Find your fire

September/October 2016 edition

From no real estate experience to the number one agent for one of Australia’s largest real estate brands in just three years, this is the story of how Gavin Rubinstein found his fire.

By Tina Liptai

Long before he landed a job as personal assistant at Ray White Double Bay, where he still works today, Gavin Rubinstein knew the value of hard work and hustle.

“I’ve always been eager and hungry to work,” Gavin said. “The first day I was legally able to get a job, I went out and filled in an application for McDonalds and I’ve been working ever since. At first it was about finding a way to support my love of clothes – which has become a love of fine suits – but now it’s so much more.”

Gavin became an agent at the age of 20 after returning from a gap year in Europe. To help finance his travel Gavin talked his way into a job as an events manager for a company in London that ran top-tier nightclubs, where he worked for 18 months.

“I loved it. I was 18, the youngest guy working at the company, but I had a lot of responsibility which was great. I soon realised the lifestyle that came with that career wasn’t what I wanted long term, so I began to think of other career paths,” he explained.

“Real estate always appealed to me because it’s people based. I’ve always been good with people and building relationships, and it’s one of the few careers that has uncapped income opportunity without requiring any tertiary education.”

Learning in the field

Gavin always knew university wasn’t for him, but he still loves to learn and believes this is absolutely crucial for any agent who wants to be successful in today’s competitive world of real estate. “I prefer to learn in the field from people and experience. One of the things I love about real estate is the opportunity to be constantly learning,” he said.

“When I find something I’m interested in, I become obsessed. So when I was starting out, I researched and found out everything I could about real estate and I made a plan for the future. I think some people don’t realise how important having a strategy is. There is no way you can be successful in this business without a clear strategy.“It’s simple when you think about it – you create a plan and you work to it. I sat down and thought about what I wanted my business to look like, what suburbs I would work in and how I was going to build a name and a brand that is instantly recognisable, and then I worked to that plan.”

And then he put in the hard yards. “I was relentless – I still am. I think you need to be in those first few years because it’s all about putting in the work, but you won’t see results straight away.”

“Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishing them, and the reason why most agents fail is because they aren’t disciplined.”
In those first few years, Gavin set himself the target of having 30 conversations a day. “Not just calling 30 people and being hung up on, but actually having a conversation about the market, which meant 150 new business opportunities a week,” he explained. “It was hard, but if you’re not prepared to put in the work, you won’t see results. Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishing them, and the reason why most agents fail is because they aren’t disciplined.

“I was taught early on that ‘frequency builds trust’ and that’s what you’re doing in those first few years – building familiarity and trust, so you’re top of mind when it comes time for your contacts to choose an agent.”

Gavin also looked at other ways to build his profile in the market, beyond the usual sales, listings and signboards, and has leveraged the power of video and social media as a tool. He began creating high-energy clips of his auctions that included vendors’ comments and posted these on his Facebook page, which boosted his presence in the marketplace.

Finding great mentors was also integral to Gavin’s strategy early in his career and it has continued to be an important part of his ongoing success.

“I have a couple of mentors and they are really helpful when it comes to advice and helping me to implement changes and strategies to improve and expand my business,” he explained. “For agents starting out, my advice is to align yourself with an agent who has experience, and use that opportunity to learn all you can about the marketplace, gain product knowledge and develop your skillset to become a master at your craft.”

In just three years, Gavin went from being a personal assistant to the number one sales person in NSW for Ray White and has held the title ever since. Driven by this passion for learning and a passion to always do better than he did yesterday, Gavin has a stack of accolades to his name that track his steady rise, culminating in a career highlight of being awarded number one sales person in the Ray White Group International in 2015.

“Being invited to speak at AREC this year in front of 4,500 people was also a career highlight for me,” Gavin said. “The positive response I received from people who saw me talk and got value from implementing my ideas into their own business was so humbling. It was incredible.” 
Why I love real estate
“Negotiation is my favourite aspect of the business and, in my opinion, nobody does it better than me,” Gavin said.

“What I love about real estate are the possibilities – you can earn and learn as much as you want. It comes down to the work you want to put in.

“I face challenges everyday. I lose business everyday. It just goes hand in hand with the industry. But you have to keep moving.

