Sophie Anapliotis is now the director of property management at Real Estate Geelong. She helps first time investors and clients with growing a portfolio. And her property management service is built on the reputation of providing a valuable and profitable experience that is transparent, reliable, and personal. Sophie has a unique approach to building a sustainable growth business model that centers around client education. She believes investing and portfolio management is a personal journey, and each property owner has their own investing style, financial and lifestyle goals. So she offers a personalised strategic management plan, and that is exactly how she approaches property management for her clients. And if you’re experiencing fear around starting your own business or growing your own business and you don’t know what to do, or you feel like you don’t have enough money or you don’t have the confidence, believe me, you are not alone. And Sophie shares her journey on how she overcame all of that stuff to simply believe in herself and how she wanted to run a property management business. There’s some great business marketing and self-development advice that I think you’ll have some great aha moments and takeaways from.
TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOURSELF AND HOW YOU GOT STARTED IN PROPERTY MANAGEMENT?
“My name is Sophie and I’m the director of property management for R Group, which has been known as Real estate and started off in real estate in 2010. And then from 2018 to 2020, I went to business development consulting, and then ended up studying my own business in 2020.”
WHEN DID YOU DECIDE TO START GOINT INTO YOUR OWN BUSINESS AND WHAT DID THAT JOURNEY LOOK LIKE FOR YOU?
“There’s no straight answer for that, so I’m just going to roll into it. When I was working in property management for the first eight years, I started off as trainee, get in, learn everything as you do when you’re a trainee. And then ended up going into property management and doing day-to-day, client management. And then I loved the long-term relationship and the relationship building side of property management, which then led to business development. I helped open up a third office for an agency locally, and then I went to working for a corporate agency where it was KPI structures, got to do what you got to do, close the deal. And as much as that was a great challenge for me, it didn’t resonate with how I wanted to be with my clients. And when I started looking into volume, having that volume model and what that means for the bottom line of an agency, I started seeing that there were a lot of discrepancies in terms of what, as a property manager you want to do versus the stressors that you have within the agency. And I was starting to see that all of the efforts that were being made to closed deals, to get doors and to grow quickly, it was being linked out through the other end and being there done that.”
WHEN DID YOU REALISE THAT IT WASN’T ALIGNED WITH YOUR GOALS?
“Yeah, and it was, it was more, understanding where the directors and where the agency was at versus who I wanted to be in the market, and I wanted to be as a property manager. And when I brought up saying I, pretty much said to the book, we’re growing quickly. We were averaging 28 a month which was awesome, but we’ll lose him almost about the same. And I said, look, I can see here that there’s all this focus on growth, which is the standard sales tactic. However, if we put a little bit of focus into our property managers, making sure that they’re taken care of and focusing on customer experience, looking at why people are leaving, you may end up, we might not roll as quickly, but we’ll retain. And it was just a concept that didn’t really resonate with the agency at the time. And when I realised that the way that I thought versus the way that they’ve wanted to run the business wasn’t aligned. I went, okay, well I need to find my fit. I need to find something that suits me. And that’s when I started looking into sustained growth models and what it means to retain up loop rather than putting more practice like marketing, advertising, business development, closing deals. And I ended up finding a love for retention service rather than just the standard business development, which is where I started looking at sustainable growth models. And that led me to working for a PropTech group and started doing some consulting in that space. And it was in effect, it was my job to go in and help the agency across Australia to understand how to use digital products to grow their business. But I was seeing the same trend over and over again of agents that just want to close deal, but they don’t have that human touch. And that was the part that I felt was missing in my experience as a property manager. And that was the journey of sort of what led me to wanting to start my own business, was to see how, how I felt if I put it into reality, could you actually build a solid sustainable, could you build a good business of purely service retention and all the things that as property managers, we wish that our directors would understand. And that’s where I’m at today.”
HOW DID YOU ACTUALLY GO ABOUT STARTING BUDGETS, PROCESSES, SYSTEMS AND PROCEDURES?
“When I looked at starting the business, it was actually my partner who had brought it up and he brought me outside of my imposter syndrome. And I’ve felt a lot of comfort of always being the support advocate for someone else. That’s the place that I love to be in. So the thought of me promoting me as a brand, and you should come to me because of me, that was very uncomfortable to think about why would people come to me? And there’s something that I still work on to build the confidence around, that. That was why I always thought, well, I’m just going to continue to help others shine and to work with them rather than working for myself. But then when it’s moment of reflection during Covid, my partner was the one who challenged the idea and said, what would it look like to start on your own? And I was like, oh, it’ll be too expensive. And it’s just, it’s just not going to work. And when we worked out the numbers, it really wasn’t that expensive at all. And it was a myth that I was telling myself as a way to keep myself comfortable. And the cost, there were, there were actually two cost models that we looked at, and one was the cost to just go straight, do it all by myself. So, and our sole director or you know, sort of franchise model connecting with someone else that’s already credits has been. And then the portfolio career there were a couple of which we want to go into today. But I ended up connecting with an existing agency that had a sales arm already there. And because of that reason, we ended up getting the costings, it was around 27 to 30 grand to start off with acute work, just to do everything by the book on your own. But then the cost to do a model such as, you know, Coronas, you’ve got a lot of those models that are out there to support agents while they’re getting off the ground. Mine wasn’t sure was an arrangement with salary agent who shared the same values at home me, and that ended up bring cost down to about 12,000. Even we made that arrangement. We were still trying to run late and see what $15,000 and I had taken out a 12,000 pistol away and went, went, right. This is my budget for the first 12 months.
