Real estate is a huge business, and Richard and Darrell from The Professionals have been in the game a long time. We catch up with them in our special Decades in the Trade feature.
Can you tell us how long you have been in real estate and how long you have owned the Professionals Forster?
RC: My real estate career has always been with the Professionals, for just on 20 years, as a selling sales executive initially and a dedicated business owner for the last 17 years. Initially this was a career change from a legal background and former management roles, but the passion for property has always been in my blood. I love this career, and I take it very seriously. Originally Gloucester born and residing here for over 20 years now, perhaps I am almost a local! I guess you could say loyalty is important to me, and my commitment to the Professionals brand is as strong as the day I joined.
DR: After moving to the area in the mid ‘70s with my family, I completed my schooling in the local district. Straight out of high school and for the larger part of my adult life, I have been involved in the real estate industry and have enjoyed many happy years with my business partner, Richard, and as a part of the Professionals Group.
The Professionals is a well-recognised and sought after brand. How long has it been in operation here in Forster; can you tell us a bit of history about the local agency?
The Professionals brand has been operating in Forster for over 40 years. Originally located in the former RSL premises in Wharf Street, Professionals has a long, rich main street history and has become an iconic local brand. We have connected with thousands of customers over the years, been involved in countless real estate transactions and developments, and embedded ourselves locally as a committed community business partner.
What are some of the biggest changes you have noticed over the years within the industry?
It’s stating the obvious, but technology has absolutely transformed the industry, and any business (real estate or otherwise) that has not adapted can quickly become obsolete. That, coupled with a dramatic shift in consumer behaviour, presents a continuous challenge for strategic business planning. If you lose touch with the customer, you have lost your way. To ensure we stay current, we do invest heavily in staff training and development, as it is all very well to have a vision – but without well educated and trained team members, the implementation is destined to fail. This is an area we believe differentiates us dramatically, and we will always ensure our team are exceptionally trained in their areas of competency.
Can you tell us about some of the changes that have happened here locally, both for the town and the agency?
This town has seen considerable growth and certainly a change in demographic. We are most certainly still a popular retiree location, and that remains a significant market – but it is changing. Naturally, there can be resistance to change, as we seek to preserve the unique nature of our town, but we must also acknowledge the importance of growth and change if this town is to flourish and there are to be opportunities for the generations to come.
Our business model must now be responsive to a variety of customers, but one thing we will guarantee is that our core values and our integrity will never waver. More specifically, perhaps the biggest and constant change we have to embrace is staying modern in marketing. Traditionally, our industry was viewed as a sales business but in today’s environment, marketing is the key. Maintaining the right balance between traditional marketing and modern methods that have enormous reach is not easy, but we pride ourselves on being innovative and creative in this regard.
Tell us about the team at The Professionals Forster.
We have a phenomenal team of employees working with us (16 in total) and quite frankly, our success ultimately depends on each and every one of them. We are very strong on culture and work ethic in selecting any employee to join our team, and we couldn’t be happier with the crew. There is a constant buzz in our office and we also see very limited turnover, which hopefully reflects a great work environment and strong leadership.
Strategically, we invest a lot of energy in building culture, and we acknowledge the importance of reward and recognition. We also make sure we have some fun in our day to day activities, in what can often be a stressful environment. Relocation to our brand-new premises and modern facilities has also contributed to a terrific motivation within the team, and we are all excited with the move and future.
What brings you to work each day?
The predictable answer would be to earn a living! In all honesty, it is the team we work with and the variety of activity every day brings. The strategic running of a business sees us immersed daily with branding, marketing and community activities, but we are also very hands on with our sales team activity, property management and holiday business units. I guess like all small business owners, we wear many hats – which present their daily challenges. There is never a dull moment, and time seems to fly by.
We also both believe in life balance, so we always ensure we and all our team have quality family time and take a moment to enjoy and appreciate the incredible place we call home.
What are some exciting things on the horizon for The Professionals Forster?
This has been a huge year already, with a complete office relocation to our new premises, and the year ahead holds some exciting initiatives, particularly in marketing.
We have made many changes, grown our team and built a team culture that is the foundation of our success and the envy of all. We have an ongoing leadership responsibility to make this all happen, and that is where our energies are devoted. We hope the results speak for themselves, and we continue to aggressively seek opportunities to improve and grow.
Where do you see yourself and the company in another 10 years?
We are lucky to share an extremely strong partnership, with tremendous experience between us. It makes life easy, and the future looks bright. We won’t settle for average; we will continue to innovate, pursue growth opportunities, continue our rich history of community support, provide a foundation for employment for many locals and ultimately maintain our absolute determination to be recognised as unmistakable market leaders in all aspects of our business.
One thing that won’t change is our core philosophy, and that is to seek the very best outcome for our clients by developing lifetime relationships built on honesty and trust.
Finally, a business can’t be successful for 40 years without some very strong business fundamentals, so whilst change is always inevitable, some things will always stay the same – as we plan a business future well beyond 10 years … hopefully another 40 plus!
Thanks Richard and Darrell.