How Company Culture Helped Us Win 3 Australian Business Awards
If you follow the Australian Business Awards or are a friend of ActivePipe on social media, you may have heard that we took out their Software Innovation, Technology Innovation and Marketing Innovation awards for a second year running.
Being recognised amongst a pool of exceptional business talent is undeniably awesome and I couldn’t be happier that we get to celebrate these wins twice in as many years. But for me, the beautifully framed set of certificates now hanging at the top of our Melbourne office stairwell signify something far more important than profit margins, market placement or software algorithms.
What wins like these really show me, is tangible evidence that our team is doing exactly what it has set out to do. We’ve worked together, as a collective, to achieve an incredible set of goals by utilising the different skill sets, strengths and even weaknesses of each individual.
Through an eagle-eyed approach to creating a strong and inclusive company culture, each member of the ActivePipe family has felt confident to express all the fresh ideas that led to our product being as successful as it is. By giving the team unequivocal freedom and trust, I’ve discovered that the proof is well and truly in the pudding; a well-nurtured team give back in spades, and then some.
In the age of the start-up and a worldwide decline in lifelong brand loyalty, it’s a mistake for any leader to overlook the role of culture in strengthening their business. In droves, millennials are turning their backs on the traditional suit-and-tie job, unless it comes with a lifestyle balance and culture that aligns with their values. This means that if you want to attract top talent, you’ve got no choice but to get on board and rethink what you have to offer those that are offering forty-plus hours a week to you.
You don’t have to drop everything, run out the door and buy a foosball table and bean bags (although it doesn’t hurt, I’d be facing mutiny if I dared remove ours). What it does mean is stopping what you are doing, taking a step back and evaluating the happiness of your staff, and if you feel something is amiss, implementing a three point plan to address it. Get this part right and it won’t just be awards you’re winning, you’ll see every facet of your business winning as well.
Start With Your Why
This first step is the most important. Why are you here? What is the purpose of this business? If your only answer is ‘making money’, then you’re going to have trouble building an authentic connection with your team. Think deeply about your goals and make these plans known to all new interviewees.
If you haven’t already, work with your current staff to come up with your purpose together. At ActivePipe, we did this by identifying three words that truly define us: hustle, inspired and easy. They drive every avenue of our business and we know that if they’re being fulfilled, everything is chugging along just fine.
Live and Breathe It
Don’t pay it lip-service and then fall back into old habits once the novelty has worn off. You need to work hard every day to maintain culture. Live and breathe it! Keep the momentum going with team-building days that get everyone out of the office, communal spaces that encourage mingling and interiors that inspire creativity. Constantly remind your team how important your ideal culture is and make sure you always lead by example.
Pay it Forward
Encourage innovation outside the confines of the office and give kudos to those who strive for it. If a team member achieves something cool, let them know it. Be present in your company, not just a faceless suit behind a computer screen and be the company that’s known for giving back to the communities that support it. We see real estate brands doing this well, often promoting junior sporting teams and local events.
Remember, success is for sharing. Break bread with your staff and immerse yourself in your community.
The benefits of a strong, unified company culture
Maybe you think this all sounds a bit fluffy.
Perhaps you’re right, but in my experience, building a company culture that you can be proud of is no exercise in kumbaya hand-holding. If you get it right, staff retention rates will soar and your flawless brand image will attract customers in the thousands.
At the end of the day, it all comes down to this: no matter what someone’s job title is, whether they’re your right-hand woman or a fresh-faced graduate, everyone deserves to be treated with respect and humility.
Live by this everyday and it won’t just be your accountant that thanks you for it, you might even pick up an award or two along the way.
Shane Colquhoun: A Winning Principal
Shane Colquhoun is the principal of LJ Hooker Nerang, which was recently crowned ‘Regional Sales Office of the Year’ at the 2018 Real Estate Business (REB) Awards. He believes that cultivating team longevity through individual coaching and exceptional office culture are the principles behind a winning principal. At publication, his office has generated 122 appraisal requests through ActivePipe.
AP: Congratulations on your real estate success this year, what does it mean to you to see your office getting this type of recognition?
