Episode 005 - Geoff Tilden - Lessons from 37yrs of Business Success | Limeworks

Episode 005 - Geoff Tilden

Lessons from 30yrs of Business Success

Solid growth, working with family, and why the customer always comes first.

Geoff Tilden, one of the Principles of Raine and Horne Gosford, has spent 30 years as a Real Estate agent.

Together with his wife Susan, they've navigated 18% interest rates, franchise changes, and grown their team from 3 to over 35 employees. 

Their dedication to promoting a healthy culture, putting the customer first, and making tough decisions, have created a profitable and sustainable company.

We cover investments, mixing family and business, and so much more. 

Raine and Horne Gosford & East Gosford - raineandhorne.com.au/gosford

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Transcription

Please note, while an effort is made to provide an accurate transcription, errors and omissions may be present. No part of this transcription can be referenced or reproduced without permission.

Rob: Thank you, Geoff, for coming and having a chat to us on the podcast. It's great to have you here. And so I've I understand you guys are in a bit of a flux at the moment with Covid, but we don't really want to talk too much about Covid, but will probably cross it a little bit later.

Geoff: Mm hmm.

Rob: But what I really wanted to talk to you about today is the extraordinary growth that you guys have seen over a 30 year career and 30 years of owning your own business. And that business is Raine and Horne, Gosford and East Gosford. And so I'd really like to first start say, just understanding a little bit about where you started from in real estate and and how you got into business and go from there.

Geoff: I started back in the early 80s, actually, so. Sue my wife and partner in the business started real estate in 1983 I think was. And then I got caught up in it 1985 working for a commercial industrial agency in the city. And that's where it all started from. And uh though some people called Leishmans who bought out the Peter Brand Group, a local bus company owners they took on the Peter Brand Group back in the early 80s and uh, wanted Sue to come back and manage one of their offices for them. But that brought her back to Gosford and, uh, she managed Gosford Real Estate. I was still then in Sydney doing commercial industrial. And we had the stock market crash in 87. And I came back to Gosford in late 89, 1990. And that's how it all started from a local perspective.

Rob: And so that's what you ventured out on your own as.

Geoff: We did.

Rob: And so that was Gosford Real Estate back then.

Geoff: It was in 1990 we purchased Gosford Real Estate. At that stage, it was comprised of three people and us, the two of us. And it was a great start, cause Sue at the same time, found out she was pregnant.

Rob: Good timing.

Geoff: Good timing. So that was a great way to pick it off. So we mortgaged everything we owned and borrowed from everybody and started it. And then we had the recession that you had to have same as well in 1990. So Mr Keating gave us a present to kick off our business career, as well. It was uh, interesting times.

Rob: Because because that was post the extraordinary interest rate period as well, wasn't it, that was sort of very late 80s in

Geoff: Late 80s were 18, 19 percent interest.

Rob: And that's pretty extraordinary when you consider we're at, what, one percent

Geoff: Oh, absolutely.

Rob: Now? And, you know, actual borrowing capacity and, you know, three to four or something there. And people are concerned about a quarter percent, half a percent, one percent interest rate rise, but 18 percent. Can you imagine a world like that right now?

Geoff: Well, we were in it. We that's how we started. We were at 18 percent when we borrowed for our first property. And, uh, well, we didn't know any different. So we always expected to be around that, rate. Oh. It was a lot of money going out.

Rob: I suppose it's it is all relative. So we're saying it's around 1990 and it's Gosford Real Estate at the time. And so I know a little bit later you were part of the First National Group as well. So did you sort of enter into that franchise?

Geoff: We did we stayed as an independent an independent for a few years, then we looked at joining First National. It was a marketing co-op. So it gave us an opportunity to. To give us a broader base, a better market penetration with a national name at that stage. So we stayed with them for just on 20 years with First National. We found that towards the end, it didn't suit us any longer. It hadn't progressed as fast as we wanted it to. So we then were actually considering going back to be an independent office. Back to Gosford Real Estate and the opportunity came up for us to join Raine and Horne, which was in 2011. So that's when we took the step to to get into Raine and Horne Group.

Rob: It's an interesting transition, so did that franchise become available because someone local stepped away from the franchise?

