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Sales Success Spans the Country

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Having an Eastern capital city location is not as imperative as it once was if you want to succeed in business.

Access to the internet, improved telecommunications and a stronger focus on work/life balance means location is taken out of the equation – success comes from the right attitude, understanding the market and accessing the best tools.

Real estate agents JEREMY WILKINSON from Harcourts in Launceston, Tasmania, SABRINA AND MICHAEL MINIC from Minic Property Group, Perth, and ALLAN GRIFFITHS at First National Real Estate in Broome all love living and working in their locations. They have used their distance from Australia’s major capital city centres to thrive.

Tassie’s No. 1

Mr Wilkinson has been Harcourts’ top Tasmanian sales agent for the past five years and holds the number one position state-wide, even though he actually came to Launceston from Melbourne. Starting in the industry at 31, Mr Wilkinson has now been selling in the island state for seven years and has developed his own marketing style to ensure he stays at the top.

With an average sales price of $260,000 and more than 100 transactions annually, Mr Wilkinson has to do something to stand out from the rest of the agents working the same turf. He advertises in the local newspaper, but bypasses the property section and heads for the front page, running regular business-card sized ads.

Selling his personality

“I do simple little ads that are repetitive and put a message across. It’s funny how people keep coming to me going, ‘Oh I’ve seen you in the paper again,’ every week, repeatedly. It works well,” Mr Wilkinson explained.

This campaign is called ‘This Man’ and the ads feature Mr Wilkinson’s face with simple taglines like, “This Man has been the number one real estate agent in Tassie for the last three years” and “This Man has sold over $80 million worth of real estate in the last five years”.

“I get probably an eighth of the listings straight out of [my ads] pretty easily because people just talk,” he explained.

Mr Wilkinson even has own 1800 number – 1800 JEREMY – and it works for him, because there is a percentage of Tasmanian vendors, particular older people, who don’t want to pay extra money so even a free phone call can set him apart from other agents. And the phone number ties in nicely with Harcourts’ branded Suzuki Swift.

“Every time I come into the office someone will say, ‘I saw you on the road today.’ It’s not only me driving but everyone thinks it's me driving around town all the time selling houses. It’s just the best form of modest marketing, it really is,” Mr Wilkinson said.

Following up

Something else that makes him stand out is the sense of urgency he brings to his role as a real estate agent. Mr Wilkinson returns phone calls and emails within hours and fits in appraisals and viewing appointments the same day wherever possible - something that is not the norm in Tasmania.

Other tools Mr Wilkinson uses to brand himself as Launceston’s area specialist are Google Adwords and sponsoring the school his children attend. He attends fundraising sausage sizzles and markets subtly, knowing that is what works in his market. “I don’t want to have my name across the newsletter; it’s about people just knowing I’m there and they’ll remember me,” he said.

Even though Mr Wilkinson is famous in his service area, he concedes there are aspects of his job that could be improved, such as his database management, and he has his sights set on higher things. “My aim for a long time has been to be Harcourts’ number one and I know it’s a huge task and I’ve got to double my numbers - and some - but seriously, I want to do it and why not aim for it?”

Dynamic Duo

Dispelling the myth about sibling rivalry, brother and sister team Michael and Sabrina Minic have only been in real estate for just over four years; however they have taken Perth’s property market by storm. They started Minic Property Group together, listing and selling property as a team and running the agency as the managing director and principal, respectively.

The pair works as an EB2 (an effective business unit with two people) in the office, and out of it, taking their clients through pricing, marketing, costs, case studies and negotiations together, with each handling the part they do best. This split continues right through the sales process, as each agent takes the lead where they are stronger. Their steps have been well polished over time, so clients see a dance worth applauding when the pair is at work.

“Michael has a good way of delivering price. He’s very clear and he’s got good scripts and dialogues. Michael has always felt comfortable in actually delivering the price and it’s working well for us so that’s why we don’t change,” Ms Minic, who previously worked as the events manager at Perth’s Hilton Hotel, said.

