BresicWhitney Estate Agent Andrew Liddell discusses how being in the customer service industry at a young age accelerated his career as an agent.
Placed 80th in the Top 100 Agents ranking for 2017, the Balmain-based agent reveals how he measures his point of difference as well as why he feels he still needs “to outhustle everyone else”.
You will also find out:
- How he works his database to make more listings AND sales
- The best way to split your day to fit everything in
- The sacrifices he’s been happy to make to land in the top in real estate
Tune in now to hear all this and much, much more in this episode of Secrets of the Top 100 Agents!
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Speaker 1: The top 100 agents are the best of the best listing and selling more than any other agent in Australia. These are the practices, actions and beliefs of the most successful agents in Australian real estate. Raw, honest and completely uncut.
Tim Neary: Good day everyone. It's Tim Neary here. I am editor of Real Estate Business and the host of the Secrets of the Top 100 Agents podcast. Thanks for tuning in. Very pleased to welcome on the show today rank number 80 in the top 100 agents for 2017 from BresicWhitney in Balmain in Sydney, it's Andrew Liddell. Hello Andrew and welcome to the show.
Andrew Liddell: Thank you for having me. Appreciate it.
Tim Neary: I understand that you are of Scottish heritage, and that you spent some time working as a bartender in London before coming into real estate. How did all of that roll together.
Andrew Liddell: I finished high school, really enjoyed high school, but probably wasn't very good at it. My father always had his ambition that I was to do really well at school and that would give me lots of choice in the world. I unfortunately didn't follow his footsteps, so I actually made a decision that I didn't look at my UAI score, my score out of a hundred when I left school. I knew that was probably gonna take me the long way around, but I thought you know what, I'm not gonna let a figure, whether that was 40, 50, 80, whatever it may have been, I didn't want to let that figure determine what I was gonna do in life.
With my British passport, I trotted off overseas and didn't have anything tying me down in Sydney. Wasn't sure what I was gonna do, but the hospitality industry was something I was familiar with. Moved to London at the age of 19, spent two or three years travelling throughout London, Canada, other parts of Europe in hospitality. It was a really wonderful learning curve to get me to grow up, understand what it was like to pay bills, wash your own clothes, and the hospitality industry. I know that Gavin Rubenstein is also a high performing agent. He had a hospitality background as well, and I think being that chameleon and dealing with all different walks of life and being in a customer service industry I think gave me a really good platform into the real estate business.
Tim Neary: Talking about Gavin, he talks about when he was working, I think I was at McDonald's as he started out. He said the greatest gift that he got was learning to deal with people, and I wonder whether it was the same for you.
Andrew Liddell: I think so, yeah. I think so, because it's quite different ordering a cocktail or buying a house. It's two different ends of the scale, but at the same time there is an expectation that someone has when they're going to pay for a meal or a drink. The customer's always right, so I learned early on looking after people and doing the right thing by them, they'd often come back to you.
Tim Neary: You've been in the business a long time. You had a cracker of a year in 2016. You're on the top 100's list now. I think that you sold something like 53 properties in the year. I understand also that this time now for you is probably about the busiest that you've ever been.
Andrew Liddell: Yes. Yeah. At the moment, I'm running 15, 16 auction campaigns, which is the busiest I've ever been at the moment. It's been a steady sort of course throughout my career. I'm now at a point where there's a bit of momentum behind me, a little bit of profile, so it's starting to build and starting to see some of those rewards after a few years of hard work.
Tim Neary: And there's a reason that you're busy, and that's because the public's obviously responding to you. What is it that you think that the public wants from a real estate agent?
Andrew Liddell: It was funny. I remember when I very first started in real estate in 2010, I worked in a business, and Damien Cooley, the auctioneer, came into that business and gave his talk. He turned up in his nice Mercedes, and he was well dressed and spoke well. I though geez, that guy looks like he knows what he's doing. I called him after, and I said, "Damien, you don't know me. I've only been in real estate two weeks, but I'm desperate to do well. What can I do?"
We sat down, and we had a coffee. He gave me two bits of advice, and they sound very obvious, but I still try and stick to them today. One of them is be a nice guy, be a nice person. That sounds very obvious, but be someone that people want to deal with. Relate to people, old, young, in between to try and get on people's level. Be someone that people want to deal with, because it is a really big decision and an emotional decision for a lot of people.
The second thing is look after buyers. Now, at BresicWhitney, we speak about that on a daily basis, and I know a lot of agents probably don't understand what means. I think today's buyers are tomorrow's sellers, and it's challenging sometimes to focus on that because we all want now. We all want the gratification now, and I still feel that sometimes, that frustration of I helped someone, now where's the reward or the financial gain from it. Damien said to me, "Be a nice person, look after buyers, and the rest will sort of take care of itself."
