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Change your attitude change your life Kieran Bresnahan

With Kieran Bresnahan, McGrath Estate Agents - St George

One of the best agents in Australia, Kieran Bresnahan is not only trustworthy and authentic - he quietly achieves the greatest sales prices as well. In the industry since 2003, his rise to the top of McGrath in Sydney’s St George area hasn’t always been smooth. There have been many peaks and troughs along the way. What has assured him continued success however, has been his mental fortitude, his willingness to seize change and counter the prevailing winds. When he is working his hardest, those are his happiest times.

Working in real estate is not easy. Kieran’s journey was made easier though when he met Matt King at McGrath in 2003. With their different strengths, they became business partners – a relationship that remains tight and strong today.

However, perilous economic conditions during the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) tested their fledgling business and made every day mentally gruelling. He explains, “In 2008, July through to November was a really difficult period not just for us, but for everybody. I had four little kids, all under the age of four or five. I had just finished building a house and the mortgage was about a million bucks. Matt King and I had a business with about six or eight sales people. In August, the whole business sold two properties. I think in September we sold four. We essentially were losing about $25,000 each a month, so about $50,000. Obviously, we weren't taking an income. You can't do that for too many months and keep your head above water."

The Epiphany

One day it came to a head. In a sales meeting, his business partner Matt was really down. Kieran says, “He was really worried. He made a comment with the staff that if we don't start selling some houses, his would be the next one. I said to Matt, ‘I’m going home to change my life’. At that point in time, I was maybe about a $600,000 a year agent.” He drew a line in the sand and turned his attitude around.

He says, “I was just so keen to milk every single opportunity. Every single phone call I treated with the same intensity. (It was the same for) what I was doing outside of work as well. I got back into reading. I would read every night. Every morning when I would drive to work I wouldn't listen to the radio. I would either be listening to training or sometimes just nothing and just picturing the man I wanted to be, a sales person I wanted to be, and the life that I wanted to create for my family and how I would feel when I did that. That gave me an enormous level of motivation for the next few years.” The next year he wrote $1.1 - $1.2m. He says, “I wasn't any smarter, I wasn't any more skilful. I just got really clear about what I wanted, and really clear about what I didn't want, and just made it happen one phone call at a time."

Kieran’s new mindset and willingness to seize and acknowledge the present meant rather than focusing on ‘what if it all went wrong’, he switched to dwelling, “…on the present and what I needed to do that particular day. John McGrath always said to us when we were very young, ‘It's the things we don't do in the day that make us tired or cause us stress, not the things we do’. I was doing an enormous amount of prospecting but the business wasn't coming from there. It was coming from external places. It's almost like the law of attraction was in play."

The importance of vendor management

Kieran realised the importance of vendor management and then and now makes sure his vendor management is second to none. He says, “With the shift in the market particularly in Sydney, vendor management is going to become an even more important skill. I am just very open with them. I'm very empathetic to what they're going through."

Even though he is in spectacular demand, Kieran remains the Lister so that he is there when those first connections are made - there to ask the deep questions and demand trust from the vendor before he performs the work. He says, “A lot of my competitors say, ‘You won't get Kieran. You'll wind up with somebody else’. As much as I have a great team, you deliver a piece of information in the wrong way, or say something you shouldn't say - that can derail the whole campaign. To me, vendor management is the most important part of the transaction. The only truth is in the result. It's what John used to tell us, He said, ‘They don't come to you. They've got enough friends. If they've wanted another friend, they'd buy a puppy. They come to you for an outcome. They come to you for a solution, and you need to help them get that’."

From the first meeting Kieran believes you have to ask the right questions and listen to the answers. In that first meeting, he says, “I want to get an understanding of their past experience. Have they been through the process of selling before? What do they think makes a good agent? What's the criteria in which they're going to be making the decision in terms of who they appoint? Obviously, I want to get a very clear understanding of their timing, and why they're selling.” He takes down lots of notes and actively listens. At the end of this process, he tells the vendor that he wants to get a great price and also wants to ensure that the selling process is a really good experience for the vendor.

