Want to be wowed, then stick around. My guest this week is Haley Van de Ven. She started out in a real estate agency as a receptionist at the age of 17… and is now the director of the number one ranked REMAX office in the country. She is an agent growth specialist with four businesses over 1000 managements and a team of around 100 people. She’s also the mother of two young kids. And if you’re impressed you should be. So how does she do it all? Well stick around while she shares her success secrets.
In case you weren’t aware, I’ve launched a podcast – The Property Management Podcast. And as I was sitting back here and reflecting on how far I’ve come. It’s been a two-year journey to get the podcast show out into the universe. But then I was humbled by my guest on the latest episode. What a journey she has had. Haley Van de Ven is the powerhouse boss babe behind the top REMAX offices in the country. As you heard already. She’s kicking her goals and then some. But it wasn’t always the case. Like so many of our stories. Just a few short years ago, Haley was a broken mess lying on the floor at her mother’s funeral, wanting to give it all up. She eventually dusted herself off, got her shit together. And well, I’ll let her tell you the rest in this candid conversation that left me feeling like what more can I do? What goals am I chasing next? And how can I be limitless? The core message behind Haley’s thriving businesses.
GETTING STARTED IN REAL ESTATE AT 17
‘I’ve got probably one of those typical real estate stories in the sense that I was only 17 when I started on the front desk. And believe it or not, 20 years later, I’m still here. But now instead of being on the front desk, the business owner of four offices. Basically, as soon as I had my licence, after I turned 18, I got to go into property management. And I spent, you know, between six to 12 months there as part of my traineeship that gave me huge ground and I often say to people like probably one of the best experiences that I’ve had in the business. It gave me that holistic kind of view of what makes the business tick, but also showed me how hard it is to be a property manager.
WHAT IS YOUR SECRET SAUCE?
Like Hayley, I’ve sat in every single seat in our real estate businesses over the years. So, there’s not a job that I haven’t done. And there’s not a job I wouldn’t ask anyone to do in the business that I haven’t done myself.
How do you do it all? How do you run multiple award-winning businesses, and juggle a family and still keep your sanity and you make it look so seamless?
‘Well, I’m so glad it looks seamless. Because it’s a shitshow but that’s, you know, the truth of it. Right? You know, having kids on their own, let alone trying to do everything else at the same time is tough. I think I’ve learned some really good valuable lessons along the way about putting some things in place to make sure that I still have me time. I’ve surrounded myself with great coaches and wonderful mentors that aren’t Yes, people because I think it’s super important to have people that are going to tell you the truth and then I’m also going to give you feedback that’s real. I’m the first to say that sometimes, you know, particularly as a real estate agent, you get very good at real estate in people. And, you know, you need to be like, don’t give me that shit Hayley, you actually need to make sure that you’re taking time out and it’s such small things. You know, like, I have a psychologist, I have a real estate coach, I have a personal trainer, I do all of those things and invest really heavily in myself to make sure that I’m still able to be intact, because I’m no good to, you know, our team and our family if I’m falling apart.’
HOLDING IT ALL TOGETHER WHEN IT ALL FALLS APART
Have you had times that you have fallen apart? I know personally, I have. I’ve had heart conditions. I’ve had burnout. I’ve had meltdowns after meltdowns. Have you been there? And what tools have you used to pull yourself back out apart from all of that amazing support that we all need?
‘In the start of 2020, I was a broken miss. Just before COVID hit just in time for the pandemic. My mom died, sadly, in 2019. And it just ruined me. And I literally, you know, I’d had to business then for three, almost four years. It had been a really tough time. I had battled through cancer with her for those few years. And I was just broken to lose her after that was just like, it actually almost ruined me. I remember like laying on the Floor at the funeral. This sounds silly, but I tripped over a pot plant. I just laid on the floor and cried. And I thought, Jesus Christ Hayley, you need to pull yourself together. And you know, bit by bit, I sat down with my mentor, Sherry Stora, and I said to her, babe, I need some help. I need to get my groove back. I look terrible. You know, I’ve lost my confidence, I’ve lost my zing, I never tend to shoot around because, you know, being where I am right now is not where I want to be. And I want to feel good again. And my mum would not want me to give up. And you know, I want to do this for me. But I also want to do this for her. Can you help me? and she kind of just went by, alright, let’s do it. And she picked me up, and she dusted me off. We put some really big plans big, hairy audacious plans in place. Then I just implemented them. The difference probably in my story, compared to some others, this is one of my highest values is just getting shit done. Once we had a plan, I just got it done.’
