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The importance of generating trust with clients

29 March 2018 Todd Stevens
Matthew Scafidi, Noel Jones

Matthew Scafidi may take an almost theatrical approach to his auctions, but it all helps in building and strengthening his reputation as a real and relatable person.

In this podcast Tim Neary catches up with top 100 ranked agent Matthew Scafidi to discuss how localism can be key to establishing water-tight client relationships. 

With the majority of his staff living within 3km’s of the Noel Jones Mitcham offices, Matthew has no issue with bumping into buyers while he is out with his family - In fact he sees the benefit in being recognized as part of the local community as almost priceless.

You will also find out:

  • How over-sharing with your client can give you more control of the sales process
  • The way to approach listing presentations to give you the best chance of success
  • The one question that he always asks his clients

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Full Transcript:

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:    G'day everyone. It's Tim Neary here. I'm 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, rank number 82 in the top 100 ranking for 2017, from Noel Jones in Mitcham in Victoria, it's Matthew Scafidi. Hello, Matt, and welcome to the show.

Matthew Scafidi:       Oh, g'day, Tim. How are you going? Glad to be here.

Tim Neary:    I'm good. It's good to have you on the show. Now, look, you've been in the business 10 years and you've sold 85 properties in 2016, so obviously you know what you're doing. I was online yesterday just having a look at some of the stuff that you've done and noticed an auction that you put forward. I was impressed by the way that you did it. It looked like you brought a bit of theatre to the programme, but at the same time it was quite a serious business. Is that the way you try and do it?

Matthew Scafidi:       Yeah, listen, I think a lot of auctioneers, Tim, do sort of go into a role when they auction, that they're different to what they are in real life. And I try and bring the same Matthew that my friends, my family see, my work colleagues, to an auction. I think that it is a serious business but at the same time there needs to be a little bit of light heartedness, and we've got to understand the vendors are nervous, as well as buyers, and our job is not to intimidate or to make them more nervous, but to try and facilitate the process and an assist them to buy, ultimately, what's their dream home, what they're looking for.

Tim Neary:    And talking about dream homes, I know that you've just set a new area record in Mitcham there for two million dollars plus?

Matthew Scafidi:       It was really pleasing. We beat our previous record, actually just today a year ago we sold 25 Cross Cresent in Mitcham which sold for 1.93 million and we just sold number 8 Hazlebeat Rd in Mitcham for just close to 2.1 million dollars, absolutely incredible results. We're very, very pleased to be able to beat that record.

Tim Neary:    No Matt, the business of being a real estate agent is competitive, super competitive in some areas as well. You would need to have a point of difference on one side and on the other side an understanding of what it is that your vendors at the public wants from you. Give us a bit of an insight at what your point of difference is in your area and also your understanding of how important it is to be a real estate agent.

Matthew Scafidi:       I think that the point of difference in our area is that we do try to employ locals. I think about eighty percent of our team actually live within a three kilometre radius of the office. I live in that radius as well. I sort of live an breathe it. I think that at the end of the day you're coming to an area, doing business, selling homes, and then sort of driving out of there, sort of 20-30 kilometres away, I don't think you're actually in the community at that time and I don't mind bumping into clients and buyers and everybody else on the weekend, you know living in the area with my daughters and my wife and dogs and everything else. I think it shows people that we are human, we do have a life outside of real estate and I think that that would be our biggest point of difference is that we've got a really good understanding of our area. We live in it and we can sell that to potential buyers that's maybe coming from 20 or 30 kilometres away. I think it's important to be able to demonstrate the benefits of being able to live in the area.

Tim Neary:    You talk about showing the public that you're human, that you are a human being, that you are apart of the community. Is that what people want from a real estate agent? I know we talk a lot about building trust and building rapport, they want to deal with somebody they understand and know that is on their side.

Matthew Scafidi:       Yes I think that there is a lot of agents that sort of focus on transactions and volume and everything else. I think that at the end of the day, if you can finish your day and know that you've done the absolute best for the client to maximise their result, whether that be by suggesting a bigger ad in the paper or perhaps suggesting staging where perhaps they weren't thinking of going down that path ... we had an example just last week, the auction that you had a look at via livestream. We had an offer of 75,000 dollars less. Tried to auction, which at the end would have been absolutely ecstatic with anyway, but we did the work, we called the buyers, we made sure we left no stone unturned and we found that we probably had another two or three bidders. After doing that we went back, we consulted with our clients and they asked us for our advice and this is the third home we've sold for that family this year, so there's a lot of trust there and we suggested that we still had an auction on our hands and we should go through. That decision for them ... it's always their decision ultimately, but for them that decision made them another 75,000 dollars, which tax free is a huge reward for effort.

