Ash tell everyone a little about who you are and your story so far.
I am the director at SOCO realty in South Perth. Our office is very hyper local and we are a couple minutes from the central CBD. The main thing for me at the moment is that I do our marketing, our business development and we run a team of 10 in our office doing property management and sales.
Have you always done sales and property management or was it one that came before the other? Or how did it roll for you?
For us because I’m in business with my brother-in-law, Bill and he does the sales and I do the property management. So we always went in with both departments, but over time the Perth markets fluctuated so much that one has become stronger than the other. So, we’ve had two really bad hits in Perth so our sales department and our property management started off quite consistently. We started from zero properties and then as time’s gone along we have got a very strong property management department and our sales department has dropped down, but we’re quite happy with that situation in our office.
You mentioned that obviously Perth market has had two hits. Would you say that’s been one of the biggest challenges? Or two of the biggest challenges or is there something else that’s a personal professional challenge for you?
Yeah, so for us definitely the two hits, but I guess we learned quite but, Bill and I are we’re great real estate agents and we’re great bosses but we actually only like our bank account was our budget. So if we had money in the bank we spent it. And we didn’t actually really understand balance sheets and profitable losses. For us when we… Our timing was really good. So we started in 2006. Then in 2010 there was a great big spike in Perth. So it was an unreal sort of time to be selling and making money. But then it crashed really hard and so we had gone from like, you know. Having a good income, money in the bank and then I think to start looking at everything all our books. So that was a big challenge for us. And we got through it. But it took us a couple of years to recover and to be honest we have just recovered financially as a business and then Covid’s here.
What’s your big goal going forward? Anything on the agenda?
Only because like you know business for us is a real lifestyle choice and so for us we’re not that goal orientated because we like just to run a nice business that gives us a nice lifestyle flexibility and that’s our plan and that’s what we’ve got. When I thought about a goal, I would say that my main thing would be that with my labor at the moment. I wanna maximize my labor. So I’ve got to bring in another maybe 80 properties, rental properties. Utilizing the existing staff. So then my staff will all maximize and I don’t to bring anyone else in. So I think that, that makes sense being a goal. But am I you know jumping over people to get to it? Not really.
What sort of is your ideal client and why should they come to you?
South Perth is a very family-orientated place, so we’ve got lots of good schools. We actually have more independents in our area than we do franchise. I had a situation and I really love this. It was the first time somebody’s ever said that, I was up against an independent agency who’s been around for 30 years. And I was meeting a new client who had a couple of properties and he actually, it was between the two of us and he actually turned around to me and said, “you know what Ash?” Because that company has had their hey day. They’ve been around for 30 years. Their children have grown up and they’ve had their time, now it’s time for me to support a company that’s been around 15 years–But someone who’s got young children. Cause I’d rather my money go to you. And no one’s ever said it like that and it was such a touching thing. So really for us being independent and being hyper local like for us our kids go to school locally, we’re situated right on a cafe strip. We interact with families, because that’s where our children are. So everyone sort of knows us and the kids. And we’re not that high flyer type real estate agents that like you mentioned, where you know you will see me going down to Coles in my Ugg boots on Sunday morning I don’t really care who sees me.
We’ve talked about value of being independent. Do you have a word of advice for other business owners?
For me and I’ll probably just reword is like, or what I noticed with other companies. So number one is my word of advice is… And this is, sorry this is for Perth market as well. Pay attention to the property management department. Where you have and the fees and how much it actually cost to you know look after a property every year. And making sure that if you do reduce fees, you don’t reduce below that. Really people… It’s very stereotypical, but a lot of agencies are owned by a sales rep. Generally a male sales rep. And they don’t really have the interest. They don’t understand property management and figures. So they’re just about numbers. So they’re like, “yeah we wanna get a 100 properties, 200 properties, 300”. But then they don’t actually think of the cost of it. So, what’s recently happened with Covid is that these agencies who had dropped their fees down quite a lot in the past have now that Covid’s happened and their business expenses have dropped down so far. They now need to re address their expenses with labor being the most expensive. And then their property management department having to take a hit. And so I think that knowing property management numbers is massive, that’s a number one. That surprises me. Number two, don’t treat your bank balance as your budget, because it’s not.