SC: It’s a reflection and an appreciation for all the hard work that you do over the years and it’s a big tick for the culture that we have here. It’s nice to be recognised with awards but it really assists with the culture.
AP: Is there a particular highlight from the last year that you’d like to share with us?
SC: Moving into the new office was definitely a massive highlight. After years of having the goal of giving the team a better working environment, having it come together was something very special.
AP: What are the qualities that you believe got your team to the top?
SC: I’d have to say that working as a team and having team longevity helps. Recruiting and training are a big part of a business but when you’ve had people here forever the business will improve every year. It’s nice to bring people in who become part of the turning cog in a machine and working well, so it’s easy for new people to start because there’s a lot of long-termers here.
AP: Tell me about the everyday routine of your agents. What are the little things they do each day that sets them up for success?
SC: Everyone is coached individually. At the end of the day, everybody has a strength and a weakness and it’s about highlighting the strengths rather than working on the weaknesses. If someone has been working in real estate for ten years and has a weakness, I think it’s always going to be there, so we support in the weakness and grow the strength.
AP: Your office has generated 122 appraisal requests through ActivePipe, which is huge! How do you make sure that ActivePipe is incorporated into the daily routine of your agents?
SC: It’s a non negotiable. We have it in the office and you have to use it, whether you’ve been here for one day or for twenty years. It’s one of those automated tools that makes people’s jobs easier.
AP: What advice do you have for agents who are just starting out in the business of buying and selling homes?
SC: God help them!
No, I’m joking. I was actually driving to work today thinking just how lucky all these new agents are with the technology on offer. They need to utilise the technology but also remember that it’s all about talking to people. Too many agents rely only on the great technology and believe its going to be the answer to all of their wishes but at the end of the day, you still have to talk to people. You have to build relationships over the phone and touch base as regularly as possible. I look back at when I was a successful sales person and I didn’t have any technology, I didn’t even have an email address, it was all about knocking out 30-50 phone calls a day.
If you did that many phone calls today, with the backup of this fantastic technology there’s no excuse for anyone joining the industry today to not make it work.
AP: What mistakes do you see other principals making that are inhibiting their business?
SC: At the end of the day, it’s growth. It’s not putting on enough sales staff or failing to grow your property management team.
AP: What would you say to agents who are thinking about giving ActivePipe a try?
YES! But, remember that you can’t rely just on the technology. If a contact is in real estate mode, they’ll open your emails but if they’re not they’ll probably click out of them, so for those times you have to have other things in place to stay front-of-mind.
Daniel Oliver’s Secret to Success
Earlier this week, we had a chat to Daniel Oliver, Ray White SA/NT #1 Agent January 2018. We were so impressed with the results he’s generating with ActivePipe that we had to know more about how he implements it in the office and his everyday routine. So far, Daniel has received 17 appraisal requests and 142 profile updates, a truly staggering effort.
Here’s what he has to say about ActivePipe and how it’s helped him reach out and truly engage with the homebuyers of Adelaide.
AP: First of all congratulations on being named Ray White SA/NT #1 Agent January 2018. We’ve been looking at your ActivePipe data and can see you’ve received 17 appraisals through the platform! Great work.
DO: Thank you! Its nice to have received them, hopefully many more to come.
AP: How long have you been on ActivePipe for?
DO: We were one of the first offices to get on board when Ray White took on ActivePipe. Our training was back in April 2016.
AP: How do you incorporate ActivePipe into your everyday routine?
DO: My assistant or myself will log into it everyday. We’ll look through and see which properties have open for inspections coming up and we’ll call anyone that’s clicked on that property and say, “we have this amazing property on offer that is similar to what you are looking for, have you seen it? Would you like to come to the next open home?”
That drags traffic to the property and it’s all through ActivePipe. It saves us a whole lot of time because we know exactly who’s clicking on what properties. They have no idea that we’re calling them because of that click, we just say “I keep in touch with all my current buyers, would you like to come by?”
This really helps us with our attendance numbers and sells the property.
AP: What are your favourite features of the product?
