THE CIMINO CON­NEC­TION

HE HAS ONLY BEEN at the fam­ily firm for a short time, but when it comes to mak­ing an im­pact Michael Cimino likes to en­sure no stone is left un­turned.

Elite Property Manager - - Contents -

Cather­ine Vissiere

If prop­erty in­vest­ment is a num­bers game, Michael Cimino is su­perbly po­si­tioned to lead the field. Hav­ing spent much of his ca­reer as a fi­nan­cial ser­vices pro­fes­sional with ‘big four’ prac­tices, he was per­suaded to leave his high-pro­file role at a na­tion­ally recog­nised su­per­an­nu­a­tion con­sul­tancy just un­der 12 months ago to head the prop­erty man­age­ment di­vi­sion of bur­geon­ing Mel­bourne busi­ness In­ner Real Es­tate (IRE). The move to join par­ents Joe and San­dra and brother An­thony at IRE was a nat­u­ral fit for the qual­i­fied char­tered ac­coun­tant, who pur­chased his first prop­erty fresh out of univer­sity and who still main­tains an ac­tive side­line in small busi­ness ac­coun­tancy and au­dit­ing.

The seat in his new of­fice had barely been warmed when the busy 30-year-old and his wife Amal, to­gether with three-year-old fur baby Milo, wel­comed their first child – daugh­ter Abi­gail, now aged seven months.

“Un­for­tu­nately, now the dog plays sec­ond fid­dle,” he ad­mits.

Cimino’s rea­sons for en­ter­ing the fam­ily busi­ness were twofold. Not only did he want to en­sure that Joe’s suc­ces­sion plan was played out, but he was also look­ing to help IRE achieve bet­ter op­er­a­tional ef­fi­cien­cies by way of a new tech­nol­ogy-fo­cused growth strat­egy.

He cred­its his back­ground in change trans­for­ma­tion as the rea­son he has adapted quicker than most to the new pro­fes­sional (and per­haps even the per­sonal) re­spon­si­bil­i­ties ex­pected of him.

Cimino first en­tered the work­force as a 14-year-old when he se­cured a role as a ‘check­out chick’ at Coles su­per­mar­kets, a po­si­tion that sus­tained him from his sec­ond year at high school right through to the end of his ter­tiary stud­ies. He cred­its this with also play­ing a sig­nif­i­cant part in the way in which

he ap­proaches his work.

“At Coles it was very much about the process and the way you think. It’s a very repet­i­tive role by na­ture, so for me it be­came about do­ing it the most ef­fi­cient way I pos­si­bly could, but also about mak­ing the ex­pe­ri­ence as en­joy­able as pos­si­ble. You don’t get paid a lot of money and it’s not an easy job to do, but you’re ex­posed to all sorts of peo­ple. At times it can be quite en­joy­able, but at other times it’s pretty de­mand­ing.”

In many ways, he ar­gues, this mir­rors the chal­lenges his fa­ther ini­tially faced in get­ting the IRE busi­ness off the ground.

Hav­ing founded sev­eral start-ups pre­vi­ously, Joe Cimino launched IRE by rent­ing a small space in No­ble Park in Mel­bourne’s south-east­ern sub­urbs be­fore re­cruit­ing a part-time re­cep­tion­ist and mov­ing into the city – a 25-square me­tre third-floor of­fice in St Kilda Road.

About to cel­e­brate its 10th birth­day, IRE is now con­sid­ered one of the most suc­cess­ful bou­tique real es­tate agen­cies in Mel­bourne, with a team of around 16 man­age­ment, sales and ad­min­is­tra­tion staff, around 750 prop­er­ties un­der man­age­ment and an av­er­age of 60 sales per year.

But while Michael Cimino cred­its his fa­ther’s “busi­ness nous and skill at iden­ti­fy­ing gaps in the mar­ket” for their firm’s suc­cess, it is made all the more re­mark­able given the amount of time the Cimi­nos must spend in each other’s com­pany.

“The four of us sit in dif­fer­ent parts of the busi­ness and have very de­fined re­spon­si­bil­i­ties, so there’s very lit­tle cross­over,” he says. “I think that’s what makes [our dy­namic] work. The way we op­er­ate is that Joe, as the founder, is the manag­ing di­rec­tor of the busi­ness and the go-to per­son for any prob­lems. I look af­ter the PM [prop­erty man­age­ment] part of the busi­ness, my younger brother An­thony looks af­ter real es­tate sales and Mum is in charge of ac­counts.”

Cimino says the fam­ily has al­ways been close-knit, with the bond be­tween the broth­ers par­tic­u­larly close.

Al­ways hav­ing some­one to bounce ideas off is some­thing he rel­ishes, while know­ing there is less room for mis­un­der­stand­ings also helps fos­ter a stronger team cul­ture, he says.

