Zali Reynolds describes real estate as “all that she has ever done” but wasn’t the original career path. After a short stint at university, Zali saw real estate as a time-out option, but with her ranking fourth in the Top 50 Women in 2017, it is safe to say that she has now definitely found her calling.
Tim Neary catches up with Zali Reynolds who shares how she has utilised her point of difference as a female in a male-dominated local industry to help her achieve her successes.
She expands on her early days in the industry and how she went about building up her database, and she discusses how you can never take a one-size-fits-all approach to marketing a listing.
You will also find out:
- How confidence in your own skills and fees greatly enhances your clients’ belief in the process
- The best way to turn being a younger person in the industry to your advantage
- How to transition from being an assistant to getting an assistant
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, passions 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 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 this show today, ranked number four in the top 50 Women for 2017. From Marshall White and Glen Iris in Melbourne, it's Zali Reynolds.
Hello, Zali, and welcome to the show.
Zali Reynolds: Hello, how are you?
Tim Neary: Good, good. How are you doing today?
Zali Reynolds: Very well, thank you.
Tim Neary: That's good. Now Zali, you've been in the business 14 years and in 2016 sold 77 properties. I just wanted to start at the beginning and ask you, how important is it to be a real estate agent for you?
Zali Reynolds: Well, it's all I've ever done, really. I got into real estate after a very short stint at university and thought that I would take a little bit of time out and some cash and loved it so much that I'm still here 14 years later.
Tim Neary: Fantastic, and what is it about real estate, being a real estate agent, that you like so much?
Zali Reynolds: My favourite part of the job is going to see people, meet with them, sit down at their kitchen table, have a cup of tea, talk about what their hopes and dreams are and just being involved in their lives. I really enjoy the people side of the business.
Tim Neary: And it's a competitive industry. In your area, other real estate agents that are wanting to do the same thing. In order to be successful, you need to have some point of difference, I would imagine. What is your point of difference?
Zali Reynolds: One of the big points of difference that I have, and it's probably, I guess, a good tie-in to the top 50 Women, is that I am a woman. In my marketplace, which might be different to other areas of Australia, it's dominated by men. There's not a lot of women in real estate in Boroondara in Victoria, which is where I work, or, more specifically, in Glen Iris, so that is a massive point of difference I have. Just the way I approach people, my manner, the way that I deal with people I think is quite different to a lot of my competitors.
Tim Neary: What is it that you think that the public want from agents?
Zali Reynolds: The public wants, as in buyers or sellers?
Tim Neary: Both, actually. Or, if they're different, then the differences. But let's start with sellers.
Zali Reynolds: I think, for both, everybody just wants someone who's genuine and authentic. I think that's a really key thing. Real estate agents have a bad name for not being the most upstanding citizens, and I think that's one area that I've really tried to work on is to give agents in my area a good name. I think people just want you to be genuine and honest and a real person. I think that's on both sides of the coin.
From a seller's point of view, I think people want to have an agent that they can trust, is going to do the best possible job, obviously get the best possible price, but more than anything treat that sale like it was their own home.
Tim Neary: I think it's an important point that you make. We hear this over and over again that real estate agents don't necessarily, all of them, have the best reputation in the marketplace. If you bring that genuine and authenticity and build trust with people, then immediately you set yourself in the different sphere straight away.
Zali Reynolds: Absolutely.
Tim Neary: Just going back to the beginning, Zali, when you started out in the business, was there a piece of advice, perhaps, that somebody gave you, one of your mentors gave you early in the piece that you're still using today?
Zali Reynolds: When I first started I was an assistant, and I was told always to work the hours that you are required to work for your boss, and then to work a couple of extra hours just for yourself to build up your database. I think that's really held me in good stead in the long-term.
I think what people forget is this is not a short-term business. It is a long-term business, and so I guess I've translated that piece of advice into my follow-up throughout my career, so I feel like I've got a really good database of people and I'm very good at following them and being part of their journey through life and journey through real estate. I think that's something that I still take on today and still follow through.
Tim Neary: I think that's a great piece of advice, actually. I'm going to use that, if you don't mind?
Zali Reynolds: Go for it.
Tim Neary: Give the company their time and then take a little bit of extra time for yourself. Do a little bit of extra hours for yourself.
Zali Reynolds: Well, it's the only way, I think, that you can get ahead as a young person, particularly if you're an assistant or a cadet. I know how hard the people that work for me, or work with me work, and I think you can't actually get ahead unless you're doing a little bit extra for yourself. As a younger person, that might mean working an extra couple of hours a day or it might mean staying a little bit back on a Saturday and making calls for yourself or doing some letterbox drops, but that is money in the bank in 10 years time.
Tim Neary: It's an investment in the future, isn't it? It's a-
Zali Reynolds: Absolutely.
Tim Neary: ... nice way of putting it, yeah.
Now, Zali, as your career has progressed and you've honed your own skills, is there anything that you're doing more of today than what you were doing back when you started and, conversely, also, anything that you're doing less of?
Zali Reynolds: Yeah, definitely. I do a lot less admin, I do a lot less of, I guess, the marketing side of the business. I now have someone who looks after all of that for me so I've got a lot more time up my sleeve to do the key things: list, sell and negotiate and prospect, so they're the four key areas that I focus on.
I definitely spend a lot more time on the phone and doing appointments, whereas when I was a younger agent obviously there's a lot of administration involved in the business too, and I had to do all of that myself. I've now got people that do that for me.
