Legacy is not always a good thing, says Suzannah Toop
28 November 2018
Although her list of accomplishments is (incredibly) long – she completed a double degree in Law and Commerce, was accepted into AMP’s Capital Graduate Program and in 2016 she was admitted as a lawyer in the Supreme Court of NSW – when Suzannah Toop returned to Adelaide to run her family’s real estate business with her sister, she was young and had never sold a house.

But that certainly didn’t stop her maintain and growing Toop&Toop’s reputation as South Australia’s leading independent real estate agency.

On the advantage of inexperience

“When I returned to Adelaide to take the helm at Toop&Toop with my sister, we knew our competitors would look at us as two young women who have never sold real estate,” says Suzannah.

“But what they didn’t consider was that being young meant we are tech savvy, being female meant we built a business that empowers women to build long-term careers and having never sold real estate meant we could look at the process with fresh eyes.

“However, our competitors still certainly questioned the future and stability of Toop&Toop.”

This prompted Suzannah and her sister to look at Toop&Toop’s offering critically.

“We started looking at things under a microscope,” says Suzannah. “We realised we hadn’t changed that much (which isn’t a bad thing). But we did question whether we were reinventing ourselves enough.

“We asked ourselves would we be doing things the same way if we started the business today.”

   

On the question of pace

Suzannah says in asking tough questions, they could better identify what was working well, what needed improvement and what needed to go.

“For us, trying to work out how to combat pace was a big issue,” she says. 

“We used to write a letter, put it in an envelope, stick a stamp on it and post it. The recipient would do the same and the whole communication process could take up to 14 days. 

“Now the average worker receives 88 emails a day and checks their email 77 times a day. We realised we couldn’t keep operating like this.”

On using technology

Suzannah says the issue of pace is compounded by changing consumer behaviour.

“Consumers now expect what they want instantly. And it’s up to us to provide it,” she says. “We did not want to be a taxi company in the year before Uber came out.

“We wanted to ensure that the technology we invested in (and continue to evolve and review) will be what our clients need now and in the future. There’s no point updating a taxi metre when within a year everyone will have an app to order a car that can be tracked.”

Suzannah says every technology they implemented was to ensure they remained relevant to their clients.

“We focused on automation but did not replace personnel,” she says. “We leveraged technology to allow our staff to have more time to provide the level of service our clients expect. This allowed us to become high tech and high touch.”

On the future

Suzannah says we can all take comfort in the fact that every industry is changing.

“We’re all in this together,” she says. “All industries are expected to change, not just real estate.”

She also reminds us that as technology changes our environments, our hiring decisions must also evolve. 

“At Toop&Toop, we measure IQ and EQ (emotional quotient or emotional intelligence), but we also measure AQ, adversity quotient,” she says.

“When markets shift and real estate gets harder, AQ is incredibly important.”

Want more?