TRUE NORTH Michael Love, Love & Co

IT’S BEEN AL­MOST 75 YEARS since Michael Love's grand­fa­ther first opened the doors of Love Real Es­tate in ser­vice of Mel­bourne's 'North'. Now, as a third-gen­er­a­tion agent and di­rec­tor of that com­pany, Michael re­flects on the valu­able lessons his fam­ily's e

Elite Property Manager - - Contents - CASSANDRA CHARLESWORTH Michael Love will be shar­ing more of his jour­ney from the ARPM Con­fer­ence stage, 19–20 Au­gust in Syd­ney. For more in­for­ma­tion visit arpm­con­fer­ence.com.au.

Not many agents can lay claim to host­ing their first open home at the age of 11, but when real es­tate runs in your blood the in­duc­tion into the in­dus­try starts young. “I think Dad was on day­care and he was sell­ing a sub­di­vi­sion and they were a sales­man down,” Love & Co di­rec­tor Michael Love explains. “So he showed me the pam­phlets to hand out and told me to take any­one's name and tele­phone num­ber. And he said, ‘Just sit in this chair un­til some­one shows up’.

“Well, it was a warm spring day and I sat in the chair and I drifted off, and a client walked in and said, ‘Hello, can you help me?’ Sure enough, I gave them the brochures and took their name and de­tails… but I didn't get a com­mis­sion!”

The start may have been in­aus­pi­cious one but for Michael, it was his first foray into a fam­ily busi­ness that is now one of the longestestab­lished agen­cies in the game.

From its be­gin­nings at Reser­voir in Vic­to­ria in 1945, Love & Co has grown to en­com­pass eight busi­nesses, in­clud­ing a com­mer­cial di­vi­sion, all built on the ethos of putting the client first and ‘get­ting it right the first time’.

In their foot­steps

Michael’s de­ci­sion to fol­low his fa­ther, Gra­ham, and grand­fa­ther, Ted, into real es­tate may have seemed in­evitable but he notes it was al­ways his own choice, and one that he made young.

Some of his ear­li­est mem­o­ries in­clude driv­ing around with his fa­ther, lis­ten­ing to the con­ver­sa­tions, ne­go­ti­a­tions and deal­ings of a suc­cess­ful real es­tate sales agent.

“My fa­ther has al­ways en­cour­aged me to fol­low what I wanted to do. Al­though there may have been some con­ver­sa­tions and guid­ance in my up­bring­ing that had it that I wanted to be­come an agent whether I knew it or not… I’ve also been able to do a lot of other things be­fore com­ing into the real es­tate space.”

Along the way he has en­joyed the op­por­tu­nity to work closely with his fa­ther and also draw on his grand­fa­ther’s ad­vice in an in­dus­try that has un­der­gone sig­nif­i­cant change over the past seven decades.

Ser­vice first

The in­dus­try may have changed, but the ethos has re­mained con­sis­tent – and Michael says much of that was in­stilled in him by both his grand­fa­ther and his dad.

“My grand­fa­ther was a big ad­vo­cate that our in­dus­try is all about ser­vice. At the end of the day, we don’t have a prod­uct on the shelf to sell as much as we have a ser­vice to sell, and we’ve got to make sure that we’re al­ways of­fer­ing a quick ser­vice to our clients.”

If Michael’s grand­fa­ther in­stilled the value of ser­vice, his fa­ther taught him the im­por­tance of con­sid­er­ing oth­ers. It’s a core be­lief that ex­tends through­out the busi­ness, from how Love & Co serves their cus­tomers to the way they sup­port their grow­ing num­ber of staff.

“I’m so grate­ful to have my fa­ther ev­ery

day, work­ing along­side him and to have his guid­ance. Some­thing that was in­stilled in my fa­ther and in­stilled in me is ‘leave a lit­tle bit for the next per­son’.

“There’s enough there for ev­ery­body. If you’re buy­ing and sell­ing real es­tate you don’t have to milk ev­ery­thing. That sort of a phi­los­o­phy in busi­ness, I think, is a re­la­tion­ship-build­ing strat­egy, so that peo­ple that you’re work­ing with, it’s not just all for us.”

Re­silience in re­la­tion­ships

Love & Co is an in­sti­tu­tion in­grained in the North Mel­bourne com­mu­nity and Michael notes the com­mit­ment to serve that com­mu­nity re­mains strong.

“The role of a real es­tate agent is about of­fer­ing value, not just in buy­ing or sell­ing homes. I see more and more real es­tate agents look­ing for ego­tis­ti­cal po­si­tions. I think the gen­eral pub­lic are a lit­tle bit over hav­ing a real es­tate agent who’s drum­ming their chest and telling them how won­der­ful they are.