BECOMING THE NUMBER 1 REMAX OFFICE IN THE COUNTRY AGAIN
Hayley said: ‘It’s really exciting. I remember, in the start of 2021 of my goals was to be the number one REMAX office in Australia. And at that time, we were about number five. I’ve had people say to me, Oh, that’s a bit ambitious, or, you know, like, that’s a bit of a tall order. They weren’t putting me down, but they were kind of there was squashing my dream. I thought maybe you don’t know me very well do. I think sometimes it’s okay to use that doubt that other people have in you as fuel instead of fear. And it’s okay to use those external things that you can’t control as the fire that drives you to go to the next level. And I certainly think that I’ve done that in our journey, every time that somebody tells me I can’t do something. I’m kind of like, Oh, that’s cute. Anyway, and off I go.’
INDEPENDENT VERSUS BIG BRAND AGENCY
Now, I’ve always been an independent brand. I never really thought about joining a big brand to be honest. Mainly because I had no idea what I was doing and I didn’t want them to realise that I had no idea what I was doing either. But what about you? Why did you go with a big brand agency and why REMAX in particular?
‘A couple of reasons for me that I love being part of a brand. I love being part of a community and a culture. We’re very much our own ecosystem as in our four offices are very, like, you know, we lean on each other, we supply on each other, you know, we kind of bounce off each other, I really see the importance in a tribe, or a culture, or being surrounded by people that are on the same dream and same mission support the same values and that are all striving for the same thing. I think that’s something that has really resonated with me with the brand at REMAX. Their ethos is about thinking bigger, and it aligns beautifully with who I am. And when I’ve gone to them with crazy big, you know, audacious goals like buying this business last year, with an extra 600 management’s and an extra 18 Salespeople, there would be other brands out there that said, No way, like you can’t do that you’ve only been in business for four years, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. But Joel was like do you reckon you can do it? Of course, I think I could do it, I’m not talking to you about it, because I’m thinking I’m going to fail. We went through the plans and the strategic planning and the processes and all the bits and pieces, and they said, I think it’s a great idea. We have your support. The beauty of that being that, you know, like when you do have people that have you back, and that do support you and align with the values and one of our biggest… I know I say values a lot. But that’s something that’s super, super important to me, as a business owner, it’s the culture or the undertone of our entire business. It’s around being limitless in people’s thinking and then the growth potential, and then building their personal brands. So, probably why I was first attracted to REMAX is because I was a salesperson, and I was really big on my own personal brand and the importance of that. Your personal brand is your most important asset, right? You know, because people buy into you, as an independent, they don’t bind to the brand they buy into you. But our ethos as a business is, in fact a personal brand. So we actually don’t, you know, hang our hats on the word REMAX, we hang our hats on each individual building a strong personal brand, because we know that people actually listen to the people. They don’t actually list with the name on the door, they list with the person that that is going to sell their home or who is going manage their property. We’ve all seen it before, a good property manager leaves and out walks 10 or 20 management’s and oh shit wasn’t actually about me, it was about how awesome my property manager was.’
BRAND OR NOT TO BRAND
‘I don’t think it’s the question isn’t brand or not brand. I think the question is, what are your needs and who best caters to those. So if you’re a brand new agent, and you’ve not got any experience in real estate, and you’re wanting to open your own business, probably super hard on your own, you know, like the trial and error, the reinventing of the wheel, all of those types of things can be really difficult. If it was just you starting from scratch and your overhead to be massive, or you know there’d be a lot of risk attached to that, but there are brands out there that had wonderful blueprints for new business owners, you know, for experienced salespeople, or experienced property managers that want to branch out and have their own business. The beauty of a brand usually comes with a pretty detailed strategic plan and business plan. They usually have all the blueprints and maps on what to do and when to do and who do you deal with. That’s probably the big benefit, I guess, to being with somebody that does this all the time. We have agents that, you know, transition to us from other businesses, we have all the plans in place, we actually do it all for them so that they don’t have any downtime because I think that the setup and the planning, and the like thinking in the redeveloping of ideas takes so much time. One of the biggest things as a business owner is understanding that your time equals money. Is it worth it? Is it worth reinventing the wheel? And investing all of that time? Which is money into going out on your own? Or is it a path of least resistance? At least for your first franchise agreement? Well, you know, whatever it may be to follow a blueprint, have a plan, have somebody else do the hard yards for you, and then use that to springboard you know, that is a lot of merit to be, you know, pointed out around leveraging other people’s skill sets and knowledge. You don’t have to do it on your own,’ Hayley said.
MUST HAVE SYSTEMS & PROCEDURES
What are some of the systems or procedures or the key systems or procedures that you’ve got? I know I’ve had multiple offices across different locations. And to be honest, I felt stretched way too thin a lot of the time. So, what are some of the systems and procedures that you’ve put in place to help you manage that seamlessly or stress free, if that is ever possible?
