THE CHAL­LENGE OF CHANGE

Con­sole user group panel dis­cus­sion

Elite Property Manager - - Contents - with Fiona McEachran

meth­ods do you use to at­tract land­lords and ten­ants? “We have a re­fer­ral pro­gram with our sales team that started in July 2013. For ev­ery list­ing they give us, they get a cash pay­ment. In the be­gin­ning, we were run­ning about 70 per cent sales re­fer­rals and 30 per cent from other busi­ness. But we thought we shouldn’t just be ac­cept­ing these re­fer­rals; how can we ac­tu­ally im­prove our busi­ness so that the sales re­fer­rals are just the cream on top? So we’ve put in a whole lot of strate­gies to prospect and get out there in the mar­ket our­selves, and now we’ve turned that around we are run­ning at 65 per cent from re­fer­rals other than sales.

“For the sales guys, it’s im­por­tant that we do have a good re­la­tion­ship. I spend a lot of time just get­ting to each of their of­fices and driv­ing train­ing for them. We go to ev­ery one of their monthly meet­ings, and it’s all about ed­u­cat­ing them about the value of prop­erty man­age­ment.”

Han­nah con­tin­ues, “We’ve got a pretty good team, and the sales teams are sup­port­ive of the pro­gram. I have re­cently put to­gether a web-based re­fer­ral sys­tem. They don’t need to email forms or any­thing. They can just sub­mit things on their phone. We try to make things easy for the sales team, but then we also make sure that we fol­low through and de­liver what we say we will. That builds trust for them and for the clients.”

So be­tween pub­lish­ing a mag­a­zine, cre­at­ing other mar­ket­ing pro­grams, man­ag­ing staff and stay­ing on top of her game, how is it pos­si­ble to fit ev­ery­thing in? I ask Han­nah how she han­dles it all, es­pe­cially bal­anc­ing her own busi­ness de­vel­op­ment ac­tiv­i­ties along with man­ag­ing a team. “Yes, it can be chal­leng­ing be­cause you do need to give enough time to your team so they can grow and they can do their jobs bet­ter, but I’ve still got my tar­gets that I need to meet. I try as much as pos­si­ble to work to a struc­tured ideal week. Most times that does work, but then there will be times when you go out to a con­fer­ence, or you go for a course, and it throws ev­ery­thing a bit. In an ideal world, I’d pre­fer to be in the of­fice as much as pos­si­ble for my team, be­cause even though the list­ings are tick­ing along nicely at the mo­ment the team still need to feel sup­ported.”

Next, I want to know - as many other BDMs would want to know - what her se­cret is to the per­fect list­ing pre­sen­ta­tion, and how she main­tain such a high list-to-lease con­ver­sion rate. Han­nah replies, “I think the key thing is peo­ple get so hung up on what their points of dif­fer­ences are. They might have a great piece of tech­nol­ogy or a great ser­vice guar­an­tee, and that’s their whole pitch! My view is that it doesn’t mat­ter what we can of­fer. It re­ally just de­pends on what the client is af­ter. By qual­i­fy­ing and ask­ing di­rect ques­tions and lis­ten­ing to what they need or what they want, my pitch will just com­pletely change to tar­get what I have heard from them.”

She con­tin­ues, “If you do this, the prospect can re­lax a bit as you can put their con­cerns at ease. If they come to me and say, ‘I’m re­ally wor­ried about my rent ar­rears as I’ve just had this hor­ri­ble ex­pe­ri­ence’ and I say, ‘Don’t worry, we’ve got this great tech­nol­ogy and we’ll send you your state­ments and you can log in and look at them online...’ that doesn’t ac­tu­ally help them. It’s en­tirely ir­rel­e­vant to what their con­cerns are. I think your pitch or your pre­sen­ta­tion just needs to be adapted for what the client needs.

“Not only that, no two peo­ple are the same. I think it’s crazy that some­one pulls out a folder or an iPad and just clicks through it for the sake of click­ing through it. That doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily meet some­one’s needs.”

