Virtual Agent's Co-Founder Suzannah Toop catches up with Simon Mason at Jellis Craig Kensington to chat about his property management business and where he sees the industry is heading. A Big thank you to Simon for been the first interviewee for our upcoming blog series, The New World.
Jellis Craig Kensington
Suzannah Toop: How would you describe your business?
Simon Mason: We have built our business on the basis of a cross between a machine and hyper growth model and the values we've created behind this model gives the team an opportunity to strive for ultimate 5-star client experiences in everything we do.
ST: What do you think is the most exciting thing in the industry right now?
SM: Every day we see the tech space in our industry evolving. There's awesome opportunity to tap into this and assist in helping businesses being nimble, adaptable and personalized.
"The challenges we had to overcome relate mainly to communication"
ST: As a thought leader in technology, what's worked well in the tech space for you?
SM: We've had many successes however by far the design and implementation of workflow structures via tech site Trello is the stand out. Trello has enabled us a cloud-based solution around the flow of tasks (outside standard processes built into trust account software) which assists our team to interact with one another as well as our virtual assistants and also allows flexibility in our workplace with the benefits of total transparency still being had.
ST: Were there any hurdles? How did you overcome them?
SM: The challenges we had to overcome relate mainly to communication. When the team rely on virtual assistants to complete tasks it is important the flow of information is managed in a way that everyone is kept up to date. The easiest way to explain this as an example is by having each property manager in a team all working from different rooms in a house independently of one another whilst still all relying on one particular admin person. This admin person needs to learn to prioritise tasks and update the team as required. However, to prioritise there needs to be conversations amongst the team in a structured manner. The best solution for us was another tech add-on called slack. We utilised a group forum for our PM department to manage this communication so each team member can easily identify the completed tasks and priorities our VA team have ahead of them on any given day.
"Personalised service and adaptable payment models are the key in my opinion"
ST: Where do you think the industry is going next? What opportunities do you think exist?
SM: Personalised service and adaptable payment models are the key in my opinion. We've started to consider initiatives in our business that steer us away from the one size fits all process and service structure that the majority of the industry still work off. The opportunities to create a clear point of difference in a given market place around this is enormous in my opinion.
ST: What do you think future real estate agents will looks like?
SM: I feel future real estate agents look more like customer service managers than the admin/tasks-based managers of yesterday. Tech will take control of the flow of tasks and the agents will oversee the traffic management of these tasks whilst building in consistent customer support and positive experiences in the right moments. Performance management and KPI's will be based on client satisfaction and client reviews and not necessarily rent arrears, lease renewals, rent reviews etc. I also feel flexible working environments with the benefit of cloud-based software is inevitable.
"Being adaptable to change is a key part of our business model"
ST: How does your business approach 'change'?
SM: Being adaptable to change is a key part of our business model. We have roles within our department that are purely based around refinement and improvement of process, structure, work environment, team morale, client satisfaction, brand awareness and so on. We encourage the team to think outside the box with regular case study reviews, scripts and dialogue workshops and mentoring by other thought-provoking leaders in our brand. We're also given great support by our property management business coach who is always challenging us around ideas she sees in the broader property management community Australia wide.
Source: Jellis Craig
ST: Now to the really important questions — please choose one:
Tech - Friend or Fo?
Text, Email or Phone Call?
SM: Phone Call
iPhone or Android?
Uber Eats or nice Restaurant?
Chocolate or Vanilla Ice-cream?
What's one piece of advice you would give your younger self?
SM: Follow your instinct and never settle because it's the easiest solution. If you believe in it, you can make it happen! No excuses...