A couple of months ago Ruma Mundi finally drew a line under what by anyone’s measure had been a stressful year.
Personal circumstances and a series of business events had required the talented salesperson to draw on every ounce of resilience and tenacity she had.
At her darkest moments Ruma admits she even pondered the prospect of giving up on everything she had established during a 16-year real estate career.
But she didn’t, instead harnessing the power of her reputation and embracing positivity to bring her faithful team into a new era for their business.
That hard work was further validated only last week when Ruma was named First National’s sixth top salesperson at the national General Excellence and Marketing Awards in Singapore.
Thinking outside the box
Ruma came to real estate with a slightly different perspective than most, courtesy of a background in IT and an MBA in marketing.
“I came into real estate by chance,” she reflects.
“A property developer needed help so I assisted with developing his brand, and it proved to be an incredible learning curve that saw me start my real estate licence in 2002.”
By 2003, Ruma was working as a sales agent, and in 2004 took a short break to have children.
When the opportunity to purchase her own agency with Century 21 Quakers Hill came up, Ruma jumped at the chance.
“I went to meet the boss with a three-month old baby, thinking I might buy the business,” she says. “In retrospect it was 90 per cent confidence and 10 per cent logic, but I felt I was good at what I did.”
Ruma actively sought the advice of every agent she knew within her network, and she followed it to the letter.
She aimed to stand out from the crowd and play to her strengths, which included speaking fluent Punjabi.
“I chose to work in a multicultural area where 50 to 60 per cent of the population spoke Punjabi. I committed early to a brand strategy, including some very different campaigns.”
One campaign saw her leave soap bars in letterboxes as part of a mass letterbox drop. It was accompanied with the message: “You don’t know me from a bar of soap.”
Her local profile began to build.
So near, yet so far
By her second year in the business, Ruma was writing $250,000 in sales.
“But that came at a cost,” she says. “I was spending a lot of time away from my daughter. And I felt the money wasn’t enough of a reward for that time lost. I kept thinking ‘how do I reach the next level’?”
Ruma reached out to the CEO of Century 21, who came and assessed the business to offer additional insight.
“I looked at every suggestion he made. In retrospect, I was so close, but you don’t know how near you are to breaking through the barrier until you’re through it.”
Ruma knuckled down and continued to build her profile in the local community.
“What people do now on Facebook, I did via letterbox drops. I’d drop 20,000 flyers every six weeks, and another 500 drops for every property I listed.
“I had a really good Italian retiree who lost a lot of weight doing letterbox drops for me,” she laughs.
“I drove every street of the suburb when I couldn’t get enough data online. When I started, I aimed for five per cent of the local market in order to be sustainable. I did that and more, so I set a goal to be better.”
Juggling motherhood and family
Ruma had her second baby in 2010, and despite the best-laid plans, was back at work within three weeks.
“Being away from a newborn baby was really hard, but having two kids gave me an extra reason to be extraordinary,” she says. “We were slowly becoming an attraction-based business, and our clientele were amazing.”
Two years later Ruma opened her second office and personally wrote more than $1 million in sales. Meanwhile, she had built a property management portfolio from nothing to a rent roll of 350 and had a sales database of 37,000.
But the long hours were beginning to take their toll.
“I was at the top end of the network, but the cost of the business growth was my marriage and my two children. I wasn’t happy. Being named number one meant nothing. It was time for my children and myself.”
A focus on the positive
Ruma readily admits she “wasn’t in a great headspace” when she signed a deal to merge with another established agency in the region in 2016.
Ultimately it was a partnership that did not go as planned and Ruma briefly considered walking away from it all.
But rather than succumb to the challenge, she dug deep and called on the strengths of a small but loyal team of employees and her own established reputation.
She used both to rack up an astounding sales year of $1.3 million.
“Without a single phone call, I listed 100 properties, which were 90 per cent via referral. I had my biggest year with the assistance of this phenomenal team,” Ruma says.
“Throughout it, we surrounded ourselves with positivity. We stayed focused on what we could do.”
Now under the First National North Western banner, the team has moved into larger premises, and Ruma is looking to a bright future ahead.
“It took strength, resilience and courage but I’ve never had a better team. Finally, we are on the other side.”
Ruma Mundi will share more of her story and an insight into that resilience when she takes to the stage at AREC at 9.50am this Sunday.