Episode 9 – Rebecca Berry

Interview: Episode 9
Podcast Host: Michael Furlong – Rent Roll Maximiser
Guests: Rebecca Berry –  Belle | Hocking Stuart St Kilda
Youtube Link: Real Estate Success Principles – Episode 9

You Really Need to Engage with Your Team, and Show Genuine Interest in them to Get the Very Best Out of Your Staff

Michael Furlong: Hey guys, it’s Michael Furlong from Rent Roll Maximiser, here today with a long time, we’ve not spoken for a while, Rebecca Berry.

To formally introduce you, Rebecca Berry, Department Head of, I’m going to say probably of the Hockingstuart Belle Network and the Hockingstuart Network that I know, one of the Premier Offices.

And I’ve been watching you from afar, not in a stalking way, but watching you from afar and just admiring the way you run the Organisation, the ship.

Kudos to you. You’ve been doing a bloody good job. How are you?

Rebecca Berry: Thank you. And yes, I do agree that we are a Premier Office. How could I say anything else?

Michael Furlong: let’s not let anyone else through the Network hear about that. So, Thank You, firstly, for joining me today, I want to have a chat to you a little bit. There’s a couple of reasons.
The first one is that one, I’m really keen to try and find out how people, particularly the thought leaders of the industry, how they’re going through COVID

How they’re finding the market, but at the same time what sparked the interest, was the Awards just recently.

So, before we kick off, big Congratulations, you must be really chuffed, that was Operational Leadership Award?

Rebecca Berry: That’s right, yes

Michael Furlong: And you’re up against some tough competition

Rebecca Berry: I was, yeah. Sadhana Smiles, as well, just even to be up there is incredible. So, I’m very humbled and so grateful.

And obviously, I had the backing of my Team, which is one of the reasons why I managed to get this Award. Winning this has just made all that hard work pay off. And I’ve never been more excited about something. I’m very happy.

Michael Furlong: well, 2020 is a year that like no other, but more importantly, like one that we just don’t want to have again. To ease you through this, talk to me a little bit about the Agency.
Used to be Hockingstuart alone, merged with Belle, so it’s Hockingstuart Belle, you’re one of the offices that has the co-branding. But you’ve been in Real Estate 10, 12 years, thereabouts?

Rebecca Berry: So, it’s been about 12 years I’ve been with this particular Office, I started with this Company as a Property Manager.

I hadn’t had any Property Management experience when I walked through their door, but they saw something in me, obviously, and the rest of it is history.

I had really good Teachers and Mentors along the way. I learnt from making my own mistakes. I learnt from the mistakes that others made as well.

I learnt how to manage people and how not to manage people by looking at how others presented themselves in the workplace and how others managed their Team.

Michael Furlong: So, you started out when you first came 12 years ago to the Office. What was your first role, was it Property Management?

Rebecca Berry: Yeah, I went straight into Property Management. I hadn’t managed a Portfolio before. It was about 180 properties. It was an absolute mess.

Michael Furlong: Baptism of fire

Rebecca Berry: I came in and I had a girl do a hand-over for about probably a week or two with me, teach me the ins and outs of Property Management. Prior to that it only had Leasing Consultant experience.

And I picked it up, I put in the hours I cleaned it up, it took a while. But once I had developed the relationship with the Owners and Tenants, it was quite a good and rewarding job.

Michael Furlong: When you look back 12 years ago, are you a completely different person than what you are now?

Rebecca Berry: I wouldn’t say completely, but I am very different. I am much more patient now. Before, I was probably more of a hothead and “I gotta have things now”, “I’ve gonna make sure everything is perfect.”

I’m no longer a perfectionist, and I’m much more patient. But it’s taken years, years to get this way.

Michael Furlong: What was the balance there, Bec? Was it the kids that came along and accepting that, kids just the kids?
Or was it the bigger kids that were the Staff you work with? Because they’re both like running a kindergarten sometimes, aren’t they?

Rebecca Berry: You’re spot on. Look, it was probably having children and three in very close, one after each other. They’re pretty much just under two years apart, my kids, and I’ve got three of them.

It’s the patience. It’s the kindness, the consistently being kind, showing patience and appreciation for them and I think that’s now reflected in the way I manage my team.