Constant communication creates a quality relationship, which in turn earns agents the right to have difficult conversations with vendors and to be heard. With a vendor, Kieran believes, the key for agents to learn is that you cannot take hope away. He says, “You can't take hope away from them about the possibility of what the property would sell for, but the days of going in and listing it at any kind of price and the market paying that, I think are finished. If you continue to do that in New South Wales, you will upset a lot of people and they talk a lot. It's going to be very difficult for you to get business going forward."

So how do you have that conversation? Kieran says, “I think I just am very vulnerable when I'm delivering that information. You’ve got to be very careful with the tone in which you deliver an uncomfortable conversation and just allow them to speak, and allow them to talk, and that comes from actively listening to what they say. If you do that and you're not scared of the outcome, I think you're going to be fine."

When talking about price reduction, Kieran believes you earn the right to have that conversation if you have provided quality information, have spoken frequently with your vendors and have encouraged them to make decisions. He explains that he says to a vendor, “’If I had a buyer that was ready to go now, what would they need to pay for you to be comfortable?’ Then, they'll say a certain figure and you say, ‘Okay, what if we wouldn't get that?

What would you do?’ and pause. Sometimes, people think it's all about what you say but sometimes it's about what you don't say, and being comfortable with saying nothing. Asking a question and allowing the client to answer without you interrupting, and then actively listening to what they tell you - that would give you all the information you need to tailor a solution for them."

Most vendors do not want to acknowledge the changing market so a level of tact and emotional intelligence is required from an agent. The vendor will say that her or his neighbour got a good price and so should they. Kieran says, “I think if you just come out and say, ‘Your neighbour got $1.5m but the market's off 10%, so you're going to get $1.3m’, you will not get a lot of business.” He recommends a more detailed approach of explaining the upside of the changing market for them personally. He says, “If they're moving, make sure you relate that back to them and let them know that in some cases if they're upgrading, they're actually better off than their neighbours were when they sold 12 months ago because they're now going to be buying something cheaper than their neighbours would have. I think if you do that, they'll be much more accepting of the market as all they're thinking about is, ‘Joe got $1.5m. I want ... Mine's better, so mine is worth $1.6m’. I think if you deliver it in a way that you can put a positive spin on that for them in terms of their next move, it will be much easier for you."

Looking at 2018

In some ways, the GFC has prepared Kieran for the changing market. Yet again, rather than looking at the future with fear, he is ready to take it on and take a bite out of it. He says, “The market conditions excite me. I want to test myself to see how good I can be, and that doesn't mean I want to write $3m or $2.5m, or $4m. If I'm talking to you this time next year, I want that peace of mind that I found the best that was in me, because whilst this year I worked really hard with the properties that I've got, the amount of opportunities that I let slip through apathy is too much."

Never one to be satisfied with the status quo he says, “There's too much leakage in my business, and I'm just gifting my competitors a lot of money and have done that for a lot of years."

Looking at his past performance and ability to kick goals in difficult economic circumstances, Kieran’s going to do very well. Seize the day – people!

"The market conditions excite me. I want to test myself to see how good i can be."


Kieran's Key Stats

His first job was in his family’s butchery where he learnt to provide solutions to customers’ problems and provide over and above the expected level of customer service. With Matt King, Kieran is a joint director of four McGrath offices at Sans Souci, Revesby, Brighton-Le-Sands and St George. His average sale price is about $1.4m. 85% of his properties were sold at auction. His GCI is between $1.7 - $1.8m for the last five years. He has a team of three working with him. Kieran says, “I've got a fabulous PA named Sharon. She does handle a lot of the administration and the marketing, and liaising with the vendors between listing and the first open for inspection. I've always had a young guy or a girl working with me to basically groom them into being a good agent. They do a lot of those initial call-backs for me to weed out the people that don't want to buy the home. I just recently, in the last six months, introduced the fourth person into the team. I put on someone a little more senior with the goal of trying to have them be out listing property on their own as well, so that not every sale is dependent on me."






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