Geoff: Yes. There was a it was run by one fellow for a guy called John Stewart. He had business for over 20 years. He sold it to another person. They absolutely destroyed it. They, uh, they did everything wrong you can do wrong within a 12 month period. And, uh, he. Business was closed down. So the opportunity for the franchise came up through that. And we believe that the our name and Raine and Horne were good enough to get us back on an even track and get us going for the future. So that's why we ventured into Raine and Horne.

Rob: So it's quite a quite a leap to go from one franchise group to another. How did you even from a, you know, an effort sort of requirement, but also a financial

Geoff: Financially

Rob: To rebrand to, you know,

Geoff: Its huge.

Rob: To really shake things up? How did you sort of assess the pros and cons of coming out of First National and taking up Raine and Horne?

Geoff: At the stage, at that stage, technology was coming through quite strongly in that period of time, remembering that back in the 80s and 90s, like fax machines were new technology and so progressed from that point, 1990 through to 2000. So extremely quick rate. So we had to decide whether that group would keep up with what we wanted to do with our expansion and what we had planned. And we were looking to find a franchise or a marketing group that could take us to that next level. And that was our driving focus to do that. It was a big change. We'd invested 20 years into that name First National, and in the end we decided that, you know, to to actually move forward, you have to take those risks. And that risk was to get out of that 20 year relationship and start a new one, a new one that was fractured at the beginning. So it was it was an interesting time then. And there was a lot of sleepless nights over what was the right thing to do was.

Rob: Especially when you're, as you say, the previous franchise owner for that group for Raine and Horne. Hadn't had success with business and whether it was their own fault or whatever. Obviously, there's a real analysis that goes into that to just discover exactly what's gone wrong. And you have to have a lot of self-confidence in what you're doing to make sure that you can overcome that and grow beyond.

Geoff: That's right.

Rob: So.

Geoff: That was one of the big factors.

Rob: So

Geoff: Right.

Rob: It's yeah. And I guess. Did you sort of have all the information that you really looking back at it now? Was there any real surprise there that that came out?

Geoff: Look, there was a few surprises, but we relied on our reputation we built. We relied on our business philosophy and what we thought was the right thing to do. So we did have a few surprises. But the end of the day, we had one person that we had an issue with and the market accepted quite well. They knew who we were. We weren't represented by that old person who was in it and we actually saw growth from day one in making that call.

Rob: Wow. That would be quite reaffirming.

Geoff: Well, our figures ended up being a 20 percent increase by making that judgment call, the switch to the Raine and Horne.

Rob: Which is quite substantial

Geoff: Oh, huge

Rob: On a 20 year old company. Yeah.

Geoff: Mm hmm. Huge call.

Rob: Different if you're first or second year in. But it's quite a hard thing to do.

Geoff: So it is a Raine and Horne, are quite unique where they're family owned. They're still run by the Raine family, Angus Raine. So they're third generation family have been around for over a hundred and thirty five years in Australia. Their whole philosophy fitted in with our family based company as well. So it sort of went together really well. We deal with Angus Raine. We deal with a guy who owns the company and it just worked from that point.

Rob: Was that part of the appeal to Raine and Horne in the first place? That it is very sort of personal driven?

Geoff: It is. We could have joined other franchise groups around. But they are run by boards. They are public companies. All the people on board run by boards, basically. But Raine and Horne wasn't, it was run by an individual.

Rob: Cause real estate's one of those industries where it is very uniquely personal, isn't it? And I think you would find that or I expect that your clients and your agents have their own clients and everything as well. So.

Geoff: Well, our business is built on our personal contacts, on relationships with people. That's where a lot of our business comes from. Repeat business referral business. New business is harder to get than the business you already have. So it it works for us to be more personable. And that's the type of people we have in the industry. People like to talk to people. So.

Rob: So is that maybe part of what sort of smooth that transition from franchise, because, you know, you can take your clients with you? It's not, say, your changing brands of coffee in a coffee shop.

Geoff: That's right. About everything behind the scenes was the same. It's just we had a new image, a new logo out the front of the shop, basically, but that new logo gave us a lot more penetration into the market, gave us a lot broader coverage, gave us more. More of a presence in general, for real estate. They were very well known name Raine and Horne and so it helped us.