Tim Neary:    It's interesting that you say that because you said also in that clip that vendors that take your advice also end up getting the best price on auction day, if I remember correctly.

Matthew Scafidi:       Yes. Yes.

Tim Neary:    Yeah this is an important point isn't it? Important part of the businesses around giving advice but giving good advice.

Matthew Scafidi:       Yeah, I was doing a bid last week and they basically said its like a doctor and without diagnosis it's malpractice and I think that in our industry where we've got to be seen as professional, I think that there's a number of people that I look up to and I respect in the industry that are bringing that professionalism in. It would be like going to a surgeon for a bad knee and him saying well my diagnosis is this and this is the solution that I'm suggesting and for the patient to go well I don't agree with you doctor. I think that you're wrong. I think that does happen a bit with real estate agents with their clients. Imagine where the trust isn't there. Certainly we've had plenty of instances where the trust has been given and there is transparency in the whole approach. We believe what we know, our clients should know as well, hold nothing back. I don't have the best memory in the world, so it's just easier to tell the truth, and if you do that and you share that with them, ultimately they do end up getting better results because they're not trying to run the process, they're allowing us to do what we do best and guide them in the right direction.

Tim Neary:    Now Matt you've been in the business ten years as I said when we started out. In 2016, you sold 65 properties and ranked number 82, so obviously you're at the top of your game or near the top of your game. When you started out, you obviously started out with a clean sheet of paper and a pencil. Was there any advice, talking about advice, that you got back then that resonated with you that you're still implementing today?

Matthew Scafidi:       Absolutely Tim and I think it comes back to a VDA or a farm area, whichever you want to call it, I think that Max Steinway was a great mentor when I first started. I thank Max, he took phone calls, every day from me, a guy in Victoria that he'd never met and he helped ... it was only two or three phone calls but it was Matthew and I focused on the Mission area, I was facing Blackburn at that time and I had a look and said, well there's plenty of transactions - 200 transactions a year if I was to sell 20 of those that would be a ten percent market share. Like anything with real estate, it's all about numbers and if you've got enough turn over, that's where I put my time and my effort, my energy.

            The home that we just sold for over two million dollars, was, I actually remember letterbox dropping Max at 5:30 in the morning when I first started when I had no listings to work with, with my newsletter and saying to myself, one day if that ever comes up to sell, I want to sell it. I think that it's about picking your mark and sticking with it and being absolutely consistent to seeing it through. I think too many agents start off on an approach, perhaps a marketing approach, hasn't worked in three months and they move on, you know, to something else. I think that if you stick with things and the locals see you being consistent then it will come back to you in spades and that's what I focused on and still focus on today, is my VDA area and making sure that it's serviced to world class standards.

Tim Neary:    Showing some resilience and also just believing in the plan, putting a good plan in place in the beginning and then believing it, even when it gets tough.

Matthew Scafidi:       Yeah absolutely. One of my favourite sayings is, Tim, "progress over perfect" and I think too many of us worry about whether the document we're putting out or the video or whatever is perfect and spot on and we take time, we have five or six or seven or eight different versions of it. My belief is as long as the grammar's correct, the graphics look okay, it should go out. We can always improve on it ext time and it's just an evolving thing, marketing, and I think that it's about being consistent. The videos we do on a monthly basis go down the first of the month, it doesn't matter whether the first of the month is a Sunday, our video will get uploaded on Facebook and it will be there on the first of the month every month. I think that our consistency with those types of things wear that competitive down a lot of the time.

Tim Neary:    Now Matt, talking about consistency and evolving over time - is there anything that you're doing as you've evolved your business and refined your business that you're doing more of these days that you did less of then? Is there anything, on the other side of the coin, you're doing less of these days that you used to do more of back then?