Yeah, so Property Management. I was in that role for about a year and a half and then I got pregnant with my first and went on maternity leave for a year.

Michael Furlong: tell me a little bit about the Agency. St Kilda, for those that are watching, interstate. St Kilda is about 5 – 6km’s South along St. Kilda Road, South of the Melbourne CBD. Would it be 5km’s?

Rebecca Berry: Yeah, roughly.

Michael Furlong: So, 5Kms, there is a beachside element. So, that’s the nice part. There is a Housing Commission element in there. There’s a rougher part.
There’s some beautiful homes. But you’re not too far away from Bayside, you’re also not too far away from Chapel Street, Albert Park, it really is centrally a hub, isn’t it? Tell me a little bit about the Agency.

Rebecca Berry: It’s a beautiful location. Our Agency’s been here for almost 30 years, and some of the Staff that bought the Office originally are still here with us now.

I suppose rebranding from Hockingstuart to Belle, it was a fairly seamless transition. Our Landlords were quite happy. We communicated with them really well, they felt the only change was the colour from red to green.

So, we managed to do that fairly seamlessly retained all of our Clientele, and I think it was all about communication, really. We didn’t really have too many hiccups there.

Michael Furlong: Were you expecting that, a fallout?

Rebecca Berry: I have heard that some Offices, not within our Network, but other Offices that have rebranded have had quite a few problems when they were rebranding.

think it’s really based around communication and what you’re telling your Clientele, really.

Michael Furlong: I think also, and we’ve known each other for a while, I’ve been consulting for a number of years. I do strongly say, you’ve got to really annoy a Client for them to pick up and leave.

You don’t just annoy them once or twice. And it’s typically, and Bec maybe you have a view on this, it’s not the last thing that tips them over the edge, it’s the culmination of all of the things.

If you’re doing the right thing, you’re collecting the rent, finding good Tenants, open communication, managing your relationships well.

If you’re changing from a red to a blue to a green to a yellow, it doesn’t matter.

Rebecca Berry: It’s the same people managing their properties, and at the end of the day, that’s why they stay with us. They stay with us for their Property Manager, and the consistency of the Team that we have working for us.

Michael Furlong: Now, I spend a lot of time going in and fixing up Offices where the Department Manager shouldn’t be in the job, and the only reason they are is because they’ve never left.

I’m sure you would know people like that, that they’ve just progressively gotten older, and more people have come in underneath, and it’s damaging to the industry.

You’re not that, you’ve progressed along the way. Congratulations. I think from when we first met, I don’t think you were a Partner then, but you’ve been a Partner recently. How long have you been a Partner?

Rebecca Berry: It’s almost a year from last December.

Michael Furlong: I think because I think we’ve met probably 2 – 3 years ago through some training stuff. So, tell me a little bit about the Agency.

How many properties you got? How many Staff do you manage?

Rebecca Berry: So, I manage 18 Staff members

Michael Furlong: 18? that’s a Football side. You’re not a Department Head, you’re a Coach!

Rebecca Berry: Pretty much. Yeah, sometimes I feel that way.

Michael Furlong: Who do you follow in Football? Please don’t say Richmond

Rebecca Berry: No, you’re going to be really disappointed. I don’t even follow the Football. I’m from New South Wales. I’ve lived in England for a fair amount of years as well.

So, when I was younger, I used to watch a Rugby League with my Pop, but I have not watched any AFL games here. I’m really so sorry

Michael Furlong: Please don’t apologise. My side finished second last this year. Yeah, I may as well not follow Football either. So, we’re actually very similar.

So, 18 is just the PM Team? Is that Leasing, Admin, and of course, you’ve got Sales, you don’t manage those, that’s different?

Rebecca Berry: Yeah, Sales is separate. I do get involved with them, because when I bought into the business, I bought both the Sales and the Property Management divisions.

So, I make sure that I keep an eye on what’s going on there. I just want to know what they do, how they’re trained. I like to know a little bit about the whole business.

So, I make sure that I am involved, and I engage a lot with the Sales Team as well. So, I’ve got about 12 Property Managers, we manage a rent roll of around 1700 properties.

