Todd Bates, McGrath Estate Agents Port Macquarie

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Todd, you are the Principal of McGrath Estate Agents in Port Macquarie. Can you tell us a little about your background?

I grew up in Woy Woy on the Central Coast of NSW, where my first employment was part-time work at the local Fisherman’s Wharf. Later I spent 10 years in the banking industry until, determined to get into the real estate industry, I left to work 12 months free of charge in a local Gosford franchise. There I learned the ropes; everything from getting the coffee to assisting at open homes – you name it, and I did it. My first fully-paid job in real estate was in 1999, when I was hired by Murray Turnham, the then principal of PRD Realty Port Macquarie. The rest is history.

The real estate industry is a highly competitive one. How do you ensure that the positioning of the McGrath Estate Agents brand differentiates from other local and national real estate agents?

Competition is a great thing in any industry and there will always be someone who promises they can do it cheaper than the next guy, undertaking to save thousands etc. etc. At McGrath, we understand that some find this approach attractive, and obviously we wish them well. All I can say personally is that unless a property has been fully exposed to as many buyers as realistically possible, using the absolute best marketing tools available, how can the vendor – or the selling agent for that matter – really know if he or she has “saved thousands”. There are no second chances in real estate. At McGrath, we pride ourselves on providing exceptional service and delivering the very best results for our clients through genuine, world-class marketing.

In your opinion, what opportunities lie ahead for people investing in property in and around the Port Macquarie region?

Port Macquarie is an amazing place, and it’s fair to say that secret is well and truly out. The region not only offers so much natural beauty, but an infrastructure which is now attracting investors in large numbers. I honestly believe that there are still some terrific buying opportunities and that rents will increase significantly over the next few years, particularly for properties close to the CBD.

What are some of the biggest changes that you have noticed in the real estate industry within the past ten years, and how have you adapted your career or business to leverage these changes?

I feel very privileged to work with a company like McGrath, where training and technology are its major focus. John McGrath himself is a very forward thinker and is always looking for better ways to do business. Innovation is one of McGrath’s greatest assets, from my point of view. I am proud to say that McGrath has been responsible for the introduction of a lot of revolutionary marketing concepts, which are progressively becoming more commonplace in Port Macquarie; e.g. detailed floorplans, professional photography, professional copywriting, complex videography etc.

When you look to recruit new team members, what personal characteristics do you look for in an interviewee?

Recruitment is perhaps one of the hardest elements of my role. I always look for someone who communicates well, presents well and displays some characteristics of worldly experience. He or she must be competitive, self-driven and work well within a team environment. Successful agents or property managers have no “Plan B”; their mindset has to be “this MUST work”. They need to have a passion for the industry, with strong family support or a network of friends behind them. We work long hours and in the early years of our careers, we all had to learn how to experience a fair share of rejection for little reward.

What is the most rewarding part about running your business?

Perhaps one of the most rewarding parts of my job is seeing my team members having fun at work. As a team, we spend a lot of time together, so that time needs to be enjoyable; a high five when an exchange of contracts occurs or a testimonial from a delighted client are all things that can significantly brighten our day.

What do you personally think is the single most important factor in running a successful regional business?

Tenacity; business owners simply have to keep working hard, even when things don’t seem to be going their way and they need to retain a very clear focus on what they want to achieve. Leaders need their team members to understand the goals of the business and likewise, they need to understand each team member’s personal goals.

And finally, if you could invite three business people to lunch, who would they be and why would you invite them?

This one’s a no-brainer. I’d invite John McGrath (one of the best motivators I’ve met), Malcolm Turnbull (there’s so much I have to ask him) and NRL coach, Trent Barrett (will Manly win the GF this year? … Go Manly!)

Thanks for your time, Todd.

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