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The lightbulb moment behind Tim Heavyside's career success

By Tamikah Bretzke
27 February 2017 | 25 minute read
timheavyside web

Joining host Tim Neary for this episode of Secrets of the Top 100 Agents is number 19 ranked agent Tim Heavyside, who settled over $159 million in property last year. Despite 15 years of industry experience, Tim reveals the steep learning curve he faced as a new-to-industry agent and the lightbulb moment that changed everything…

In this episode find out:

  • The importance of asking the right questions
  • Understanding the three D’s
  • How to implement existing strategies into your own business

Tune in to hear all of this and much, much more in Secrets of the Top 100 Agents!



Full transcript

Tim Neary: G'day everyone, it's Tim Neary here, I am the editor of Real Estate Business and host of the Secrets of the Top 100 Agents show. Thanks for tuning in.

This is the show where we bring in and chat to the very best agents in Australia, and on the show today is Tim Heavyside, ranked at number 19 in the REB Top 100 Agents ranking for 2016. Tim is with Fletchers Real Estate down in Melbourne. Hello Tim, and welcome to the show.

Tim Heavyside: Hi mate, how you going?

Tim Neary: Good mate, how are you going?

Tim Heavyside: Great.

Tim Neary: Let's start at the beginning, how did you get started in the business and when did you get started?

Tim Heavyside: Okay. Tim, I've been involved in real estate now for 15 years, I started because I was working for a travel agency and it was owned by Ansett, so when Ansett went down I was looking for a job, and the first thing that come to mind was real estate.

Tim Neary: And when was that, by the way? How long have you been in the business?

Tim Heavyside: 15 years.

Tim Neary: Okay, great. So obviously you didn't start at the top, was there a breakthrough point for you Tim, or did it just steadily grow for you?

Tim Heavyside: Yeah, I was really struggling, I'd say particularly the first two years, and I was a reasonably good selling travel agent with a pretty good background of being a successful travel agent for 10 years. When I put that application into real estate I really struggled with network and contacts, listing presentations and winning business, and even when you do win a business successfully, managing a sale.

I had a real lightbulb moment and realised the three things I needed to do was spend more time with successful people, that was the first thing, so I spent time with the main principal here which is Tim Fletcher, Jeremy Desmier, leading agent for our company certainly at that time, and that really propelled forward in terms of my thought process.

The second thing I had to really do was drive my business by doing more and more appraisals, because I recognised that that was the really key element to driving and propelling your business forward. I was really an animal, hungry to get more and more appraisals.

The biggest thing and the third thing, I really started to believe in myself that I could do it.

Tim Neary: Right, right. You know mate, we see this so often, we talk to a lot of the top agents around the country at Real Estate Business, and we see this so often, this pattern of starting out and starting tough, and then hanging in there, and then connecting with other successful agents and learning from them, and kind of just being a sponge and just soaking up as much as you can from those that have done it and that know the business. Learning as much as you can and then doing the hard yards, is that sort of typical of how you went as well?

Tim Heavyside: Absolutely, the truth is, we've got all this information from today's podcast, from previous podcasts, from books, seminars, conferences, et cetera. There's a path that you can follow, and you can fast-track it by just basically copying what others have really been able to do, and implement that directly into you at a younger age. When I say younger age, you could be 35, 40, 50, starting in real estate.

Tim Neary: But starting out, yeah.

Tim Heavyside: Or if you're 20 or 25 or something, it doesn't matter. Irrespective, whoever's listening to this that you can apply it straight away by just picking up what others have learned along the way. So I think that's huge to have that hunger, and be really intense about learning, and realise that what you're doing at the start when you first start out, it's kind of like an apprenticeship. So for me, that first two years of grinding it out, and I had some moments where I thought, "Nah, this is not for me. I'll just go back to being a successful travel agent." I mean, I was good at it, people liked me doing that job, I felt good in myself, and I just didn't feel like maybe real estate was for me, it was too much of a grind.

Tim Neary: Yeah. That's a good word to use, apprentice, and we see also, there's a nice level of generosity in this industry, and there is that industry, isn't there, at the top with those that have done it, to take on virtually, and I use inverted commas, "apprentices," and show them and pass on some of that wisdom.

Tim Heavyside: Well it's an honour, it's an honour for me to be able to position myself in that way.

Tim Neary: Nice. Yeah, yeah.

Tim Heavyside: I can help others, and that's the natural law that should happen.

