Mel­bourne Real Es­tate

Elite Property Manager - - Contents -

CHARIS­MATIC AND with an en­ergy that ver­i­ta­bly leaps out at you, Peter Hooy­mans is in­deed a num­bers per­son in a num­bers busi­ness. “I want to mea­sure ev­ery­thing,” he says. “This goes back to my early train­ing with John McGrath 16 years ago. I went to all his train­ing, which was about ‘mea­sure, mea­sure, mea­sure’.

“For ex­am­ple, in the first quar­ter of 2016, Mel­bourne Real Es­tate (MRE) re­ceived 3,031 rental ap­pli­ca­tions. We lease 180 to 200 prop­er­ties a month, which is huge. Hav­ing a gen­eral man­ager (Tim Ear, also one of the founders of the busi­ness) who is a CPA with ex­tra­or­di­nary met­rics abil­i­ties al­lows us to know what’s go­ing on in our busi­ness at all times.”

MRE flies a lit­tle un­der the radar when it comes to the real es­tate in­dus­try at large, de­spite hav­ing been founded in 1992 and even­tu­ally set­ting up shop per­ma­nently in South Yarra in 2004. Yet be­ing Mel­bournebased is only half the MRE story, as this unique busi­ness en­joys a dis­tinctly global iden­tity courtesy of years spent work­ing with in­ter­na­tional au­di­ences.

“Twelve years ago, Mel­bourne Real Es­tate had hum­ble be­gin­nings with Peter work­ing and trav­el­ling in­ter­na­tion­ally on a gru­elling sched­ule to meet and build re­la­tion­ships with an in­ter­na­tional client base,” says Of­fice Man­ager Ann Rogers. “The ini­tial suc­cess came out of the Mid­dle East, fol­lowed by Asia. As the hard work paid off, it be­came clear that help was needed to ex­pand the ad­min­is­tra­tion

side of the busi­ness so Peter could fo­cus on what was fast be­com­ing a large in­ter­na­tional client base. I loved tak­ing on the chal­lenge, but more im­por­tantly, l un­der­stood his vi­sion and was im­me­di­ately im­pressed by his en­ergy, pas­sion and com­mit­ment to take MRE to a whole new level. From the be­gin­ning he had a global vi­sion and was ab­so­lutely driven about ser­vice stan­dards.”


Rent­ing a small of­fice space and with very few sys­tems or pro­ce­dures in place on day one, it was a case of hum­ble be­gin­nings. But both Ann and Peter knew they were headed for big­ger things and set their sights on grow­ing the team. “Our ‘found­ing mem­bers’ were put through a lengthy process of in­ter­views and caliper test­ing, to en­sure they were not only aligned with our vi­sion and work ethic but also had the ex­pe­ri­ence and the drive to de­liver ex­cep­tional ser­vice to our clients at the level that met our ex­pec­ta­tions and be­yond. It was es­sen­tial they were the per­fect ad­di­tion – Pete has al­ways been man­i­cally driven about de­liv­er­ing six-star ser­vice.”

The num­bers – those all-im­por­tant mea­sur­ables – tell a story of year-on-year growth and ex­pan­sion to the team of 42 in­no­va­tive thinkers that MRE is to­day. “We started off with about 30 prop­er­ties un­der man­age­ment in 2005-6,” says Peter. “Then we had a cou­ple of projects set­tle and went to 150, and then in 2008 we were at about 300. At this point I knew that in order to main­tain a rea­son­able rent roll growth rate, BDMs would need to be en­gaged. Com­ing from a sales back­ground, I was all over that as­pect of prop­erty man­age­ment; we now have four full-time BDMs. Our rent roll to­day sits at 2,172, so we’ve grown at 70 per cent per an­num since 2008.” Lit­tle won­der, then, that MRE has a tro­phy cab­i­net full of prop­erty man­age­ment awards.


Pro­lific growth is not all that’s in­ter­est­ing about MRE, how­ever. The or­gan­i­sa­tion it­self is as di­verse as the global clien­tele of ten­ants and land­lords it serves. MRE con­ducts road­shows through­out Asia sev­eral times a year, travers­ing China and Malaysia, grow­ing their brand as they go.

“Half of our rental team are bilin­gual and trilin­gual – we even have one amaz­ing em­ployee at MRE who speaks six lan­guages,” notes Peter proudly. “We’ve made a con­scious de­ci­sion to be able to ser­vice our clients over­seas in their lan­guage and in their time zone.”


