The Secrets to Scaling Your Commercial Real Estate AgencyApr 12, 2023
Here is a new interview that any ambitious commercial real estate professional should love.
In our latest podcast episode with Peter Vines, the Managing Director of Ray White Commercial Western Sydney, my special guest talks about:
✅ his decision to leave the security of a big firm and take over the reins at Ray White Commercial Western Sydney;
✅ the manta ‘hustle beats talent when talent won’t hustle’, and how he has approached recruiting and culture to grow the team from four to 30 people in three and a half years;
✅ the benefit of having a strong presence on LinkedIn and Instagram – Peter is a power networker – and how he comes up with ideas for content to continually add value to, and expand, his network;
✅ his plans for the future, including developing more capability in industrial markets and project marketing through the ever-expanding Western Sydney market; and,
✅ his experience working with me to develop his own leadership capacity – even though he is already a natural leader – and the value that this has brought to both himself and the business.
If you're a commercial real estate leader looking to develop your leadership skills and grow your business, let’s create a plan to make that happen.
You can visit cresuccess.co/leadership to learn more about the program Peter went through, and then schedule a confidential, no-obligation discussion to see if it's the right fit for you.
Either way, I know you’ll get a ton of value from listening to the interview with Peter in episode 135 of CRE Success: The Podcast.
On today's episode of the show, we're going to be speaking to one of the most prolific listeners and sellers of commercial real estate in Australia.
He's also the Principal of one of the fastest growing real estate businesses which is located in the growth corridor within Australia's fastest growing city.
There's a lot to learn from listening to this person, so don't go anywhere.
Hello, and welcome to Episode 135 of CRE Success: The Podcast. My name is Darren Krakowiak, and I helped commercial real estate leaders to develop their people and to grow their business.
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We've got a fantastic episode for you today. I'm really pleased to introduce Peter Vines.
Pete is the managing director of Ray White Commercial Western Sydney.
Now, he was somebody who I sought out as a client because he was someone who I wanted to be associated with.
I think you'll see why when you hear a little bit about his story and what he's managed to do in his business and also for himself, and his own production and where he wants to take the business.
A lot to learn in today's episode. Let's check it out.
Peter Vines, welcome to CRE Success: The Podcast.
Thank you for having me, Darren.
Now Pete, you left CBRE in 2019 to take over the reins at Ray White Commercial Western Sydney. Can you tell us a bit about what led to you making that decision?
Sure. Look, I think it's sort of I'd been at CBRE for 13 years, three years overseas. And I just you know, I love CBRE as a brand and I have a huge amount of admiration for them as a business. But I just wanted to do something different. And I wanted a new challenge. And I wanted to sort of you know, my family had always had their own agencies. And I guess, had that in the back of my mind that one day I would go and do that. And then the right opportunity came and just start dwelling on things in your head and start thinking about what a life might look like with that. Yeah, so that was sort of how it came about.
So where was the business when you took it over? Where is it now? And where do you want to take it in terms of, let's say, headcount and also in terms of coverage of markets.