Tim Neary: Now that you have achieved some success and looking back, I wanted to talk just a little bit about some of the stuff that you do on a daily or on a weekly basis. You would have your routines I'm pretty sure, are there some things that you never do? Are there some things that you avoid at all costs, and if there are, what are they?

Tim Heavyside: I hate negative energy, so I try to avoid it as much as possible, that includes people. Vendors, buyers, situations. So I try and nip that in the bud. Now what that might mean is ... I'm not saying we don't deal with tricky buyers and vendors, we could do, so I've got a discipline of making sure all the vendors get all the photography, and they're involved in the whole process, and there's never going to be something that's going to come out where we're not ahead of it.

Being a really experienced agent, most of the problems you have when you start up with a vendor in a campaign is, I reckon most of it's around the marketing, if something's gone awry. Gone out. You know, the floor plan's out, not really liking that photo, why did you use that photo on the board, and why didn't you say this, why couldn't I have said that. So we eliminate all that type of thing, not just to have positive energy but so everyone has a good flow about everything so that we're heading in the right direction in a positive manner.

Those are the things, but also having the discipline to keep doing the prospecting, and hunger to prospect, and that might mean prospecting on the phone when you get a buyer inquiry. Often agents I find, Tim, who answer their phone and it could be, "Oh, just ringing you about Smith Street." "Okay, what would you like to know about Smith Street?" "Oh, just the price please." "Okay, we've got interests around $600,000." "Okay, thanks a lot." And that's it.

Most agents act that way, and if you're listening to this, I think you can really do yourself, and that vendor, a more of a service by digging a little bit deeper, having the discipline and hunger to be able to prospect on that buyer inquiry by saying, "Now look, by the way, if you bought that home, would you be considering to live in it, or what's your situation?" The buyer says, "Oh, yeah, look it's our second home and we're currently locally and we're looking to get a bigger home." "Oh okay, so if you bought that home, what would you do with your current home?" "I'd probably think about selling it." "Oh okay, have you had Fletchers provide an appraisal recently?" "No." "What's your address?" Bang. Set up the appraisal right there. That's the hunger and discipline to be able to do at that to get into doors, and again I say it, but propel your career forward.

Tim Neary: Yeah. There's a great meme going around at the moment on Facebook, I don't know if you've seen it, some of the listeners might have seen it. It says something about, "The art of listening is listen to understand rather than listen to reply."

Tim Heavyside: Yeah.

Tim Neary: And I think that's what you're talking about right now, and it talks to that cumulative nature of building momentum and building a business, is that if you do the right things and you put in the disciplines and you learn to understand what it is that you're doing, that momentum will come, I guess.

Tim Heavyside: Agreed. Agreed.

Tim Neary: Yeah mate, that's terrific and in the same vein, the thing that you never do, and I like the way you put it, just move away from negativity because it will just drag everybody down. What are some of the things that you always do?

Tim Heavyside: Discipline is a very important element of your day, the daily habits, and the things that I always do is think about, with a vendor situation, when you're in a listing presentation, I think you need to have three reliable listing presentations. One, for example, full-on selling, when you've got a competitive environment and you need to prepare for that.

One of the things I always do is, I have a team support around me where I've got the structure where ... I've got an assistant who mainly sets up the appraisal, or they're certainly involved in that by talking to the vendor and she's quite good at building empathy and getting a little bit of further knowledge. Then I've got someone that drops out a pre-listing package, or pre-pamp someone says it in the industry, but some information about ourselves. That always happens. We strive to send an email out every single time we set up an appraisal, we send a text message, that type of thing, in a timely manner. But we're always prepared for whatever is coming our way, so we have the full-on when they're selling and they've got a lot of information about that.

And recognising sometimes it's not full-on but sometimes it's only an update, so you're positioning yourself in the future, or sometimes recognising the decision's already made, and that's you, or they've already decided on another agent, and you're either getting shopped, or they're going with you. And that's a different listing presentation all together.

Tim Neary: Yeah. You know Tim, I'm a bit of a sports tragic, so every time I speak to the top agents around the country I always see the similarities between the top real estate agents in the country and the top sportspeople around the world. Another thing that's come up for me today is this, you talk about having three presentations and being rehearsed and prepared for any situation. The top golfers around the world will have three putts in their bag, a short putt, a medium putt and a long putt, and they'll just play those out, depending on the situation. Sounds like it's exactly the same with you, you have these three listing presentations, and you just play them out depending on the situation that you're faced with on the day.

