Our 36th ranked agent in the Top 50 Women for 2017, Joanne Royston, who is the director of RT Edgar in Victoria, joins Tim in the studio to discuss her 27 years as a real estate agent and the changes she has seen over the years.
Tune in as Joanne explains how the biggest key to success has been the most simple thing to do: write everything down and follow it all up with the client.
She also explains how being a single parent has given her the drive to manage and prioritise tasks as well as manage a team of 13 people.
You will also find out:
- How a team can make you or break you
- Why being open-minded can lead to higher earnings
- How the right mentor can be the difference in getting more listings or losing more of them
Tune in now to hear all this and much, much more in this episode of Secrets of the Top 100 Agents!
Announcer: The Top 100 Agents are the best of the best, listing and selling more than any other agent in Australia. These are the practises, actions and beliefs of the most successful agents in Australian real estate, raw, honest and completely uncut.
Tim Neary: Oh good day everyone, it's Tim Neary here, I am Editor of Real Estate Business and host of the Secrets of the Top 100 Agents podcast. Thanks for tuning in. Very pleased to welcome on the show today, ranked number 36 in the Top 50 Women for 2017, from RT Edgar in Victoria, it's Joanne Royston. Hello Joanne, and welcome to the show.
Joanne Royston: Thanks Tim.
Tim Neary: Fantastic, now congratulations on a terrific year last year, that's 53 properties sold. You've been in the business 27 years, so what is being a real estate agent mean to you?
Joanne Royston: Well yeah sure, I guess yeah my career has certainly been lengthy. I guess the first thing that comes to mind when I think of real estate is that you never know what's going to happen that day. I love I guess the enjoyment of, and I guess the excitement of the unknown and then potentially the challenges, tackling whatever the real estate industry brings to you on that particular day. My career has been quite varied, where I started in property management and obviously now as a Director more sales focused. But you know, yeah I love that variation as I said, and that change that real estate brings on a daily basis.
Tim Neary: Talking about being sales focused, the market that you work in is very competitive, as it is all over the country. In order to stand out you would need to have a point of difference, in the market that you operate in Joanne what is your point of difference?
Joanne Royston: Sure, look I guess focusing first of all on being a female, but not just a female, a female auctioneer in particular. I guess is certainly one of my key differences, and it has been for some 10 or so years now. But certainly I guess I find most weekends when I'm out there conducting an auction that I often get people from the crowd say, they yell it, or say it to me directly, "You know Joanne, so who's the auctioneer?" Then you say it's yourself, and they're often surprised. So I guess that gets people talking, but it also enables me to complete that full circle in all the tasks that are required as an agent for my clients. Where I can be there every single inspection and also conduct their auction, and guarantee that full service and offer the best service I can.
Tim Neary: How important Joanne do you think it is to have a point of difference, and stand out from your competitors?
Joanne Royston: Oh look I think extremely important, I think things, especially over the last probably five or so years have just become more and more competitive. I know in my particular marketplace, which was quite condensed, which we've now expanded on over the last year or so, but in our tightly held marketplaces I'm sure there's a number of agents can relate to this. We have seen the influx of, between sort of seven and 10 new agencies join our immediate area over the last five or so years. The impact that, that has on a small business and agency is huge, you know there's only still so much pie. We're in an established period home area, so there's not a lot of development, so your pie doesn't grow and we've got all these other agents competing for that same business. So it's certainly extremely important to ensure that you've got that point of difference.
Tim Neary: I mean that's a great way of putting it, it's a nice, that there's only so much pie. There's only so much that goes around. Talking about those agents that have come into your area, what is it that you think that the public is looking for? I mean this might have changed over time as well, that the public wants from a real estate agent, what they're looking for in a real estate agent?
