Real Estate Journal

January/February 2018 edition

It takes years of dedication, discipline and poise under pressure to be successful. But, when done with passion, it looks effortless and brings great joy. Lynette Malcolm reveals how training to be a professional ballet dancer prepared her for a career in real estate.

By Tina Liptai

Though she always instinctively knew that real estate was where she’d end up, it was at the age of five that Lynette Malcolm discovered her first love. Ballet.

Focused and hardworking, Lynette was just 14 years old when she moved from her family home in Sydney to attend the prestigious Victorian College of Arts, where she excelled under the pressure of completing a rigorous study and dance program. By 17, she had secured a place at a dance company in Munich, Germany and was living out her dreams.

Having achieved her childhood ambition to be a ballerina, it was at the ripe old age of 20 that Lynette began readying herself for her next career move. Determined to build a solid foundation for a long career in real estate, rather than diving straight into work at a real estate agency, she instead chose to pursue academic study.

“I think knowledge and education is at the heart of what people look for in a real estate agent,” Lynette explained. “I wanted to work on the Upper North Shore of Sydney, where the majority of vendors are well-educated professionals with high expectations of service. I knew, as a 20 year old, I simply wasn’t in the position to win the business that I wanted.”

Lynette completed a Bachelor of Media and Cultural Studies, and then secured a PA role at Chadwick Real Estate. She’s spent the past nine years honing her craft, climbing through the agency’s ranks. Today, Lynette is a Partner in the business.

“I think I always knew that after ballet it was going to be real estate for me,” she said. “My father was a real estate agent and I saw, first hand, how much joy it brought him.

“He taught me that success in this industry is a long game, so it was important to me to take the time to gain the education and experience I needed to ensure I could provide a high-level service offering to my clients,” Lynette said.

Same steps to success

While it’s probably not the most obvious comparison, a successful real estate agent has more in common with a professional dancer than you might at first think.

While it’s not the typical path to go from sell-out shows to selling homes, Lynette explained that there are many parallels between her careers in ballet and real estate. Both require discipline and dedication to perform at the elite level and, when done well, it’s beautiful to watch and brings joy.

“I see both as crafts. Each requires years of commitment to perfect the skills you need to be successful,” Lynette said. “You need passion and a genuine love for what you do. You certainly don’t get paid the big bucks in ballet, but you do realise how fulfilling it can be to not be driven by money and be rewarded in other ways.

“In real estate, you need to be well prepared, have attention to detail and put in a lot of hard work behind the scenes – just like ballet rehearsals. And, when it comes down to it, you need to make what you do look effortless. That’s where the craftsmanship comes in.”

There’s also an innate competitiveness, from auditions to winning new business, that Lynette thrives on.

“I’m definitely a competitive person,” she said with a smile. “I have two older brothers and I was always working hard to keep up with them, so perhaps it comes from that.

“I love winning business. I don’t mind when vendors are looking at a few agents and I’m going up against other agencies, because when you win the business you know it’s because you were the best on the day. That’s very satisfying.”

And when it’s all starting to feel a bit too hard, Lynette is reminded of a quote from Jim Rohn that she thinks should ring true for anyone who wants to achieve at high level: Don’t wish it were easier, wish you were better.

Service takes centre stage

Like a lot of agents, Lynette credits a large part of her success to the value she places on delivering exceptional customer service. For Lynette, this means a focus on consistency and transparency.

“I think something that does set me apart from some other agents is that what I do comes from the heart. I’m not just turning up. My motivation goes deeper than simply making money,” she said. “I’m very focused on consistency and delivery. I do what I say I will do, and I do it every time.”

To ensure consistency of service delivery Lynette joked that “her check lists have check lists”.

A strong focus on process and moving to digital platforms, including using a client journey touchpoint map outlining what the customer should experience every step of the way, ensures Lynette has the structures in place to enable service consistency.

Being an “open book” to all her clients is also something Lynette said is key to how she operates – but she admits it took some time to build the confidence and experience to do this.

