“Everything she touches turns to sold.”
Director R and R Property Stroud & Bulahdelah
As one of a few women working in rural real estate, Denise rose from a humble beginning in the industry to award winning success today. Here, Denise shares with EAC Industry Reporter, Lisa B, her tips on how to bring grace and glamour to property and lifestyle marketing and outwit her competition.
How long have you been in real estate?
I began working in a local office in 2004.
How did you start in real estate?
I had quit my job and was looking at taking a new direction. I was seeking something that I enjoyed. I had been investing in real estate personally for a while and found it really interesting. So with that in mind, I walked into our little rural real estate agency and asked if they had any work available. The answer was no, but they telephoned me later and offered me some work. I started doing just a day or two a week filing, cleaning, beverage making etc.
Why do you love real estate so much?
For the most part, it is so satisfying to make peoples dreams come true. Because I live locally, I get to see our purchasers after the sale making new lifelong friends, becoming involved with the community and enjoying their new life. I can not tell you how many times my buyers have said that their only regret was not moving here sooner. Sometimes we are helping people move onto the next chapter in their lives, whether that’s a bigger and better property or downsizing. I also enjoy the competitive nature of the industry, winning the business by ensuring that we are the best.
How do you juggle being a mum and running 2 real estate offices with staff?
It’s pretty tough at times but my daughter has always been on the journey with me. I found out I was pregnant with her the day I signed the paperwork to buy the business. We have a “kids room” in our office equipped with DVD player and craft table but she is mostly at our local school these days. I can walk to her school to pick her up which is great. We also have a wonderful daycare teacher whom she goes to a couple of afternoons a week and during school holidays. We’ve had lots of funny moments and catastrophes along the way together, ie poo explosions whilst out doing inspections, negotiating a $1.4 Million dollar deal whilst breastfeeding at 6 am etc.
I’m not a particularly social person as I’ve always been shy by nature so when I’m not at work I love being at home with my family. We work it all out along the way.
I also have an amazing right-hand woman who manages my second office and treats the business like her own. We have the best team.
What is it like dealing with rural property? What are the dangers?
It’s very diverse, for example, we can sell land from 400sqm to 600 acres plus. We have to have 4wd cars because we sell lifestyle properties as well as residential. It can take 1 hour to get to a property, then it can take a few hours or more to show the property and then an hour return. It can be very time consuming.
The dangers are that we are often in remote areas with little or no phone reception. We have to 4wd and that in itself can be dangerous. Then there is mother nature to contend with ie creek crossings, mountain ranges, snakes, spiders, dogs, livestock etc.
How have rural agents got it better than city agents?
I haven’t sold in the city before but I love the diversity we have. Our properties range from waterfronts to mountain tops, suburbia to remote. It is just so beautiful to look at. Some of the areas I’ve been to and seen are just divine. We also don’t have any traffic jams to contend with. Our worst traffic moment may be a mob of cattle or sheep being herded along a country road to the next paddock or a slow-moving tractor.
I love the friendly community we work in and the country people.
How do city agents have it better than rural agents?
Quick sales and usually much higher prices. They can also enjoy minimal trouble with lending. Some valuers & solicitors/conveyancers get nervous or just don’t know what they’re doing around rural property. I don’t know how many times we’ve had to tell a valuer what a property is worth. We’ve also had to educate solicitors /conveyancers to make them aware of certain things pertaining to rural eg rural property doesn’t have a 5 day cooling off period.
Do you find rural communities are more close-knit? How does that affect you getting business?
Yes definitely in our area the rural communities are great. If something goes wrong in the community, like a natural disaster, everyone pulls together without question to help each other. People love that when they visit our area they find everyone to be so friendly towards them. Visitors always say that the country towns have a wonderful friendly feel.
Sometimes having a business in a small community can work against you regarding getting listings. I certainly have lots of clients who would go to no-one else, but like anywhere, there can be the tall poppy syndrome present as well. I have found on the odd occasion, someone jealous of what we have achieved. I just view that as their problem. It’s unfortunate but there’s no point concerning myself about it. I have worked extra hard to get where I am and so have my team.
In small communities, it’s very hard to keep new listings a secret. I have had many cases where locals have approached a homeowner and purchased from them privately before I’ve had the chance to sign them up. The buyers use ‘saving on commission’ as a negotiation strategy. It always upsets me when this happens as they usually sell for way under the price I could have achieved for them. I can see it from the sellers point of view. They think they’ve saved because they didn’t have to pay an agents commission. They didn’t factor in our experience and achieving great prices for our sellers.
How do you prospect in rural communities?
