The importance of a growth strategy

hockingstuart Chelsea director Daniel Wright grew his business by 19% in 2012 while taking out the coveted hockingstuart Franchisor of the Year award in the same year. He explains how laying the foundations for growth are essential to weathering the ups and downs of the market.

Agents know better than anyone that the market works in cycles. While it seems the market is on its way up, with clearance rates consistently well above those of 2012, there will be downtimes and businesses should always be prepared. The business owners who succeed are the ones who plan for the good times and the bad.

Look in the mirror
The benefit of being part of an established network like hockingstuart is that we have access to a range of tools that us to analyse the business as a whole, where our strengths are and more importantly, where we need to improve. To the make best of these tools, we started hosting annual planning days which allowed us to be proactive as a team by discussing and putting plans in place to address our weaknesses and help the business grow.

Daniel Wright, hockingstuart Chelsea
Daniel Wright, hockingstuart Chelsea

For example, after a planning day in 2011, we made the decision to focus more on auctions. The bayside area had been driven by private sales for a long time, but with auctions becoming more popular we wanted to put ourselves on the map as the auction experts in Chelsea. By holding great auctions we’d created a key point of difference in our market and were able to back it up by getting vendors the best price for their properties.

We invested heavily in training our sales staff to run topnotch auctions by getting one of hockingstuart’s best auctioneers to come to our office and show us the ropes. We’ve now increased the number of auctions we do each year by over 70 percent, which would have been impossible had we not had that initial planning phase to agree on a common goal.

By going through the business with a fine toothcomb we were able to invest our time and resources into strategies that would not only get the best result for our clients, but would solidify our place in the market and keep us growing in the long term.

Build your profile
Invest in building your reputation, because in real estate it’s everything. When we entered the market as hockingstuart in 2006, there was a real buzz and people were excited to have us in the area. The hockingstuart brand was well established in Melbourne and people trusted it, so it brought instant recognition. But we didn’t want to rest on our laurels. We knew that if we were going to make an impact we’d have to up the ante by getting involved in the community and making our presence felt.

We invested in sponsorships like the local football and basketball clubs which made residents feel like we were part of the area and that we cared about the community. We also focused on letterbox drops as a way of staying front-of-mind. We didn’t want to bombard residents, but we wanted to remind them that we were there, so we did drops every quarter.

By investing in simple tactics like these we were able to weather the storm of the GFC because we’d built a trusted and well-respected brand in the Chelsea area. After all, people like to work with brands and people they trust.

Grow your team to grow your business
Our sales team has been with the office for more than three years, no mean feat in our industry. I believe they’ve stayed loyal because we invest heavily in their development and recognise and reward them.
We also removed some of the barriers that make their jobs harder and take up lots of time. Often you see sales agents or property managers drowning in paperwork, which takes away from the time they could spend on the phone chasing leads. We hired staff to take care of the administration side of the business which freed up our core team to focus on sales.

If you invest in your staff and give them the tools for success, productivity will rise and that will have a direct impact on the success of your business.

Don’t forget the rent roll
Property management is the lifeblood of a real estate agency. New owners often haven’t experienced the benefits of a strong rent roll in a tough market. Your rent roll will keep ticking over even during a downturn so we apply many of our sales principles to our property management. We aim to over-service both our tenants and landlords and always keep in mind that your tenant could one day become a buyer or a landlord, so establishing a good relationship from the start is essential.

If you want to set your business up for growth, it’s all about the planning. Look at the business, identify the areas that need most work and involve your staff throughout. From there, it’s about keeping your name out there, getting the most of your team and of course, creating a solid rent roll to form your financial base. If you can nail these things – your business won’t just survive, it will thrive.

Daniel Wright is the director of hockingstuart Chelsea and a 15 year specialist in Melbourne’s bayside real estate market.

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