Rob: Amazing.

Geoff: Dramatically. Mm hmm.

Rob: So if we fast forward, obviously, it's been almost 10 years since the switch. How far have you grown in terms of person personnel wise going from, say, 2011 to what you've got now?

Geoff: From 2011 till now, we've had another dramatic growth phase. We've actually amalgamate a lot of offices into our office. We've taken over a lot of businesses. Our staff when we started originally were three staff and we were up 35. And in that time, we then looked at. Another office opening, a second office. And we did that, at East Gosford. And we saw that as a fairly strategic move for us because of the area that we cover, which which actually goes out through that area to Green Point. So we've had very high growth in both our property management numbers, staff numbers, office. Um, we've redone the office now three times, I think, in that period of time. So we're just modifying everything all the time to suit our current situation.

Rob: And so the decision to open a second office in East Gosford, that was, is that based on sort of territorial limits that exist or is it just more of an exposure thing?

Geoff: No, it's not, though we've got no restrictions on where we can trade through our current group. It was there was a couple of decisions behind that. Um, four years ago or five years ago, our daughter and her husband came to us and wanted to get into the business as well. So those two degrees at university are a waste of money. But anyway, we'll, we move on from that. So, uh, uh, they would decided that I want to come back from Sydney and get involved in business, which was was good. So that allowed us to expand within our family and take that to East Gosford as well. So it was strategic for the business, but it was also an opportunity that we had now that the our daughter, Katie and Christian were involved. And that gave us that opportunity to to expand safely and keep it within our family group. Mm hmm.

Rob: That's really cool. So is there now that you've got Katie in the business. Is there sort of a did that change your perception on where the business is going to go?

Geoff: Totally,

Rob: And sort of succession planning and that sort of thing?

Geoff: That's right. Changed it. Hundred percent totally tip it on its head. Our whole structure in our business was set up to when we retire, we're going to sell the business and retire. And when they expressed an interest in coming into the business, you then had to change us financially, structure everything about what we'd set up needed to be reinvented. So it, uh, it took us a lot. We're still doing it. We're still changing things around. It's only been five years and we've got 30, 25 years, 30 years behind that to change around. So it's a great thing. It's good. We're happy that they are interested, wanting to do it. And but it does change your whole business around that dramatically.

Rob: And obviously, you started 30 years ago with Sue in the business. And so it's always been very family oriented. How is the dynamic different from just when it was you two are having now your daughter and son in law in the business as well?

Geoff: Well, that has taken a lot of adjustment from our part because we make our judgments and changes discussing it at home. Sue runs the property management department. I run the sales department. So we all have our own boundaries. We we carry that through and and try and stick to that plan to make this work. So when we introduced two other dynamics into the situation. It it, again, caused a lot of not conflict, a lot of situations where we've had to rethink what we do. Cause we're now affecting other people, more so than just how we want to do it. So it's been a very interesting progression

Rob: One word for it.

Geoff: A very positive. It's very good that they they love it. They're into it, the actual knowledge is is amazing how fast they've adapted to it all. Christian came from a sales background in real estate before he got involved with us. Katie had a degree in human resources, so she had a lot of people skills. So.

Rob: Certainly not wasted in your industry.

Geoff: No, that's true. Well, I tell her.

Rob: Get some of that money back. So do you think that bringing in obviously it. Well, it wasn't intentional having Katie and Christian come into the business with a slightly different perspective and that sort of thing. Has that helped you adapt to such an evolution in real estate where we've gone from? However, you would've done business 30 years ago.

Geoff: Oh, absolutely,

Rob: To what you're doing now?

Geoff: Absolutely. Their knowledge of the technology now is far superior to definitely to me. And so their ideas have come in and refreshed everything that we do and how we do it. Sue is very I.T. orientated as well. So we've actually remodelled the whole business around IT now, we started, uh, well, probably we would have started about eight, nine years ago. We changed our software companies. Everything we do now is on the cloud. So we have no server based technology any longer. Which was very expensive to have, um, we've had to reassess our whole structure internally. How we do things. So the technology and their knowledge of technology has really helped us get to where we are today. Very good.

