Elite AgentFEATURE INTERVIEWSLEADERSHIP

Where are they now? Part 2: Joel Davoren and Lauren Kirk

To celebrate the 40th edition of Elite Agent magazine last year, we thought we'd catch up with a few of the stars of the first issue. In this second article in a two-part series, we speak with Joel Davoren and Lauren Kirk to find out what they've been up to for the past seven years, where their career trajectory has taken them and what the future holds.

Joel Davoren – The path to leadership

If you ask Joel Davoren what makes a good leader, he’ll tell you he’s still learning that himself.

“I don’t think anyone really ever perfects it,” the RE/MAX Australia managing director says.

“You’ve always got to work on it. It’s very much a journey.”

A third-generation real estate professional, Joel’s journey started back in 2004 as a sales consultant.

In the first edition of Elite Agent seven years ago, Joel had just been appointed as a director at RE/MAX.

It’s safe to say a lot has changed in the past seven years.

When Joel came on board as a director, RE/MAX had 75 offices across Australia and New Zealand and by the time the Kiwi arm of the franchise sold at the end of 2019, they’d grown to 106 offices.

Now there are 80 offices across Australia.

Joel says his early days as a director were “a big learning curve” as he was tasked with rebuilding and growing the brand in Sydney.

Before his father, Michael Davoren, and Chris Chapman bought RE/MAX, the brand had been in decline and Joel was part of the team brought in to turn things around.

“It was a pretty monumental task to do,” Joel explains.

“It was all about understanding the market and developing our offering to our business owners and our members.

“There was a number of facets to that, from your training and development to your services levels and what you are doing for your clients.

“We basically overhauled everything in those first few years of me being in that role. It was a big part of re-engineering what RE/MAX stood for.”

And it worked, with RE/MAX growing from three offices in Sydney to 13.

Joel went from being a director and NSW/ACT state manager to being appointed franchise director at the end of 2015.

It was about the same time his brother, Josh Davoren, joined the fold as senior business director.

“I was really focused on growth for the country,” Joel notes.

Joel says one of the biggest challenges he has faced in the past seven years is the global COVID-19 pandemic and the uncertainty that came with it, particularly in the very early days.

“In the middle of Covid, MD (Michael Davoren) decided that he was going to call it a day, and I took on the role of managing director,” Joel says.

The key, Joel says, was to focus on reacting quickly, not perfectly, and staying on top of all of the Covid information flowing at that time to provide a stable platform for RE/MAX business owners.

“Your network needs to feel safe, secure, reassured and comfortable as best they can,” he says.

“There were a number of key priorities I had stepping into that leadership role, but number one was navigating our network through the crisis that was unfolding at the time.”

One of the cornerstones of RE/MAX today is that everyone in the business is accessible and works together, which means high retention rates.

“We do have a pretty tight network,” Joel says.

“We do have a community that is very open and sharing, and that’s not every franchise group.”

Joel says RE/MAX Australia has a great mixture of business owners, with experienced operators and young enthusiasm and drive. 

He says they are looking to add to that in 2022.

“We’re looking at a number of different opportunities from acquisition to merger, joint venture and organic growth,” Joel says.

“There’s a whole lot on the horizon for next year.”

Lauren Kirk – Putting business owners first

If you ask Lauren Kirk what business growth means, she won’t give you a stock-standard answer.

It’s not just about more people in the office or even agents on the ground. 

Nor is it only about more sales or higher GCI. 

It’s about all of these things. It might also be about higher profits, but equally about improving internal processes or boosting the client experience.

“Growth for everyone is different,” Lauren says.

“It doesn’t always mean growing the business in terms of more people, more managements and more sales.

“It’s about focusing on what you want to do. What you want to achieve.”

Now an associate director with REGROWTH with Kylie Walsh, the past seven years have seen Lauren build her business acumen and coaching credentials so she can give her knowledge back to the industry she loves.

When Elite Agent featured Lauren in the first edition of our magazine seven years ago, Lauren had just been appointed Raine & Horne business support and development manager. 

It was a new role in the franchise, created with the recognition that property management was a solid business option in its own right and no longer just the little sister of sales.

“I was really lucky to be able to start in an initial role and create something without anyone else’s legacy,” Lauren explains.

“I don’t think there are many people that are able to do that in their career, so that was an exciting opportunity.”

Lauren spent a lot of time on the road, meeting face-to-face with business owners, property managers and BDMs to create awareness, roll out new products and provide general support.

“(Property management) is definitely seen as a career now,” she says.

“It’s not just that stepping stone into another role in a business like it was for such a long time.”

Stints at Real+, as a trainer and consultant, and DiJONES, as head of training academy, followed with Lauren sharing her knowledge with others.

But she says she learnt just as much from other businesses as they did from her.

“You learn something from every business and every person you talk to because there are no two businesses that are the same,” Lauren says.

“Even though we do the same thing, every business is structured differently, has different clients and a different offering.

“It keeps it interesting getting to work with that variety.”

Mid 2021, Lauren joined Kylie Walsh at REGROWTH in an exciting new role focusing on helping real estate business owners shape their agency for long-term growth and success.

Lauren and Kylie conduct the usual training and coaching sessions on listing presentations and sales dialogues, but they specialise in leadership, growth, client experience and the sustainability of an agency.

“We look at what that means for a business owner, be that people, profit or whatever it is they want to achieve,” she says.

Kylie and Lauren offer 360-degree business health checks to identify the areas of a business that may need attention and then provide the training and coaching to accomplish those goals.

“We’re focusing on leadership, the client experience, sustainability and 360-degree business health checks through those core areas of sales, property management and new business,” she says.

“Then we’ve also got our retreats, which have a different focus, not just on business but on people.”

Held over three days, usually at Dungowan Station, near Tamworth, the retreats are an opportunity to take some time out and connect with new people.

“We all talk about working on the business versus in the business, but it’s just so easy to get caught up in the business,” Lauren says.

“So this is really about allowing people to take three days to step away and focus on those core areas that they need to focus on.

“In addition to focusing on business areas, it’s about time out… it’s about taking some time for yourself and refocusing and resetting yourself.”

Lauren says the plan is for 2022 to be even bigger and better with new resources and new training elements, the specifics of which she is keeping under her hat for now.

“Kylie and I have been in the industry for a long time, and it’s just about giving back our knowledge to the industry,” she says.

Read Part 1 of this article with David Highland and Paul Signorelli here.

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Kylie Dulhunty

Kylie Dulhunty is the Deputy Editor at Elite Agent.

Nicole Madigan

Nicole Madigan is a freelance journalist for Elite Agent.

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”.