Tracey Dixon is a superb local operator
Consistently ranked in the McGrath network’s top five agents and recently named Australia’s third top female agent by REB Online, Tracey Dixon runs a unique real estate business. In 2015, she sold $182,186,510 in residential property comprising 61 homes at an average sale price of $2,986,664. To gain key insights into local market dominance and marketing methods we take a look at Tracey’s strategies.
Tracey Dixon has lived in Sydney’s Hunters Hill for 25 years and worked in real estate for 16 years. Her focus is on her immediate suburb but she also covers Woolwich and branches out to surrounding suburbs when clients require it. Tracey currently holds a 35 per cent market share, has set numerous record prices and is consistently on the agent shortlist for local vendors.
“My niche would be living locally, being local. Not all vendors will care but there are those who will see the advantages in what we offer and for me this is my expertise and point of difference,” Tracey Dixon says. “Real estate is about longevity, I see a lot of agents jumping around and cherry picking areas, in my view that’s not going to work, you need to focus on an area where you can be an expert.
“It’s about finding the location you love and putting your heart and soul into knowing about it, there’s nothing I don’t know about this area. If you don’t have passion for your locality then you can’t sell it to people who don’t know the benefits.”
Her extraordinary local success has nothing to do with chance, nor is it simply about tenure, Tracey nurtures her local market and invests in this process heavily. Here is a detailed account of how Tracey achieves market cut through and spectacular sales results.
1. Database cultivation
“I don’t have anyone cold calling people, we don’t door knock, I don’t believe in begging for business and it’s become quite common at the moment. It’s not appropriate for my target market,” Tracey explains. “I live in the area and I get annoyed by agents calling me and the stuff in my letterbox is of a low standard, so I imagine my clients feel the same. For me prospecting works around building relationships.”
With a database of about 2,000 clients, Tracey has worked hard to clean the data. It consists of people who live locally, people who have bought or may sell with Tracey and neighbours of those people. The database does not contain buyers, unless they are people who will sell and move out of, or within the area. To ensure it is effective, Tracey constantly updates addresses making sure they are current emails and the correct addresses.
“We prospect around our listings. When we list a home we let our database know, let the homes in the surrounding streets know and we hold a VIP open for inspection inviting locals prior to the signboard going up. Then anyone we meet during the campaign who is local goes into our database.”
2. Nurture by nature
Tracey and her team invest heavily in local relationship building. Anyone who moves into the area, irrespective of having bought with Tracey, is sent a welcome pack including a beautiful book on Hunters Hill.
There is also an established nurture process for past clients. “We touch base shortly after they’ve moved into the property and again within the first year. Every six months we send updates on the market and small gifts, such as vouchers to the local car wash, beautician or movie tickets. We have a very clear structure in place.”
Regular database contact is made via phone and through video newsletters. In fact, Tracey would spend 90 per cent of her day on the phone but she ensures it is a worthwhile phone call providing information, not hassling people.
3. The pitch breakdown
The style of pitch will be determined by whether Tracey knows the vendor or not. In her view, rapport building is the most important factor and she does this by finding common ground – be it neighbours, discussing furniture or their pets.
“If someone invites you into their private domain I consider this a privilege. I do believe I am good at mirroring people, really understanding who they are and what they need,” Tracey says. “So my pitch involves asking a lot of questions, finding out what’s important to them and whether they have any experience selling homes. Some people have sold many and some none, obviously they are treated quite differently.”
The other big factor is a vendor’s time frame, Tracey’s advice will vary considerably if they are selling immediately versus two years’ time. The nuts and bolts of her pitch includes; the fact she is a passionate resident who sponsors local schools and other community groups, her sales record and the strength of her franchise network.
4. Tapping into your franchise power
“In the pitch I talk about my brand and the selling benefits of the McGrath network. We have 500 plus agents working throughout Sydney, Queensland and now Melbourne. It’s really important those close relationships, as this is a referral and relationship business and not a lot of agencies have that,” Tracey explains.