Rob: So, I mean, obviously, systemisation and and, you know, process is really critical for a business like this and especially on, say, the rental side where there's a lot of moving parts, but maybe not quite such a revenue per account. Is uh, you know, how important has that process played in in making rental rolls? You know, or rental contracts, a profitable, profitable part of the business?

Geoff: Well, it plays a very important part. We've since the day we started, when we first bought the business, we didn't have a rent roll. It's purely a sales office. So our whole drive from day one was to build our rent roll. That rent roll carries us through times like they are today through all the recessions we've had. That gives us the financial support to sustain our business. Without that, we would struggle a lot. So. The only way you can make money from property management is by volume. You have to have a high number. The reality is that officers don't make money out of owning a rent roll if they're under 300 managements, that just doesn't work. They have to get over that critical mass point and then build to other critical mass points and then change how management structure is done internally using technology to make it effective and and profitable.

Rob: Yeah. And so on the other side of business, we have property sales, obviously. And from my understanding of real estate, it is very agent driven where you can bring an agent into the business. And they may have really good contacts, really good relationships with existing vendors. Does that play a consideration when you're bringing in agents?

Geoff: It does. But more importantly is a culture that the person coming into our office, if they're a multi-billion dollar salesperson, unless they've got the right attitude that they're worthless, they're not worth having. I'd rather have a good culture in the office, whether it's property management or sales, and have somebody that that isn't a number one in Australia, but is a very good, well rounded person who can consistently produce and have a good backing of their relationship with people and work within our culture that we want to sit. So that's more important to us than than the high roller.

Rob: Yeah, that that makes sense, I suppose if they don't fit, then then it becomes counterproductive.

Geoff: It can destroy the rest of the business.

Rob: So how do you find a balance between sort of in office competitiveness and no doubt in sales? There is a little bit of competitiveness,

Geoff: Oh, of course.

Rob: But also a pat on the back for a job well done.

Geoff: A lot lot of salesmen are driven by ego with money or ego that drives the salesperson. That's basically what it comes down to. If you can control the ego to a point, uh, you can get it sorted out. But competition is good. As long as the are rules set and everybody knows what's happening. And there's nobody that actually tries to do things that are deceptive to other people. Competition is great. That's what we we all thrive on because we all want to win a deal. We all want to make the sale. But if everybody's on the same level playing field, that works out well.

Rob: Yeah. So it's competitive, but you've got to play by the rules at the same time.

Geoff: Yeah you got to play by the rules. It's the same with everything you. The rules are there for a reason. And if you do something to somebody, got to expect the same thing back. And the beauty of us is that I'm there all the time, I work six days a week. If we have an issue, every issue is is taken on board. We listen to it and a decision is made. We moved on. That's the end of it. So we have fairly strict but simple rules in place.

Rob: But sounds like that maybe that HR degree. It really,

Geoff: She's needed.

Rob: It really is. It really is, you know, pivotal to the business.

Geoff: Oh it is, yeah.

Rob: I think from the outside looking in, we think real estate and we think, you know, property sales. And that sort of thing. But from what you're saying, the culture is really foundation to your success. So is there ever, ever a time where that sort of took a misstep and you had to sort of recalibrate things and bring it back in line?

Geoff: Absolutely. No, no, no. You have to we really recalibrate our business all the time. We're constantly moving, constantly changing, and that happens to the staff. We we make bad decisions that simply employ the wrong people. It's not what we thought, not what we expected. So we do have to make those decisions. And it's something that evolves on a on a weekly basis, really. But it's very important to keep things moving smoothly and and that culture strongly in the office.

Rob: And so I guess that that sort of personal, you know, cultural perspective really extends even to your clients pretty broadly as well, because I can imagine that when your average person is selling their property, it's one of the biggest things that they're doing financially in their life. So what sort of help? How important is that cultural role, especially for your agents, where you are, where they're representing your brand and your offices? How does that sort of extend through and how important is that?

Geoff: Well, it's probably the number one rule. Most of our agents that work with us, have been with us for a long time. We've got 14 years, 17 years, 20 years probably our newest staff member would be probably three years. So. We have the idea that, you know, you've got to present yourself to the public and you've got to be able to walk down the street and talk to people like you sold the property to or sold the property for and quite happily discuss it. There's no room in our industry for the Cowboys. They've gone years ago. Your reputation and your integrity. Probably most important parts of salespeople today.