Subconscious on those early day, I did really focus on buyers, and I still really focus on buyers today. I had a situation last night in fact where a buyer asked me to represent them on behalf of a negotiation for purchasing through another agent, and it was very much a case of you've helped us on the buying side of things. The business for our sale is uncontested. Come and see us. I think that buyer work is pretty much the platform that's built my business.
Tim Neary: What I'm hearing you say as you're speaking like that is you're talking about patience and playing, as I've heard it described, the long game. Sometimes the most simple advice can be the best advice. Be a nice guy. That's really at the core of it, isn't it, is that people deal with people that they like.
Andrew Liddell: Pretty much. Pretty much.
Tim Neary: It's also a very competitive industry out there. Each agent almost needs to differentiate themselves in one way or another by having a point of difference. What do you think your point of difference is?
Andrew Liddell: I think my point of difference early on and still, which is sort of hard to measure, but certainly in my early days and even now the area that I'm working in Balmain is littered with very good agents that have been around from 15, 20 years. Majority of them are principals, and they have these great track records and profiles. For a young guy when I started, I just made the decision that if I considered myself a tradesperson and if I was at one end of the spectrum and I was an apprentice, then I only deserved to be paid a certain amount. Even if they wanted to pay me more, I said to everyone when I got the opportunity to sit in front of someone, I was just honest, and I said, "Look, I'm new. I get it. I don't have the track record. I might not have the experience, but geez, I'm hungry, and I'm prepared to charge you this much."
I got some runs on the board, capitalised on some of those opportunities. I think I work really hard. I work really hard. I work six days a week. I don't work a seventh because I have a young family and a wife, and I'd like to and need to maintain that balance if there is such a thing.
Tim Neary: That's what the seventh day is there for.
Andrew Liddell: Exactly. But I work extremely hard, and I think that comes across. I'm passionate about what I do, and I say to people I will out work any other agent. I believe that, and I do it, and I think that clients respond to that.
Tim Neary: It certainly does come across, Andrew. I wanna go back to something that you said, they're little because it's not the traditional way that people do it, it is. And I'm talking about price and discounting the price. You hear a lot of people saying don't discount the price because you discount your value if you do that. You took the view that said look, I'm gonna increase my value by going in and saying I'm gonna essentially discount the price, which isn't what you said, but in a way. How did people respond to that?
Andrew Liddell: There were definitely people who felt like I was a gamble because there were plenty of other agents there that had been doing it a lot longer, had the experience, the track record, and they could prove themselves. I was, in a lot of ways, a risk in the beginning, but I tried to counteract that by saying I don't actually deserve to earn the 2.2%. I understand that, and I'm being really up front about that. Believe it or not, a lot of people respected that and knew that whilst I was a risk in entertaining someone that was newer, that they could see that I was prepared to out work anyone else, and I still say that today. Whilst I have runs on the board now and a little bit of profile, I still out work anyone else in my area.
Tim Neary: Talking about what you still do today, your business would've evolved over time. Is there anything that you're doing more of today that you didn't used to do then, and is there anything on the other side of the coin that you're doing less of today?
Andrew Liddell: Yes. I started in a business in Balmain that had a lot of profile, and I was fortunate in the sense that the business came to the business because I was in an office that was the biggest and had the biggest rent roll and the most sales. A lot of opportunities came to me or came to the business, and I was fortunate enough to be in a position where I was given the opportunity to be in that space.
When I left that business and started at BresicWhitney, we didn't have an office. We had no runs on the board, no profile, no track record, so a lot of people were still saying things like who's BresicWhitney. They knew us from the east, but Balmain, it wasn't a brand that was familiar with people.
As far as what I do more of now, I've become more aware of how important my database is and the amount of calls I do. I know that because I don't have the profile just yet--I'm not in my 15th year, I'm in my 7th, I know that I have to make a lot more calls before I get to that point where it's referral and repeat business continually. I still have to compete. Sure, I get the odd person that I've dealt with in the past and that's great, but I still have to out hustle everyone else. I'm more particular about my database. I'm in it every single day, and I make a lot more calls than I used to, as well.
Tim Neary: What does a typical day look like for you?
Andrew Liddell: Starts early. I've got two young children under four, so this morning I got up at 5:00, went to the gym with a colleague of mine. We train together. Home at 6:15. I meditate for 20 minutes. I have to do that in the car because if I go upstairs, I'll get…
Tim Neary: No meditating with the four year-olds.
Andrew Liddell: No, that's right. Train, home, meditate, upstairs, and my wife and I'll spend the first hour sort of juggling the kids' breakfast, showers, all that sort of stuff. I'm usually at the office by 8:00 and clearing my emails, setting up my day. I basically chunk my day into a.m. and p.m. So, a.m. is on the phones, managing my database, booking appointments, negotiating, etc., etc. And then the afternoon and into the evening is listing appointments, buyer appointments, then more meetings, appraisals, etc., etc.
Tim Neary: Kids that are under four years old, is there a cutoff time? Do you say now I'm going home to be with the kids because they've got a cutoff time.
