There is a lot to learn from Tim Heavyside’s business acumen and professional integrity
Director, principal and auctioneer with Fletchers Real Estate, Tim Heavyside is one of Australia’s most awarded and respected sales agents. In 2015, Tim sold 127 homes totalling $159,896,688 worth of property at an average sale price of $1,259,029. This year he is set to beat these impressive results in what is widely regarded as one of Australia’s most competitive real estate markets, Melbourne’s Eastern Suburbs.
Whether it be sales agent of the year nationally, by state or within the Fletchers Real Estate group, Tim Heavyside has a list of accolades literally as long as your arm. This year he took out the REIV Residential Salesperson of the Year – Principals (for the fifth time in his career), the REB Australian Sales Agent of the Year and is ranked 19th in REB’s Top 100 Agents.
While his results and awards speak volumes, there is so much more to Tim’s operation than the sales figures and recognition.
“I genuinely want to help people and I listen to people, I have empathy for the vendor’s situation and if you can maintain that over a long period of time, you are going to be successful,” Tim says. “I assure you I’m not gifted with anything. I’ve just learned from others and I think you can truly be successful within the industry if you are willing to be committed, have a long-term view and genuinely care for your vendors.
“I always treat people with respect, kindness and professionalism – those three words always.”
Combine Tim Heavyside’s passion for servicing his clients with his process-driven business methods and you have a winning combination. Here are Tim’s unique real estate methods.
1. Don’t be afraid to hire support staff
Tim has six support staff; this may sound like a lot but when you consider Tim could have 20 to 40 appointments on a Saturday or seven auctions, he needs all hands on deck.
Many agents are fearful of taking on staff. Tim took a leap of faith and by hiring, he was able to grow his business to where it is today. Tim’s main role is to prospect, list and auction the properties. There is clear delegation between team members’ responsibilities and procedures in place to minimise double handling of tasks.
Executive Assistant – Allison Miller is Tim’s right hand, she processes listings and liaises with the vendor on everything to do with marketing the property.
Buyer Assistant – Spring Chen manages the buyer relationships and expectations once a listing is taken on. Spring focuses on the Chinese buyers and works closely with bidders on auction day.
Buyer Assistant – Harley Toyle’s role is similar, although he focuses on the Australian buyers.
Property Consultant and Auctioneer – Albert Hazelden is a standalone salesperson and auctioneer within Tim’s team.
Database Manager – Anna O’Malley manages Tim’s database administration and public relations.
Sales Cadet – Natasha Seci works across administration and sales and prepares all of Tim’s appraisal material.
If a vendor is concerned about Tim’s availability, he explains it is in their best interest he focuses on the sale and not the administration. Tim is extremely proud of his team and impressed by how much they teach him on a daily basis. “Everyone has their role to play and a vendor buys into the team. The feedback is ‘Tim’s team is wonderful’, not just Tim.”
2. Communicate in meaningful ways with your database
With a dedicated manager, Tim has a clean database containing both buyers and potential vendors. “It’s something you must strive to have and continue to monitor, we regularly communicate to our database and rarely get a return to sender.”
These communications include quarterly newsletters, seasonal market information, Christmas cards and invitations to events, such as movie nights at the local Rivoli Cinema. Tim is careful to keep the communications on a relationship level, rather than selling.
“There is no listing information sent to our database, it can overwhelm people and you can over communicate. On social media platforms you can delve into that more, but you still need to be careful there too.
“When we post or email information to our database, like when we win an award, it relates to something specific. If we sent ‘hey we’ve just sold’ or the latest listings, we’d lose people very quickly.”
3. Prospecting should be holistic
According to Tim, effective prospecting requires the right energy and commitment.
“I think a lot of people think prospecting is just getting on the phone for two hours and calling buyers back. My approach is much more holistic, my buyer agents are always prospecting at open for inspections, and when you are on the phone with an enquiry, you need to have the right energy to ask the right questions. ‘So if you bought the property what would you do with your home?’. ‘Has Fletchers done an appraisal for you recently?’”
Appraisals are your lifeline; as an agent if you aren’t getting appraisals you’re not getting the opportunity to close your listings. “I’m very hungry and I’ve got an appetite that I want to meet people and help people, and this includes winning new business, I love winning new business.”
Along with the traditional prospecting methods, such as mail card drops, newsletters and regular database communications, Tim runs ads at the local Rivoli Cinema prior to each film and sits on a number of local community boards. “It’s really about getting your brand out there so when people are thinking real estate, when it comes time to sell, they think of me.”
Tim’s final piece of prospecting advice, “less texting, more picking up the phone, less emailing and more picking up the phone, or even better, get belly to belly and look them in the eye.”