Rob: Because I suppose especially in in property where the value of property being sold can be vastly different. And so the net commission on offer is vastly different based on that value as well. How important is it to keep track of the small guys and not, you know, not let the three hundred thousand dollar sale go over the three million dollar sale?

Geoff: That's right, every sales are important because even if it's a three hundred thousand dollar sale, it might be that person, it's all they have. So it's extremely important that they get the best service and looked after as much as a three million dollar sale because the numbers are different. Sure. But the behind it is the same people with the same issues, the same problems, the same stress levels. Selling a house is extremely stressful. So it's irrelevant that the number because, uh, you know, those people who had the same impact.

Rob: Interesting. Yeah. Now, I think it's it's a really, as you say, that the emotions that the seller has are probably the same irrespective of the dollar value.

Geoff: And to a person, 300000 might be all they have in the whole world. And that's just as important as a person who's got four or five million dollars.

Rob: Of course, yeah.

Geoff: There's no difference between it's just the numbers are different.

Rob: So switching gears a little bit. Wouldn't mind touching on, say, social media and the impact of digital on on real estate.

Geoff: Should have brought Katie along.

Rob: Hey, maybe maybe there's a second episode in that. More just in terms of how how how much of a disruption or how much of an impact has that had in how you do day to day business? I mean, 30 years ago, the Internet was in its infancy.

Geoff: Yeah, didn't exist. Yeah, well, it's funny, we we've been in the Central Coast Express local newspaper for 30. Yeah. Probably close to 30 years old. Full page double page spreads every week in that paper. And they were very expensive. We last time we advertised in the paper would probably been three years ago that we cut that paper. And now we rely totally on the Internet. So all of our now marketing now is done through the Internet and through social media. They're really are two marketing points. You got to get that right. Cause, uh, you know, it's a very expensive way to market properties nowadays. The paper's got out of selling newspapers. They got into the running of the Internet and they're making their money up the losses. So it's a very expensive way to do business now. But the papers, magazines, as far as our industry goes, that's dead.

Rob: So in terms of say new business acquisition or say inquiries on a sale property, how does it change, say, when you had ads in the paper and people had to pick up a phone versus say now where it's just a quick bash bash inquiry through real estate. Does it help qualify leads or does it just create more volume?

Geoff: Creates more volume. But the hardest part is that, you know, you talk to people. It's so easy to flick an email like we do it all the time. You get an email inquiry, you answer it straight away, but you don't have that interaction with the people. So you lose a lot finding out what the person really wants. So a lot of properties might spark their interest, but that's usually not what they end up buying. So it's a different dynamic to what it used to be used to be all on the phone or in person or they'd come to the office. We used to have a tremendous about of walk in buyers come to our real estate offices. That doesn't happen any longer. We converse on the phone or via email. That's where most of it is done. So it's changed everything as far as how an agent handles an inquiry. And we've still got to try and get that one on one.

Rob: Yeah, of course. So in terms of obviously, real estates are always prominently positioned in, you know, strip mall or really convenient locations, properties in the front windows and that sort of thing. If there's much lower walk in traffic, is that more of a perception thing? Does it still play a part in that?

Geoff: It still plays a part and plays a part for different parts of our business. Rentals are still very much a. They pay their rent online and it's all done automatically. We haven't taken cash for probably fifteen years. But they still have a lot of interaction on a one on one basis with issues they have. Or signing new leases so that a, your face to the public is still very important from that sales it's not so much because it's all done over the Internet. But we still have a lot of people that come into both offices walking past and see something that's of interest and that'll spark their inquiry.

Rob: Also keeping on the on the digital realm, thinking about competition, we saw, say, an online competitor like Purple Bricks coming with very radically different commission structures and sales processes.

Geoff: That's it.

Rob: How obviously they've exited the market again now and didn't really get a foothold. Do you see much happening in that space, that sort of impacts you? Or is this where the relationships come into play?