Tim Heavyside: Yes. But for the listener, how do they know which one to go with? And it's just asking qualifying questions. On the telephone, and you set it all up on the phone, exactly the vendor situation so you know how to present. You don't just make the time and go around there and do your full-on hour presentation, because they might be going, "Geez, how do I get this bloke or this lady out of my lounge room, because they're just talking too much, not listening." So you've got to ask good questions, and when you're in the listing presentation ask good qualifying questions when you're there. That's key. Absolutely the key to everything. Unlocking everything.

Tim Neary: Yeah, that's gold, because if you play the wrong play in the wrong situation then you're gone. Then you're gone, aren't you.

Tim Heavyside: Yeah.

Tim Neary: You've got to know.

Tim Heavyside: Absolutely.

Tim Neary: Yeah. And the only way to find out is to ask the questions, and to listen, to be present in the situation I suppose.

Tim Heavyside: So good questions I ask: "How can we help you and what specific information would you like from us today?" You sit down with them, you might have done the tour, whatever, and you sit back down. "When did you buy the home, cast your mind back, what was the reason you bought this home over others?" And you just feed that information back in. "Oh, we bought the home about 20 years ago and we were looking at one around Smith Street, then we saw this one, it really captured our mind because of the red clinker bricks." Or it could have been the tuck pointing, or, "We love the gable," or you know, "We love the flat roof," or whatever it was that they really captured in their mind. You understand, and then you can use that in your listening presentation.

"And have you sold before?" "Oh, yeah, we sold about three years ago." "Never sold." Leopards don't generally change their spots, so you just ask, "Well how did that go, what happened last time if you did sell?" "Well this is our fifth time," they're pretty savvy sellers, so if you try and step them through the process they're going to get, "This guy's not listening to us."

Tim Neary: Yeah. You're just selling.

Tim Heavyside: Yeah, you're just selling. So, "Why are you considering selling?" Understand the motivation. Another good question I ask is, "How much time have you allocated in our meeting today?" You might be 15 minutes, another agent's knocking on the door and you're at one step out of five in your listing presentation.

Tim Neary: That's a good point, yeah.

Tim Heavyside: You got to learn how to fast-track it.

Tim Neary: Yeah, and again, play the situation as it falls before you, and know ... I suppose it gets easier once you've done it a few times and you've got a bit of experience?

Tim Heavyside: Yeah. I remember sitting in a sales training room at our Canterbury office, at Fletchers, and we had this guy come down from Sydney, Steven Devine, he's a fantastic scripts and dialogues guy. Devine Real Estate, Steven Devine, and he came in and he talked about his listing presentation, and I just soaked it all up and I've modified it over the years but, you know, I've used his. Everyone's got to use someone's. That certainly helped me. And then I used that structure, and when I first started doing it I was a bit robotic. And the second time I did it, I was less robotic, and then I got my own flow and way about it. That's how you develop and improve.

Tim Neary: That's terrific. We're starting to get towards the end of the show and I just wanted to talk a little bit about, we hear a lot about in the industry this issue of balance. Work-life balance. Is there such a thing? And if so, how do you maintain it?

Tim Heavyside: I think you've got to take the knocks in the industry, recognise that sometimes you don't get business, and you don't bring that home. I think I got taught this at the start of my career, but if you're going to make phone calls, whatever, do them. Don't be making...

Sometimes you get home from work, it could be 8 o'clock at night, and I reckon it's bad form to be on a phone call to a buyer or a vendor or to a colleague. You're coming in the door, and the kids are coming out, "Dad, Dad!" and you're on the phone, you know, "Dad's on the phone now. Sorry, can't talk," you know? Just don't bring work home like that. I've often just stayed in the car, finished up what I've got to do ... Or you might have just done an appraisal, it's 10 o'clock and night and you want to write down information that you've wrote down so you don't forget in the morning. Don't bring that into the house. Just leave it in the car, write it all up, the paperwork, before you come in. Spend the next two or three minutes, finish the phone call, finish the information, finish up and then come home, and then you're home.

You've just got to have that balance, I really believe that it is important. Take all the knocks and don't bring it home, and just realise that it's important to have an absolute balance. I'm always setting little rewards and bonuses and stuff like that, just to keep yourself motivated and doing things, but I reckon the best types of things are around your family and having a bit of a break.

Tim Neary: And knowing what's important.

Tim Heavyside: Yeah, recognising that. The more you're around the planet, I'm 45 years of age now, and the more you're around you realise what's important and it's certainly not money. Money helps, but when you've got a little bit of money, I'm not saying I'm rich by any stroke, but you realise that the things that are quite valuable to you are family and that you've got health and a balance. If you've got those things you are wealthy in my mind.