DO: Getting people to the OFIs is the first big help but we also love ‘Potential Sellers’ and ‘New Geo- Conversions’.
Our favourite is ‘Profile Updates’. We know for instance, that if someone is an ‘Investor’ we can hand it straight over to our BDM, who’s our investment specialist. He can take care of them straight away and hopefully turn it into a property management referral, which means more business coming in.
AP: In terms of efficiency and time management, how has AP changed how you operate in your daily business?
DO: It saves us hours. Literally, a lot of hours of calling everyone back. My aim at OFIs is to collect a minimum of 90% of emails from attendees but before ActivePipe, I didn’t really care to be honest. Now that I’m aiming for that 90%, it’s probably why I’ve received 17 appraisals. It’s because I’m building my ActivePipe database.
AP: How Important Do You Think Embracing Technology Like ActivePipe is for the Future of Real Estate?
DO: 100%. We are at the forefront of doing that and I think it’s been one of the biggest changes to my business. I can’t imagine life without it.
AP: How would you describe ActivePipe to other agents who aren’t with the system but who are considering giving it a go?
DO: I wouldn’t tell them about it. It’s a secret. (more…)
Rising To The Top With Glen Coutinho
When it comes time for REB to announce their ‘Top 100 Agents in Australia’ each year, the ActivePipe office is always abuzz. Our agents consistently place in top positions, so as you can imagine, we can’t wait to get our little mitts on the prestigious list and congratulate these real estate superstars for their outstanding achievements.
2018 did not disappoint.
Of Australia’s top five agents, three are ActivePipe users and we couldn’t be more proud of them. Taking out the number five spot this year is our friend Glen Coutinho, the Director and Senior Auctioneer at RT Edgar, Boroondara. With 33 years experience and a whopping $340, 529, 700 worth of sales under his belt in the last twelve months alone, he’s an undeniable powerhouse of the industry. ActivePipe was lucky to catch him for a quick chat and to pick his brain for the secrets to his success.
AP: Hi Glen, thank you so much for speaking to us today and a huge congratulations for being named the number five agent in Australia. You’ve had an incredible year, what’s been the highlight for you?
GC: The highlight for me is that I’ve been able to achieve all this whilst still having three and a half to four months off for the year. I was able to travel to America with my family and manage my customers whilst I was away, which means that the system works well for me.
AP: So you managed to achieve that elusive work/life balance?
AP: What are the qualities that got you to the top of the real estate game?
GC: I believe my greatest quality is loving people. My biggest strength is spoiling my customers. From birthdays to wedding anniversaries, I just always make the effort to acknowledge the success of all my clients. I spend most of my time with people and I just want to spoil them.
AP: Tell us about your everyday routine. What are the little things you do that sets you up for success?
GC: I start my morning between 7:30am and 8am on social media. I wish all my clients happy birthday, acknowledge special dates and all those types of things. I do this by 8am and then send out some gifts to my clients and get on the phone. I make 30-40 calls a day to past clients and I’ve done that consistently for 33 years.
AP: How do you incorporate ActivePipe into your everyday routine?
GC: It’s an important part of my routine because ActivePipe is the touchpoint for all my customers that are on email. I’ve got almost 30,000 customers and a lot of them get sent an ActivePipe email every week. It’s especially important for the local and overseas contacts that I can’t keep in touch with. It means they can get an email with my face on it and an update on the market.
AP: Do you think this has helped you in your pursuit to be one of the top agents in the country?
GC: It certainly has helped! I meet so many people that the sheer volume can be hard to keep up with. If I forget to ring someone, ActivePipe is like my backup. Say I’ve been chasing someone for twenty years and I forget to ring them for six months, they’re still getting my face in front of them every week. Each Thursday, ActivePipe puts my face in front of 5000 people and most them think that I’ve written the emails individually, so it really works in my favour.
AP: How important is embracing technology like ActivePipe for the future of real estate?
GC: Look I think it’s critical, especially if you’ve been in real estate for a long time. The younger guys are doing it but people in their 40s to 60s think they don’t need to. Well, I’ve come to the conclusion that you do. It’s a critical part of business in the 2000s and will continue to be moving into the future.