Geoff: Well, they have the Purple Brick is a prime example. There are others coming into the market. They're always there. You've got a lot of people who are running real estate agents out of their sheds, out of their houses. So we have a lot of disrupters in the industry. But it does still come back to. People are selling an asset, their biggest asset, their life. They're going to want to deal with somebody just on the Internet who hasn't got an address, who they can't go and see. A lot of it's still going to be personal. So they've still got to meet the people, have the trust and to do the job that they want done with the biggest asset they've got. You know, technology certainly plays a high percentage of it, but the personal side of it is still extremely important. They've got to have the trust in that person to do the job. And with a model like Purple Bricks where they might discount the commission to such a degree, you pay for what you get. And that's been proven, you know. So bottom line.

Rob: And so they may may be a market for the no frills option, but for someone who wants to. Make sound decisions and really try and get maximum return on the sale. That's where you see that.

Geoff: They need to do that. If you go to the cheapest, it's the same in life for every product you buy, you can always buy cheap things. But if you want a quality, you have to pay more. And for that quality, usually have a better negotiator and somebody who is more skilled in what they do. The one who trains all the time and is not focused on what their commission is rather than delivering the right result for the client. And the big difference is when you're only charging a small amount of money, you need to pump them through, but you need to have a high volume to stay in business. If they don't have that volume, which means less service, quicker turnover. They won't stay in business. And that's been proven with these companies they just don't last because they can't afford to to actually service their clients.

Rob: Yeah, I think it was an interesting thing seeing them come in and an even more interesting thing, seeing them exit happened all pretty pretty rapidly and the TV ads were still running and.

Geoff: That's right. When they were gone.

Rob: Exactly. But but it all had to play out.

Geoff: Yeah, but look. Competition is good. There's nothing wrong with competition, I don't mind if we've got 50 agents or 100 agents. How those agents perform is what the difference is to whether business is successful or not. Same in life for everything. You can have 20 people selling the same product, its how they deliver it. Is what makes a difference.

Rob: And so obviously, we're we're based on the Central Coast. And, you know, an hour away from the CBD, who for anyone listening, that doesn't know where that is. Sydney's CBD. We should should clarify. Obviously, the Central Coast has grown exponentially over the last few decades. How instrumental has that been in property developments, property sales and sort of the on the flow to the available business is there, even if the competitors are? How much of a role has that overall industry growth played upon?

Geoff: The Central Coast in particular, Gosford, has seen a boom in the amount of construction of units and particularly units, that's where most of the construction has been. Um, competition in that that field is quite strong. There's a lot of Sydney agents and a lot of developers who are selling their own product. Um, it's changed dramatically what we've done and what the future is going to be for Gosford, which is good. It's very positive for that. So, you know, we used to be I used to refer to Gosford as a twilight zone, like nothing ever happens everything, this Gosford. For years and years. And it has taken a couple of, um, people, in particular the John Singleton, who's had the courage to put his hand up and actually do something, and that you can see what he's done. There's been a great benefit for Gosford and its followed by the government with the Tax Office and WorkCover. They've certainly put the commercial structure behind Gosford as well. We just need a progressive council, take it to the next level.

Rob: Yeah.

Geoff: And that's where we struggle.

Rob: Well, might leave that for a different conversation.

Geoff: Exactly.

Rob: So in terms of, as you say, John Singleton probably referencing Bonython Tower in Mann Street, and you do look at that construction going up. And it really is built for a decade's time and it's trying to drive things forward. How pivotal do you see investors and developers being in in any regional area like that.

Geoff: Well, we actually are quite a unique area. If you think about how we're positioned. Like an hour to Sydney, we're an hour to Newcastle we're on the coast. We've got every aspect of lifestyle. Look, anybody could want from the beaches to the parks to the waterways and access to Sydney Water. The Hawkesbury River, it's a very unique location. So we can satisfy a lot of demand for that uniqueness of our lifestyle. And our prices are so cheap compared to Sydney. And we're only an hour away. That access to Sydney is getting better all the time. We've got a new freeway opening soon this year, later on this year. There's a lot of trains are getting better. Everything is improving. We are in a very unique situation.

Rob: I mean, it's certainly a lot more dense and and the freeway traffic to Sydney, the commute traffic to Sydney is it's much more significant than it was

Geoff: Oh, absolutely.

