised structure has had a major impact on Realmark. Over the past five years we have facilitated massive changes in our structure. One of the most significant being when I withdrew completely from all selling activities and became the director of Realmark, and not just in title. My sole responsibility is building and guiding the business and there is no doubt this was a major factor in our growth over the last few years. The thing about a more corporate structure is you don’t rely on the reputation or popularity of one particular person or agent. You have to build a brand and you have to build trust and value into that brand. It takes a lot of work, but once you crack it, you have far more room to grow. Your markets are not restricted to the reach of a particular person.

In recent years we have also built our own internal marketing unit which manages all of our communication materials and branding in-house. This has been a huge success and has really helped us carve our own ‘look’ into the market place. It has also been crucial in quality control and continuity. Realmark has also created an internal human resources function, because our people are our greatest asset and we needed to ensure we were using best practice in this area. Another move was introducing a team of business development managers into our property management division to proactively and aggressively market our services. And recently, we engaged the services of a business coach to assist with high level strategy.

By no means is Realmark alone in this, many businesses throughout Australia and New Zealand are taking the same stance and I believe it is businesses with this type of approach that are delivering the best services to the market place. In my opinion, the reason behind this is the fact that when you achieve the right structure you have the capacity to be strategic, to be progressive, to pre-empt trends, to take the time to understand your market and ultimately, give your agents and property managers the best tools, training and knowledge. “Basically, you build a hub of strong high calibre support that lets your people on the ground do what it is they do best – rainmaking in sales and leasing.

This shift has also seen a major increase in opportunities in the real estate industry. You don’t have to be in sales or property management to work in real estate, there are a diverse range of roles on offer. I think this is perhaps the most exciting part.

Some may fear that this is the end of the small, boutique agency. I don’t think so, they will always have a place. What I do think is that all agencies will need to be prepared to throw away the old real estate clichés to survive.

The key to all of this? Think like you’re big, even if you are small.

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John Percudani

John Percudani is the Managing Director of Realmark.