Champions for the care factor

March/April 2017 edition

Starr Partners St Marys and Erskine Park has seen tremendous success under the leadership of husband and wife team Scott and Sara Edwards. One of the most awarded Starr Partners offices in the nation, their story is one of consistency, teamwork and devotion to serving their clients.

By Helen Hull

Starr Partners St Marys was opened by Scott’s father Ron in 1984, with Scott buying into the business in 2003 before Ron retired in 2011. The Erskine Park office, which is run by the same administration team, was opened in 2002.

“I never had any intention of coming into the family business,” Scott said. “I’d been in some corporate management roles and had my house for sale in Kellyville. I thought to myself, ‘I can do this better’. I ended up selling my own home and then took up the opportunity to become a part of the agency.”

Starr Partners St Marys and Erskine Park has 14 staff members across dedicated Property Sales and Property Management departments, and also incorporates Property Marketing and Customer Care divisions.

“We operate as a team, rather than as individual agents,” Scott said. “We all work off a shared database, which means anyone can sell. This works because it creates competition between our own sales agents and can achieve a higher price for our vendors.

“We’ve always had a focus on being a dominant sales office, while a lot of our competition are focused on building their rent roll and just see sales as a bonus. We set high weekly targets for our staff, so every member of the team is accountable and focused on achieving those targets.”

Servicing a community
The offices in St Marys and Erskine Park also service the suburbs of Mount Druitt, St Clair, Colyton Minchinbury and Blackett. With a median house price ranging from around $575,000 to $640,000, it’s an accessible Sydney market.

“The area has some of the most affordable homes in Sydney,” Scott said. “There are a large number of first homebuyers and our sales team always get excited when someone is buying their first home. It’s a big deal for them when they finally secure a property and we get a lot of satisfaction from that.

“We also sell to mum and dad investors who have just one investment property. We generally don’t see people who have multiple investments or huge incomes. Our clients are honest and hard-working middle income people.”

Scott and Sara’s team have all lived or grown up in the area and get a real buzz out of contributing to the local community.

“We’ve been sponsoring St Claire Colyton Little Athletics for over 30 years. We also award a student of the month at Bennett Public, Clairgate Public and Banks Public schools and support local sporting teams. The local community see that we’re giving back and this helps us to build and maintain relationships.

“Combined, our sales staff have more than 40 years’ experience and we know how to handle changes in the market to sustain longevity in the business,” Scott said.

Award winning office
At the 2016 Starr Partners Real Estate awards, Starr Partners St Marys and Erskine Park took home multiple awards. They’ve also been recognised with the Starr Partners Customer Service Award for the last four years running, and Sara has been named Sales Person Of The Year three times.

Starr Partners St Marys and Erskine Park have also recently been recognised in the Real Estate Business Top 50 Sales Offices for the fourth consecutive year.

“Winning awards keeps us motivated,” Scott said. “We don’t want to fall back. We have a big focus on referral and repeat business, with it making up more than 80 per cent of our clients.”

Starr Partners CEO Douglas Driscoll said Scott and Sara have the ‘care factor’.

“They view every transaction as more than a one-off transaction and go out of their way to understand each and every client,” Douglas said. “It’s refreshing. At Head Office we receive all the feedback forms and get to see the good, the bad and the ugly from across all of our offices. We’ve never had bad feedback about St Marys and Erskine Park.

“They always go above and beyond. People talk in glowing terms about Scott and Sara, and their team. In an industry that’s at risk of being disintermediated and disrupted, agents like Scott and Sara who offer a personal service will not only survive, but thrive.”

According to Douglas, Scott and Sara are exceptional advocates – not just for Starr Partners, but also for the industry.

“Client service doesn’t just happen. You need to treat every client with dignity and respect, and Scott and Sara live and die by their brand promise,” he said. “They walk the talk and back it up with good customer service.

Douglas also recognises the quality of the team Scott and Sara have built over time.

“They employ on attitude and are good at skills training,” he said. “It isn’t organic and it doesn’t just happen. They have the right systems and structures in place so everyone knows what to do, and if they fall short they’re held accountable.

“They’re very analytical and know their business inside out. Ask them about any facet of their business and they’ll know the answer.”

With the greatest respect and admiration for Scott and Sara on a business level, Douglas also can’t speak highly enough about them as people.

“For all their successes, they’re just such nice, humble people,” he explained. “They don’t need to crow about their success, they just get on with the job and it’s really refreshing.

“As an industry, we sometimes tend to put the wrong sorts of people on pedestals – those who work in markets that are extraordinarily affluent, and who only do 20-30 transactions a year.

“Scott and Sara are hardworking and relatable. Their story is relevant to any market in Australia,” Douglas said.

Checklists and processes
Scott attributes a large part of their success to the regimented administration processes Sara has put in place.

“Sara is pretty fanatical about having processes and she’s always updating current checklists or creating new ones,” he said. “Every process has a checklist or action plan and everyone is accountable. It means our service to the client is consistent.

“Sara runs the administration team out of the Erskine Park office. She holds the business together while I run the sales team out of the St Marys office. It works well.”

New opportunities
Scott and Sara plan to expand their operations at the end of 2017 by opening a third office in Ropes Crossing – a new Lendlease community with more than 2000 homes.

“It’s a good opportunity for us,” Scott said. “We’re always on the lookout and, with the property boom and new suburbs and a shopping centre being created, we decided we wanted to get in there and be the local agent. We’ll introduce our school sponsorship program to the Ropes Crossing school too.”

Looking ahead, within the next five years Scott and Sara plan to open a fourth office within their area.

“With so many new suburbs opening up there are lots of opportunities,” Scott said. “We’re also mindful of change in our area and the different demographics coming through is something that we have to manage. We’d like to diversify our staff so we can help people who have a language barrier.

“We want to be the local agents that our clients think of first when buying, selling or leasing real estate. We want to give them a first-class experience so they come back to us and refer their friends.”