When we started there was four people here. The sales and leasing guys, there's three of those and a property manager. And they were doing kind of sales and leasing across various asset classes. And we made some changes to get it more into a sales business, leasing business and a property management business. I'm quite big on kind of having that focus where possible. And we sort of there was one person who was lovely, but just didn't fit in with kind of what we wanted to do and where we were going. The headcount as of last week was 30 people. So that's three and a half years later. And look as huge I mean, our sales team kind of has grown and will continue to grow. Our leasing business has gone from one person to three people. We're looking at a fourth person at the moment. And our property management business has gone from sort of one person to seven people. You know, we've got a general manager we've got a full-time accountant. And so, I'm very big at looking at where the other people in the market are, and where we have the ability to play without a lot of competition. And that's really sort of, you know, I guess, as a business, we're kind of at a very young stage. And so, we've grown very quickly. And so, we've had to learn a lot of things very quickly. But also, we've found a real niche in the market. And I think that we have a huge amount to offer. Vendors we're very agile. But we also are a real alternative for, you know, either younger guys coming up in the industry who want to learn from more senior people, or alternatively, those senior people who have been at the major agencies who might not be as excited by the politics anymore, or might be wanting to do something on their own, or we're very entrepreneurial. So, we have the ability to back people into their own business or running a business unit within our business, like we've done with our project marketing. But again, we're sort of only at the beginning, we have huge opportunities in various markets, particularly with asset management, where we're providing a service of a one of the major corporates, but we're a lot more nimble. We don't have the same overheads. We're in the private space. We really work those assets very hard. Every dollar counts when you're a private. And so, we've been able to grow that business. And we have very good people who do a great job. And so, a lot of this stuff was previously managed by residential agents. And they just don't have the level of sophistication. We're dealing with hugely complex assets. And we need very sophisticated managers in there to make sure it's done properly, particularly with the legislation that's around. So, I think, into the future, we have a big opportunity into industrial markets, into project marketing, where we're just getting started. But there's plenty of room there for growth. It's an exciting future, particularly being in one of the fastest growing regions in the country.
Yeah, people who aren't familiar with Sydney might not know that Western Sydney is basically a city in itself, and one of the fastest growing regions of Australia. As a leader of fast-growing business, you've talked a little bit about why people might want to come and work inside your business. But what do you look for in people when you're recruiting?
Obviously, it depends what position you're recruiting for. The talent pool has really gotten a lot better in the last six months during COVID. You know, you and I have had a number of discussions about recruitment and stuff. And it was much more challenging. Look, I think, hunger, like if you're recruiting for a sales or sales role, you really have to have the can-do attitude and that hunger. You're dealing with kind of rejection on a daily basis. And you need somebody who, you know, I like people who have technical skills, who bring different things to our team, because it gives our team more rich, like, be greater depth. But if you have a desire to do something, that trumps a lot of hustle beats talent when talent won't hustle. And that's really, you know, it's true. Like, when I remember when I started, I didn't have a lot of technical skill, but I was hungry. And I just had this kind of desire to do well. Still have no technical skill. But you know, that drive and determination will be the indicator of a lot of people's success. It's a different skill set to when we're hiring a general manager. It's a different skill set to when we're hiring a property manager who, in all honesty, you want to be really steady, really kind of process driven. Just a problem solver, somebody who can get things done. So again, it really depends which role you're recruiting for. But, it's funny, right? I think, we've done some bad hires, we've done some phenomenal hires. But if somebody comes into our business and they're not right, they don't stay. And that's not them, it's us. They just don't fit in with necessarily what we're doing.
So, I think I found a clip for a later promotion of this episode, it was hustle beats talent when talent work hustle. I love that.
Yeah, I've stolen that from somebody, I'm stealing that from probably went to a trainer or something like that, but I'm gonna use it.
Yeah, it's good one. One thing that you set your mind to was building up a really strong network on socials on Instagram and on LinkedIn. So, I want to hear from you about how you first started expanding your online network and what you do to maintain the strength of that network as a busy real estate professional, but also, as someone running their own business.
Look, it’s funny, I have been doing LinkedIn now. And probably, it'd be close to 10 years. And I remember at the time when I was at CBRE, and I spoke to a group of older guys who are all directors about the power of LinkedIn and using LinkedIn. LinkedIn is the largest b2b media channel, social media, or whatever you call it in the world. And for corporate, real estate agents, like myself, I have the ability to connect with business owners, property professionals, who, if they're not, my client, now could be in the future. And I have the ability to put my messages in front of them for free. And the younger guys in my office post on LinkedIn, and I say, "That's fantastic. But are you growing your network?" So, you can post what you want. But if you still got 300 followers on LinkedIn, you don't have a very powerful network. So, it should be about growing gradually. And as you meet new people, you add them in, it has become part of my life. That when I meet somebody new, they go into my LinkedIn contacts, and I stay in front of them. And staying in front of people, stay in front of mind, is what our business is about. So that when somebody wants something, they think of me.
