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Ewan Morton, Ewans Mad Method Reaps Rewards

Ewan Morton has real estate flowing through his veins. He followed his father into the business and after conquering the exotic locales of Hong Kong and Singapore, he decided to take a crack at one of the hardest markets of all - Sydney. In business now with his father for over fifteen years, Morton & Morton has offices in or around the inner-city communities of Pyrmont, Circular Quay, Woolloomooloo and Crows Nest in Sydney and Hamilton, in Brisbane.

Some people think that Ewan Morton is a mad man. For many years, he has merged the two warring tribes of sales and property management into one. Surprisingly, his sales and property management teams have not killed and maimed each other. In actual fact, the two tribes have formed an uber tribe and business is booming.

Morton & Morton has a rising rent roll of over 1,000 properties. With five offices and fifty staff, their number one problem is not staff turnover but staff never leaving. They’ve been together so long that the company’s biggest hurdle is juggling long service leave. Mr Morton said though, it’s a good problem to have. “My staff have been with me for a long time and they’ve grown in their skills, opportunities and income.”

So what’s Ewan Morton's mad method, how does it work and what do you have to do to grab some of his action?

The Ewan Morton Method

1 Vendors and landlords are the same

Mr Morton’s business is quite unique. Morton & Morton’s clients live in the high towers that dot Sydney’s and Brisbane’s water’s edge, in walking distance of his offices. In his world, vendors and landlords are one and the same. He said, “If you see property management and sales as separate, you’re making a mistake. One of the biggest sources of sales is our property management and one of the biggest sources of property management for us is our sales. They go hand in hand.”

2 Merge your property management and sales teams

In the best interests of their clients, a number of years ago, Morton & Morton blended the two tribes that many think are impossible to merge – the sales and property management teams. Mr Morton explained, “It’s best for our clients if our sales agents are also leasing agents. Each of our landlords is assigned to a salesperson.”

3 Adjust your management structure

To support this business model, the company has a horizontal and vertical management structure that operates across multiple locations.

The verticals are:

  • sales
  • property management
  • project marketing
  • building management
  • new business
  • leasing functions.

The horizontals are:

  • the offices or locations
  • people.

Mr Morton said, “We have property services units that work as a team.” So for example, in the Pyrmont office there is:

  • an office/team leader
  • a sales team of three
  • a property management team of two
  • a new business person
  • a leasing section person.

Above this unit are: sales managers a board in charge of property management individuals in charge of leasing new business across the whole company.

There is also a sales administration team that supports every salesperson in every office.

It is a model that produces impressive bottom lines and it works because Mr Morton understands that the key to success is teaching good people how to work together.

4 Maintain and insist on outstanding customer service

Ewan Morton knows that great customer service builds relationships. Relationships lead to referrals and referrals are the lifeblood of real estate. Great customer service means there is a constant flow of referrals into Morton & Morton’s rent roll of over 1,000 properties. Providing outstanding customer service also means that when the landlord comes to sell, there is only one option to handle the sale – Morton & Morton. Mr Morton keeps a keen eye on his agents, and if they are not keeping in touch with their landlords, the landlord will be moved to another agent.

5 Leave your egomaniac at the door

Ewan Morton abandoned the control freak business model years ago. “About four or five years into the business, I realised that I couldn’t sustain doing everything.” He examined every part of the business and his role in it, so he could get more flexibility and freedom. He measures success now by the number of staff who can do things better than himself. “When you actually get a team of people that actually can do things better than you, it’s amazing. It’s empowering,” he explained.

6 Good people are the heart of a good business

Mr Morton said emphatically, “In order to have a good business, you’ve got to have good people.” And Ewan Morton doesn’t mean people with nice personalities; he means people who are at the top of their game, so he nurtures his staff so they can be the best. “It’s in our interests that our staff actually get better at what they do and that their skills increase. If they don’t, it’s just going to be a matter of time before they leave.” And if those people leave, Ewan Morton knows that they will walk out the door with priceless knowledge, skills and experience and the business will suffer as a result so he constantly throws new challenges at his staff to keep it interesting.

7 Share the love

On a day-to-day basis, Ewan Morton doesn’t sit in his office, barking instructions. He’s out and about, walking the walk and talking the talk. He’s like a soldier, deploying himself to whatever battle is needed to close a deal. He said, “I’ll do everything that I can to help put the deal together. I’ll attend auctions and talk to the vendors and buyers. I’ll go out on any appraisal that anybody wants me to and if anyone is having problems with price reductions, I’ll go and do it.”

Mr Morton prospects. He hits the phones. He does his generating tasks. He does what he asks his agents to do. He explained, “From a leadership point of view, if I’m making my calls and doing my generating tasks, there’s no excuse for them not to do it either.” If a lead comes to him, he’ll accompany a younger gun to make the conversion. He doesn’t take a commission on individual leads and sales, because, “I get enough of that anyway, from the company share of it. My job is to be there to support and help them do their jobs better and have some success.”

Stanley Donen, one of the world’s greatest film directors once said that the secret to his success was hiring the best people he could afford and then getting out of the way. Ewan Morton has the same philosophy. He hires, nurtures and retains outstanding staff whose sole purpose is to focus on the needs of customers and he is reaping the rewards as a result.

Ewan Morton’s not crazy. He’s just not scared to do things differently.  

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Ewan Morton, Ewans Mad Method Reaps Rewards