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Q&A: Sam Nokes, Jellis Craig Armadale

31 May 2016 Reporter

Sam Nokes has been able to bring his interests in finance, photography, IT and hospitality into his role as head of property management for Jellis Craig Armadale and Richmond.

When did you first join the PM industry?

I commenced towards the end of 2006, just before my 19th birthday.

Why did you join the PM industry?

My sister had been in real estate at Jellis Craig and I’d done my work experience there when I was still at school. During this time, I had spent several days with the property management team and really enjoyed the work they did. When I finished school, I stuffed around for a little while and then made the decision to go into real estate. My mentor at the time suggested I ‘start down in PM’, which I’d probably punch him for saying now.

What were you doing before PM?

I’d only finished school 12 months beforehand. In that time, I’d spent some time doing photography, IT, and hospitality – all skills I’ve regularly called upon in property management.

What would you like your next career step to be?

Becoming a partner of the most respected real estate firm in Victoria, Jellis Craig, is where I’d like to go. As a head of department, I truly enjoy working with my team to grow and develop them as estate agents, as well as growing and developing our business.

What piece of technology do you find the most useful for your business and why?

Inspect Real Estate – this has definitely changed the way that we operate our open homes and, as a direct result, it has improved our days on market. Also, having an effective tool to manage our prospective tenant database has also given us a significant lift in the number of off-market lettings that we put together for our clients.

What area of PM needs more training focused on it and why?

In my humble opinion, businesses need to make a decision whether they are order-takers or advisers. Most businesses tout themselves as being experts in property investment, yet the majority of their team can’t calculate a basic gross yield. For property management to continue to grow as a respected profession, there needs to be a broad lift in product knowledge.

What skills does a PM/BDM need to be successful?

Patience, empathy and a thick skin. We are privileged to be invited into our clients’ homes, and with this we can often become a part of their lives. Having some understanding for what is important in your client’s life ensures that you can adapt your approach to meet both the landlord’s and tenant’s needs.

Where do you believe a PM’s responsibilities should start and end?

Where the business defines them. Each property management business is different. Some agencies offer a far more thorough service to their clients, and others want to do the bare minimum. The directors of a business need to define what end of the spectrum they are on and ensure that is communicated to their clients and team.

How do you deal with disgruntled and aggressive tenants?

Most of the time these can be avoided. The majority of disgruntled and aggressive tenants are a result of poor communication on an agent’s behalf. In these instances, it’s best to be clear on where they are coming from, reiterate their concerns back to them and apologise for where you might have contributed to the issue. Most people just want to be seen, heard and made to feel important. If there is a tenant that has an issue that isn’t the fault of the business then, again, it is important to look for what the real pain point is and try to understand that before making a decision on your next steps. On the odd – and I do mean odd – occasion you just get the crazy people, and those ones you just have to play by ear.

What would you be doing if you weren’t in the PM industry?

Probably banking or some kind of finance or economics role. I like numbers, trends and financial markets. This is definitely an interest that we try to bring into the business and use for modelling and strategy.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

Developing my team. Assisting them to develop and grow as estate agents and people is really rewarding. Other than that: game day! I love a fully loaded Saturday because it is the essence of real estate. Showing homes, meeting people and doing deals.

What are the most stressful aspects of your job?

Working with people when there isn’t a clear outcome. My job is to work people’s problems towards the best outcomes and when that isn’t clear it can be stressful. Uncertainty can be really difficult for all people involved and, can often raise the tensions between parties, which can add to that stress.

How do you relax after a stressful day at work?

It’s pretty widely agreed that property managers enjoy a drink, so a nice glass of wine after a tough day is normally my go-to treat. I also practise meditation regularly and, while this is normally how I start my day, it’s a nice way to wind down as well.

How would you describe a perfect property management day?

Everything going to plan. We all generally have a plan and a perfect day is when it just works. And a ‘thank you’ at the end is always a cherry on top.

Q&A: Sam Nokes, Jellis Craig Armadale
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