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The Road to Number One with Mat Steinwede

With Mat Steinwede, McGrath Estate Agents

Beating some 700 agents in the company’s NSW, ACT, QLD and VIC offices, Mat says, “I think for me it was just the tick in the box that I wanted to do, and it wasn't an easy thing being up in Terrigal on the NSW Central Coast. I know there's lots of Sydney agents who are amazing. McGrath have probably the highest bunch of producing agents that I know of anywhere in one company."

For all of those years, Matt’s vision didn't change. He says, “I had it on my screensaver, on my phone, 'Number one in McGrath'. I had it in my vision book. Even right up until a few months back, all our team would talk about is, 'When we're number one, when we're number one, when we're number one'."


It hasn’t been an easy road for Mat – he started right at rock bottom. He says, “Most people know I was homeless and a drug addict before I started. An ex-girlfriend just suggested I get into real estate, so I did. A friend bought me some pants and some shoes, and I went and rang everybody in the area to see if they had a job. A lady gave me a start in a little country town called Killarney Vale. I had no car, so she just said, 'Go and door knock'. I used to just walk the streets all day every day and door knock and ask people if they wanted to sell their house. I door knocked non-stop for years." And it paid off. He found his passion.

Mat recalls, “Maybe six months into it, I rang a mate of mine and said to Deano that, 'I'm going to be the best agent in Australia. That's what I'm going to do'. That's what I did. No one taught me cold calling or anything. I was like, 'If I could call people instead of just door knocking every day, that might speed things up'. I used to do both; then I used to drop letters off as well. I just thought of these things along the way myself. Ever since then, I've just kept that same formula. Everywhere I've gone, I've just led the race in a funny sort of way."

He started kicking goals through determination and a natural understanding that he was in the business of building lifelong relationships. The next defining moment in his career was meeting Jaimie Woodcock. Both working in a small LJ Hooker office, Mat says, “I just liked him. He's always been like an older brother to me. He's always been a chronological thinker. He's a very smart guy with a great business mind. I've always had a sales-oriented work style. We're different, but we go together really, really well. I'm all instinct, and he's all like, 'Show me how that works'. I come up with an idea, he makes it work basically. We just connected. I didn't have a great family life growing up, and I think he was just like that brother I never had. He's always had my back."

Their relationship brings together the different strengths that are essential to success. Mat explains, “When you're a business owner, if you're not a great people manager, you're not going to be a great business owner. Jaimie is a fantastic people manager, that's his strength. I don't have anything to do with them. We literally open offices and I don't go there. We opened one in Toukley and I haven't been there, but I own part of that. That's the blend we have, and we recognised that early on. He stopped selling real estate 15 years ago. That's the reason we've done so well."


About 10 years into his career, Mat started running some memorable marketing campaigns that truly resonated with his buyers. There was the infamous ‘Who is Mat Steinwede?’ campaign. He says, “That was pretty cool because people were like, 'Who the bloody hell is Mat Steinwede?'. People still talk about that. I did another thing where I'd send out a DL saying that if people weren't completely happy with my service, I would mow their lawns for the next six months for free. Did that. I've done quite a few of those things, but a marketing agency helped me with some of those things."

In the midst of an economic downturn, Mat and Jaimie’s business continued to grow. Mat was hitting the big time, but the number one title always eluded him. He and Jamie however, made another critical decision which Mat believes was critical to his long-term success. Mat says, “I rang John McGrath) and said, 'Would you be interested in franchising?' We knew each other reasonably well. He said, 'No, not really. I'm years away from it'. He said, 'Why?' I said, 'Our franchiser's agreement's up. It's either we want to work for McGrath or become McGrath. Is there any opportunity?' He said, 'Okay'. This is why relationships are important. He said, 'All right, let's make it happen then'. We made it happen in 60 days. We had no agreement, we just basically worked on a handshake for the first year or two."

Even though he was enjoying great professional success, Mat didn’t make the most of the moments along the way. He says, if he had his time over again, “I would have definitely owned a bit more time for myself along the way because I have dedicated my whole life to this."