“I’m always transparent,” she said. “It wasn’t easy at the start because you do have that niggling worry that perhaps you’re being too honest, but it has paid off. Transparency builds trust and if you’re genuinely doing what you think is best for your clients, then honest and open communication actually makes everyone’s lives easier.”

Lynette also credits her recent employment of an EA with helping her maintain consistent service delivery.

“It is a real challenge to balance volume with the high level of customer service I want to provide,” she said. “When I was starting out in my career, it was about building the volume. Now it’s about maintaining consistency, so how I operate needed to change. I chose to employ an EA, as opposed to a sales assistant, so the focus can be on systems to help me deliver for clients.”
"Transparency builds trust and if you're genuinely doing what you think is best for your clients, then honest and open communication actually makes everyone's lives easier".

Spotlight on professionalism

Lynette believes it’s in the best interests of agents and consumers alike for the industry to be recognised as a profession.

“I think if we’re going to remain relevant as an industry, we need to evolve and be recognised as a profession with a high-level value proposition for our clients,” she explained.

At a time when clients have a number of options outside of engaging a real estate agent, Lynette said it’s never been more important to have a unified, clear offering to the market.

“Ethics and education are highly valued by clients, especially if they’re going to be paying the fees associated with engaging an agent. And, unfortunately, our industry has a reputation for not always valuing these things,” Lynette said.

“We need to create a framework that prioritises ethics and education, and positions agents as advisors to help clients navigate the market.”

As well as industry-wide change, Lynette said each agent and agency also has a responsibility to focus on leadership, accountability and continuing education.

“To rise to meet client expectations in today’s market, we need integrated professional development, benchmarks across the industry and accountability.

“It’s an ongoing process towards professional recognition, but in the meantime agents can prepare themselves by focusing on their delivery to consumers, positioning themselves as a trusted advisor and investing in their education.”

Planning for the future

Having already achieved many of her personal and career goals, Lynette has turned her focus to how she can help others succeed.

“I’m humbled at what I have achieved and feel very grateful for what I have. Now, I’d also like to help other agents within our company.”

Lynette’s advice to agents starting out in their careers is to align yourself with a more experienced agent who operates like the agent you would like to become. For Lynette, that mentor was Scott Chadwick.

“By aligning yourself with an agent who already embodies how you’d like to work, you’re effectively giving yourself a glimpse into your future. You’ll be able to tell early on if this is the career for you.

“They have the experience, so you get a bit of a ‘shortcut’ because you can learn from them without having to make all those mistakes or detours yourself. You can see very quickly what it’s going to take to become the agent you want to be and operate at the level you want to achieve.

“When you’re starting out in this industry, it can be a bit overwhelming. I’d really like to help other agents to create their own success and achieve their goals.”
"I'm humbled at what I have achieved and feel very grateful for what I have. Now, I'd also like to help other agents within our company".

Why I love real estate

“It’s in my blood and, honestly, I think that plays a big part in why I love real estate. I saw the joy it brought my father and, when I finished ballet, I wanted to experience that feeling of joy again myself,” Lynette said.

“I love the uncapped potential that comes with working in real estate. Every single day is different and while there is huge freedom attached to the income you can make, you can be as busy or as quiet as you want.

“I also find real estate very rewarding on a personal level. It’s about so much more than the money you can make. I enjoy the relationships I build with clients and I get huge satisfaction when people respect and admire the work I do.”

LYNETTE'S TOP TIPS for sales success

  1. Have a value proposition
    Take the time to think about what is going to set you apart and be really clear about what you offer to clients, then get good at communication

  2. Never be driven by commission
    Find a 'why' that's not material. Of course, money is important. But to have longevity in any industry you need motivation that goes beyond the material gain and gives you deeper connection to the work you do.

  3. Put your clients first
    Develop genuine relationships with your clients and put them first- but not at the expense of your core values.

  4. Outsource
    What aren't you good at? Become comfortable with acknowledging your strengths and challenges, then outsource what you aren't good at. Build a team around you with complementary skills, so you can all grow.

  5. Create raving fans
    Remember, its a long game. Make sure you build relationships and foundations that will allow you to be successful beyond the transaction. If you're clear about what you offer and you put your clients first, you will create raving fans that will ensure your longevity.