4. Align with a supportive brand
Fletchers provides an automated prospecting service for their agents. The marketing department creates regular marketing material on behalf of their agents, including newsletters, mail cards and seasonal communications.
“It’s a fantastic system. I guess you can become a little lazy because it is done automatically for you. Let’s say it’s Easter, the marketing department create an Easter drop specifically for you, I just have to hit print and it means I’m not back late at night working out what to say.”
5. Speak to your market and ask the right questions
Tim firmly believes your vendor pitch starts from the moment you make contact with a person, even if their decision to sell is three, four, even 10 years down the track. They may encounter you at an open for inspection, an auction or be calling about a property, but they will remember how you conducted yourself.
In the case of a referral or direct vendor enquiry, Tim follows a very structured process in order to gather the right information. This helps Tim prepare for his listing presentation.
“I take a lot of time over the phone, you have to ask the right questions at the right time and I earn the right to ask these questions by investing in the conversation,” Tim explains. “It’s things like – have they sold before, how did it go, how did they know to contact me – if it was a referral I will contact that person to gather more information.
“It is terribly important you find out if the home is in more than one name, you need to get in front of all decision makers. Early on I ask price expectations as this impacts the information I need to take along.”
6. Go deep when pitching
“When I am in the listing presentation I believe in two words: simplicity and certainty. I talk with a lot of confidence and know my stuff. There is no hesitation that I am the right person for the vendor,” Tim says.
Tim likes to bring the presentation to life with visuals, he will often put pen to paper to illustrate a fact. The aim is to show a point of difference and to demonstrate how he will sell the home. This might include point of sale material, things like a map which shows the home and its associated school zone, this can be a major trigger for many buyers.
Extensive research goes into Tim’s listing presentations; this enables him to present with confidence. For example;
- Printing the title
- Checking zoning pertaining to the land
- A record of properties the Fletchers Group or Tim has sold/appraised in the street
- Marketing material from comparable properties
7. When it comes to VPA know your vendor
According to Tim there are three types of vendors:
- The vendor who trusts you are the expert and listens to your advice
- The vendor who can be influenced with the right information and case studies
- The vendor who is stuck in their ways
“It’s not like I sell $20,000 schedules every time, I don’t. On average I have sold $1 million in VPA consistently for a number of years, that works out at about $10,000 to $15,000 VPA per campaign,” Tim says. “I’m strong in that regard because I believe in it. It’s a good case study when you can use your own home’s sale, which I often do. If you can give a good reason for the advertising spend then you will write more VPA.”
8. Get digital and be progressive
While Tim is still a big supporter of print for its ability to engage the unexpected buyer who is more likely to make an emotional decision and will often pay a higher price, he is very progressive on the digital front. The marketing channels Tim favours include:
- The highest internet package
- Video and 3D tours
- Social media, including boosted Facebook posts (10 to 15 second video tours)
- Google advertising
- Drone and aerial photography
- Print media
Delivering a high level of customer service when it comes to marketing a vendor’s property and streamlining the marketing system, is a top priority for Tim and his team.
“I’m fastidious about a high level of service and we are always improving the process, Campaigntrack definitely helps automate and simplify our methods and the faster we can get things to a vendor, the quicker they can make a decision. Campaigntrack’s input is huge.”
Campaigntrack is integrated with Tim’s CRM, supplier network and media outlets. Allison Miller uses Campaigntrack to create property artwork, produce quotes, book suppliers, make media bookings and push advertising to the relevant portals, in conjunction with the marketing department.
9. Auctions are the ultimate listing and branding presentation
Auctioneering has become a large part of Tim’s operation with 90 per cent of the properties he sells sold by auction.
“Every time you are auctioneering you are prospecting; it’s often referred to as the ultimate listing presentation because people can make a judgement based on their experience. The auction for us is a great way to get new business or retain business.”
Tim has initiated some interesting tactics at his auctions. Firstly, he has a coffee van at each open for inspection on auction day, giving punters coffee, tea or slurpees in branded cups. Secondly, Tim’s team keep a running tally of the auction on a large whiteboard, so all bidders can easily follow the bidding progress.
10. Know why you are in real estate
If you are doing it for the money, then this is not the vocation for you according to Tim Heavyside. “You have to be disciplined and you are going to have to make sacrifices. I don’t know a single successful person who hasn’t had to make sacrifices in terms of commitment to their workload.
“I genuinely enjoy helping people, there is satisfaction in that. Maybe they’ve had a marriage breakup, a family member has passed away and the family needs to sell, others either need to upsize or downsize, I am in part their solution and help solve their problem.”