Matthew Scafidi:       Yes. Spot on. That's a good point. Lead dogs, lead dogs being in the mailbox these days. It used to be deals and letters and newsletters and everything else that we'd hauling into people's letterboxes. I got home the other night and I think I had four or five deals from real estate agents there with the rest of the junk mail that just went straight into the recycling bin. We're avoiding that, at all possible these days. We're still doing just sold for the immediate area, but the blankets - 10,000, 20,000 DL's going out has ceased. We're really focusing now on the community events. We do a twilight festival every November, so the 24th of November this year we'll be doing that again in one of the local parks at Elmay Park here in Mitcham. We do a moonlight cinema. We also had rides and we have ferry pop some popcorn and face painting and animal farm and all those type things as well. We do that and set the goal point donation to our corporate charity partner, curing cancer and our supplies for the year actually comes with her, so it's very minimal cost. There's a lot of time and effort put into it, but we're focusing on those types of things more these days than ever before and will continue to do that.

            Also, sponsorship of schools, kinders and boys clubs in the local area as well. Making sure it's a two way street. It's not just giving them money and not turning up to games or not turning up to events, but making sure that we're involved in that as well. I think that it comes back to Tom Powells always said that, when I first got into the industry it's not the amount of people who you know it's the amount of people who know you and I think being in the community helps us get on the shopping list when people are thinking of making that move.

Tim Neary:    You make a good point as well in that, you talked earlier about embedding yourself in the community and this is an ideal way of doing it isn't it. You also make a good point around, it's got to be a two way street. You're putting in money obviously, but you're also putting in a lot of time and effort so you want to make sure you're getting it back because it is a marketing exercise isn't it?

Matthew Scafidi:       Yes, absolutely. It is a marketing exercise but it is also, it's got to be a partnership between the organisations as well. We've got some amazing partnerships that we've built over time and we've got new ones that we've just started as well and we can see that that's going to be a huge thing. We just stared sponsoring the Mitcham Football Club and that's something we've wanted to do for the last four years that we're getting in business with the business here in Mitcham. We've got there finally and we're building a great partnership there and I think that people know the difference between somebody that genuinely wants to assist and help. Obviously it is a marketing strategy but it's not just for the gain. As I mentioned to you when we kind of chatted earlier, I'm a big believer in, at the end of your life, did you take more out than you gave? I'd like to know at the end that I gave more than I took.

Tim Neary:    Matthew we're sort of getting to the end of the podcast now and I always like to end off with one final question: the cornerstone of the business is getting listings and selling properties. When you're going into a listings presentation, what is your mindset? What are you thinking about?

Matthew Scafidi:       Yeah we were just talking about this with this red team and I had a business coach very early on in my career, Toni Davidson and she taught me a really really powerful thing that sticks with me to this day and that is to get into a state of control. She used to use the example that your dog may have just died but if you're going into an appraisal, you've got to be sad when you come out of it but you've got to go in and you've got to be focused, you've got to be switched on, you've got to be there to diagnose the situation and what it is the owners are looking to achieve and to talk less and listen more. I think that's the biggest tip I can give. I think that we spend a lot of time talking in real estate and not enough time listening.

Tim Neary:    So just listen to the vendor, listen to what they want, listen to what it is they, of a horrible cliché, their hopes and dreams are. What they want to get out of it.

Matthew Scafidi:       Absolutely. It's all about the final destination when someone's selling a property and they may be doing it for a scene change ... Whenever I'm presenting an offer to an owner, after we've won their business, I always ask them this one question, I always say, listen if this offer will assist you to do what you want to do next, have sand between the toes and be down at the beach, then it's something I think you may consider and should consider. If its not and it's not going to allow you to fulfil that then we need to try to find another buyer. I speak to that and I believe it and I think that my clients appreciate that as well. It's not just about the transactions made, it's about making sure that at the other end of the process we've got clients that are happy to refer us, happy to talk well of us and I think that's more important than just getting the deal done.

Tim Neary:    Matthew, it's been a real pleasure having you on the show today. Thank you very much for taking the time to speak to us.

Matthew Scafidi:       Absolute pleasure Tim, any time. I really appreciate it.

Tim Neary:    Thank you so much. Remember to follow us on all the social media stuff: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn. You can follow me also on twitter @timothyjneri if you'd like 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 our new listeners to find us and for them to hear the new content that we are putting out. As always, realestate.business.com.au is where you'll find us. There's plenty of stories there on the business of real estate across the whole of Australia and on my guest today Matthew Skafiti. Thanks again for tuning in and we'll see you next week. Goodbye.


The importance of generating trust with clients
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