Rob: 10 years, 20 years ago. But then as technology evolves and certainly at the moment with Covid playing out, a lot of people are finding that maybe they can work from home. Do you see that as maybe a catalyst for further growth on the coast? Because the commute

Geoff: Absolutely.

Rob: Isn't a problem?

Geoff: It it it will play a big part as well. We're lucky we were actually, one of the first areas of take on the NBN and that started the change for the Central Coast and that's grown over the last 10 years. Well, where people can quite comfortably work from home. And it's a big part of what we see. Commuters, are they those last count at 40000 thousand a day travel, Sydney? A lot of them, especially after this Covid, will now work from home. Well, some days a week. So that's probably good.

Rob: I think that's an interesting thing about, you know, some days a week. I know quite a number of people that I know that do work on the coast from home. They maybe have a job, share or not a job share. But a a part time work from home component. Maybe they still get into the office for an hour or two. So it's not the same as being in Coffs Harbour where you're five hours from Sydney, it's near enough, but far enough that you can still go to the beach on the weekend.

Geoff: And so still only an hour away, so they can be in the city, do what they have to do in their office for a couple of days a week and work from home for three days. So we have that versatility, which a lot of areas don't have. And we have that the NBN. Well, we have good communications. So there is again we're perfectly placed to take more people in from that direction.

Rob: So obviously, when you're in a high development and high growth sort of area, do you find that those long term relationships can evolve in ways that you hadn't expected as well? Maybe someone turns to, you know, property development or investing or, you know, their their interaction with property changes over time, just as the market evolves.

Geoff: Oh, definitely. You have people who who started out as passive investors who then look to some sort of development, maybe on a very small scale, then they want to progress a bit further into larger scale developments. Um, we have a lot of that, particularly in place, like East Gosford where they might, uh, come up building three or four townhouses on a site. Then they develop further. So over the years, we've seen people who had literally no interest in real estate become developers as they are today and are quite successful. Yeah, a lot of people have changed. And the area we have a lot a lot of varying properties. So whether you fix up at an existing house and put it back on the market, resell duplexes or any flats, subdivisions, townhouses, villas, units, Central Coast is is huge on that. The scope for different developing real estate. Mm hmm.

Rob: And as you said, the tax office came into Gosford recently as well. Did that sort of. Was there any, you know, notable surge that comes with that or is that is.

Geoff: I wish I could say yes, but it wasn't. We had the tax office, we've had the Department of Finance and we've had WorkCover. Uh, I. All of those people, mainly commuters. There's a lot of people that still commute back to Sydney from there. So as far as, um, growth for local residents. I don't think it's had a major impact at all. More beneficial to the cafes and restaurants. Which is great. So it supports the economy through Gosford in that area. Um, we've seen most of our growth in housing probably come through the hospital system with the redevelopment of Gosford Hospital, with doctors and nurses and support staff for that. Lot of people have moved to the area for that reason. So it's probably been the, um, the major catalyst for a change in our population.

Rob: Interesting if we fast forward, say, another 20 years in real estate, obviously thinking about how far it's. I'm not saying that we'll be having this conversation in 20 years time.

Geoff: Oh, hopefully

Rob: Hopefully you'll be sunning yourself on the sand. Given how far it's come in say the last 20 or 30 years. Do you see at a time where people are so comfortable with a a Internet based transaction that you could be showcasing properties regardless of geography and without physical inspection of properties taking place at all?

Geoff: Well, that has come up here. We're dealing with that at the moment with virtual tours and inspections, with the Covid. I'm sure a lot of people do it. But, you know, we have sold properties to overseas clients off the net off photos or videos. But most Australians still want to touch and feel before they make such a large purchase. We get a lot of inquiry, do all the research which the Internet provides at the end of the day. I think they still want to go on and feel the property, look at it, get a feel for the sense of the property or a property character is in the house. And the feel of the house is very important to people as much as what the bricks and mortar are, the area, the location, the feel of the neighbourhood. They are all visible on the Internet, but you don't know until to get there to feel it. And I think that will still be the driving focus behind the future of selling real estate.

Rob: Do you find there's a difference even now between, say, an investor versus a owner occupier in that purchase process where

Geoff: Absolutely.

Rob: An investor is more willing to just go off the specs?

