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From a ‘broken’ model to boutique

By Bianca Dabu
18 June 2021 | 1 minute read
Khan and Sarah Robust

An agent’s belief that “the current real estate model is broken” has led him to a new path in independent agency ownership, predicting that it’s the way forward for the industry.

Khan Robust only joined the real estate industry six years ago.

He first began his customer service journey 13 years ago, when he moved to Australia from New Zealand and operated bars and clubs, before starting up a solar panel installation business.

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It’s these front-facing jobs he credits to the “significant skills” he now uses in real estate.

“The biggest thing is just the ability to connect with people, and a bit of life experience,” he said.

“It allowed me to transition easily, whereas I see a lot of young agents try to get into the industry, but they don’t have that ability to communicate.”

He first joined a major franchise back in 2015.

It was after several years there that Mr Robust learnt what he considered to be “a blunt lesson on the industry’s archaic approach to rewarding agents”.

He said: “I was three years into my role and writing almost $600,000 a year in commission [when] I went to my principal and said, ‘I’m not asking for it now, but tell me how much business do I need to write to get a 70 per cent split?’ and he said to me, ‘That’s never going to happen.’

“As soon as he said that, he lost me.

“I find a lead, nurture it and bring it to market. I’ll get the property sold and manage it through the process to settlement, and then the agency will put their hand out and ask for half of the commission! At no other time ever in the world does anybody else expect that.”

It was that experience that led him to opine: “The current real estate model is broken.”

While he acknowledges that the training programs offered by the company were indeed helpful, “I just don’t believe what they give is worth what they’re asking for in terms of the commission split. I believe there’s little to no value in their offerings at all.”

Bidding to break away from traditional franchise models and offer a bespoke, self-branded service to the Gold Coast’s northern suburbs, Mr Robust has now launched Robust Real Estate.

The new business owner said he not only enjoys keeping more of the commission, but also getting a sense of fulfillment from being self-branded.

“When it’s your own name and your own brand out there, you take more pride in that,” he considered.

“I’m so happy to put my name on the business — it represents who I am as a person, and an agent.”

Mr Robust also noted the unique opportunity to stand out that comes with having a personal brand.

“We’re in a sea of sameness — so many blue boards or yellow boards or whatever… How do you stand out from everyone else? Having my own branding and brand helps me get attention, with my name front and centre,” he said.

“There’s better uptake from people when they realise that it’s your own business. I think innately people always want to support people that they like.”

Operating under the UrbanX model, Mr Robust said Robust Real Estate is “not trying to take on the big franchises because then we’ll just become the same as them”.

“Instead, we’ll be working from our strengths — which is being flexible and nimble in the marketplace, being able to change quickly, being able to stay up with the trends, and having good people around us that can help us continue to build our market share,” he explained.

Ultimately, the new business owner believes that with the industry fast changing, “it’s boutique businesses that will start making the biggest inroads”.

From a ‘broken’ model to boutique
Khan and Sarah Robust reb
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