Staying in front of people, I think, involves creating content on a regular basis. And it's something whenever I go onto my Instagram, I see that you've been creating something, including the daily, or are the ones that after stories, and also the posts. How do you come up with these ideas? And tell me more about how that doesn't take your focus away from the day to day of running a business and listing and selling?
At the beginning, I would just post, just listed and just sold. And I remember the people from the marketing team saying, "You know, you need to be a thought leader." And at the time, it was like, "Yeah, okay, I need to be a thought leader, but I didn't have the resources to be a thought leader. And I probably didn't have the depth of understanding of the market that I do now to be a thought leader." And so, all I wanted to do was post something. Whether it adds value to people or not, they see my name. Now, moving forward, I have the ability to add sort of probably more valuable content. I mean, a lot of content is fluff particularly on Instagram, you know, it's a different platform. It's sort of blending personal and business. And so, it's really more attended sort of, I guess snapshot of your life. But like a lot of the content now we share as a team. So, the various sales that were involved in, we have a full-time marketing person who started to market our business. And so, we are looking to grow more content. Because as you grow, you do need to add value to people, there just listed, just sold is good as a sort of space filler, but also people have to get value from what you're posting otherwise, you know, just sort of it's in one ear out the other. I think that as a smaller business, or as a more boutique brand, we can be exceptionally agile. And we have the ability to create content and to deliver content that other groups can't do. Because we don't have a hierarchy set up with communications and media and all those things. We do what we want. And that's why I'm very happy about where we are. Because if we want to do something, we spend the money to do it. I don't have to go and ask permission from people, we do it. If one of my team members has a strong idea, we'll do it. And we'll pay money to create content, because it keeps us in front of people. I don't see it as taking me away from coming up with the ideas and the content, like I've always been kind of quite creative. And I mean, it's not necessarily something that came naturally to me. But I think if you see a value in doing something, you need to spend some time on it like you would any other part of your business. Because, again, if you see the value in doing it, you're better to do it well. And so, if you spend a bit of time thinking about it. I don't execute this stuff, like it's not like I'm sitting around playing with Canva, I put a photo up, like, you know, I'm quite basic with a lot of the stuff I post. Again, I'm not so concerned about the form as I am with just getting it out there. I actually don’t bother me as much. But from a business perspective, we have somebody who will go and do that for us, and who will help build our brand presence across the market.
Just want to touch on one point you made about on Instagram, sometimes you're sharing things which you might classify as fluff, which is that more personal stuff, but I think that actually also serves a purpose because it helps people get to know a little bit about who you are. And it helps you I guess, build that connection with people.
Well, and in fairness, like Instagram, that's to me. Like that's my personal, that's not business, that's my life. You don't see me there when my kids are up at 11 o'clock, and I can't get them to sleep and the wheels have fallen off. It'd be funny if I did. But I love training. So, it's got my running on there, when I go on holiday, whatever, it's actually my life. And so, it's a blend of both, and I don't have a just business account, because, my business is my life. And that's not all I have in my life. But it's like, it is me. And so, people can have my account open and people can go and get a perspective of who I am as a person. And they can make a judgement whether they like me or not. Not everybody's going to like me, unfortunately. But you know, I am what I am and I'm good at what I do. And you either like me or you don't, but that's at least people know who they're dealing with.
Yes, I think facing rejection and understanding that not everybody is going to like you are some important groups of cons that be commercial real estate we need to cross in order to achieve and do the things that we want to do.
They are and they will set you free.
I want to talk to you about working with CRE Success. We work together for a year. Why did you originally decide to start working with us on a one-on-one basis?
