Tell us a little bit about your background, Joanne?
I was born in New Zealand, but grew up in Melbourne. We moved to Coffs as a family in 1996, having selected the region based on the right school for our eldest child. We settled into Sandy Beach and built a home one street back from the beach, creating a lovely lifestyle for our family.
From a working standpoint, I was keen to establish a bit of a niche for myself and decided real estate would be a good fit. I did some research into different agencies and took it upon myself to phone a few businesses to ask for an interview. Fortunately, that decision paid off (there were no jobs going) and I began working in real estate in 1999, focusing on sales and building a reputation in my local area. In time, I was able to branch out and build my client base so that it extended well beyond the Northern Beaches, which was great.
The One Agency brand seems to pop up everywhere these days. Tell us how you built such a strong presence in the real estate industry on the Coffs Coast?
I established One Agency Coffs Harbour in 2009. We’re thrilled to be celebrating our 6th anniversary this week. Whilst it was daunting going out on my own in some regards, I was keen to create my own brand and make my mark. We started off just focusing on the sales side of things and then introduced property management a few years ago, in part to better service our existing clients looking for management of their investment properties. We’ve continued to grow both aspects of the business.
As far as building a strong presence on the Coffs Coast is concerned, it comes back to being hard-working. I was raised with the ethos that those who work hard will be rewarded accordingly. The real estate industry is a very competitive one, and nothing comes to those for wait. You need to get out there, work hard and be prepared to go the extra mile – for example, making yourself available at times that suit your clientele, which can often be after hours.
How do you do real estate differently to all the other agencies out there?
Everything is about the people in the organisation; my emphasis is on creating and inspiring a dynamic team, The One Team, which in turn attracts amazing clients. We work to provide an exceptional real estate experience to all of our clients. We know our attention to detail is like no other! Personally, I’m also well aware that the success of One Agency Coffs Harbour is very much about my reputation, so I ensure I do the right thing by everyone – acting ethically and with honesty and integrity.
As a team, we’re also guided by a certain set of principles that our clients are made aware of. This means we’re more about the action than the talk. We have a twelve-point promise that we adhere to that reflects our dedication to work hard, treat clients respectfully, deliver feedback after inspections, be punctual, well-presented – and so on.
We pride ourselves on one-to-one service – hence being drawn to the One Agency brand initially.
What changes to the industry are having the biggest impact on selling property?
The world of online has had a really positive impact on the real estate industry. Social media has enhanced the way we do business and the way real estate works. Vendors are better educated and come to us well-informed. As far as I see it with all things technological, it’s really important to move with the times and embrace change – otherwise you simply get left behind. Facebook is an important component of our business too – we find clients through Facebook, and they find us that way as well.
What’s your secret to keeping clients happy?
Good old-fashioned service is vital. We’re very much about delivering what we promise.
Our clients are incredibly loyal, and I’d like to think they see it as a two-way street. About 90% of our work is referral based, which I believe reflects the fact that existing clients are happy with the service we provide.
We also do ONE big “thank you” event every year and try to show our appreciation in lots of other little ways.
We hear there are big plans for the business in 2016. Can you shed some light on this?
We’re on the move! We’re really proud that we’re continuing to grow and with that in mind, we’ll be moving to a bigger and better space! We’re always looking to grow and move forward in business and strive to be ONE Step ahead, but never at the cost of forsaking the values that we hold in such high regard.
What would be the top three tips you would tell a person looking to buy or sell a property?
Go for it! Too often people dig their heels in, procrastinate or over-analyse. Yes, it’s important to be clear in what you want, but also trust your instincts and follow your dreams. People can sometimes cut off their nose to spite their face and therefore miss out on a fantastic opportunity.
Try before you buy. As a bit of a trial, email or call a few agencies and see how efficiently you are responded to. It’s often a good reflection of the service you’re likely to receive moving forward.
Once you find the right agent, put your trust in them. They should be a wealth of information for you.
What does work/life balance look like for you?
I get up at 5am every day and I’m early to bed. I have that time just for me every morning when I exercise, meet up with girlfriends and have a coffee. My working days are pretty long and demanding, and those early hours are my special “time out” where I give to myself, as it were. I have a busy working life, and “feeding” myself physically and mentally in this way makes it all manageable. I love Yoga too and do this once a week for a couple of hours. Any getaway time is to a yoga retreat.
I also have a great, supportive husband who helps me maintain that work/life balance. We’ve been together since I was sixteen. I think if you’re lucky enough to find a great partner in life to fall in love with and also do work that you enjoy – everything else will fall into place. To me, those decisions determine your happiness and your success in life.