MAN WITH A (SALES) PLAN
WELLINGTON- CONSULTANT AND BASED DIRECTOR BUSINESS GRANT FOGGO SHARES ADVICE ON SALES STRATEGIES AND EXPLAINS HOW HE’S HELPING TO SHAKE UP THE LOCAL PROPERTY MANAGEMENT SECTOR.
Business consultant and director Grant Foggo explains how he’s helping shake up the Wellington property management sector.
In business, experience is a wonderful thing. Over time it allows you to work smarter, better understand the market, and increase the chances of success in everything you do.
For Grant Foggo, his business journey has seen him experience vastly different cultures, a variety of business sectors, a major setback, and some solid business growth based on his knowledge of sales management.
Grant left the UK aged just 23, worked in Saudi Arabia for ten years, Brunei for another ten where he married his Kiwi-born wife Sally, before relocating to Wellington 16 years ago.
After finding his feet, Grant took on a sales position for an office relocation company, and some years later purchased a Hutt Valley-based recruitment business.
Then the GFC bombshell dropped and in Grant’s words “we lost everything – but did manage to pay everyone out over six or seven years”.
Fortunately there were those who appreciated his extensive management experience.
An ex-client opened the door into local property management.
“Sales and growth are important in business but ensure you have everything working well and you’re managing your cashflow…”
Then five years later he was recommended by a board member at Wellington design agency Capiche to come on as a sales and growth-focused GM.
With his feet barely under the desk he was subsequently approached by a group of developers/investors to help set-up property management company Comprendé (Spanish for ‘ to understand’) – a business that’s about “understanding tenants, landlords, and rental property.”
Grant, who describes himself as a “strategic leader”, took up the challenge and the company adopted a ‘big business’ approach right from day one.
A block of 73 apartments developed by one of Comprendé’s investors ensured they were off to a flying start from December 2014.
For the past 14 months Grant has also been taking on private management consultancy work – developing strategic sales plans for businesses across multiple sectors.
“What all those businesses are asking is ‘ how do we nail this thing called sales’,” says Grant.
He says most business owners get too busy in their businesses to give sales the attention it deserves. Many often launch into sales programs without first validating the market.
They also fail to qualify prospects and/ or move potential customers through the sales cycle.
Kiwis are known for not wanting to say ‘no’; they say they’re interested when they’re really not, he explains. So people end up with a bunch of phoney ‘leads’.
Today he splits his consultancy work 50/50 with developing the strategy, systems and culture at Comprendé Property Management.
A team of nine handle hundreds of properties across Wellington, including properties to house Weta staff and Government clients.
From what Grant’s seen in both Brunei and New Zealand, property managers are generally over-stretched.
“[At Comprendé] we provide a lot of admin support for our property managers. So they’re always available for tenants and landlords.”
That availability is crucial for both tenants and property owners, he says.
“We want our property managers to be a trusted and proactive consultant to the owner. It’s about building trust, adding value and creating happy homes for both the owner and the resident.”
Their ideal client is the busy professional who’s happy to hand over all the hassle and responsibility of property management to the experts, and have peace of mind.
In 2016 Comprendé acquired Just Property Management and after four years has grown to be one of the top five property management agencies in Wellington – with growth coming primarily through word-of-mouth, and a sales manager who has done “the hard yards”.
A raft of new property management legislation pending in New Zealand around issues such as insulation, heating and letting fees will impact on owners, says Grant. He predicts the number of professionally managed properties will increase significantly as a result of the shake-up, and there will be a degree of consolidation within the market – bringing it more in line with Australia.
There are already signs of consolidation happening, he says, adding that the increased cost of owning rental properties across New Zealand will be passed on through higher rents.
Accountants are also engaging with property owners more too, as they move away from being just bookkeepers. They’re encouraging landlords to treat rental properties as a serious business, rather than the traditional ‘set-and-forget’ investment – a business that can take care of their retirement.
Contrary to media reports, Grant’s view of where New Zealand’s rental property sector is heading is that it will simply balance itself out. “Some landlords will leave, some properties will be picked up by investors with savings, and some will go to first-time buyers.”
Comprendé is looking at smart ways to assist its property managers, “so the industry no longer continues with this vision of a grumpy old manager who’s constantly stressed”.
Grant’s extensive career has taught him some key business lessons – not least of which is the need to take your time. “Sales and growth are important in business but ensure you have everything working well and you’re managing your cashflow,” he says.
His experience of having to wind his own recruitment business up during the GFC still haunts him to a degree – which is why he now approaches business growth with caution, and always with a strategic plan.
Unfortunately many business owners treat sales as an afterthought, says Grant, wearing his sales expert’s hat – and often because they’re stretched to the limit.
Breaking the sales ‘peaks and troughs’ cycle all comes down to having a sound sales strategy, he believes.
A well-thought-out sales strategy will also take your business to the next level by identifying the right market to pursue.
“And most small businesses put so much resources into marketing, yet never implement their marketing well. But if you hire a good salesperson and have a sound sales strategy you can get so much more [results] for your dollar.”