Joanne Royston: Yeah, as you say I think it certainly has changed, especially since it has become more competitive now. Look I think it depends of course on the individual clients needs, and our aim of course is for that referral business, that's what we're always aiming for. But you do have those clients out there that haven't experienced your service before, but may just be looking for something that is different. Whether that be you're a female auctioneer and can look after them from start to finish and see the whole process through. Whether that be cheaper fees unfortunately, you know I guess there's a varying amount of factors, which can influence our clients. But I guess with that extra competition that we now have in all industry, but in particular in real estate, you've just got to make sure that you're on your game with all of those different aspects, and ensure that you do provide that service. Obviously ensure that your clients see value so they can obviously, hopefully give you that opportunity and appoint you as their agent.
Tim Neary: It's a good point that you make in terms of differentiating yourself but also just to provide value. I would imagine that you would have developed that in your career in real estate, over the 27 years that you've been in it. I wanted to ask you Joanne, is there a piece of advice that you got early on, or maybe not early on, in your career that made a lot of sense to you? That you're still implementing today.
Joanne Royston: Look I guess that, and I certainly did get this early on in my property management career and as property manager you know that level of service, and I guess attention to detail I think is a very important aspect, and follow through. So I guess that's one thing that I've certainly continued to do, and the key point is to write everything down. Even now I sit at my desk and I have my notepad with me, it's a little old fashioned but I have my notepad with me at all times. Even in my handbag so if I'm out on appointments or even a luncheon, if somebody says something to me, or I make a commitment or a comment back to a client, like yes I'll try to find you this, or yes I'll help you find a home. Or if I can give them any sort of piece of advice that I'll promise to somebody, whether it be said on the phone or in person, I'm always writing those things down so I ensure that I follow through that task and see it through.
I think a lot of agents that can potentially talk the talk but don't necessarily follow through. So writing things down and following through would certainly be one of the key things that I still do and I have done for many, many years. I do think that this is an important factor.
Tim Neary: You see I think that's really good advice and what I like about it as well, you say you use the old notepad and I'm from that era as well. So it makes a lot of sense for me to do the same thing. But whatever it is that you use, and whatever you're comfortable with, just find something that you're comfortable with so that you're always, it's always top of mind, isn't it? Of the things that you need to do that are important to the people that you're talking to.
Joanne Royston: Absolutely, and I think as I said that you know there are so many agents out there now, and we're all competing for that same business. If you can assist those little one percentiles that will set you aside perhaps from somebody else, that may enable you to win that business going forward if you do have that follow through and follow up.
Tim Neary: Now talking about so many agents out there, that obviously means that there's a lot less time available for you to do, a lot more to do, lot less time to do it in. Is there anything that you along the way doing less of? Anything that you're doing more of in the business, and you found that to be effective?
Joanne Royston: During less of, certainly ... I'm the sole Director here and I manage a team of 13, and I'm also a parent and a single parent at that. So my time is, well I'm very time poor, so I run with a couple of team members that work specifically in my team, that I guess, which enables to actually just be more face to face. To allow me to have more face to face times I guess with clients, and on the phone. Trying to then offload some of those say, admin tasks, and also a little bit of prospecting as well to two of my team members that may be able to say, set up those appointments for me. Call potentially those data base contacts, which are not hot data base necessarily but perhaps seek an arrangement for me to get in the door.
So I guess that admin and those calls that I just don't get a chance to make, I've certainly offloaded and that's certainly has changed over the last couple of years. Where I just need to have more face to face meetings, as I said, and more times on the phone myself actually presenting and winning those listings.
Tim Neary: We talk a lot about this actually, this being involved in the dollar productive work, and as the lead agent you would want to make sure that you're not bogged down and side tracked with things that aren't exactly dollar productive. Do you find that you are able to prioritise and is that a bit of a skill that's learnt? That's something that you need to learn?