AP: What advice would you give to agents who are just starting out in the business?
If you’re just starting out, you need to be in the office and at your desk by 8am. You need to consistently make 40 to 50 calls a day and you need to make ActivePipe a critical part of your business. If you want to make the best of ActivePipe, you need to get it in front of 1000 people very fast. If you’ve got 1000 people getting one of these emails every week, you’re in the game. By the time you get to 10,000 contacts, it comes down to sheer numbers. You can’t lose.
Ebany’s Top 5 Tips To Win Agent Of The Year
The first time I felt the thrill of being in first place was in primary school when I won the 400m. Being first across the line felt great, and I was hooked.
I have been fortunate enough to experience the buzz and adulation of being first across the line a few times since then and each win has been a bigger milestone than the last.
As time goes by, these victories are further apart but more meaningful and challenging. The competitive nature of being an agent means we have some steep competition to endure, however that makes the recognition all the more satisfying. In 2015, I was recognised as the highest rated agent in the Australian Capital Territory.
What separated me from the rest of the pack wasn’t as tangible as reaching a finish line. It was client testimonial.
In the digital age, nothing makes quite as much noise as a decent rating, and all consumers look for public endorsement before making a purchase decision. Shopping for a hotel? You go to TripAdvisor. Booking a restaurant? You check out Google Reviews before picking up the phone.
It’s easy enough to get a pat on the back from a fellow staff member or the boss of a franchise but getting written recognition from your client is important validation for potential future sellers. It helps prove value for service, which means higher commissions and less contention around VPA and the selection of sale method or price.
Want to be in the running to win Agent of the Year 2019?
Here are my 5 top tips to get you there.
Start with the basics
It breaks my heart to be late for an appointment. It always has and it always will. Being on time means being organised and really, that is as basic as it gets. Kick off your new financial year with a resolution to be on time and prepared for your meetings. Prior preparation prevents poor performance, so get organised!
Focus on your clients intentions, not your own
Service is everything and being number one means knowing your client’s genuine intentions before your competition. Identify your client’s needs and have a robust program in place so you can deliver what is relevant. If you throw them all in the one bucket and treat them all like ‘current buyers’ or ‘90 day sellers’ you will miss the mark, so take the time to ask the right questions and deliver the right service. If you tailor your communications, your pipeline will grow.
Be available, and have water tight processes when you can’t be
People say that real estate isn’t just a job, it’s a lifestyle that requires being constantly available to meet your client’s needs and provide support throughout the buying or selling process. Most people can’t work 24/7 and those that try, burnout, so make a promise to yourself to have the systems and processes in place that enable work-life balance.
You need to leverage your time while still being able to walk away from the phone to recharge. The best way to do this is to let your vendors know when you are having down time and let your buyers know what your work hours are. This will give you the space you need without letting anyone down. As always, communication is key.
Look the part
“You should always aim to be the best presented agent in your area. It lets your clients know you are serious about doing the best you can for them and their home”, says Haesley Cush, one of the best dressed people in the industry.
When you stand out the front of a new listing, you are not only representing yourself, your office and your team, you are also representing your clients and their interests so take pride in your presentation.
Transparency is the currency of 2020
The days of drip feeding your clients information, hiding the price and delaying communications are gone.The quickest path to the best results is built on trust and relies on complete and utter transparency. The more your clients know, the better decisions they can make and the less stress you will have holding it all in.
Got an offer? Tell the other buyers, let the competition feed the process. Offer fallen over? Call your vendors instantly and let them deal with it now rather than letting it hang over the weekend. Your vendors and buyers will love you all the more for being up front and forthcoming with the facts which will make you number one on the leaderboard.
ActivePipe Year In Review 2017
What a year it has been!
In the past 12 months we have reached some incredible milestones together;
We released over a thousand new features, tripled the size of our team and won three Australian Business Awards.
We are incredibly proud of our achievements but in the spirit of startups, we aren’t stopping there.
Stay tuned for even bigger and better things in 2018.
We’ll catch you next year!