We do a wide range of prospecting. We do letterbox drops, sponsorship for the local events, schools, sports etc. We also attend the major local events with our marquee and provide free face painting for the children. We have brochure stands in surrounding area hotspots. We are very big with Social Media and use it to our advantage as much as we can. We are essentially selling the lifestyle we lead here. We also do a bit of cold calling and door knocking, but mostly it is word of mouth referrals and signage that gets us new business.
Are there many women in rural real estate?
I would say not. We are the only team that I am aware of in our surrounding areas that are an all women team. There are a few female rural agents about, but they are in mixed teams.
You are one of the most passionate real estate agents I’ve seen in their marketing. Where do you get your inspiration?
Gosh from absolutely everywhere! I am always on the lookout for new ideas and inspiration. I love to read marketing books, other people’s stories of their successes, failings and experiences. I attend a lot of training seminars, read magazines, watch DVD’s, listen to podcasts as well as surround myself with awesome mentors such as yourself Lisa. ☺ ☺ ☺
What is working the best in the way of your marketing for you now?
We are strong on social media and do a lot of that. We don’t have a massive following but they are interactive with us and people actually bring it up with me when we’re chatting that they found us on Facebook etc, or they love our photographs. I sell the lifestyle on social media, not just the house or the property.
We have now launched into areas such as Karuah, Medowie, Raymond Terrace, Seaham and Clarence Town with community support and intense marketing strategies.
We have a regular stall at the Medowie Markets and the feedback from the community has been overwhelming. They love seeing us there and they actually come up to us and chat all things real estate and request appraisals.
We have also recently run a competition for our local primary schools to win $1000 by collecting our advertisements on the back of shopping dockets. The amount of media attention and local awareness that we’ve created through that has been immense.
We have already started listing and selling in these areas and creating raving fans there. You only have to check out our testimonials to know this is true.
We are so excited at R and R Property, – The business is exploding at present with opportunities coming at me left, right and centre.
Today I was a guest speaker on an international podcast speaking about my marketing techniques. I also created an e-book for the listeners and have made it available online.
I am featuring in two new Real Estate books being released this year and currently writing my own book.
What do you do when agents in your area try and copy you?
Well, to be honest, I do get frustrated, but what can you do other than take it as a compliment. I see them regularly copying us and realise that they are watching what we do all of the time. I just keep coming up with new ideas and I implement them. I keep the competition guessing, as well as making them try to keep up with us. I have other agents who ask me for help with their marketing and I’m totally fine with that. I would much rather that they actually ask for help rather than blatantly copy us.
The thing is that I know how much time, hard work and dedication it takes to be a consistent and effective marketer. I also know that our competitors drop off after a while for this reason. You have to do it day in and day out. Consistency really is the key to success – little bit by little bit. And I’m sorry but as much as I love them, funny cat videos don’t count as good content!
Can we talk about the agent claiming you had a fake testimonial?
Yes of course. So we have a lot of raving fans and therefore some really great testimonials and reviews. One of these reviews I recently had printed onto a DL flyer and distributed throughout our area. The agent in question contacted the Dept of Fair Trading with the accusation that I was “producing false and misleading material”. Again, although I think this was an incredibly low act to do to another agent I have taken it as a compliment and a confirmation that I am worrying my competitors. Of course, I was able to prove to Fair Trading that the testimonial was real and not created by myself. My clients involved have also advised that they are happy to do a video testimonial to prove they are real people! I feel that if the agent involved concentrated on doing a good job themselves instead of contacting Fair Trading about what other agents are doing, then they’d be better off and so would their clients.
You were on Selling Houses Australia. Tell us all about that experience. How was that for your profile?
It was full on crazy and very stressful at the time, but absolutely worth it. It was so great to meet the team, both the production team and the stars. Andrew Winter actually confided in me that he hadn’t been looking forward to doing another rural town as he’d found them to be quite lifeless, but he loved Stroud and said that it had an amazing vibe.
Once the house had experienced a make-over we achieved the fastest sale in the history of the shows 9 season reign which was incredibly exciting for everyone involved. It was quite a stressful week. The constant worry of knowing I was going to be on TV, the pressure of wanting to sell the home quickly, the filming process and then having to sell other properties and run an office in between all of it. But truly, it has been so good for our profile and every time the show repeats on Foxtel we have people come to Stroud or contact us about it. We’ve also got new listings from being on the show as well. It truly is just another tool in our marketing equipment now!
You have a lot of one-liners that your clients say to you about your business
- Everything you touch turns to sold and
- They see your signs everywhere.
That must be a great feeling to have those things constantly reinforced to you.
Yes so much so that it has now become part of our marketing.
Why did you join EAC?
They are a forward thinking group with technology and they have great support systems in place for agents. It just felt like the right thing to do and I’ve been very happy.
We thank Denise for taking the time to share her experiences with EAC Industry Reporter, Lisa B.
The EAC Team