Andrew Liddell: Yeah, it's a very good question. I spoke to Piers Van Hamburg. I spend a lot time looking for people that are doing better than me, that have done better than me. I think that's a no-brainer to look outside the square and think he or she is here, what are they doing. I spend a lot of time with other people like Piers, for example. Piers has three children, a wife, he works very hard. He explained to me that there was a point in his business where he knew he just had to hustle, and there were sacrifices. Fortunately and unfortunately, I'm in that growth phase where my business is growing and I need to put in the hours. I must admit I don't have balance. I don't think anyone has great balance, but I do try. I do try.
There'll be times where I'll go home at 6:00 and I might turn the phone off between 6:00 and 7:30, do a bath, dinner, bed, etc., etc., and then I'll get back on the phone and answer emails and sort of close off the day at 8:00, 8:30. I'm very fortunate that my wife is unbelievably understanding and supportive, so that is probably the thing that helps the most. I don't take that or granted. We book lots of holidays throughout the year well in advance so that we know that we've got things to look forward to. But there is sacrifice, certainly at this point in my career.
Tim Neary: I think that's reasonable, isn't it. You're not gonna get anything if you don't put anything into it. And you've got that seventh day as well.
Andrew Liddell: That's right. Yeah. Exactly.
Tim Neary: Yeah. Cool. It's a feature of this industry, isn't it, the generosity from the top performers down and the amount of time that they make available to those that ask and shoe keenness.
Andrew Liddell: Yeah. It was that first meeting with Damien, and I thought there's a stranger that's prepared to sit with me for half an hour, so throughout my career I'll email Alex Philips or Ben Cauley or before I started, Ivan Bresic or anyone who I looked at and thought they're doing pretty well. And no one has said not to me.
Tim Neary: There's never been a time anybody's said no to you.
Andrew Liddell: No one has said no to me.
Tim Neary: In spite of this being a hell of a competitive industry.
Andrew Liddell: That's right. Exactly right. It's great. I'm lucky enough to be sort of unofficially mentoring a couple of young guys in our business at the moment, and it's really rewarding to give back for what it's worth.
Tim Neary: Yeah. Nice one, Andrew. We're sort of getting to the end of the podcast now. I just wanted to ask you two more things about the business of real estate. Marketing campaign that's stood out for you, something that was unusual that you did that paid off?
Andrew Liddell: I don't know if there's one in particular that's paid off, but one thing that I've learned from Ivan Bresic is when he talks about a campaign, I know a lot of agents focus on you sign it, it goes on the web, you take photographs, you sell it, and you move on to the next one. Ivan's view and the view that I've now adopted is very much a case of if you list something and you go to market with it and you have that opportunity and all you're focused on is doing the deal and taking the commission and moving on, it's wasted.
Very much now, my mindset is if I have the chance to be in front of the marketplace, that's an opportunity to pull out two or three or four more opportunities, so I might meet buyers there, sellers there. I don't know if there's a particular example I can give you, but I was talking to my PA, Belinda, this morning, and there was a sale six months ago that I conducted at $3,000,000 in Rosellen, and I'm convinced I've listed 10 or 15 off the back of that just because I took the blinkers off and I thought this is a great house, it's priced well, and my clients want to sell it. It's gonna sell, so where is the opportunity> What are these people doing here at my open home? How can I qualify them? Where will I put them? What will I do with them?
That's the big thing for me, I think. Standing at the open home, anyone can do. Taking opportunities from each campaign is vital.
Tim Neary: Be a nice guy and look after the buyer.
Andrew Liddell: Look after the buyers. That's right. Good.
Tim Neary: Yeah. One last one. When you go into listings presentation, what's your mindset? What are you thinking about?
Andrew Liddell: One of our values at BresicWhitney is humility. I think when you get to a point where you have a bit of presence or profile, I think it's really important to stay humble. It's easy to get carried away with all the fluff and the rewards that come from doing what we do. I try and go in there with an open mind. I can be structured if I need to be, but if a little old lady wants to sit down and have a cup of tea and share a bickey, then I'll put the agenda aside and-
Tim Neary: Make time for that.
Andrew Liddell: Exactly right. I think staying humble, being present. Things like meditating have helped me with that, just being aware of what's around me. And taking into account this is arguably one of if not the biggest moments of their life in selling a family home, so I don't take that for granted. I take that really seriously and ensure that if I am lucky enough to represent the business, I'm gonna give it everything.
Tim Neary: Andrew, it's been a real pleasure having you in this afternoon. Thanks for coming in.
Andrew Liddell: Thanks for having me. Cheers.
Tim Neary: Cheers. 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 have enjoyed today's show, leave us a five star rating on iTunes. It's the best way for our listeners to find us and for them to hear the great content we are 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, Andrew Liddell.
Thanks again for tuning in. We'll see you next week. Goodbye.