Geoff: That's right. Investors money. It's all about money expenditure return. Net return outgoings. So there are a lot more clinical in what they do. And they look just look at numbers. When you're talking to owner occupiers, it's it's more the feel, the lifestyle, the house or the unit. They all want to know that they'll be comfortable living in that situation, but there'll be a big difference between the two. We manage properties for people all over the world who have never been to the properties. And as long as the numbers are right, investors don't have a problem. Owner occupiers different ball game.

Rob: They want to see how the light plays through the window or what colour they can paint the kitchen.

Geoff: They wanna see where the sun comes up, where it sets, what the breezes are, what the neighbourhood is like, shopping. There is a lot of factors go into why people make a decision particularly when we have a high concentration of people moving to area from Sydney. A lot of our buyers are from the Upper North Shore, northern shore of Sydney, and they see the Central Coast and an extension of the North Shore. They want the same feel and the same facilities that they have in that corridor. Come through. So they very much want to know everything about the area before they make that commitment.

Rob: Of course. Interesting. So we're coming up on time here. And I've got a few quick questions that I wouldn't mind asking.

Geoff: Okay.

Rob: And they don't. Don't need a long answer.

Geoff: Short ones okay.

Rob: Say that, well, it can be long. Maybe it's in depth. But we'll see how we go. So I've got three of them. The first one is the single most important thing that you've learnt for success in business.

Geoff: Be adaptable.

Rob: Adaptable. Elaborate, or that is the short answer.

Geoff: You need to change, you need to reassess all the time, you need to change with the market. You need to be able to see what's going to happen in the market and judge. If I learned anything. And, been doing it for a long time, we have to change.

Rob: Pretty good answer. Can't beat that one. So if you had your time again, is there a decision that you've made that you would have totally changed over?

Geoff: No. No. No, I don't. Look, they probably we got to make better business decisions. We always get things wrong and we'd be crazy if you said you didn't. There's probably a few of them along the line. But again, you know, you gotta live with what you've done. There's no point looking backwards and particularly in business. If you stuff it up, get over it, move on, fix it and don't do it again.

Rob: And if there was one person in business anywhere in the world, alive or dead, that you'd love to have lunch with. Who would it be?

Geoff: Oh, I can think of one smart arse answer, but, uh, who are.

Rob: It can be a smartass answer.

Geoff: Donald Trump he'd destroy it pretty quickly.

Rob: Hey, there'll be an interesting conversation

Geoff: It will be an interesting. It's, uh. I don't know the very hard question, um, I've had a lot of good mentors over the years. A lot of good people that have given me a lot of good advice. Um, and probably. Those people have been lost now because of their age or they're out of the industry. That's probably the the biggest loss I've had is is those people to talk to about different things. But putting it down to one person. Have to get back to you. Next series.

Rob: Maybe we'll stick with Trump. So just out of that spawn, another question, actually. Which is it more of a standard question, how important have you found the role of mentors in business and in the success overall?

Geoff: Extremely important. It's it's nothing better than to talk to somebody who's done it before and find out what they did and how they reacted to a certain situation and how they came out of it. And that's that's very important in our business. And any I'd imagine to why try and reinvent the wheel? It's been done before. No matter how clever you are. Somebody has done it better than what you have. You know, I think the most important part about being in a franchise like we are is that I get to talk to other people who are successful in our industry, more so than the franchise. So people are more important.

Rob: Yeah, I think there's some interesting lessons learned there. And you can't always ask a customer what they want.

Geoff: No

Rob: Sometimes you have to tell them.

Geoff: A lot of times you get it wrong. How you deliver it. If you speak to people who have done it before. You can often just pick up that little gem that that takes you through.

Rob: Amazing. Alright, well, we're coming up on time, and I've really appreciated this conversation. Geoff Tilden from Raine and Horne at Gosford and East Gosford and website address for anyone who wants to check you guys out.

Geoff: (rh.com.au/gosford)

Rob: Amazing. Thank you so much for your time.

Geoff: Thank you.

Rob: Thank you.

Geoff: Great. Thanks.

Rob: There you have it. I hope you really enjoyed this episode. And if you did, please like it, share it or leave us a review on your favourite platform. It helps us show more of this content to people just like you.


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