Principals should ensure landlords and tenants have a relationship with their agency as opposed to an individual property manager if they’re to endure, CENTURY 21 Australia chairman Charles Tarbey has said.
Just eight months after assuming ownership of property management business Wentworth Holdings, Mr Tarbey told Real Estate Business in an exclusive interview that his views on property management had changed since his acquisition.
“I still think property management is a very personal business, and a very ‘shop front’ business in terms of ... people want to deal with a local agent,” he told Real Estate Business last week.
“[But] now, I don’t believe necessarily that’s a good thing.
“I’ve always thought in everything we’ve done in sales, one of mantras is, if I build a relationship, the conditions become negotiable. But when I look at property management now, seven or eight months down the line, I’m not comfortable with that position, that property managers should be building relationships with landlords or tenants.
“I believe that the relationship should be built with the business, not with individuals,” he continued. “And that’s something I’ve discovered in the industry having come back into it, not just from a franchisor point of view, but from an ownership point of view. It’s very, very risky.
“This is completely opposite to the way I used to look at the business, in terms of property management.”
To reflect this new approach, Mr Tarbey has personally helped develop a new IT platform that will facilitate interaction between tenants, landlords and each C21 franchise agency.
“Technology has continued to move forward and we haven’t taken advantage of it," he continued. "As an individual investor I would want to have control of my property, and to be able to do things without having to lean on a person, or wait for a person to get back to me.
“All of our software over the years I’ve ‘specked’ out myself, personally, because when you’re in the business, you know what you want out of it. My IT team will code it.
"It’s basically built on alerts and reminders to keep everybody in touch at crucial times, and giving a landlord complete flexibility to do whatever they want to do with their property and their money, and giving a tenant the opportunity to engage with the agent to see what else is on the market.”
Mr Tarbey added that the Wentworth business has rebranded as CENTURY 21, in order to maximize the synergies that come from having a sales and property management business operating under the one roof.
“A couple of them [Wentworth offices] were in locations where we were," he said. "I’ve managed to merge those franchisees into the business."
"We’ve achieved that in six of the 10 offices, and we have applications for two more in Victoria to do exactly the same. So, we’re almost complete, and that was a big thing for me, to develop the sales side of the business.
“And that’s a hard part because you do lose managements, and people will sell, and if you’re just perceived as a property management company you won’t get the [sales] call.”