Tracey taps into this network to get information on buyers coming into the area, this way she can get an idea of their budgets and what they are looking for. Prior to meeting the vendor, Tracey sends a pre-list kit including a book, video and information on recent comparable sales. The booklet contains information on the McGrath agent network and its specific marketing strategies.
“I also use an iPad presentation showing our buyer strategy with a focus on local internet, such as our top spot on Domain and our property showcase on REA.”
5. Audience-determined VPA
The VPA Tracey advises will be defined by who she believes the target audience is. And while she would never under market a property at the risk of missing out on buyers, there are some homes where the demographic only requires internet and one local paper.
An example of this is a Gladesville apartment Tracey has listed, the marketing comprises a $2,500 styling package and a basic $4,000 campaign. This includes: internet; Campaigntrack photos, copy and floorplans; signboard and auctioneer. “The client wasn’t keen on print and that was fine for this demographic.”
At the other end of the scale is a property she is selling for about $8,000,000. “It’s really important we don’t miss any passive buyers and you must go beyond those specifically looking in Hunters Hill as there could be buyers who aren’t suburb specific,” Tracey explains. “We want to be far reaching so I’m putting the property in publications reaching the North Shore, Eastern Suburbs and in the Chinese media.
“A beautiful video presentation is also important so interstate and overseas buyers can get a feel for the property. Packages like this can cost around $15,000 to $20,000.”
6. Property styling gold
“If a home has amazing interior design then we won’t worry. But just about every home, even if it’s well presented, a stylist has an eye for detail and just by adding a few elements and making a few adjustments, can really add an emotional feel to the property.”
7. Using social media locally
Tracey has just set up a business Facebook page, this will allow her to boost property posts and run property advertisements on Facebook.
“We are just starting this process but it should lob us into those buyers or people looking into the Hunters Hill area and within our demographic. It’s really exciting and some of the stats around how much time people spend on social media in comparison to checking their real estate apps is amazing.”
8. Work to your team’s strength
With a team of three staff and currently looking to recruit a fourth, Tracey’s focus is everyone working to their strengths. According to Tracey, the team structure will be determined by the individual team member’s skills and experience.
“Most agents who are writing a million dollar GCI or more, need one really good admin person and ours is Kristina Russo. She runs the team, manages the open home schedule, attends photo shoots, liaises with owners and does my personal marketing.”
Tracey is currently looking for a second administration person to help get listings into the system, liaise with solicitors, manage exchange and settlement details and arrange settlement gifts. She also has two sale associates, Nicholas Cowdrill and Lee Dowdall.
“Lee has been with me for seven years and he is an amazing agent, very high calibre and is detail orientated, which is unusual in sales. He works alongside me and I find it works really well, the male/female dynamic, as some people gravitate to Lee and some to me. He has started to list some of his own properties too,” Tracey explains.
“It’s hard finding good people and I used a recruiter to find Nick. He started in January and has been fantastic, he focuses on the buyer side of things. This leaves me to focus on my strengths, which are listing properties, dealing with owners, negotiating and getting every dollar for that property while keeping everyone happy.”
9. Don’t burn bridges
“I see it all the time, agents, even good ones, who burn their teams, don’t look after people and are not nice in general. I don’t believe this breeds success. The recipe that does breed success is caring about other people’s goals along with your own. You need to do a good job and maintain a reputation for being a good person.”
Tracey ran businesses before moving into the real estate game and the same management principles apply – run a clean operation with strong processes, innovate with the times and never stop training to improve.
10. Make real estate work for you
It is a business where you could work 24/7 and it is easy to burnout, but it’s about finding your cut-off point.
“There have been times where it got the better of me, especially in the last seven years where I was trying to sell as many houses as market leader. I have found a place of balance now and really make the flexibility work for me. I find time for relaxation and do take 10 weeks off a year.”
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