Glen Coutinho recently sat down and penned a quick letter. It was a short note to his first ever client in real estate, thanking him for his support.
“I hope you’re enjoying your home,” he wrote. “Just letting you know I’ve been in real estate for 30 years now, but I wanted to remind you that you were my first sale, and I’ll never forget it.”
The truth is, Glen rarely forgets anyone or anything. From staff birthdays to client anniversaries and appreciative notes to the waiter at dinner, Glen makes a point of remembering the special interests, events and achievements of the people he meets.
It’s part of what he describes as a “people-loving” approach to real estate that just happens to be paired with the mindset of a hunter.
“I’m often asked if I love houses. The honest answer is no. I love people of all types, and I’m focused on building lasting relationships and friendships in real estate,” he notes.
That philosophy, combined with pure hard work, has seen Glen rise to the top of the industry pile in his career. He has sold more than $340 million worth of property this year and over the last three years has overseen more than $1 Billion worth of sales.
Along the way he has picked up numerous awards, including an international Bronze Stevie Award for sales and customer service in 2017. The same year he was named an industry influencer by Elite Agent as a champion of customer service.
That’s no small feat for a man who started life in Australia in the housing commission flats of Fitzroy.
Pure hard work
Glen notes he was taught the value of hard work at an early age. His family immigrated to Australia from Bahrain when he was just five, his mother and father – a talented chef – working tirelessly to support them in their new life.
“My parents were modest, hard-working people who took us from Fitzroy in the 1980s to Vermont. We spent most of our lives in a little 10-square home,” he explains. “I knew if I wanted money I had to work hard for it.”
At 14, Glen was juggling three jobs: butcher’s assistant, kitchen hand and assistant cook, in addition to school.
“I developed a strong work ethic at an early age; days off and sick days were non-negotiable in my mind.”
By his 20s, Glen was working for Westpac, initially in branch banking and then in treasury dealing in financial markets. The shift into real estate happened by chance.
“I was out one Saturday, and I was following a young bloke in a convertible Mercedes,” Glen recalls.
“He went into Woodards Real Estate in Camberwell and I was so impressed with this car that I walked in after him and asked for a job because I wanted a nice car. I know it sounds silly, but that’s how I got started.”
In his first year in real estate, the company recognised him for the “best first year in sales”. He went on to win the award of best salesperson for several years running and was promoted to associate director.
Then, in the mid-1990s, Glen decided it was time to go out on his own. He accepted an offer to open a Hockingstuart franchise, which quickly became the number one office, and was joined in the endeavour by his brothers-in-law. It marked the beginning of a family business partnership that continues to this day.
Recognising it was time for a change, Glen sold out of Hockingstuart in 2012, only to be offered a new opportunity with RT Edgar in Boroondara.
For the past six years, Glen and his brothers-in-law have been building their stake in the RT Edgar brand with near partnerships. They now have three offices and 35 salespeople under their stewardship.
A people person with ‘raving fans’
In over three decades in real estate, Glen has compiled an astounding database of over 30,000 contacts.
He works hard to maintain and grow this list, regularly touching base with clients and forging new connections. From the people he meets at social events to the 40 proactive phone calls he makes each day, Glen networks relentlessly with the view that everyone is a potential client.
I wake up thinking about what I can do for a client today. How I can make someone’s day special or [assist them] if they need my help? Every time I meet people, they matter to me. It’s that simple.
That approach has paid off in spades. Glen cites countless examples of meeting strangers in restaurants or unlikely social settings who later become his clients. He makes a point of introducing himself to the people he encounters, to talk to them and understand what piques their interest. And without fail, he follows up.
“Everyone gets treated equally,” he stresses, “from the cleaners to the millionaires.”
Not only does this approach garner him new leads, but the consistent attention to his clients’ interests has also helped him establish relationships with sellers that span multiple properties over many years.
