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Top takeaways from Day 1 at Connect 2018

THE biggest event in Ray White Group’s history has launched with an enormous day of learning and networking between some of the country’s most inspiring leaders. Day one of the Connect 2018 conference on the Gold Coast was a celebration of the group’s greatest strength - a connectivity of more than 1000 Ray White and Loan Market offices across Australasia.

Here are my top takeaways from a lineup of prestigious politicians, industry insiders and business experts who took to the stage for Connect Day 1.

Former PM John Howard – The Global Economic Future
As Australia’s second longest serving Prime Minister, John Howard OM AC led the country over four terms and 13 years. His achievements in the top job included introducing Australia’s tough Gun Laws and leading the country into budget surplus.

Kicking off proceedings at Connect 2018, he noted leadership involves:

  • Knowing what you stand for
  • Sharing your vision with your team – “Let people know what you believe in. Always let employees know where you want to take the company. A clear set of values and attitudes is fundamental,” he said.
  • Being prepared to make mistakes – “Understand from the very beginning, that you are going to make mistakes. The person who resolves never to make a mistake will be a total failure. The most import thing is to get the big things right.”
  • Maintaining the balance between leadership and listening is a challenge that comes down to instinct.

Further together – Dan and Sam White
The next generation of Whites, Dan and Sam, looked to the future of the industry at large, with particular heed to the challenges ahead for a family business with over a century of achievement.

Dan White

They reflected there are five key forces at play in the industry at present:

  • Customers are expecting more but paying less
  • The customer experience is the differentiator
  • Trust is shifting across society, whether it’s government, religion or banks. “We’ve got to enable people to trust in new ways. People are beginning to trust through technology.”
  • People versus technology – “Technology is not going to replace people in our business. People who use it well will replace people who don’t.”
  • Challenge to leadership – there’s an emerging concept that local leadership is not important any more. “We disagree with that. In times of change and increasing complexity, leadership becomes even more important. People want to be challenged and held accountable to realise their potential.”

Manny Stuhl – The road to the top, it’s not child’s play

Shopkins creator Manny Stuhl with Brian White

Shopkins creator and CEO of Moose Toys, Manny Stul, inspired agents with his insight into building a billion-dollar empire based on ethics and integrity.

“Money is derivative of how you live your life. But if you lead a very ethical straight-up life where you treat people as you expect to be treated your reputation will take care of you especially in times of adversity.”

Ben White – Data
Ben White took a deep dive into the data that will be driving the real estate experience in the years to come.

He noted:

  • Algorithms would allow data to be transformed into wisdom
  • Ultimately this wisdom would shift information away from business reports and look to the individual experience of the customer, allowing agents to preemptively meet their customer’s needs.

“The future is right now. These tools are available for us, but the best part of it is they’re going to bring us back to what we are best at.”

More than a number
A session featuring Ray White’s leaders in customer satisfaction looked into the team ethos required to consistently rank well in the consumer’s eyes.

Ray White Mooloolaba’s James Goldsworthy told the panel, “Your business needs to stand for something. We spent time deliberating on what we wanted to be known for. We came up with three pillars. Customer satisfaction and customer service was number one. Over time it was a cultural beacon we got excited about. It got the team together.”

Ray White Canberra’s Ben Faulks noted, “I looked at real estate as a model that we’d be proud to run. Our solution came from a point of frustration, it’s hard to win back a customer. So, we asked how do we remove friction? And how do we provide that consistently across the business.  For our team members it’s about putting the customers first.”

Meanwhile, Rebecca Toon of Ray White Metro in New Zealand explained: “People look after people. Deliver information that’s real. Sometimes that’s something people might not want to hear.”

Everlasting Elites
It takes persistence and a certain character to stay at the top of the real estate game. Four of Ray White’s finest revealed an insight into the ethos required.

Gavin Rubinstein of Ray White Double Bay told those attending: “We are extremely disciplined in my team but my team gives me huge capacity and my business will continue to grow.

“I focus on buyers, sellers and deals. If there is anything else on the calendar that doesn’t involve one of those things, it’s less of a priority.”

Matt Lancashire of Ray White New Farm said his success came from keeping it simple.

“This industry isn’t rocket science. If you do the basic activities – and become obsessed about them – and do them really well, you’ll succeed.

“I keep it simple and keep my dialogue very basic, and my letters are simple. I am always prospecting though and getting stock isn’t an issue for me as I make the calls.”

Michael Williams of Ray White Commercial on the Gold Coast noted his strategy involved stringent time management.

“You can waste a lot of time when you have freedom and are unproductive, and plenty of people want to pinch your time so be super productive. It’s a hard fight to win.

“I have a PA and she works Monday to Thurs 9-4pm and I have a driver so I can sit in the car and go from A-B and manage my time. I keep it really easy and in the last three years I have gone home at 5pm.”

Meanwhile WA’s Vivien Yap of Ray White Dalkeith/ Claremont said her success could be attributed to plain, old-fashioned hard work.

“I got into real estate when I needed to have a job but I am driven by a fear of failure. I always ask my owners what I could have done better.

“In any given day, I will outwork my competitors and I look for the holes and improve. I am thankful every day.”

Win with an auction culture

What is it that separates the best from the rest when it comes to sales? It could be an auction culture according to three of Ray White’s top agents who joined a panel discussing how they achieve consistent results.

Ray White Ascot principal Dwight Ferguson said auctions override any market changes.

“They work in all situations so you don’t risk overpricing, the property spends less days on the market and there’s better profile for the property and for us.

Ray White Ponsonby director Gower Buchanan said the Dammerall Group in Auckland had always had an auction culture.

“Our job is to provide the infrastructure to allow agents to list more auctions. We have spent a lot of time deciding on the frequency and the room to represent the ability of our team. I want to run the world’s greatest auction business,” he said.

Ray White Surfers Paradise Group principal Andrew Bell has the biggest and best auction event in the country called The Event.

“We held our first in-room on 25 June 1985 and we have never missed a month since, so if you are serious about getting good at something you’ll just keep getting better,” Mr Bell said.

“Every property is suitable for an auction but not every seller is as not every vendor is prepared to come to terms with the market.”


A session featuring Ray White’s most outstanding leaders was packed to overflowing, with Ray White Double Bay Principal Elliott Placks, Ray White Remuera Principal Megan Jaffe, and Ray White Ferntree Gully Principal Matt Sims discussing what drives their teams to success

Mr Placks explained he aims to lead from the front and he likes to give opportunities to his rising stars.

“I can focus on running the business. We have a very flat structure in Double Bay and I want my team to be collaborative and we have to get better as a brand in collaboration and sharing, between interstate and regions.

Ms Jaffe noted her business had a program of continuous innovation every day.

“There are so many great ideas coming through and we have a collaborative commitment. We hire for attitude and it’s easy to see someone who would be a good fit. All our new starters are recommended by our staff that meet daily. You can spot a great person a mile off.”

Meanwhile, Mr Sims said he has grown his businesses very quickly and was always looking for new ways to improve.

“I am conscious of taking on everyone’s opinions. I want to hear what people want and host curiosity days, we just call them different things, so we seek ideas,” Mr Sims said.

After the Ray White Group celebrated their major annual awards ceremony last night, Day 2 of Connect 2018 will see further renowned guests taking centre stage.

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Cassandra Charlesworth

Cassandra Charlesworth is a features writer for Elite Agent Magazine with over 15 years’ journalism experience in metropolitan and regional newsrooms. She has a specialist interest in real estate, tech disruption and a good old-fashioned “yarn”.