Look, I think I don't believe that there's any other real estate trainers or coaches or what have you want to call it that specializes in commercial real estate. There's a lot of the programs around that are focused towards residential. That's completely different to what we do. And when I say it's completely different, I truly believe that there are systems and processes that we can take from residential. But it's not somebody like yourself, who understands our business and the way things work. And when I was looking for somebody, I saw you as somebody who had run a business, a large international business, and could share the knowledge that you'd learned during that time to help me on my journey of leadership. I'm probably a natural leader. But when you're running a business, you have to be everything to everyone. And unless you have a somebody opposite you to get you reflecting on certain aspects. You just don't know. And you don't know what you don't know, right? And so, I thought that you were the right person to do that.
Did you have any hesitations before you signed up?
Look, whenever I've done training in the past, I've always been kind of daunted by the additional work of pushing me outside my comfort zone. And then, there's all these fantastic ideas. And then I'm like, "Oh, I have to go and put this into practice. And I'm trying to sell and I'm trying to, you know". But I think that the way that you approached it was perfect for me. Because again, it was about just gradual change, and being conscious of certain aspects around the business and planning for the future. And but yeah, I think you always have a certain apprehension about what you don't know. But again, like some of the discussions that you and I had at sort of quite critical times, they've been very useful to me having you as a source of truth. I don't know what the right word is, but you know, to sanity check myself to run things past year.
So, what has been some of the value for you, and also the value for the business that's come as a result of working together?
Look, I think we grew very quickly. And I haven't done this before, like, I haven't run a business before. Thank goodness, I'm not the only one running the business. We do like rubies obviously, they’re helping and now we have Hanner as well. For me, taking time out to look at the business, look at strategically how we are going to grow the individual meetings with people, planning for growth, planning for brand growth, it really just kind of those key pillars of running a business, and the things that you need to be aware of.
Is there a word that comes up for you to sort of sum up the process of working together or how it felt to sort of work on a one-on-one basis over the past year?
The first word that came to mind was 'clarity'. Again, I always feel that if you're not aware of something, how would you be like, you know, if you're always doing the same thing, you're always going to do the same thing. It's probably awareness and clarity, because when you're aware of something, even if you make a mistake, you know that you make your mistake. But if you're not aware of it, it just happens. And so, it's really having somebody there who can sense check you but also keep your accountable and make you aware of not only yourself, but the business and what the business needs to then kind of, you know, go to the next level.
I know some people who are watching or listening to this interview will be interested to hear from you what your advice is about investing in themselves or working together with CRE Success on the program that you've been on, what would you say to them?
You can never invest too much in yourself. I think, that's the one place where just spend all the money. I mean, I pay for a personal trainer, I regularly do courses, I coach, because the value I have to give is my value. And every time I do a course, I listen to an audio book, I spend time with Darren, I make myself more valuable to my business and to my clients. And so, I think that, anybody who's considering doing it, it really is incredibly worthwhile. And I think, particularly for guys who either are starting or a kind of struggling to get to that next level, it really is a fantastic program to give you a holistic view of running a commercial real estate business.
Okay, we can't wait to see how big the business gets and where you go to next, I want to say thank you very much for coming on today and having a chat with us.
My pleasure. Thanks very much for having me.
Well, really enjoyed listening to some of the reflections from Peter Vines, the Managing Director of Ray White Commercial Western Sydney, in that interview.
I hope you enjoyed it, too. If what Pete said made you think about your own personal and professional growth as a leader and you'd like to know more about the program to work with CRE Success on developing your people and growing your business, then I invite you to go to cresuccess.co/leadership
Because if you leave your details there, the next step will be for us to have a confidential and no obligation discussion where we can talk about how we can get your business growing faster.
You'll walk away with a plan that you can either implement yourself, or if someone's what you've heard Pete talk about today about investing in yourself and getting that support is of interest to you, we can talk about what that looks like to work together over the following twelve months to put it into action.
So, to take that next step, just go to cresuccess.co/leadership
We'll also put the address, the URL in the show notes so you can take that next step if you would like to.
As always, I really appreciate you choosing to spend some time with us today. Thank you so much for listening, and I will speak to you soon.
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