He counts competitors amongst his friends, believes praising achievement is more important than making a complaint and notes that, although real estate can be a “rejection game”, the long game and the lesson are more important than the immediate sting.
“I’m the best loser in the business; if you don’t give it to me, I’m okay with that. If someone comes back to me and says ‘No, we’re going with another agent,’ they automatically get flowers or a nice letter and card to say, ‘It was really nice to meet you, I wish you all the best.’
“I think, how can I turn this loss into a win and, although I lost the deal, how do I create a lifelong client?”
All these factors make up his business approach, but equally represent his personal philosophy.
Glen notes he’s a true believer in the laws of reciprocity: that in this life you must give boundlessly to receive. He aims to consistently exceed expectations and in doing so create ‘raving fans’.
“I wake up thinking about what I can do for a client today. How I can make someone’s day special or [assist them] if they need my help? Every time I meet people, they matter to me. It’s that simple.”
And he’s a staunch advocate of the theory that this kindness starts at home.
All in the family
When Glen talks business, he inevitably talks family. He credits much of his success to his wife Simonne and their relationship that has lasted over 30 years. Together they have five children, Brooke, Jack, Billy, Mason and Jules, ranging in age from 12 to 23.
His eldest daughter Brooke has been in real estate for six years now and is also making the move to Beverly Hills.
Now those family values are set to see the Coutinho clan embark on an exciting new adventure.
“To me it’s about happiness and family values, making sure you share time with loved ones, that you are true to yourself and that you don’t compromise your integrity for anyone,” he says.
Each year Glen sits down and sets goals. He encourages his children and staff to set them too, and often incorporates their planned outcomes into what he hopes to achieve over the year.
This year Glen’s goals are his traditional mix of family, staff and business success. But perhaps the most notable is the one he achieved on 21 January, when he launched Harcourts Beverly Hills.
It was a move prompted both by family goals and his own personal dream.
Success to me is all about happiness and love, and based on that measure I am successful.
“I always wanted to work in Beverly Hills. It’s the most exciting property market in the world. In truth, I probably wanted to go and sell real estate to rock stars in my 30s but felt family was a priority at the time.
“Now we have two boys, Mason and Jules aged 12 and 14, who are embarking on a singing career. They’ve already launched one album with a second underway, and their dream was to go to LA as that’s the place to be.
“We decided to pack up as a family and move here to support them.”
In typical style, Glen quickly put his networking prowess to use. Already he has 250 US contacts, highly regarded local agents as partners and three or four listings on the books. His goal this year is to sell a $50 million property and become a high-profile agent in Beverly Hills.
That ambition sits neatly against his other aims, like launching his book The People Lover, making a difference in the lives of those less fortunate, being an amazing husband and father, and hosting charity auctions.
Odds are he’ll accomplish all of that and more – if not this year then the next. And, regardless, he’ll have already ticked the boxes that he believes equal success.
“Success to me is not just financial, but what I’ve created. Success is living an honest, ethical life, teaching all you can to your children and creating great relationships. Success to me is all about happiness and love, and based on that measure I am successful.”
Glen Coutinho’s top 10 database building tips:
- Seek out and meet bankers, lawyers and accountants in your area.
- Connect with friends and family members of all completed sales, buyers and vendors.
- Reach out to people who are active in your area, like drivers, tradesmen and gardeners, plus local business people such as shopkeepers and restaurant owners.
- Touch base with other residential, commercial or leasing agents who you meet on the journey, and connect with builders and developers. Go to the site, if need be.
- Use your social connections such as school families, teachers, and those who share the same passions as you, for example, football. And always get partner and children’s names!
- Touch base with your staff and get the names of their family members.
- Reconnect with school friends and use social media to build as wide a digital network as possible.
- Send a weekly automated email to your main clients and potential sellers.
- Get everyone’s birthday or special dates, and spoil as many people as you can.
- Make a monthly call to prospective sellers, and your Top 100 clients and bankers.