I recently spent some time with a Principal who has been in the Industry for over 30 years and runs a very successful business. He talks about the mistakes he made and the lessons these provided. John, who we will call him in this article, has some sound and solid advice but one thing that stood out for me during this discussion was how he recognised that he needed to become the Leader .
John commenced his real estate business over 27 years ago as an independent agency doing sales and property management. John says “I guess I didn’t really think about anything past getting the doors open and selling to get some cash in, certainly not how to truly prepare the foundations of my business”. We had been open for almost 12 months and things were as they say, “ticking along fine, or so I thought”, “then one day my property manager came into my office and resigned, announcing that she was relocating interstate. That rocked me, I remember thinking, I don’t have any idea about that side of the business, I had left it to her, as I had just assumed she would be there for years”. The outcome was, I panicked and sold my rent roll, what a mistake, probably the biggest of my career.
John continued to operate his small sales business from the same location, but did not start up property management. Continuing to operate for a further two years without building an asset, was another mistake, he says, but as time passed, he knew he needed to. John knew of a local lady who was looking to go back into the workforce after having her family, she had previously worked in at another agency and had done a little property management and sales. John says “I approached her and asked her if she would come and work for me, thankfully for me Julie decided to give it a go and join the team”.
With Julie now on board the rent roll and business overall began to grow and prosper. John and his team outgrew their current office location and he decided it was time to relocate to a new premises, so with 10 salespeople, 3 property managers and a BDO they moved. As John puts it “things were good” but I just had a sense that something was not quite right inside the business. I started talking to a few people who helped me see that I needed to start working on the business and not in the business. The business needed me to be a better leader and in order to do that I had to change the way I operated inside the business. Julie who had been with me for almost 8 years was the perfect candidate to step up and oversee the daily operations for me.
Looking back John says “I can see a number of defining moments in the evolution of my business”, starting property management again being the big one, relocating the agency was definitely another”. Our new location generated drive and energy in the team which in turn created a stronger culture with greater internal stability. Implementing quarterly strategy sessions, weekly team meetings, a full review of our systems and procedures, better learning and development programs and building a recruitment strategy, led me to where I am today. Finding the right people is not easy but unless you invest in your people and your business and have an agency that people want to work in, then in my opinion you will always have a revolving front door.
John says I now have a strong property management team with a portfolio of almost 1000 managements, I have the two sides of the business working in harmony together and this brings better value to all my clients and customers”.
In closing I asked John, what is the best advice you could give to anyone starting up their own agency today?, “Make sure you build solid foundations, with good technology, systems and procedures, be across the business as much as you can and expect the unexpected, but most of all be a leader to your people”. “I can’t help but look back and wonder just where I would be today if I had built stronger foundations and had strengthened my business better in those first 12 months.
Good leaders, lead people, make better decisions and create businesses of attraction.