Episode 2 – Mark Appleby

Youtube: Real Estate Success Principles – Episode 02

Real Estate Through the Eyes of a Recruiter!

Michael Furlong: Hey Guys it’s Michael Furlong from Rent Roll Maximiser here for the Real Estate Success Principles.

I have the pleasure this morning of interviewing, chatting, catching up with, really just sort of finding out what’s happening in the market with a good friend of mine, Mark Appleby from Buckmaster Hawkey.

Mark, you’re the Managing Director of Buckmaster Hawkey. Would I be right in suggesting you are one of the longest established Recruitment Companies in Melbourne?

Mark Appleby: Yes, Michael, you are, Buckmaster Hawkey was established in 1981 by Pam Newton. It’s the first specialist Real Estate Recruitment Agency in Melbourne. So, this year, it’s 40 years.

Michael Furlong: We’re going to talk a little bit about, what your role is, but also the role of a Recruiter in the Real Estate sector.

But, Mark, you and I had been talking for a couple of, well, actually been talking for years now. We’ve known each other for, I think we’re probably nudging 15 years, thereabouts?

Mark Appleby: I think so. Yes, Michael

Michael Furlong: I think we’ve been really sharing the same thought process on the fact that we’ve got a labour short market, skills shortage, and the industry isn’t changing.

So, we’re going to talk a little bit about that today, but Mark, tell me a little bit about Buckmaster Hawkey. What’s your role? You’re the Business Owner? You’re the Managing Director?

Mark Appleby: Yes, that’s right! OK. Well, thanks, Michael, so I’ve been with Buckmaster Hawkey since 2001, I came from Property Management myself.

I worked as a Recruitment Consultant with Buckmaster Hawkey and then did a Management “Buy Out” in 2007 with my then Business Partner, Jeanette Hockney.

My role’s largely always being on the tools as a hands-on Recruiter, Michael, more on the permanent side up until three years ago.

I got exposed to the Temp desk for the first time since working with the business, driving more new businesses, consulting with Clients, if they’re asking me about how much to pay their Staff salary, and commission structures, and then training my team, of course.

And I’ve always kept a hand in with hands-on recruiting. Sometimes it’s varied, Michael. Depends on the size of my team, which has expanded and contracted and what have you, over the years, depending on different climates and property markets, largely.

But I’ve always said it’s a little bit like a Sales Director of Real Estate that keeps a hand in listing and selling properties – I’ve always kept a hand in recruiting for my Clients.

Michael Furlong: You started out as a Recruiter, working at Buckmaster Hawkey and then bought the business.

Mark Appleby: That’s right. So, Management “Buy Out”, succession planning for Pam and Peter Newton, and we were fortunate enough to get a nine-month handover from Pam to Mentor us on running a business.

Michael Furlong: It’s interesting because, I didn’t realise that, and we probably share the same approach. I joined MAP Real Estate and then bought into it.

And I think I haven’t had that many jobs in my career, but most of them that I’ve been in, that I’ve worked in, I’ve only selected the job that I want to buy into.

I’ve always looked at the business, as something, if I’m going to work there, I might as well put my full effort and be a Partner. Tell me a little bit about what role the Recruiter plays in our industry, because we’ve just gone through COVID.

Tell me at the moment, how does the Real Estate sector cope with this issue around Staffing? And what’s your role within that?

Mark Appleby: Look COVID, I think everyone was in hibernation. What we’ve learned is a lot of our Clients had obviously set their Staff to work up, to work from home.

I’m noticing a shift in the thought process of even some of the old-school Managers, Michael, where this new normal around Property Managers being able to work from home, even in post-COVID times, seems to be getting well adopted.

That’s even helping overcome a hurdle with Clients around how far from home the Employee travels to work.

One of the things that can be a roadblock when we’re putting a Candidate forward to a Client, is how long in peak hour traffic will it take my Property Manager or my Staff member to get to work.

Usually, that comfort zone ends at, sort of, circa 40 minutes, anything more than that, Hiring Managers get nervous about how long before the Employee gets sick of the travel and find something close at home.

Largely, that sort of opened the thinking a little bit, “Well, hang on a minute, if this person is traveling an hour, but they’re only
coming to the office three days out of five and two days a week working from home.”

It’s actually assisting in that process with now people being more open to Candidates that travel further to get to work.

The role of the Recruiter through COVID was, things did get very, very quiet from the Candidate front because I think those that had a job and were fortunate enough to not be stood down and set up to work from home and were grateful to keep a job.

We only really recruited for roles that had a Portfolio attached to it during lockdown. In other words, if it was a Portfolio of Commercial Properties, Residential Properties or Owner’s Corporation,

Regardless of COVID’s economies, those Portfolios have to be managed, and when someone’s resigned and left the business, someone has to do it.

So those were the only roles that we really recruited for during the entire, you know, particularly through the stage 4 lockdown.

Once the restrictions were raised and things started to ease up, things progressively got busy, and then I would say by late November, things went ballistic. So, Agents are in catch up mode.

Michael Furlong: Tell me a little bit about Buckmaster Hawkey. How big is it? Are you the only Partner? Is it Australia wide? Do you service just Real Estate? Tell me a little bit about what does Buckmaster Hawkey offer the industry.

Mark Appleby: So Buckmaster Hawkey being a Victorian based Recruitment Agency since 1981. I’ve done one interstate gig in NSW, but largely we’re Greater Melbourne is where our Client and Candidate base is.

We do anything that’s property-orientated, Michael.