Joanne Royston: Yeah, I am, but I still struggle to be frank. It's an ongoing challenge, especially as a sole Director, I don't have that business partner that I can offload some tasks to. I'm present at every single property management meeting, it's being in the day to day accounts and things like that, all come past my desk. So there's lots and lots of tasks that I do, apart from obviously listing property. I wonder if I didn't do all of those tasks how many I could potentially list, you know just to give me that extra time. So it's a constant challenge, I think it's something that you continually need to work on. I'm always open to ideas and ways to improve, even from my own team members. If they can come up with something that makes us more productive and more effective, then I think you need to be open minded and certainly be constantly reviewing your practises and procedures to ensure that you are able to maintain the pace that you can, to list what you need to list.
I also had a chat with Aaron Shiner, you know Sydney agents on a regular basis to get him on a similar thing to what I do, just to get his feedback around ideas and challenges around time and how to prioritise. So I'm constantly looking for that advice and I guess some new ideas, which may help.
Tim Neary: That's probably a good idea also just to have somebody that you can bounce ideas off and he probably bounces ideas off you as well, and it works both ways.
Joanne Royston: Absolutely, yeah for sure. So very important to have that person, especially if you don't potentially have that business partner, or if you're running ... When I say running alone, like essentially as a sole agent, as an agent yourself, just to have a mentor, a colleague that you can work with and bounce ideas off, it's certainly very helpful.
Tim Neary: Cool, Joanne I just also wanted to sort of get a little bit now into sort of the nuts and the bolts of your business. I was thinking about whether there's a particularly memorable marketing campaign that you put together, what it was and what the outcome of it was? If there is one, or if there's a theme of them?
Joanne Royston: I guess not to spend too much in the background, but my history I was an agent, as in a Director with another brand and we went through a rebrand about 18 months and rebranded to RT Edgar. So what's come with that new brand is we are more premium brand now and that's how we're perceived in the public and also in the inner west here in Melbourne. So we tried to, since that rebrand, have been very consistent with our marketing around maintaining that premier quality. I guess, so there has been a number of different marketing campaigns that we've seen to over the last 18 months and I certainly feel that has certainly contributed to the growth that we've had over the last 12 to 18 months as well. Around that sort of, the premium branding that we're associated with. But then also those premium properties that we've been able to list as a result of that new brand, have enabled us to do that.
I don't know if you want me to talk a little bit more about the specifics of the campaign?
Tim Neary: Its’ interesting, I mean sometimes it is but in terms of rebranding and taking the brand to a premium level, just your thoughts around that. Is it, I guess it's there's a little bit of pain involved in that, but is the pain worth it? Is there any advice that maybe that you could impart with us, just having been through it? Things that you would do differently this time around, if you were to do it again?
Joanne Royston: Oh look I certainly think it worked extremely well for us, yes, there was a lot of preparation. Certainly as far as the rebrand, how it worked for us, we did a number of community events. Made people aware, we maintained our original office and our front theme, we just essentially ripping down the rest. We were Hocking Stuart, we're now RT Edgar, ripping down the red, putting up the blue. We conducted just at a community BBQ around bringing presence to that new brand, and in that existing office space.
I did a number of sponsorships locally through the sporting clubs and also the local primary school. I made sure though that not only the sponsoring them, that my face and my teams face were present at any event, fete, sporting activities, and then promoting that through social media in particular as well. We also then have a client function of course to promote that rebrand as well for our existing landlords and vendors, and purchasers as well. Again bringing them to the office, so bringing them to our site, bringing them to the local community. In here, in Williamstown, you know so make as many people get aware of that rebrand.
Would I do anything differently, not that I can think of off the top of my head. I think it all worked extremely well and our growth has been up about 30% in sales over the last 12 months. So I feel that it's worked well, and in the tightly held market, which we are in, although our area is now expanded giving it some more opportunity. I think that rebrand has worked exceptionally well for us.
Tim Neary: I mean 30% really speaks volumes about how well it's worked for you. Just listening to you talk about the way that you went through it, particularly the way that you went all through the touch points in the community. It sounds like it was fairly comprehensively done?