Pre­dom­i­nantly a prop­erty man­age­ment busi­ness, MRE is also strong in the sales game, with project and tra­di­tional sales teams. Peter says, “As a re­sult of our large rent roll, and nat­u­ral and an­nual rent roll at­tri­tion of 10 per cent per an­num, we have the op­por­tu­nity to sell 220 prop­er­ties per year. Our re-sales team trans­acts ap­prox­i­mately 10 prop­er­ties per month, sell­ing to both our data­base of 18,000 buy­ers and the wider pub­lic.”

The two leads for projects and prop­erty man­age­ment, Ge­orgina Mel­lick and Stephen Fitzsi­mon, work to­gether closely to en­sure that the end re­sult is max­imised for all par­ties. Says Ge­orgina, “Our project ori­gins were the plat­form for our suc­cess­ful prop­erty man­age­ment growth and have gen­er­ated over $100m in ‘off the plan’ sales in the past 12 months, in­clud­ing more than 45 sales over $1m.

“We are a bou­tique project mar­ket­ing com­pany spe­cial­is­ing in beau­ti­fully de­signed apart­ments and town­houses to be sold off the plan. Highly selec­tive about the projects we take on, col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween all the project con­sul­tants, from the ar­chi­tect to the in­te­rior de­signer and brand­ing and mar­ket­ing agency, has be­come non-ne­go­tiable. We con­stantly strive for in­no­va­tion with a one-eyed de­ter­mi­na­tion; fail­ure is not an op­tion. We fin­ish what we start and we are proud of what we do.”


In the 2016 cal­en­dar year, MRE will set­tle more than 200 apart­ments and town­houses.

Says Stephen, “It’s pretty ev­i­dent in Mel­bourne that an apartment glut is loom­ing. With 30,000-plus apart­ments be­ing built an­nu­ally, we recog­nise that at some point the fo­cus will change from win­ning clients who want us to man­age their prop­er­ties to se­cur­ing ten­ants who are spoilt for choice in the apartment mar­ket.

“At MRE, we have made a con­scious de­ci­sion to make the process of find­ing and se­cur­ing our apart­ments sig­nif­i­cantly faster and eas­ier. A lot has changed from the days of hand­ing out keys to ten­ants and hop­ing they like the prop­erty! At MRE we pro­vide ten­ants with a concierge ser­vice.

“Our listings on the ma­jor por­tals en­sure that our prop­er­ties are easy to find, even in the busiest sub­urb of Mel­bourne it­self. Ev­ery sin­gle ad­ver­tise­ment we have used since 2009 has en­gaged pro­fes­sional photography to en­sure they gen­er­ate peak in­ter­est – but that’s not al­ways enough to make it onto a tenant’s short­list. In 2012, we in­vested in 100 per cent adop­tion of videos with walk-through tours; 390,000 views later we are sold on their ef­fec­tive­ness in re­gard to show­cas­ing prop­er­ties, and giving ten­ants a bet­ter pic­ture of the prop­erty at­tributes prior to in­spect­ing – thus en­sur­ing that ten­ants who in­spect there­after are qual­i­fied and ready to ap­ply.”

This ap­proach is at the heart of Peter’s vi­sion for MRE. “It boils down to this,” he says. “The phi­los­o­phy of MRE is to of­fer ab­so­lutely mind-blow­ing ser­vice and to cre­ate rav­ing fans. Our ser­vice phi­los­o­phy is ba­si­cally do­ing what­ever it takes to make sure that our tenant and landlord are a match made in heaven. Con­tra to the at­ti­tude of many agen­cies, we fo­cus heav­ily on tenant ser­vice, as they’re the land­lords of the fu­ture.”


This at­ti­tude of excellence comes from the top down, with only a se­lect ar­ray of in­di­vid­u­als join­ing the MRE team. “It takes five in­ter­views to get a job here; when we in­ter­view, ap­pli­cants go through mul­ti­ple pro­cesses, in­clud­ing a My­er­sBriggs test and two fur­ther psy­cho­me­t­ric tests to de­ter­mine fit.

