Leading from the centre

15 June 2016

By Sarah Bester

As General Manager of Ray White Double Bay, Sarah Bester is at the centre of everything the agency does.

Working with a team of 45, her working day is busy to say the least.

Here she gives us a glimpse at a typical day.

My day starts when I reach for my phone next to the bed and check my email. So before I’m even up, I generally have a good idea about how my day is shaping up.

I manage five different email inboxes, including the main business inbox. This means I know everything that’s going on. If there’s been a crisis at a rental property overnight, I know about it.

If a vendor has a query about a marketing campaign, I know about it. If we happen to receive a complaint via our website, I know about it. Everything! I’m the first person to see it all and I can decide how best to allocate the work across the team.

It can be a bit of a mad rush in the morning while I’m getting ready and I’m organising my daughter for school. Things are usually pretty hectic right up until the minute we rush out the door and head off on the school run.


Once my daughter is inside the school gates and before I pull the car back onto the street, I always like to take a few minutes to go back through my emails and see if anything new has come in.

The stream of messages can sometimes seem never-ending – and I’m not even in the office yet! Email never sleeps. But in an industry like ours, people expect a prompt reply and want their issue to be sorted out quickly.

I decide what messages are critical and forward them through to the right person in the office to action. Any queries I’m able to answer on the spot, I do. Taking just a few minutes now to clear the decks makes all the difference to my day when I walk in the office door.


Once I’m at my desk, I’m off and running. Property management is often the first thing to draw my attention. We’ve only started growing the property management side of our business over the last two years.

It’s a real focus for us, so it’s all hands on deck. If any of our property managers have a question, I’m there for them. Or if there’s an issue that needs to be resolved, I step in.


I like to get out and about when I can to see how we are presenting our properties for sale, so I make a point of regularly attending our open for inspections. After selecting four or five properties, I jump in the car to do the rounds.

From the agency’s perspective, it’s important that I see our ‘public face’ – how we are presenting properties, how the team are talking to clients, how they’re answering questions. I look at it as a means of quality control. It’s also a chance for me to give our sales agents some valuable feedback.


Lunch is generally at my desk or on the run. But that’s my choice. I like to keep going so I can get through everything I need to in the day.

Every week we get phone calls and receive CVs from people who are looking to enter the industry or agents who want to come and work for us. I take the time to respond to all of them.

I like to talk to them, provide guidance where I can and point them in the right direction. It’s a great way to spot talent. Sometimes I come across someone who may not be quite ready to step up to our agency, but I keep in touch and take an interest – you never know what opportunities might present themselves down the track.


We take compliance seriously. It’s critical to everything we do and I guess you could say I’m the compliance gatekeeper for our agency. It’s my job to ensure that we have all the procedures and templates in place to ensure that everything ticks all the boxes, all the time.

Our business is very much a process-oriented business. Everything is streamlined. We have a great big structure with lots of moving parts, all of which need to be constantly monitored.

So a big part of every day for me is taken up with compliance. From putting new processes in place for our sales agents and property managers to dealing with the new swimming pool laws to ensuring all our record keeping is spot on when it comes to underquoting, it’s up to me to work with every person in the agency to make sure we have workable processes and solutions in place.


Our reception area converts into an auction room, so if we’re holding auctions in the evening I’ll spend an hour or so in the afternoon going through all the contracts. This is such an important task.

We need to be compliant in everything we do, so once the contracts have been prepared I’ll go through each of them thoroughly to ensure all the i's are dotted and the t’s are crossed.


I’m out the door by 5.00pm, but leaving the office doesn’t mean I’m finished work for the day. Sydney traffic can be a real nightmare. Beating the traffic so I can pick up my daughter from after school care means I have to leave the office on time.

All things going according to plan, I generally pull up with just enough time to do another check of my emails before I go inside to collect her. We’re generally home by 6.00pm. I try to ensure that my work is as unobtrusive as possible in the evenings so I can spend quality time with my daughter before she goes to bed.

But real estate is a business that never stops. Sometimes it’s just not possible. If it’s an auction night, I need to be available to answer any questions if they arise – so my phone is always within easy reach.


Once my daughter is asleep, I have some time to catch up on anything still outstanding from the day. The pace of my job never seems to slow and there are always different things coming at me from every direction, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

And as I head off to bed, there’s time for one last thing. You guessed it – a final check of my email!