WHEN SHARON SCHNYDER, a sales agent at LJ Hooker Belconnen in Canberra, comes in from an appointment she sits down at her desk, the phone doesn’t ring, her inbox isn’t overflowing and she doesn’t have countless voicemails on her mobile phone.
She often compares these quiet periods to the manic times she spent as a property manager. Walking into the office and sitting at her desk in those days was a completely different experience.
“As a property manager, coming back from a final inspection would mean being presented with 20 emails, 15 messages and a dozen notes from reception – all from tenants either complaining, wanting to break their lease, their roof leaking, they have a possum keeping them awake…the list goes on,” she recalls.
“As a sales agent you come back and usually there is nothing, maybe a few contracts to send out and your own pre-set work.
“I can now see why so many real estate agents just go play golf. There’s not much waiting for you back at the desk; you have to create your own work,” she laughs.
Almost two years ago Sharon made the switch from property management to the sales department. It’s a switch that many good property managers dream about, but not many accomplish with great success.
The move came as she sought a fresh start, but little did she know what her new boss had in mind for her.
“I turned up at the LJ Hooker Belconnen office to see if there were any positions vacant in the property management department,” she says.
“I really fell into sales by default. I had full intentions of staying in property management, but Josephine, our lovely, long-standing office manager and friend of mine, said they had nothing going in property management, but that she had faith in me.
“The principal of the office, who really didn’t know me at all, was prepared to give me a shot.”
He did, however, know about her record of single-handedly building her portfolio and her past effort to secure over 100 new listings in the last 15 months of her property management career.
“But that didn’t sink in for a long time for me … that I was good at it,” she says.
And good at it, she is. Less than a year into her sales role she was awarded membership of LJ Hooker’s Captain’s Club. To earn membership of the prestigious club an agent has to achieve 35 transactions or write a minimum of $220,000 in commission per year.
“Winning awards and making Captain’s Club for me is nice, for around five minutes, then I tend to look up to the next goal and work towards that,” she admits.
Her next goal is to become a member of the group’s Multi Million Dollar Captain’s Club.
“Fitness is a bottomless pit, and LJ Hooker has created a system of fitness and growth where progression is clearly defined and there for anyone who is prepared to put in the work,” she explains.
A background in sport and her time working as a guest public speaker are what has helped her learn to be driven and keep people engaged.
“The public speaking made me learn to speak slower and more clearly. It was very much a people job, just like real estate,” she says.
“I learnt to watch people’s reactions and notice if they lost focus. If they did, I would try to change the setting or put a joke in to get their attention back. I also use that now in my job.”
Sharon claims it was her time in property management that really made her a great sales agent.
“Only another property manager would understand the work ethic needed to be successful in this very demanding environment,” she says.
“I learned to work very long hours, with very little break and for very little gratitude.
“I learned to be tough mentally and handle the negative knocks, realising slowly that it wasn’t a personal attack, but an outlet for that person’s own problem. This has helped me tremendously as a sales agent, where you can spend an enormous amount of time with one person, only to have them turn at the time of listing their property to someone else.
“You need to be tough and property managers are the toughest breed of people I know.”
But it did take a while for Sharon to work this all out.
“It is a strange job, being a sales agent,” she admits.
“I went through the pain of listening to tapes and reading books for seven or eight months before I started to get into the swing of things.
“Stepping into sales unexpectedly, I really had no idea of what was involved, so I just kept the same work ethic and values I had developed as a property manager.”
But what advice does the award-winning, Captain’s Club member have for other property managers looking to do the switch like her?
“If I can do it, there is no reason you can’t,” she laughs.
“If you are serious about changing, speak with your principal and try to set up a safety net payment system for 12 months. This is a good way to break into the industry and still keep food on your plate.
“I’d also say to a property manager to not lose their regular work hours and methodical way of dealing with issues.”
It’s clear when you speak to Sharon that she will never lose the respect she has for those who deal with the ups and downs of property management.
“I have every respect for the property managers in our team,” she says. “I know just how busy and stressed their life can be, and they still have the courtesy to drop everything and answer any question a selfish agent – as we tend to be – asks them.”