When I say 12, I do have a Job Share Portfolio as well. So, I’ve got two girls running that one. I’ve got two BDM’s, I’ve got two Leasing Consultants, Admin and Reception and my Accountant of course

Michael Furlong: Reception’s for the entire Agency?

Rebecca Berry: Yes

Michael Furlong: So, it’s all out of one Office?

Rebecca Berry: We’re on Barkly Street. We’re in a two-storey building. So, Sales is predominately upstairs Property Management is downstairs.

Michael Furlong: But one centralised business, you’re not separating the two?

Rebecca Berry: Yeah

Michael Furlong: Did you grow up in the St. Kilda area? You’re saying before you spent time in England, but is that where you live now? Would you consider yourself a local?

Rebecca Berry: No, I wouldn’t consider myself a local. When we moved here from England, I did move straight to St Kilda East, and I was there for about 9 months.

Then we ended up buying a property in Mordialloc so, I live out there and have done for the last, maybe 10 years. I don’t feel you need to live in the area to be an outstanding Agent and to get known.

My BDM lives in the area, and he is amazing. And when he goes to appraisals, he can say any Street and relate to any bar or any property.

He’s been through them all. So, in a way, it is great, but I don’t think it’s necessary. It’s not necessary

Michael Furlong: That seems to be two things. And one, the humorous side says he’s an alcoholic, and just likes to party. The other side, he knows his area.

Rebecca Berry: He really does know his area, he’s incredible

Michael Furlong: That was a joke, I wasn’t meaning that. So, you’re right, you don’t need to be specifically local. But, I think, it’s a nice fairytale story.

If you grew up in the area, you bought in the area, your business is in the area. But Mordialloc to the office, is that 20 minutes normal driving?

Rebecca Berry: About 30 minutes, yeah

Michael Furlong: And then when we’re all go back to work, it’ll be an hour again

Rebecca Berry: I already noticed the traffic’s picked up already

Michael Furlong: So, 12 staff, 1750 properties, 12 PM’s, 18 Staff. Just as we wrap this little section part up. What’s the one thing that you’ve probably learned, that you didn’t think you’d need to by being a Manager, of so many people?

So beforehand, when you were a Junior, you would have had Managers, and you would have thought “Oh, this is easy you know, they don’t know what they’re talking about.” Now you’re in that spot. What is the one main thing that you’ve learned?

Rebecca Berry: I have learned so many things. Being a very new Manager for the last three years, I’ve learned that you really do need to engage with your Team, you can’t just roll on in and think that you can manage people.

It’s all about building the relationship with each and every one of them, and not just knowing them. You want to really know them, you want to ask them questions about what they like, what they do, what makes them tick.

You need to show interest in your Staff to get the very best out of them, and you need to do that consistently. It’s not just one thing that you do every couple of weeks and pick up the phone, make a 5-second phone call.

It’s a long-term play. It’s 100% effort every time you engage with someone, and it’s listening so well. So that, you know, in another week’s time, you can go into that same conversation saying, “How’s your brother now”, and “What’s happened here” and blah, blah, blah.

It’s just listening, engaging, and being so genuine, so that they want to come to you when they have problems. If you do it that way, they can trust you. And I think that’s why we have such a great Team here

Michael Furlong: I think you’ve just exemplified why you are absolutely kicking goals in the industry and why you’re winning Awards. It’s the genuineness.

Just in what you were saying to me just there now. I don’t know if you saw it, but Empathy, Leadership, Management just oozed out of there. It was great.
It’s important because there’s too many Managers that are in the industry, as I said that, by default, they just haven’t left or no one’s fired them.

It’s been an absolute pleasure. We will chat again. Thank you very much. So, if we’re looking at Rentals or Sales in around the St. Kilda area, is it Hockingstuart? Is it Belle, what’s your website?

Rebecca Berry: Our website is www.belleproperty.com/st-kilda

Michael Furlong: Rebecca Berry, Department Head, Hockingstuart Belle, St. Kilda. That’s a mouthful, isn’t it?

Rebecca Berry: It is a mouthful.

Michael Furlong: It’s been great chatting to you. Cheers!

Rebecca Berry: Thank you. Bye!

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