Tim Neary: Yeah, you're wealthy, I agree with that mate, well said. For young agents starting out, if there is such a thing, what is the nub of this business? What is it that they need to get clear in their heads, that they say "This is what real estate business is all about"?

Tim Heavyside: Sure. If you're starting out, it's not a now business. If you want something now, get out, because that's not it. You're going to have to put in the hard yards for a period of time to get the reward, and then you get some enjoyment out of it, some financial success.

I reckon the first two years is an apprenticeship, the first five years is understanding, and from five to ten is about profile, and ten and beyond years, in real estate, if you put in the disciplines and the processes and the right amount of energy, and you've got a good team around you, then you're going to really get some good financial freedom, and probably some good time freedom as well. But if you take upon that that you could be doing, I don't know, a desk job, or working in a call centre, I don't know, an insurance company or whatever, and you might be able to get your weekends, or overtime. You won't get the financial freedom. You have to suck up a few big breaths at the start to get the longer-term game if you're willing to beat the system.

Tim Neary: Nice one, mate. We've sort of come to the end of this. We've actually come to the part of the show now which I like to call the top tips part of the show. So just if I can while I've got you on the line, on the show, Tim's top tips for sales. What is your top tip to get more listings?

Tim Heavyside: Application, intensity, so I'm pretty intense and that sounds like a negative word, like I'm always about to break something, but I'm intense, what I'm doing, I'm doing.

Tim Neary: Focused.

Tim Heavyside: If you're focused on what you're doing, so if that's prospecting, stay prospecting. If that's in a listing presentation, stay in that moment, stay in a listing presentation. Be focused, super focused. And that's intensity.

The other thing I think that's terribly important is having good presentation, so if that's ... Sometimes, be outside yourself, look at yourself from an outsider's perspective. Would you list with that person? Shoe-shining, your suit's presentable, your shirt's, if you've got your shirt more than a couple of years old, throw it out.

Tim Neary: Yeah, that attention to detail.

Tim Heavyside: And your tie if you're wearing a tie. Always be improving, looking at ways that you can go to conferences. You're never fully trained. Keep your mind open to new ways to be able to develop your career forward.

Never think you've got it. It's a humility, this role is a service industry, if you're not willing to serve others, get out, because it's all about serving people. It's not about your ego or driving flash cars. It's about helping people, and that could be either death, divorce, debt, that's the three big things, the three Ds they call it. So they're either going through grieving process because someone's died, or debt, they're actually downsizing because they've got too much debt, or they're taking on debt, or divorce, because that's a lot of the business these days.

Understanding those three things that's going to be happening, and just having the right amount of empathy to be able to help people. That humility, it's not about you so when you look at someone, you come in and, "Oh, look, I've got that same furniture." They don't care about that. They care about how you're going to help them. Or going in and they've got two kids. "Hi. I've got two kids." Well gee, I'm building great empathy. It's not about that. It's not about you, it's about them, and understanding how you can help the vendor. And that's what it's all about, helping people. Leave your ego at the door, and be humble about things, and you're certainly going to win in the long run.

Tim Neary: Mate, you know, that's another common denominator that we see over and over and over again with the top agents in the business, is the humility, is the commitment to constant improvement, working with coaches, working with people all the time to better themselves, in spite of the fact that you're at the top of the pile. I think that's another piece of real golden, good advice for those that are aspiring and starting out.

Mate, we've come to the end of the show and as always, it's really good to talk to you and talk to the top agents, and some of the takeaways that I've taken away today are certainly around that working hard, putting in the boundaries, paying attention to detail, building momentum, constant improvement, and just having a genuine empathy for the people that you're dealing with, and serving and helping people.

Tim Heavyside: Well thanks Tim, I appreciate the time today, and wishing you and REB all continued success, and all the listeners in the podcast, keep striving and if there's any way I can help then please reach out.

Tim Neary: Mate, we really appreciate that and we certainly will do. We'll be in touch and we'll get you on the show again pretty soon.

Tim Heavyside: Cheers. Thank you.

Tim Neary: Nice one mate. Thanks Tim.

Remember to follow us on all the social media stuff, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn. You can follow me on Twitter @TimothyNeary if you want to do that, and also remember to tune in next week. Remember also realestatebusiness.com.au is where you'll find us, plenty of stories there on the real estate business across the whole of Australia and also on my guest today, Tim Heavyside. Thanks again for tuning in, and we'll see you next week. Goodbye.



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