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Time Management

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A formidable sales force with James Packham

with James Packham Harcourts Brighton

Adelaide is a city of young Principals running big businesses. At only 30 years of age, James Packham from Harcourts Brighton has taken the South Australian real estate industry by storm. He only started in real estate four years ago and is now the Managing Director of Harcourts Brighton, one of the largest real estate offices on the South Australian metropolitan coast. Twelve months into his new business, he’s selling, leading and growing a business and has recruited 21 young agents. That’s right – 21.

James says, “Certainly it’s been quite explosive growth. We’re not foolish about it. We know all of the stories about being wary of businesses which grow too quickly. We are a very consolidated business. We’re very mindful about the people that we hire to make sure that they’re the right sort. So far inside a year the business is now profitable - excluding my activity as a selling director which was my goal because it means that I can now work if I choose to but it’s not necessary for me to work to actually keep the doors of the business open.”

James has a rigorous recruitment and onboarding process, a paperless office and hot-desks. Prospective agents are interested in the way that technology and personal growth are embedded into the heart of the business. James explains, “When I’ve been meeting with agents, I find that they really have no interest in talking about our office. They are wanting to hear about the other services that are provided. They want to talk about the software that we provide, the technology, the training. They want to talk about the accessibility and accountability that management will offer, the culture. Really a lot of these are things which are non-tangible or that can be offered remotely. We actually have agents now joining us from other areas of Adelaide because they’re interested in plugging into all of those other ancillary services that we offer. We now have seven agents who work remotely and who do not come to the office at all.”

James’ approach blends the new and the tried and tested. He is a firm believer in:

Writing goals/time capsules

He says, “Writing goals is really, really important. I think that there’s some magic to it. I think it plants seeds subliminally. I think that it’s important that not all of your goals are lofty ones. I think you need to have some very achievable goals there as well because I think if you can start developing a habit of setting and achieving goals and then celebrating those victories, you start to develop a winner’s swagger and you carry that with you in your career. I’ll encourage people to write down goals. The reason I call them time capsules is because I derive great enjoyment now from looking back on my goals from a few years ago.”

Three years ago, James says for example, his goals were, “Things like ‘Save $1,000 so I can buy an air conditioner for my house’. They were things like, ‘Book a holiday for myself and my partner’. See back then I really didn’t have any money. I didn’t even dare write, ‘Take a holiday’, because I thought that might not be achievable. I even wrote, ‘Book a holiday’, in a way of buying myself some more time. The reality is fastforward four years on, we often don’t talk about these things because people slam on the brakes at arrogance but I now have a life where I’ve bought my house, my luxury car, my boat. I’ve travelled the world, gotten married. I’m doing everything that I want to do.”


James believes that mentors are really important. He advises, “I think that very early on in your career you need to be quite courageous about reaching out to people and bringing them into your reference group. Even today, I will regularly jump on a plane and travel anywhere in the country or even further to spend some time with somebody who’s getting good traction in their market. I find that whenever somebody is around you who’s doing well, it can go one of two ways: you can either peg them as the enemy and become defensive and perhaps question their level of success or you can reach out to them in a very humble way, in a very friendly way and invite them to become part of your reference group. That’s what I do, if I see somebody do well. I’m not threatened by it - I’m excited by it, and I’ll reach out to them.”

It’s all about prospecting and listing

Prospecting and listing is everything. James says, “If you were no good at prospecting and listing but brilliant at all the other niggle bits and pieces, you could probably never make it work. If you were brilliant at prospecting and listing and terrible at all the other stuff, I could probably put you with a PA and you would do pretty well. I have to say that I believe that I’m very good at prospecting and listing - I’m terrible at all the other stuff but I can afford support staff that come around me and help me do very well.”

James has noticed, “Most real estate agents in Australia tend to earn a very similar income and they are pretty good at the reactive work. The phone rings, they answer it. The email comes in they’ll respond. They list a property, they attend the opens and do the call-backs. What I want an agent to understand very early in the piece is that their income will largely be a product of their ability to have a moment of discipline and a moment of bravery and protect their time and get into that dollar-productive work. Whether that’s knocking on doors or making phone calls, that’s how they get a nose in front of their competitors.”

A formidable sales force never, ever gives up!

I’m doing everything that I want to do.

The Future

James will keep selling. He explains, “I really enjoy it and I think it’s quite important to have a selling principal up here. I really enjoy my work with recruiting, training and retaining people as they come into the real estate space. It’s going to be a privilege for me to work with all of my agents and escalate their incomes and their lifestyles in the coming year. We’ve just signed up our second office which will be a lovely large office and which will see us grow to 30 sales agents in the next six months.”


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