“Having those broader skills really helped me in those early days when it came to things like dealing with contracts, leases and commercial deals. But what I really loved about real estate when I started out was that it gave me the opportunity to develop skills I didn’t know I had,” he said. “I improved my communication skills, I learnt how to make sound decisions and I developed the ability to build long-term relationships. Many of my first employees and clients are still with me today, which is a testament to this.”
Following Frank’s retirement in 1996, the agency where Robert had worked for seven years was sold. When it became clear that the new owners had a very different philosophy about client service and how to operate a real estate business, Robert decided it was time for a change and took a break from the industry for a few months while he considered his next move.
Though he’d never given any serious thought to running his own real estate agency, when a former client handed him the keys to what would become his very own office space in Strathfield, he seized the opportunity and opened the doors to Strathfield Partners in 1997.
Starting with a team of three, and that one client with the office space, Strathfield Partners specialised in all aspects of property consulting, development, sales and management.
In just three years, the agency built a portfolio of 1600 properties. Today, the agency’s property management team has a portfolio of 4000 properties and the sales team sold 461 properties in the past financial year worth almost $570 million. Strathfield Partners offers a broad range of services including both residential and commercial sales and property management, as well as property valuation and development site acquisition and sales.
“Day to day, between meeting with clients and developers, I work closely with every member of my team. My job is to harness and direct the talents and energies of my diverse team, ensuring in each case that their job is done and done well.
“No two days are ever the same, which I love. And every day I aim to make a difference in someone’s life.”
Like most successful agents, Robert is quick to explain that building a thriving business comes down to hard work and persistence.
“Climbing the mountain is hard, but staying at the top is even harder. Strathfield is a very competitive area for real estate,” he said. “Building a profile was challenging and in the early days I was really working for free, because I put any commission I made back into the business and on marketing.
“But it has paid off, the Strathfield Partners logo is now recognised across Sydney and I work throughout NSW.”
“I’ve never lost my focus on the importance of client service and the value of face-to-face time with clients. If someone comes into my office asking about a particular property for sale and it’s vacant, I take them to see it straight away. I don’t wait for a scheduled open for inspection,” he said. “I take every opportunity to deal with clients one on one and build strong relationships. Today they are a buyer, but down the track they may be a vendor and one day an investor – so if you build that relationship, you’ll continue to do business with them.”
“If you’re only motivated by making money, you won’t last – and if you do last, you won’t be a good agent. You need to be driven by achieving success for your clients and working with your team. You need to be driven by achieving your best, building a reputation and profile.”
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