“My brother and I have al­ways had a pretty close re­la­tion­ship. We’re happy to give each other feed­back and speak our minds, how­ever bru­tal that may be, be­cause we know that it’s not go­ing to be taken per­son­ally. I can call him all sorts of names and then five min­utes later it will all be for­got­ten and we can go and get a cof­fee. It’s def­i­nitely a dif­fer­ent en­vi­ron­ment when your col­leagues aren’t re­lated to you and you’re forced to bite your tongue a lit­tle more.”

Cimino, who also runs a sec­ond busi­ness pro­vid­ing men­tor­ing and fi­nan­cial ser­vices to small busi­nesses, says while there are nu­mer­ous dif­fer­ences be­tween the de­mands of the fi­nan­cial and real es­tate sec­tors – par­tic­u­larly when it comes to the time spent train­ing and “knowl­edge build­ing” – his ex­pe­ri­ence also means he is able to bring a new ap­proach when it comes to the level of ser­vice of­fered to IRE’s clients.

“Ob­vi­ously we tick the ser­vice box be­cause Joe’s mantra is ‘above all else ser­vice the client, be­cause they are the most im­por­tant thing’, which they are. But I’ve been able to bring in that next layer and that’s by look­ing af­ter [our clients’] in­vest­ments in the best way that we pos­si­bly can, whether that be of­fer­ing them the best re­turns, max­imis­ing their in­vest­ment or help­ing them make bet­ter de­ci­sions in terms of the choices they make with their in­vest­ments.”

He has also ex­tended this fo­cus to in­cor­po­rate the com­pany’s best as­set, its staff, by mak­ing it eas­ier for em­ploy­ees across all ar­eas of the busi­ness to work re­motely.

Cimino says that while Joe built a bril­liant busi­ness, it was built “the way he knows, and tech­nol­ogy-wise that wasn’t ne­c­es­sar­ily the way things would be built to­day”.

While Joe and San­dra have utilised Rock­end’s REST prod­uct for more than two decades, Cimino says re­cent months have seen the com­pany in­vest sig­nif­i­cantly in its soft­ware ar­chi­tec­ture, in­clud­ing in­cor­po­rat­ing Prop­er­tyTree into its back­end op­er­a­tions.

“We de­cided to make the change be­cause it suited the mo­bile build, but also be­cause it’s a trusted brand and, in my opin­ion, it has the best qual­ity prod­uct of­fer­ing when it came to trust ac­count­ing soft­ware that was cloud­based. We’ve also changed over to one of its con­nected prop­erty apps called In­spec­tion Man­ager. Again, it was just about ef­fi­ciency and repli­cat­ing the desk­top on their mo­biles. It now al­lows, for ex­am­ple, our prop­erty man­agers to do in­spec­tions prop­erly and up­date as they’re do­ing them.”

With the first of his ma­jor tasks now im­ple­mented, Cimino, who con­cedes to spend­ing a lot of time on the road, says he likes to spend his week­ends pri­ori­tis­ing his fam­ily and en­joy­ing the new ar­rival.

Hav­ing added the pur­chase of a new home to his re­cent list of ac­com­plish­ments, Cimino has also dis­cov­ered a new skill to add to his CV – that of would-be builder.

While he and Amal re­ceived some help from spe­cialised tradies, they com­pleted much of the ren­o­va­tion work them­selves, help­ing him de­velop a new pas­sion in the process. Cimino says he now cel­e­brates the end of his work­ing week by strap­ping on a tool bag and go­ing out to build up a frame or redo a bath­room.

“Un­for­tu­nately, prop­erty man­age­ment is a lit­tle like ac­count­ing in that you never get the op­por­tu­nity to stand back at the end of the day like a car­pen­ter would and say, ‘I cre­ated that’. It can some­times be a very thank­less job. But I find that through build­ing things, paint­ing a per­gola or build­ing a dog ken­nel, that’s my re­lease.”

“MY BROTHER AND I HAVE AL­WAYS HAD A PRETTY CLOSE RE­LA­TION­SHIP. I CAN CALL HIM ALL SORTS OF NAMES AND THEN FIVE MIN­UTES LATER IT WILL ALL BE FOR­GOT­TEN AND WE CAN GO AND GET A COF­FEE.”

“ABOVE ALL ELSE SER­VICE THE CLIENT, BE­CAUSE THEY ARE THE MOST IM­POR­TANT THING”

From left to right; Michael Cimino, Joe Cimino, San­dra Cimino and An­thony Cimino

CATHER­INE VISSIERE the Head of Mar­ket­ing at Rock­end. For more in­for­ma­tion visit rock­end.com.au.

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