“Suc­cess­ful ap­pli­cants are nur­tured into our cul­ture and ex­ten­sively trained. We look af­ter our staff, be­cause they look af­ter our clients. We’ve im­ple­mented Naomi Sim­son’s Redii pro­gram, which of­fers our team a se­ries of re­wards ev­ery day: if some­one does some­thing help­ful, we’ll say ‘here’s 200 points for go­ing out of your way to drop those keys into the city’. Points are con­vert­ible for a va­ri­ety of re­wards, from su­per­mar­ket vouch­ers to ex­pe­ri­ences via the Redii shop. We spend about $7,000 each month, pub­li­cally re­ward­ing our team for do­ing great things.” It’s not hard to see why MRE’s


staff re­ten­tion has been at 100 per cent over the last 17 months.

Says Gen­eral Man­ager Tim Ear, “Whilst it is im­per­a­tive that we at­tend in­dus­tryspe­cific con­fer­ences and train­ing, and stay tuned into real es­tate news, it’s rel­a­tively dif­fi­cult to lead, in­no­vate and cre­ate unique points of dif­fer­ence if your only in­spi­ra­tions come from your in­dus­try peers. Suc­cess leaves clues, from Zap­pos, Red Bal­loon, Tesla Mo­tors, South­west Air­lines, Dis­ney, through to the Hawthorn Hawks AFL team – these or­gan­i­sa­tions in­spire us to the world of pos­si­bil­i­ties in re­gard to in­no­va­tion, change and ser­vice.”

A hall­mark of MRE is their sleek ap­proach to prop­erty mar­ket­ing: you won’t find poorly-shot iPhone photos on any of their listings, in sales or prop­erty man­age­ment. “Our prop­erty man­agers are given a $2,500 video kit, as all our prop­erty mar­ket­ing is done us­ing video. For­get paper and pho­to­graphs; our rou­tine in­spec­tions and con­di­tion re­ports are recorded by our trained team be­fore be­ing op­ti­mised for im­age qual­ity, sta­bil­ity and sound. These videos are then up­loaded to our clients’ pri­vate accounts, which they ac­cess through the 24-7 MRE app. Our off­shore land­lords love these videos, be­cause noth­ing gets lost in the mail.”

With such a large rent roll, how do they en­sure all land­lords are will­ing to in­vest in such uni­formly el­e­gant mar­ket­ing for their prop­er­ties? It’s sim­ple, says Peter. “We don’t give our land­lords a choice. Just as we don’t give our ten­ants a choice when it comes to di­rect deb­its; each of our 2,172 rental prop­er­ties are di­rect-deb­ited each Fri­day. If the rent is not there, they are charged a dis­hon­our fee. And our rent roll ar­rears are zero. Our va­cant prop­er­ties are zero.

“We want to be the best, and that’s why we have high stan­dards across MRE. For our ten­ants, our land­lords and our team.”


As in­no­va­tors in cul­ture and prop­erty mar­ket­ing, the fi­nal ques­tion we have is what the MRE team see hap­pen­ing in the fu­ture. Says Peter, “With our am­bi­tion to ex­e­cute to com­plete­ness, we built a rep­u­ta­tion on sell­ing out whole projects, cre­at­ing mo­men­tum and cred­i­bil­ity in the bou­tique off-the-plan space.

“Five years ago, we wholly fo­cused on digi­tis­ing our prop­erty man­age­ment plat­form, led by Todd Breen (Vir­tu­ally In­cred­i­ble) and used the Google and YouTube plat­forms to en­gage our cus­tomers. In 2016, we are 100 per cent video-ori­ented in our mar­ket­ing, utilise cloud-based real-time CRMs (Sales­force) to meet the needs of our de­vel­op­ers and con­stantly seek in­no­va­tive tech­nol­ogy so­lu­tions to in­crease our in­ter­nal ef­fi­cien­cies and ex­ter­nal mar­ket­ing im­pact.”

Tim’s view of the fu­ture is clear. “A higher bar in re­gard to cus­tomer ex­pec­ta­tions as tech­nol­ogy con­tin­ues to im­prove ev­ery­one’s abil­ity to ac­cess in­for­ma­tion – the world is real-time and ev­ery­one is po­ten­tially con­nected. In dig­i­tal realms, client ex­pe­ri­ences are no longer iso­lated; pos­i­tive (and neg­a­tive) word of mouth trav­els wider and faster than ever be­fore.”

There will be more fo­cus on tools, strate­gies and ini­tia­tives that in­crease cus­tomer sat­is­fac­tion and client value. In fast-mov­ing and volatile busi­ness con­di­tions world­wide, one thing’s for cer­tain: clients who re­ceive su­pe­rior value will ul­ti­mately re­main loyal.

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