‘I think, you know, like you have to, as the business gets bigger, it definitely evolves. And one of the things that I’m really big on, as you know, like with innovation, is not being too proud to say, you know, what, that’s actually not the right path for us. And we can change that., We’ve tried things in the last six months that have not worked. We centralised our services for a little while, didn’t work. That’s okay. It’s not actually the end of the world. We can decentralise, which we’ve now done, the importance of people, again, has been highlighted to me around the fact that having great leaders in the business, and having people that align with the same principles as we do. Do they understand how important it is to, you know, lift the lid off the jar for people to lead to empower and to encourage, as opposed to squash and discourage. We are really big on a few of those things. And they’re things that I’ve learned the hard way, I’ve definitely bought lots of people into the business that were not a great choice. But as a leader, now, I’m far more reflective, and far more proactive instead of reactive. So, when there’s a problem that occurs, especially from a people perspective, I’ve learned not to just hire the first person that comes along to fill the gap, especially in property management, because that usually cost you a lot of money. But there’s just stuff that goes, you know, along the track, you learn as you go, and it’s okay to make mistakes, because everybody makes them. What’s not okay is not learning from them.’
INTEGRATING YOUR SALES AND PROPERTY MANAGEMENT TEAMS
‘I’ve always prescribed to the theory of one team one dream, and it sounds really wishy washy, but it’s important for me not to have favourites. It’s like when you’re a mum, and your like that kid is so naughty, doesn’t make it any less favourite, but it’s just a pain in my butt. Sometimes there’ll be issues on both sides of the fence and sales and property management, we just like shake your head. But they’re both two very, very important parts and one massive dream for us. And integrating the property management team into the sales team. And the sales team into property management team is super important for me, because they needed to feel like they are connected. We’ve got 1000 management’s within our business. So it’s important for property management to feed sales and sales to feed Property Management just as much, but also for them to have each other’s backs. Because, you know, if another agent walks into the office to grab keys to do an appraisal on a property, I want to make sure that that property manager is on the phone to a salesperson to let them know ASAP, so that that business doesn’t walk out the door. And vice versa. If the agents are out in the marketplace, and they have the opportunity to refer into property management, if they don’t trust the property management team, guess what… they don’t follow. A lead fee doesn’t mean much to them. You know what I mean? And often it’s more relationship based and you know, like, rather than And what’s in it for me, and I just would like to think that they trust and have a great relationship with each other.’
‘Well, of course, subscribe to the property management podcast. But honestly, I think that is real merit in people making that time for themselves. And being really strict on it. It sounds so silly. But I remember my psychologist saying to me, Haley, you need to go and have a massage every week. And I’m like, what? That’s ridiculous. Like, I don’t have an extra half an hour every week. That’s absolutely insane. And she’s like, you don’t understand the benefit for your mind, your body and your soul. When you’re doing that. She said, even for your immunity. She’s like, the benefit of this is huge, right? And I thought and she’s like, I want you to go and get a blood test so that we know what your type is like and what your zinc is like, and all of these things that you think… I’m fine, I feel fine, I feel fine. But can you believe it, the moment that I started doing all of that stuff, I felt a million times better. And I didn’t even know that I wasn’t at peak performance. Because I felt fine. But imagine what it’s like to wake up and feel good. And that was a really life changing moment for me. And sometimes I fall off the wagon. And I forget to go and get my weekly massage. And then I get out of the habit of it. And then I think Oh man, I’m so buggered. And then all of a sudden, I’m like, oh, I need to go back to having my massages. And it’s like 30 minutes. So it’s actually not that hard, I go on my lunch hour, quite often. I just tell her not to touch my hair. Don’t give me a head massage you will ruin my hair. It really is just such a small sacrifice. At times that I’ve been really rushed, I’ve just gone to the head and shoulder guy, I think it’s like 15 bucks or whatever. And he just does a quick head and shoulder massage and that will do it. Obviously the trying to eat right and exercise and do all of those things. I’m honest, I fall off the wagon with that all the time, I think to myself, I’m only going to drink on the weekends, and then I fall off the wagon or there’s an event time or whatever it may be. But I also think you’ve got to be kind and realistic to yourself, that sometimes it’s okay not to be perfect.’
PUTTING ON YOUR OWN OXYGEN MASK FIRST AS A WORKING MUM
‘I’m the first to, to say that I’m on my phone way too much. And I’ll often you know, like be there at night and they’ll be sitting on the couch with me and we will be watching a show or something like that. And I’ll be working, I’ll be returning emails and you know, because there’s over 100 people in our business and it’s easy to just like, I’ll just get few emails out of the way. But when my seven year old says Mum, can you get a few phone you’re always working. You’re like, oh, and I have to I’ve got to be present, you know, I have to make a conscious effort because he’s noticing, like, he’s not a baby anymore. He can tell that I’m not watching telly with them. And that can sometimes be really, really hard. So it’s something that I’m working on, massively to try and be a bit more present and a bit more, you know, available to the kids particularly at night.’
I’m the opposite. Now my kids are all teenagers. So, I’m begging them to come and watch TV with me and telling them to get off their phones. So, the table has turned now for me.