Joanne Royston: Yeah, absolutely, I guess I knew that my franchise agreement was coming to a close, I was never going to resign or move. So I did have a number of months to prepare and we certainly did use those months to ensure that we had the process and planning placed to ensure that the community was well aware of our change. We still do find that some people aren't still aware but I would suggest that the majority are, we continue to maintain those sponsorships and add new sponsorships and I guess community support to ensure that people do know of that change even now. Perhaps if they didn't, this is over the last few months, so we've continued to maintain that momentum. I think it's important to keep that momentum up and be consistent, just to ensure that again that brand presence is felt. Lots of sponsorship boards up around the community but of course the best thing you can do is that sale board up, as everybody knows, and for lease boards. So we just board up as many places as we possibly can.
Tim Neary: That's the best advertising isn't it, and it sounds like it's also an ongoing process, it's not just something that you can say, it's done now and it'll continue.
Joanne Royston: No, that's right, so definitely yes. Definitely ongoing and I will continue to maintain that, you know perhaps over the coming years it may cut back a little bit, but we've certainly tried to be consistent and maintain that presence.
Tim Neary: Joanne I also wanted to ask you about listings, obviously that's the nub of the business. When you got into a listing presentation, what is it that you've got on your mind? What are you thinking about? What is it that you focus on when you first walk in the door?
Joanne Royston: I guess my first thing always to the client is, and we obviously try to qualify them if we've spoke to them previously, especially on a call we would have set up a listing appointment. So what their requirements are for that particular listing appointment. You know, are we there specifically to list their property because they are selling? Or are they just wanting an update? I think it's very important to ensure that we're relevant, and I know from myself, I don't want somebody coming in here waffling on about marketing and all our points of differences if I'm just really getting an update. So from the get go the most important thing is to qualify your appointment, to ensure you know what they want out of the meeting. Do they want you to prepare and do a full listing presentation, including your fees, your points of difference etc? Or alternatively it's just an update.
So that would be the first thing, and then I guess if they are after that full listing appointment and they are selling, again I just really try to focus on our points of difference and specifically what we can offer them around if they were to utilise our services.
Tim Neary: I think that's good advice, what I hear you saying there is you don't want to make any assumptions about where the position that the vendor is in, or the potential vendor is in. The person that you're meeting with is in. So just talk to them, ask them where they are, and then just apply yourself to whatever their position, where they are in that cycle I suppose?
Joanne Royston: That's correct, and I guess then also throughout the process and throughout the presentation I would be continually asking them questions, of course I'm there to present and explain as I said, the services and the value that we have should they appoint us. But also what's important to them? What are they specifically looking for? Have they had any previous experiences where they've sold at auction before and it hasn't worked well? Again really trying to understand your clients to a degree that they're comfortable with, to ensure that we can obviously answer their questions appropriately. Also try to obviously give them the right direction and advice going forward.
Tim Neary: And to go at their pace it sounds like?
Joanne Royston: Absolutely, and you can hear I'm using pretty fast speak, sometimes I need to tone it down a bit.
Tim Neary: That's the auctioneer in you Joanne coming out.
Joanne Royston: Yeah.
Tim Neary: Joanne it's been a real pleasure to speak to you, thank you very much for joining us this afternoon. Congratulations again on a really terrific 2016 and I hope that 2017 is just as successful for you.
Joanne Royston: No problems, thanks very much Tim. Thank you.
Tim Neary: Remember to follow us on all the social media stuff, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn. You can follow me too on Twitter @timothyjneary if you want to do that. If you've enjoyed today's show please leave us a five star review on iTunes, it's the best way for new listeners to find us, and for them to hear the great content that we are putting out. As always realestatebusiness.com.au is where you'll find, plenty of stories there on the business of real estate across the whole of Australia and on my guest today, Joanne Royston. Thanks again for tuning in, and we'll see you next week. Goodbye.