HOW DID YOU STICK TO THAT BUDGET AND HOW DID YOU GROW THE BUSINESS?
“I didn’t, no marketing at all. Everything. It, went back to the core of what I wanted to build. And the core was building relationships. So the first 18 months to two years was all about building relationships. I started building a bit of a social media presence, started dabbling in videos, but didn’t do anything really. It cost any money as such. And it was all just through word of mouth, building referrals, building trust with external or B2B partners and going into the investor education site, which is how I grew up.”
WHAT DOES THE INVESTOR EDUCATION MODEL OR JOUNRNEY LOOK LIKE?
“When I started looking at the client life cycle of at what point did I want to have initial contact with a client or when did I want the partners who trusted me with their clients to first get in contact, I realized that it was, I wanted to be able to make contact with them or them contact me before they purchase a property or before they’re deciding to put proper on the market. And when I started looking at that process, it was, it was more to do with making sure that they’re getting education from the beginning so that then making decisions. Because everything we do is around making sure it’s online what they achieve and there well and financially that it’s going to make sense for them. And there’s a lot of investors educated to get in contact with the property manager when it’s time to put property on the market, but then they may have missed a lot of things which will end up coughing money in the long run that they didn’t factor in to the bottom line over a 12 month projection. So, I started educating my trusted partners on the reason why it’s so important to get me involved sooner in a mix rather than later. And that’s how the investor education. And so now I work with broker accountants, investment strategies, buyers, applicants to be on ground and potential as well. And they can even do that direct with me is really good because they are making health negotiations and all that sorted as well. And that’s where it all sort of came from. And now even if they’re looking at 12 months, like I’ve got one that I’ve been talking to for the last 12 months and now he contracted me last week just to get an update on the market and his property is still about six to eight months. But it gave me more opportunity to connect with more, build a pipeline. And that’s the one thing in starting business, you don’t have a pipeline and to build a pipeline, especially when you don’t have a client base or you’re not connected into the larger agency, that’s just free. Even opportunities, that’s the part that I needed to work on to make sure that there was sustainable amount of leads that were coming in to be able to nurture and grow over time. And, the more value that you’ve given them before their time, you don’t know who they’re talking to either. And it helps with building, that credibility of being able to give them that value and that education before you’re ready. And then when they’re talking to loan agreement is helping the woman’s journey. So just say if they get in contact with an insurance broker and we’ll make share what they’ve done in that journey, you never know what that’s going to lead to because it’s, having the insurance broker then get in contact and being able to help on that journey, that then also builds another relationship and builds another, builds more trust. So, I know that, there needs to be a good mix between having leads that are coming in within the next month and their leads. So having leads that are going to be happening over the next, over the next four weeks, and then one will happen in internal forcing, you have a good mix to make sure that you’re not waiting 12 months to, for 20th, 30, 40 properties to come in, but it’s also the relationships that you build and, um, they can be as valuable with that potential.”
HOW ARE YOU BUILDING THAT SUSTAINABLE GROWTH MODEL FOR YOURSELF?
“Yeah, definitely. And this is the first phase is when you’re starting off solo, it feels like yoga. You feel more it’s just you’re going from just focusing purely on growth and then the growth comes in and then you feel like you need to stop growing. So, then you can focus on the systems and retention and the customer experience and then your head goes into that and then you’re like, great, I’m happy with that now, I need to go back and forth again. Because pipeline building hasn’t been connected my partners enough education. So pipeline drive and it’s a cost back and forth. And that was made for probably the first 12 months, when I first started the business. I know that, generally business development life cycles work in three months. So if you’re building pipeline for three months, then that’s generally start seeing the results. That’s generally what I’ve found in people that I’ve worked with and, also in my own experience. So I spent the first three months just getting out there connecting with people. And when we officially launched the business at the end of 2020, I was averaging one week for the first eight weeks, which was really great. And then I was able to put all the systems and processes in place and actually see whether what I’ve built out is actually going to work. And that’s when I was like, okay, now I’ve got a couple clients that have come. Now I’m going to get customer reteaching focus, make sure that they have the best experience that because it’s easier to uplift and to build, to build more opportunities through existing clients to, to go and, and others. So there’s, there’s always going and be a bit of an evidence flow where I thought my time and attention might develop it depending on what stage of work I’m at.”