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Norm Honey, Hannah Gill, Youth and Experience conquer property management

It’s hard to believe but nearly one in four homes in Canberra are sold by the Independent Property Group (IPG). The group is also hitting goals in property management with more than 2,500 properties under management and they expect to have 3,500 on the books by the end of 2014. These are impressive figures in anyone’s language.

A numbers man and veteran of the industry, Norm Honey heads up the property management division for IPG. He explains that when he took on the role in 2010, “I went and interviewed every staff member. After that, I found out that it wasn’t working the way it should have. We had three branches, all doing three different things. So we moved them all into one office, in City Walk, in Canberra’s CBD and we went from there.”

Norm has 36 staff in property management and a unique threecircle structure. Norm says, “We’ve got new business, leasing, and property management. They all inter-link, but they do their own specialised business; and that’s the way a structure should be, specialised people in specialised positions.”

It’s an approach that is yielding impressive results. “For the last 12 months,” Norm says, “we had an increase of 26.4 per cent. We’re running at 115 leasing approvals a month. There would be companies around us now, who wouldn’t be doing that in 12 months. With the structure of our leasing consultant, they’re specialised; that’s their job, to find the tenant, get approval, and pass on the property managers.”

If you don’t change, you don’t win; and that’s pretty simple.

While Norm has been in the industry for many years, most of the people in his team are from Generation Y. Norm explains, “Generation Y is the future of real estate - they will be the leaders in a decade or two. Out of the 36 staff we have, nearly 28 are Generation Y. It’s a pretty young team and there’s one word that locks everything together as far as I’m concerned; it’s 'communication'. Communication circles everything we do. Not just from leasing, new business, and property management; at PD every Tuesday, we’re communicating in what the market’s doing. It’s just one of those things; communication is what it’s all about.”

One of the strategies that has really kicked goals for IPG was the introduction of a referral program. Norm says, ”About 66 per cent of our referrals are from our sales-people, and the rest are from word of mouth referrals, and so on from outside our business. We pay them a referral fee a month, and we have a presentation every month at their sales meeting, which is very exciting. They pick up cash in their hand - It’s something they look forward to.”

The reason why Norm has been such an industry stalwart has been that he has been able maintain innovation and adapt to the changing winds. Technology savvy and forever young, Norm believes, “You need to change, and I’ve learnt that over the nine years I’ve been with Independent Property Management, and also with the 14 years in sales. Things have to change. If you don’t change, you don’t win; and that’s pretty simple.”

Hannah Gill is the impressive Business Development Manager for Property Management at IPG - and is one of their Generation Y star performers. She may only be twenty six, but in the last month, Hannah and her team have brought in 303 new listings! That’s right - 303.

Hannah explains, “My close rate is 98 per cent. So, generally I’m looking to book at least eight to ten appraisals a week. The more, the better, but we also don’t want to drop off on the admininstration side of things and stop with the feedback and stop with the email follow-up, we want to ensure that remains consistent. So it’s about just finding a nice balance.”

For some months Hannah’s close rate has been even higher - around 169 per cent because an owner might say 'Look I’ve got four properties, take them all'. Canberra is a unique market with many multiple investors “We meet with them expecting one property and we walk away with 11 or 12.” A good month for Hannah is around 30 - 35. “In the last 12 months I averaged 32 a month, but my record month was 71, so I’m always trying to beat that record number.”

IPG have a unique three part structure in which the new business, leasing, and property management are separate departments. Hannah explains, “We find it works really well in speeding up the period between signing a new owner and getting a tenant and minimising vacancy for them which is obviously what we want to do.” She continues, “A business development manager meets with the client and signs them up. At this meeting we explain our approach, because it is quite unique in Canberra, and we find that we have the ability to be able to show a prospective tenant through in a matter of a couple of hours if need be, and we can also sign somebody up within a matter of you know, 12 to 24 hours which makes a huge difference in our market.”

“Then we allocate a leasing consultant based on location in the area. That consultant will handle the open houses, private appointments, they work five and a half days a week. Once the owner picks a tenant we then hand over to the property manager.”

For people considering this approach they are often concerned that clients will find it hard to deal with three different people but Hannah has found that the transition between contacts is quite seamless. It has to be for the model to work. She says, “At the beginning of the relationship we’ve built the rapport with them, we’ve met with them and signed them up and they’ve got that confidence in what we’re promising. We are able to put their mind at ease and ensure that they’ve still got that person that they can trust them, but obviously over time, they build that same sort of trust and rapport with the leasing agent as well, and then in turn with the property manager.”

It’s an approach that’s clearly working - the numbers speak for themselves proving that youth and experience can be a powerful combination!

About 66% of our referrals are from our salespeople.

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Norm Honey, Hannah Gill