And Mr Minic, whose past experience included a stint in residential leasing in the USA, said his sister was, “a highly skilled negotiator; she can read the play; she can see light at the end of the tunnel and, therefore, a sale”.

There are five sales agents who work in their office, with four of those forming two additional EB2s. This formula works well for both Minics. Their EB2 recently listed 19 properties and sold nine properties in a month. They wrote more than $800,000 in 2011 from 62 transactions and their average sales price is between $450,000 and $500,000.

Striving to be better

When thinking about what motivates them, training and goal setting came in at the top. All Minic Property Group staff attend Real Estate Academy (REA) events, as well as joining in-house training, and Sabrina and Michael spend time training each other one-on-one.

“We are always practising; we are always trying to do better scripts and dialogues. We are always trying to improve ourselves,” Ms Minic said.

“It’s really good working with my brother because we can push each other and sometimes, if you’re not dealing with family, it can be quite hard to say to the other person, ‘Hey get on with it’, but with Michael I can rely on him. He’s trustworthy, he’s always there for me and we push ourselves to the limit."

And while her brother leaves the negotiating to Sabrina, Michael is firmly committed to success as a team and as an agency. “I always see that the sky is the limit and I said to Sabrina from day one, ‘If we’re going to do it, we’re going to do it right’. I’m not just doing it as a part-time agent. It’s about setting bars and reaching for the sky all the time and helping people move from A to B,” Mr Minic added.

The Minics have bold visions for their future in real estate, including strengthening and expanding the brand within Canning and building a strong sales team for the agency, plus breaking the million dollar mark by achieving 85-90 sales for their own EB2 team.

The pearl of the West

If you drive north-east from Perth for almost 24 hours and around 2500km you will reach Broome, near the tip of Western Australia. This coastal regional centre of 15,000 residents relies heavily on tourism. At first glance, this might not be seen as an obvious place for real estate success, however First National Broome principal Allan Griffiths has turned the vast distance from the capital city to his advantage.

Online training has proven to be the most effective form of training for Mr Griffiths and his staff in terms of cost, retention, interaction and time. Attending a one-day training course in Perth involves at least two days and nights away from the office as well as the associated cost of the training course, accommodation and meals. It’s an expensive option. But training by correspondence is lonely, so there are not many options left.

“The only other options we had in the past have been correspondence, but the problem with correspondence is that you don’t interact with anyone. It’s very difficult to sit down after a busy day and go through a heap of printed material and get anything from it,” Mr Griffiths said, explaining staff often looked up the right answers, sent them to assessors and passed, but without gaining a significant benefit from the training.

DIY training venue

The alternative option was for Mr Griffiths to fit out the lounge room in his Broome home with a huge TV, speaker system and webcams, and play live and recorded online training sessions from First National Academy through his computer for staff. He has also invested in unlimited access to Real Estate Academy’s online Complete Resource Centre for all his staff to log into.
Mr Griffiths runs weekly training sessions, held straight after the office sales and property management meetings. First National Broome’s administration staff also have training sessions every three weeks, with content dependent on the areas they work in.

“We’ve really embraced online training over the last two years. We regularly watch David Knox and Real Estate Academy videos,” Mr Griffiths said.

“With online training, and particularly with video production like YouTube and that sort of thing, although it may not be interactive on some occasions, it’s still very visual and staff in sales and property management relate particularly well to that. They get a far better retention of the information than they do if they’re just trying to read it.”

This means up to five sales staff and up to seven property management staff are training together, discussing answers, doing role plays and sharing their own experiences so their learning outcomes are better.

“It takes them out of the office and the biggest benefit [of online training] is that you can structure it. There is a whole range of resources that are available,” he said.

The online training sessions are further consolidated by additional learning material, such as forms, scripts and dialogues, so First National Broome staff are tapping into up-to-date training.
“In terms of competition, that gives them an edge over somebody in a small area that’s got far too many real estate agents for the number of freehold properties,” Mr Griffiths said.

Real estate agents located outside the bigger Eastern seaboard cities of Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane are rewriting the manuals when it comes to standard practice. Whether it is through marketing, dealing with clients or training, they are showing distance is no longer a limiter in success.
 

 

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