What’s next for an agent who’s done it all? Matt Lancashire of Ray White New Farm always knew he wanted to become a principal, and he recently got his chance
MATT LANCASHIRE entered the property market at a young age. But even as a teenager he was giving his agent tips.
“I’d bought and sold some houses with a mate when I was 18, and I thought I could do a better job than the real estate agent,” he says. “I ended up giving him advice on what we should do to get the buyers up and other things we could do to maximise the properties’ exposure.
“I really enjoyed the chase.”
The thrill of the hunt sparked Matt’s passion and competitiveness for real estate. So after some time spent traveling, he knew what he wanted to do.
“I met up with Haesley Cush, and he gave me a start straight into sales in 2006,” he recalls.
“Haesley was definitely a mentor of mine, and certainly took me under his wing.
“I still remember when he sat me down at my little desk in an open-plan office and told me to doorknock as many homes and cold call as many people as I possibly could, and just to work hard.
“It was just the basic stuff that every agent needs to learn. Over time I went to conferences around the country and spoke to some of the top agents in other cities. I took bits and pieces from each of them and tried to learn as much as I possibly could.”
BUILDING A REPUTATION
During late 2008, the global financial crisis was in full swing. Consumer sentiment had hit rock bottom, and agents Australia-wide were finding it tough.
“When the market crashed, my profile and my market burned,” says Matt. “But that just made me work a lot harder, and since the end of 2008 my business has been doubling every year.
“Something that Haesley told me very early on that’s stuck with me is, ‘It’s not about the one dollar today, it’s about the 10 tomorrow’.
“I really try to live by this – it means being honest and working with integrity. By closing a deal and remaining honest, you will build a reputation in your market. And so it’s not just all about the dollars.”
Matt focuses a lot of time and energy on building and maintaining his profile, something he began when he sold his first luxury home.
“What changed the game for me was when I got the opportunity to sell a high-end property, which had some pretty big exposure in our metro paper the Courier Mail – they ran a big profile and a lot of big ads on the property,” he says.
“So after it was sold, I ran off the back of that and created a profile myself within the Courier Mail.”
Matt claims to be the Courier Mail’s number one advertiser, and is adamant print advertising is still effective.
“When I first started using it for all my listings, the amount of interest and enquiries I was getting, and the amount of people I got through the properties, really opened my eyes,” he says.
“At the end of the day, it was great for the owners because the property was getting the exposure, but my name also became synonymous with marketing, and that really became a pivotal turning point for my profile, which grew exponentially in a very short period of time.”
And while he admits it’s hard to get an accurate number, Matt estimates 60 per cent of all his buyers committing to the sale are sourced through the newspaper.
LEARNING ON THE JOB
Despite having a name that goes hand-in-hand with big ads and big marketing strategies, Matt has never completed any formal marketing qualifications.
“I used to be an electrician, which helped me gain quite a good understanding of building and construction,” he says. “But on the marketing side, I’ve never done any formal qualifications or anything like that.”
Despite his lack of formal training, he has identified the best way to sell any product: to believe in it.
“If you don’t believe in the product and you don’t think it works, you’re never going to sell it,” he says.
“So, I’ve set the precedent for when I go to every single one of my listing presentations. They know and expect that I will be asking for big ads. And if I don’t, they’ll be asking why.
“One thing that’s always rung true in my head is something Peter Camphin, the CEO of Ray White in Queensland, said to me: ‘If you want to change your business right now, all you need to do is auction and have big ads.’”
Working under Haesley Cush, arguably one of the country’s top auctioneers, has rubbed off on Matt who firmly believes selling under the hammer is the most effective method.
“I’m a huge advocate for auctions,” he admits.
“Around 90 per cent of my properties go to auction. Brisbane’s clearance rate as a whole is quite low, so what sellers should be doing is looking at the individual office’s clearance rate.
“The auction process is quite new to Brisbane, so a lot of sellers only look at the average across Brisbane. My personal clearance rate is 55 per cent prior to or under the hammer, and 80 per cent within two weeks after.
“Ninety-two per cent of my properties have sold within 60 days. “
In late September, Matt approached his principal, Haesley Cush, with the intention of purchasing the business from him.
“I was thinking about it because Haesley was having a little girl, and I knew he wanted to take some time outside the business,” he says. “I didn’t want to be arrogant and ask him to sell it to me, so I said, ‘I know you want to take time out, so what I’ll do is pay you to get me into the business and then we’ll have a partnership. Or sell me the lot if you want’.”
At the time, Matt was writing 35 to 40 per cent of the business that went through Ray White New Farm.
“I was getting a lot of offers from other companies, but I always knew I wanted to be a principal,” he says. “I wanted to grow people and move into a managerial role over time.
“I was offered a couple of deals that were pretty sharp, so I sat down with Haesley and told him there was no way I’d leave him and the network because both had been fantastic to me.
“After thinking about it, he agreed to sell me the lot. It settled pretty quickly and it was a fairly smooth transition. It has been well received by the other agents and we haven’t lost anyone – we’ve actually gained two.”
The transition from agent to principal can be tricky, and shifting the focus from individual excellence to the entire team is something that must be learnt early.
“I’m used to managing a team of five, now it’s a team of 21,” Matt says. “The biggest challenge so far has been working out how to disperse my time between my personal sales and the team.
“All I used to want was to be the number one salesperson. Now, instead of wanting myself to be number one, I want my team to be number one. It’s not just about growing myself and my own profile, it’s about growing the office and making sure every individual has the opportunity to be number one themselves.
“I have huge plans for growth. My goal is always growth, so we’re looking to nurture not just sales numbers but also sales volume. In time, I also want to expand the areas that we cover. We’ve currently got 32 per cent market share over our core areas, which are four suburbs.
“I’m a big advocate for training. Last Friday we had guest speakers from all around Australia chat to the team. I had three-time freestyle Paralympian, Karni Liddell, come in and give us a motivational session too.
“When I first started out, I was hounding the best principals in Sydney and Melbourne for information. What I found was they all have three things in common, which I hope to emulate.
“They all have very structured systems, they’re big on vendor-paid advertising for auctions, and they all work incredibly hard.”