Tim Neary: It's a good idea, isn't it? I guess, and correct me if I'm wrong, but I guess the idea behind it is that you want to get yourself focused on the dollar-productive tasks and dealing with people, and get somebody else to do the more routine stuff.
Zali Reynolds: Absolutely. I remember when I was young and I was in the business, I'd been in the business for a year or so, I remember listening to a CD that had Matt Lahood, who's obviously a very successful agent, an interview with him and he said, "If you don't have an assistant, you are an assistant."
I think there is definitely some truth to that sentence because if you don't have an assistant, you are doing all of those non-dollar-productive things that you really shouldn't be doing.
Tim Neary: It sounds exactly like something that Matt would say. It's a good point, though, isn't it? And at some point in time you've got to make that transition from being the assistant to getting an assistant. When did you do it, looking back on your own experience? When was the right time? What was the trigger moment for you that said, "Now it's time to bring somebody on."
Zali Reynolds: I think I brought someone on relatively quickly. I went from being an assistant to a standalone sales agent and had an assistant of my own within six months. I knew that I really needed someone to look after the admin side of the business, so initially I hired someone just part-time, and that obviously then gave me a lot more leverage. That turned from a part-time role, within a few months, into a full-time role.
So I've always been a person who's probably over-employed, 'cause I'm big about growth and I always want to be growing and going to the next level and increasing my skillset and increasing my business, and so you can only do that through leverage.
Tim Neary: It sounds like, in your own mindset, you're always somebody that's looking forward and always planning ahead and always thinking about the bigger picture.
Zali Reynolds: Absolutely.
Tim Neary: When I was doing a bit of research for our podcast today, I came across your most excellent video on the internet. You were talking about putting marketing proposals together, and what struck me in it was how you were talking about changing up the marketing, and these are my own words, changing up the marketing depending on your target market and the demographic that you were looking to appeal to. In some cases it might have been, if I remember correctly, some dusk photographs, and other cases it might be drone photography.
How important is it, Zali, to target your marketing towards the outcome that you're looking for?
Zali Reynolds: It's very important and I think a lot of agents have this cookie-cutter approach where they say, "Well, I've got three different marketing packages, one, two, three, and we go in with those marketing packages," and that doesn't suit every single house. I think you really need to, like a doctor, go in and diagnose what that house needs and then prescribe the right marketing package for those people.
Obviously there's some things that every house is going to need, the internet is one of those things, but I think a lot of agents just go in with that standard package rather than saying, "Okay, well, this house is definitely going to appeal to somebody who's downsizing, somebody who may not even know that they're wanting to move at the moment. We might need to look at print media, or we might need to look at some other form of marketing," and I think that's really where our expertise as agents come in. If we're not actually looking at the house and diagnosing the best type of strategy for that client, well, they might as well put their own board up and stand out the front door themselves.
Tim Neary: I mean, that's the value-add, isn't it, is exactly that. If they could do it themselves, they would, and you need to bring something that they wouldn't have.
Zali Reynolds: Yeah, absolutely.
Tim Neary: Now, Zali, the cornerstone of this business is listing and selling properties. I wanted to ask you, we're getting to the end of the show; this is kind of just to end off, when you go into a listings presentation, what is your mindset? How do you prepare yourself for the listings presentation?
Zali Reynolds: Well, I always prepare myself with as much knowledge as I can. I know my area pretty well, but I always make sure that I've got all of the details of the property that I need. I've done a very good qualification on the phone with that particular person, why they're wanting me to come, how soon are they looking to move, how many other agents are they interviewing? I try to qualify them as best I possibly can.
But the mindset I go in with, I guess, I hope this doesn't sound too conceited, but I do feel like I am normally the best agent to get that owner the best possible price, and so I go in with the mindset that I am the right choice for them. All I need to do is convince them that I'm the right choice.
I think if you can explain the strategy and explain how you're going to get the best possible price for someone, then that makes their choice an easy choice.
Tim Neary: And there's a fine line, isn't there, between being conceited and arrogant, and being confident.
Zali Reynolds: Absolutely.
Tim Neary: And it's really, people want confidence, don't they? They're not going to put their trust into somebody that's a little 50/50 about it. They want to know that you know you're the best agent.
Zali Reynolds: They do. They want someone who's confident because they need someone who can be confident about their house as well, so if you can't sell yourself and you can't be confident about your own skills, how are you going to be able to sell the house, how are you going to be able to be confident about the house?
I think that translates also to fees as well, which I know's a whole 'nother topic, but I think if you are confident about your fee and you don't negotiate too much, then that's a way to show an owner that you're not going to negotiate down on their house as well, so I think it's the same type of thing.
Tim Neary: It's not a subliminal message, but it's a subtle message, isn't it? I mean, if you're going to give up on yourself, then they're also going to go, "Well, you're going to give up on me," when it comes-
Zali Reynolds: Absolutely.
Tim Neary: ... to the price negotiation.
Hey, Zali, it's been a real pleasure having you on the show today. Thank you very much for your time.
Zali Reynolds: Thank you. Thank you so much for having me on.
Tim Neary: You're welcome. Thank you, Zali.
Remember to follow us on all the social media stuff, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn. You can follow me, too, on Twitter @timothyjneary, if you'd like to do that. If you've enjoyed today's show, give us a five-star rating, please, on iTunes. It's the best way for new listeners to find us and for them to hear the great content that we're putting out.
As always, realestatebusiness.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, Zali Reynolds.
Thanks again for tuning in and we'll see you next week. Goodbye.