Her pas­sion for the in­dus­try is clear and I ask Han­nah what she has en­joyed most about prop­erty man­age­ment. “Well, I started in prop­erty man­age­ment so I do un­der­stand that side as well as the BD side. For me, I think what I am pas­sion­ate about is the chase; to be able to con­vert a sin­gle list­ing or a whole de­vel­op­ment that a client’s hold­ing is se­ri­ously ex­cit­ing. I like it be­cause it’s an op­por­tu­nity to build rap­port and re­la­tion­ships with peo­ple and re­ally get to know them. It’s even more sat­is­fy­ing when you see some­thing re­alised that you started from scratch. I’ve re­cently con­verted a client who used another agent; we got our foot in the door ini­tially, and now we’re man­ag­ing half of one of his de­vel­op­ments. For me that’s re­ally re­ward­ing. I know that that’s fu­ture growth for us as a busi­ness.”

Part of Han­nah’s com­pet­i­tive na­ture and team spirit pos­si­bly comes from her love of sport; she has played AFL at state level, and is also a mem­ber of the SES. “Yes, I’ve played Aussie Rules for about eight years now, and played for the state and played in na­tional tour­na­ments up in Cairns and things like that; lots of fun. I also surf when­ever I can get down to the coast, which is not too of­ten, un­for­tu­nately. What sport has re­ally taught me is the team cul­ture. I think it’s so im­por­tant to have the right at­ti­tude and the right cul­ture. I’m a big be­liever in do­ing all the lit­tle things that add up for the team, be­cause if you’ve got one per­son who is not a team player it af­fects ev­ery­one. That’s re­ally some­thing I

“THE STAN­DARD RENTAL LIST IS THREE OR FOUR A4 PAGES ROUGHLY STA­PLED TO­GETHER; I JUST DON’T THINK THAT CUTS IT ANY MORE. IF WE’RE GO­ING TO DO PA­PER PUBLI­CA­TIONS, LET’S MAKE IT THE BEST IT CAN BE.”

try to in­still in my team as well.”

What ad­vice would you give some­one who wanted to pur­sue a role in Busi­ness De­vel­op­ment? Han­nah smiles. “Over the years I’ve now learnt to make a point and then be quiet. Or ask a ques­tion, be quiet and lis­ten to the an­swer. When you close, just ask and stop talk­ing. I used to ask and then I’d keep talk­ing! I never ac­tu­ally gave peo­ple an op­por­tu­nity to an­swer. So I’ve learned over time that to say your piece and then shut up is way more pow­er­ful and it does cre­ate an im­pact.

“The other thing,” she says, “would be to put re­ally good com­mu­ni­ca­tion trails and fol­low-up sys­tems in place, be­cause the busier you get the more you need them. That way you don’t for­get to fol­low up or touch base, even when you’re out of the of­fice. If you don’t de­liver on what you prom­ise in terms of com­mu­ni­ca­tion then you waste your pre­vi­ous ef­fort, be­cause you lose re­spect so quickly. By hav­ing those re­ally struc­tured sys­tems it takes the work out of it for you, but it also takes your busi­ness to a whole new level.”

What do you see in terms of the mar­ket for Can­berra in the next 12 months? “We’re lucky in Can­berra. There is a lot in the media about buyer ner­vous­ness and the mar­ket drop­ping back. We do have the nor­mal ebbs and flows in our mar­ket, as any mar­ket does. But we run con­sis­tently low va­cancy rates, about two per cent max. Our av­er­age rents sit at around $450 per week or so at any given time. So the mar­ket is steady and the list­ings are there. We’re av­er­ag­ing be­tween 60 and 80 new list­ings a month, so there is suf­fi­cient stock.

“Can­berra it­self is a huge growth area. At the mo­ment we sit at about 3,200 man­age­ments. By the end of 2017, we’ll prob­a­bly be sit­ting at about 4,500 with de­vel­op­ments set­tling. There is a huge amount of builders’ stock in the pipeline. Much of that tends to be in­vest­ment pur­chases. I think it will be in­ter­est­ing to see what ef­fect the Chi­nese in­vestor mar­ket might have on our mar­ket.”

Ca­reer high­light so far? “Win­ning the REIA award in 2014 was pretty ex­cit­ing. Like ev­ery­one, I do tend to have a lit­tle bit of self-doubt at times, and it was re­ally re­ward­ing to know that what I was do­ing was recog­nised at a na­tional level. Aside from awards, I think the ca­reer high­light for me is ac­tu­ally an on­go­ing thing. I sim­ply love what I do, and when I get a great list­ing or when I see one of my team mem­bers achieve one of their goals, that for me is the most re­ward­ing part of it. I think it’s fan­tas­tic when you see other peo­ple grow and suc­ceed.”

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