Top agencies swap business strategies

Leading principals have urged offices to open their doors to outsiders after a knowledge exchange involving several high-profile businesses.

Douglas Driscoll, chief executive of Sydney firm Starr Partners, said he gained valuable business tips from a trip to Melbourne, during which he and about 10 principals visited Gary Peer & Associates, Hockingstuart Richmond and a third agency that asked not to be named.

Mr Driscoll told Real Estate Business that he had been impressed by the team approach that Melbourne agents bring to prospecting.

“The offices we saw are expected to sit around the table and prospect at the same time, whereas I think in Sydney agents are left to their own devices,” he said.

Another idea he picked up was setting an annual marketing budget for agents, for which they’re then held accountable.

Mr Driscoll said he also liked one office’s policy of assigning sales agents to all managed properties. Their job is to update the landlord about the home’s value and market conditions.

“It’s a good idea, because that way if that management ends up selling there’s little chance they’re going to opt for a competitor.”

Mr Driscoll said the study tour had been so valuable he had already decided to travel to Brisbane next year to visit another three agencies.

“Training events are very good, but there’s nothing like visiting an office. If you want to be the best, learn from the best and go and ask the best what they do,” he said.

Gary Peer from Gary Peer & Associates said he was happy to let Starr Partners into his business, given that he regularly does study tours of Australian and international offices.

“The more people in the industry share good practice, the better it is,” Mr Peer told Real Estate Business.

“Even though we’re in a competitive business, I think we should all know what great things we’re doing and we should all be lifting the bar all the time.”

Hockingstuart Richmond managing director Peter Perrignon said he held no fears about letting Starr Partners look around his office and quiz him about business practices.

“From an interstate point of view, it’s absurd to think that there would be professional secrets you need to guard,” Mr Perrignon said.

“I’d be happy to share with an agency in Victoria. I’d probably be a bit more closed with my direct competitors, but if it was a regional agency or a suburban agency I don’t see why there’s any reason why we wouldn’t [open our office].”

[Related: Three Gary Peer agents make Top 100 Agents ranking]

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