“The fun­da­men­tal piece when mak­ing a busi­ness de­ci­sion is ‘How will this ben­e­fit our clients?’ Of­ten I’m given ideas on how it will ben­e­fit us which are in­no­va­tive, though the test for us re­ally in the of­fice is how will it ben­e­fit the clients.

“It al­ways comes back to what can I of­fer? How can I help? What’s of value that I can of­fer any­body? Re­ally, that’s my fo­cal point.”

The re­la­tion­ships the com­pany has forged in­clude a lengthy list of staff mem­bers who have been with them, in some cases, for as long as 50 years, and Michael re­flects this too comes down to the phi­los­o­phy of leav­ing some­thing for some­one else.

“SOME­THING THAT WAS IN­STILLED IN MY FA­THER AND THEN IN ME IS, ‘LEAVE A LIT­TLE BIT FOR THE NEXT PER­SON'.” “THE PUB­LIC ARE OVER HAV­ING A REAL ES­TATE AGENT WHO'S DRUM­MING THEIR CHEST AND TELLING THEM HOW WON­DER­FUL THEY ARE.”

“It’s kind of like a mar­riage,” he says, not­ing the art is “re­silience in re­la­tion­ships”, where you work through things with peo­ple while look­ing to the fu­ture and im­prove­ment. He re­flects that de­vel­op­ing teams is one of the high­lights of his job, with the fo­cus be­ing sup­port­ing staff to at­tain their goals and am­bi­tions.

“Our busi­ness is re­ally about our won­der­ful teams and we’re very grate­ful to have them.” And when it comes to se­lect­ing the right peo­ple to join those teams, Michael says it’s al­ways based on val­ues.

“I like to find out about peo­ple but, fun­da­men­tally, if they’re not some­body I would feel com­fort­able to [let] go and pick up my lit­tle boy from kinder, then they don’t have the val­ues to work in our team. Skills I’m happy to train and we do a lot of skills train­ing.”

Chang­ing with the times

Love & Co might boast a long his­tory but in­no­va­tion re­mains at its core, and this has been re­flected over a num­ber of re­brand­ings through­out the years.

“We’ve just re­branded in Fe­bru­ary and again it’s about show­ing the dif­fer­ence of how our com­pany’s evolv­ing within the mar­ket­place, and mak­ing sure that we are stay­ing in con­tact with our ever-chang­ing com­mu­nity. As they change we need to change and con­tin­u­ally de­velop as a com­pany.”

He at­tributes that in­no­va­tion and con­sis­tent de­vel­op­ment to the pas­sion and en­ergy of his team.

“We have great brain­storm­ing,” he notes. “There isn’t a week that goes by with­out some­body putting for­ward a great idea or a great plan. We SWOT that and talk about it, and look at the ar­eas that it could im­prove or de­velop, and then we look at im­ple­men­ta­tion.”

Run­ning his own race

Michael en­joys the ben­e­fits of the gen­er­a­tions of ex­pe­ri­ence that have gone be­fore him, but notes his fo­cus is on “run­ning his own race”.

“I think that be­ing your­self is far more at­trac­tive than some­body try­ing to do some­thing that some­one else does well,” he says.

“We all get caught up in the idea of how we should be and that’s some­thing I’ve been work­ing on a lot lately; just stay­ing fo­cused on where I am now and the op­por­tu­ni­ties that present now.”

Michael will share fur­ther in­sight into this when he fea­tures as a pre­sen­ter at ARPM 2018 in Syd­ney in Au­gust.

“I’m ex­cited to be speak­ing at the event; I’m go­ing to be get­ting the mes­sage out to peo­ple that who they are and what they are do­ing is com­pletely okay. As the in­dus­try de­vel­ops, we’re all de­vel­op­ing and we’re all im­prov­ing; no­body is the same per­son as they were two years ago. Fun­da­men­tally, ev­ery­one’s re­ally do­ing the best job they can.”

For Michael his ‘best’ con­tin­ues to be serv­ing his com­mu­nity, leav­ing enough for some­one else and be­ing true to his own lead­er­ship strengths. And with a fam­ily busi­ness that has es­tab­lished an en­vi­able rep­u­ta­tion on the com­mit­ment of pre­vi­ous gen­er­a­tions, he notes that leav­ing his own legacy is not some­thing he con­sid­ers.

“I’m not re­ally look­ing to leave a large legacy. I’m more look­ing to sup­port and grow with the peo­ple around me and work as a great team now, more than wor­ry­ing about what oc­curs once I’m not here. I know a lot of peo­ple talk about ‘legacy, legacy, legacy’ but I make the most of to­day.

“My goals for the next 12 months are to con­tinue to pro­vide man­age­ment and sup­port for our team, and look at some new, in­no­va­tive ways to con­duct real es­tate.”

“IT AL­WAYS COMES BACK TO WHAT CAN I OF­FER? HOW CAN I HELP? RE­ALLY, THAT'S MY FO­CAL POINT.”

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