So, it’s not just Real Estate, any property, that could be Property Developers, could be Owners Corporation, Project Marketing
Agencies, Buyers Advocates, anything that’s property-orientated, we will take it on.

We’re known to be in that space, and have been for 40 years now. The size of our Company is really varied over the years, we’ve been as many as 16 Staff, at our peak, when we talk about head count at the moment

We’ve sort of contracted down to a marketplace, largely adjusted figure and COVID, to four of us at the moment and we’re at capacity now where if things got any busier than what they were, I would have to hire some more Staff.

Michael Furlong: Mark, if I understand correctly, you offer Permanent Recruitment, but also, you said before, Temp Desk, is that what I would consider to be Agency?

Mark Appleby: Yes, so, we offer Temps, we offer Permanent Recruitment, Maternity Leave Contracts. Largely those are the three types of recruitment services that we do.
Michael Furlong: What’s the main Agencies that you work with? You said the Greater Melbourne. Do you work into Regional areas as well?

Mark Appleby: It’s all at the four corners of Melbourne, really from Werribee out to Lilydale down to Frankston and North, as far as Craigieburn and anywhere in between of late though, we have been asked to recruit for some of the Ocean Grove area and Geelong.

I’ve had a couple of Clients invite me to recruit down there. So, I was quite surprised about that, but largely, I would say it’s sort of, if you take Greater Melbourne, that’s where our Client and Candidate base is.

Michael Furlong: It’s solely Real Estate? Do you work in other areas? Are you in Finance? Are you in Construction? Are you in any other recruitment?

Mark Appleby: No, we’ve deliberately sort of stuck, the expression I like to use a stick with your knitting, that’s what we know, that’s what we’re being renowned for.

To go into another discipline or outside of property would be a lot of strategy, blood, sweat, tears, marketing, investment, just to go into another space where you would have no profile, the Candidates wouldn’t know your brand, your Clients don’t know who you are.

So, we’ve kept it to just, if it’s property-orientated, that’s what we stick to.

Michael Furlong: And tell me, the profile of a Recruiter, do you have to be a Real Estate Agent? Do Real Estate Agents make very good Recruiters?

Mark Appleby: Yes, they do!

Michael Furlong: They do! Okay.

Mark Appleby: The most successful Consultants that we’ve had in my tenure, Michael, have all come from Real Estate, Sales people in particular do very well.

We’ve even transitioned a couple of Property Managers if they’ve had some Sales attributes about them. There’s a couple of reasons for that; one is, they understand the industry because they’ve worked in it, they understand the challenges and also all the roles under the roof of a Real Estate business.

So, when they’re actually then recruiting for it, they’d get it. So, when they’re talking to their Clients, they understand the pains and the pleasure of what a Property Manager goes through.

Michael Furlong: Sure, absolutely, and Mark, I know this might be a Dorothy Dix question, but I would imagine you’ve got a complete monopoly on the market. There aren’t any other Recruiters around, it’s just you. It was a Dorothy Dix one, that one.

Mark Appleby: It’s a great question. When I started in 2001, we probably had about four major Competitors and that pool grew progressively. Then I think as technology’s moved on, Michael, and the cloud-based software.

Not having to have the need to actually have a premises to bring
Candidates to interview because people can Facetime now or Zoom, WhatsApp.

All the technologies means that a Recruitment business doesn’t actually have to have a Melbourne CBD Office premises to operate. That, plus the fact, I think, it became very popular for people that got out of Real Estate and thought they might have a crack at it.

In the last five years I’ve seen, we would have up to 20 Competitors now, Michael, I can’t even keep up with it. Seems like every Guy and his Brother’s starting a Real Estate Recruitment Agency working for home.

Michael Furlong: As we wrap up Mark, we’ve known each other for at least 10 plus, probably 15 years or so. One of the key things that I’ve always liked about working alongside with you is your willingness to understand the business model.

When I had my own Agency, you were prepared to come in and find out about our vision, our mission, where we were heading, the profile, rather than what I did experience a lot, which was the resume shopping – and that was emails.

Whether I was looking at or not, I would receive a resume of a Candidate from a Recruiter. And it’s, that’s not the way to do it is it?

Mark Appleby: No, look it’s hugely different. That’s resume racing which some Recruiters subscribe to. The art of Recruitment Consulting is understanding your Client’s business.

It’s like a listing appraisal in Real Estate, you know, it’s hard to sell a house you haven’t been to see.
To go in and actually build a relationship with a Client, like I’ve done with you, Michael, over the years and I’d catch up with you quite regularly because you’d be telling me about your plans.

We’re then a marketing board for your business when we do that because when I am then selling the sizzle and the benefits to a
Candidate that I think is a match for your business.

I’m armed with all that information. I’ve seen your Office; I’ve seen all the people that are around there. I can actually sell that sizzle and promote the benefit of that Clients as to why that Candidate is suitable for the role.

Michael Furlong: Mark, last final one. It’s more of a comment rather than a question, but I like the fact that you’ve been around for such a long time in the industry.

One, it shows some stickability, but what it does do is there are a lot of people that come into the Recruitment game. They come in, they seize an opportunity when the market’s hot, but when things get tough and they’re not necessarily making any money, they go back out into a Portfolio or a Sales role.

I like the fact that you’ve been in and around supporting the industry for so long. Mark, www.buckmasterhawkey.com.au, that’s the website? Thank You very much, my friend, it’s been an absolute pleasure chatting with you today.

Until next time. It’s Mark Appleby, Managing Director from Buckmaster Hawkey and I’m Michael Furlong, Rent Roll Maximiser.

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