Finally, after years of almost making it and a period of complacency, Mat cracked the number one position. He says, “I moved on the next day. I reckon the juice is actually in the journey. It's not in the achievement of it. The achievement's great, but the next day is like, 'Well, okay'. I think sometimes we're so quick to get somewhere. It's so like, 'Life will be better then'. Looking back on my life, I can tell you I should have enjoyed the actual juice of the creation more along the way."

The relationship between him and Jaimie is as strong as ever and hasn’t changed. He says, "Jaimie runs a tight ship, I'm telling you. If I put an ad in there, I get charged for the ad. If I send a letter out, I get charged for the letter." His immediate focus is on his team and building a great company. Mat says, “Their goals are just as important to me as my goals. I literally know all of them. I want to help them become financially successful. I want them to invest well like Tara who's just joined us. She's saving. She wants to buy a property. I've got her list of goals on my phone. That is what it's about. That's why I'm super keen for them to earn what they need to earn. I want them to go home and go, 'I am in the best space, the best space'. Life improvement - that's what it's about for me."

Advice for agents starting out with Mat Steinwede


What you talk about amplifies it. The more you give energy to your vision, and the more you hold onto that - the more it brings it to you. Remember the journey is as important as the destination.


We are in a marketing business. We are the product.


I'm very coachable. I understand that I don't know everything, and I want to learn everything. I've relied on other people to help me hone probably my expectation and what I see. I could see early on that structure's important, but I'm naturally very shy, so I was never a good presenter, especially in the early days. I had real difficulty understanding what to say to people. Lee Woodward coached me a lot of the early years especially. It always felt like I was trying to be someone. I remember I had to give a speech in primary school and I just didn't go to school. I always felt like I was trying to be somebody, but then over time I just put together a bit of a blueprint that came from my heart. That worked really well.


Know your strengths and weaknesses. If your strength is selling - stay there.


Live with a friend if you have to or a parent or something. Drive a very ordinary clean car and own it if you can. I surf with a guy who's 55, and he started surfing when he was 50. His name's Kev. He's a mechanic. We're great mates. His car he bought for $1,000 is a Mitsubishi station wagon. He's like, 'Yeah, I got it for 1,000 bucks', and he's a mechanic. I said, 'Why?' He goes, 'Mate, she goes. No problems. All good'. That's a great attitude. No one gives a crap if you pull up in a BMW. You are not going to win business from your BMW. I'm telling you. It's going to cause you stress later.


Be a career real estate agent. Too often we've got one foot in, one foot out.


There's so many people out there giving you advice on real estate. Listen to people who have done it before who are great at it and who actually have your interest at heart, not to take your money for coaching.


That's it. Don't worry about your scripts and dialogues so much. You practise them along the way. Slowly practise. Slowly practise. Slowly practise. But just be amazing at prospecting and then work on the rest - the next step, the next step, and the next step after that.


I built my career on letters. They cost nothing and I just printed them out of the printer, 200 a night or whatever, folded them at the dining room table and hand delivered them myself.


It's been in the delivery of the CMA that's actually helped me smash it out of the park. When you've walked the streets day after day after day for years, you go to somebody's home and it's like you have this connection with, 'You should be there'. It's not like, 'Ah, I hope they choose me'. It's like, 'You should be there. You've earned this time'. I literally just used to put a topic on a letter, print it out and drop it off. That's it.


That's about the extent of buyer management. You just have to care enough to go find a property for them. I think I've been really good at that over the years, really understanding what people want. I hear it from people a lot. They say, 'This agent shows me properties I'm not even interested in', to get an inspection or to do whatever.

My boss in Killarney Vale, the guy I moved across the road for, he went on holidays. They used to sell about four properties a month; $4,000 commission was about what it was. He went on holidays and I sold 12 properties. He came back and he couldn't believe it. He was looking at the white board saying, 'What the heck is going on here?' I was like, 'They're all the properties that I sold'.



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