“Real estate is a contact sport. It’s competitive and you need a champion’s mindset to stay at the top of your game. You have to be resilient, put on that imaginary armour and move forward with positive energy. That’s when you’ll get the wins.”
What’s the secret?
Gavin is the first to tell you that none of his achievements happened by accident. It’s all the result of planning, hard work and understanding ‘the why’.

“People always ask me about what motivates me and I’m happy to share that. But what is really important, and I think what people forget, is you need to find your own fire,” he explained. “Find what motivates you, because that’s what is going to get you out of bed in the morning. I’m motivated by progression, growth and a particular lifestyle that I was exposed to from a young age but never had in my own family growing up. For me, each year needs to be better than the previous.

“It’s not about what I did last month or what a great year I had last year. For me it’s about next month and what sort of year I am going to have this year. I’m always looking forward and I will never rest on past achievements. Complacency is what will kill a great real estate business.

“I don’t even really like to say I’ve been ‘successful’, because I have a long way to go in this industry and a lot to learn. I feel I’m only at the very start of my journey at 28 years young. But what has got me where I am today is the fact that I’m a good learner and look at a mistake as a lesson and an opportunity to change, grow and improve. I’m also more hungry than my competitors and no matter what I achieve I maintain that hunger. Finally, I have a great team around me that allow me to do what I do at the level I do it on a daily basis.”

Gavin also focuses on providing excellent service to maximise the results for his clients and his business. “I love exceeding a client’s expectations. There are so many positive flow-on effects from achieving an outstanding result for a property. The client is more likely to use you again and they’re more likely to refer you – and referral business is everything.”

Dedicating time each day to connect with past, current and potential clients is a priority for Gavin regardless of anything else he has to do. “My sales pipeline consists of past clients, warm appraisals, contacts and anyone thinking of selling in the next 45 days,” he said.

“I review this list a minimum of three times each day, prioritise key contacts and stay in touch regularly. I make time to do this every day, in addition to anything else I have on.

“It’s so important to build and nurture your connections, and eliminate any potential competition by staying front of mind for all your clients.”
Building a high-performing team
Since starting out in real estate Gavin has achieved a lot, but building a strong team around him has been integral to his ability to grow his thriving business.

Gavin has a hand-picked team of three – Jerome Srot (Operations Manager) has worked with Gavin for six years; Venita LoSurdo (Executive Assistant), who also takes care of marketing for The Rubinstein Group, has been with him for three years; and Oliver Lavers (Sales Executive) has been part of Gavin’s team for two years.

“The best way to manage your time effectively is to build a diligent, proactive team around you who handle aspects of their job with the same care you do your own,” Gavin said.

“I’ve always been very strategic when it comes to bringing on someone new. I never do it just for the sake of it. I identify a need in the business and then find the right person for the job.

“Everyone on the team was chosen for their skills but also their attitude, work ethic and how they would fit in the team. I’ve never had anyone in my team leave and I’m proud of that, given the high staff turnover the industry is known for.”
Gavin’s top tips for real estate success
Think outside the square
Real estate is a competitive industry and it pays to get noticed. Look at what you can do differently or better than your competitors. Be the pink elephant in a circus full of grey elephants.

Never stop learning
One of the biggest barriers to success is ego. Yes, everyone has an ego but don’t let it take over. You must always be ready and willing to learn, adapt and change how you do things. 

Mentors are key
There are so many agents in the industry that have already experienced what you are going through. The more successful an agent is, the more they tend to be open to sharing how they went about it. They have the answers, so pick their brains.

No such thing as an overnight success
Don’t expect too much in the first three to five years of starting out. Look at it like doing a degree at university or an apprenticeship – the first three years you need to be disciplined, do the work, implement the right behaviours and you’ll see it pay off in time. 

Time is money
The most important commodity to a real estate agent is time. The difference between a good agent and every other agent is that a good agent gets paid for their time. 

Rolls Royce service
If you want referral business, just do a damn good job for your client. Ask questions and identify the right angle to help each of your clients. The more helpful you are to people, the more successful you will be.

Take holidays to ensure ultimate productivity
Plan holidays in advance. Having those deadlines helps boost productivity and motivation because you have a goal to work towards. Choose times that are quiet in your market. You can’t consistently work with intensity unless you also give yourself time to recharge and refresh.

Real estate is an energy game

Eat well, be proactive, dress well, exercise and take care of yourself. Give good vibes out to the marketplace and you will receive them back – multiplied!

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