Youth and enthusiasm

May/June 2017 edition

Young, ambitious and dynamic, Zac Theobald and his team at LJ Hooker Bathurst are leading the way for a new generation of real estate professionals.

By Helen Hull

Zac Theobald was inspired to make a career for himself in real estate by a neighbour who worked in the industry.

“I’ve been in the industry for 10 years this year,” said Zac, who at the age of 28 is one of the youngest franchisees in the LJ Hooker network. “I started straight out of high school. Our next-door neighbour was a real estate agent and it’s something I was always fascinated about.

“Because of my age, lots of people just assume that the agency is my dad’s business,” he said. “But it’s not. I’m passionate, determined and driven, and that’s how I’ve gotten here. There’s definitely been a lot of hard work and long hours.

“Some people are a bit taken aback by my age at first, but that concern is generally dismissed in no time at all. I’m also motivated by all the clients who choose to place their trust in me.

“I feel good about helping people. Working with clients to manage their biggest asset, talking them through good situations and bad, and helping someone buy their first property – I get a real kick out of it.”

Embracing opportunity
Zac opened LJ Hooker Bathurst in January 2014 and the agency services the Central Tablelands city and areas within a 25km radius. Focusing on residential sales, the agency also provides property management services and deals with commercial property and rural hobby farms.

LJ Hooker NSW State Manager Ben Mitchell said he’s excited to have Zac onboard as a franchisee.

“The agency is in a key marketplace for us and I like Zac’s willingness to embrace everything we offer as a franchise. The team always strive to do everything to the highest standard and with the trend of ageing business ownership in our industry, it’s a great thing for us to have such a young Principal.

“There’s nothing that’s not achievable for Zac. He’s young and has it all ahead of him. He’ll give anything a go. Born and bred in the local area, he engages well with the community and is respected in the marketplace even though he’s quite young,” Ben said.
Building relationships
“At LJ Hooker Bathurst we have a team of 10, with four sales people. I have a marketing coordinator and an EA, as well as a lead generator. This structure allows everyone in the team to work to their strengths.

“I really like the fact that LJ Hooker has evolved in recent years. It’s now a really fresh brand, which matches well with our young and dynamic team.”

Zac enjoys the fact that he decided to stay in Bathurst and the client relationships he’s been able to build.

“I like that small town vibe. Everyone is there to help each other, and you can really develop a relationship and rapport with your clients. It’s all about helping them and achieving the best result.”

New approach
According to LJ Hooker’s Ben Mitchell, it’s Zac’s enthusiasm that makes him a great asset to the LJ Hooker network.

“The culture he has created in his agency is young, enthusiastic and ambitious. His team are keen, hungry, and ready to always go above and beyond, but they never forget the importance and value of good old customer service.”

According to Zac, Bathurst has traditionally been a bit set in its ways when it comes to selling property.

“We’re trying to mix things up by not conforming. Bathurst hasn’t typically been an auction oriented market, but we decided to offer this option to our clients. At the time, it was unheard of – now our competitors are doing it too. We felt we needed to shake the marketplace up, and it’s an option that can give the vendors a great result in a shorter time. It’s our willingness to challenge the status quo in this way that sets us apart.”

Developing personalised marketing campaigns for every property, rather than just listing the property and treating it in the same way as the last, is another way the LJ Hooker Bathurst team are taking a different approach.

“It’s about working out who the right type of buyer is and then deciding how they should be marketed to. If the property is appealing to a young family, we target our marketing with an online campaign. But if the property is more suited to an older couple, we lean more toward print.”

With a median house price of $340,000, Zac is seeing a new mix of buyers looking to invest in the area.

“We’ve had strong interest from the Sydney market, with roughly 35 per cent of my buyers being investors who are choosing to rent in the city and purchase an investment property in Bathurst.

“They can’t afford to break into the Sydney property market, so we manage their property on their behalf and when they build enough equity they purchase another property,” he said.
Community support
Zac believes it’s important to give back to the community and LJ Hooker Bathurst started out sponsoring a local netball team. That sponsorship has now grown and an entire new club – the LJ Hooker Heat – has been created, which has teams from nine year olds up to adults.

“It’s great to give back,” Zac said. “You don’t do it hoping they’ll list a house with you. You do it to meet new people. It’s great to go down to the club house with the LJ Hooker bear, have a sausage sandwich and cheer on the teams. It shows that you’re a real person – someone genuine, who’s not just collecting commissions.”
Organic growth
In the short term, Zac would like to grow his team by adding another sales agent.

“I’d like to continue to do our own thing and not conform, and really focus on giving our clients the absolute best experience they deserve,” Zac said.

“Over the next five years I don’t necessarily want to have any dramatic changes to the agency. I feel that we’ll continue to organically grow our client base through our consistent service and genuine passion for what we do.”