Hi, Tanja here, and welcome to TMJ TV, a weekly video series aimed at real estate leaders that would love more time to grow their people and their business. Did you know that leaders spend up to 80% of their time navigating the people, performance, and productivity issues within the business? Now, this means their focus is off recruiting for results, delivering strategies for success, and gaining the market share that they desire. Well, I’d love to help. Every single week, I’m going to share insights and free downloadable tools to help you and your people achieve your success in the least amount of time. I hope you enjoy this next episode of TMJ TV.
Hi, Tanja here, and welcome to TMJ TV, a weekly video series for real estate leaders and teams that want to grow themselves and their business in the least amount of time. And here with me in Canberra is the founder and director of Luton Properties, Mr. Richard Luton. How are you?
Richard: Good, Tanja. How are you?
Tanja: I’m fabulous. First of all, you are a real estate style icon, so I’d like to begin with you just deconstructing your outfit for us today. What are you wearing?
Richard: You didn’t pre ask me about this question. Hey, I just saw this suit in a window in Sydney. It’s actually a Boss suit.
Tanja: It’s fabulous.
Richard: And, yeah, I just liked it and sort of had to have it.
Tanja: You wear it well. And tell me about this brooch you’re wearing.
Richard: Well, it’s actually… I’m a fan of Louis Vuitton. It’s actually a Louis Vuitton lapel pin. And actually, it’s a Concorde, and I’ve actually flew in a Concorde in 2003 from New York to London.
Tanja: How fabulous.
Richard: I never landed in London, landed in Cardiff. We lost an engine over the Atlantic. So there’s a story again.
Tanja: Oh my gosh.vThat’s another conversation. When you said, “I never landed,” I’m like, “What?”
Richard: Yeah. We bussed it into Heathrow.
Richard: From Cardiff in Wales.
Tanja: Wow. And is that a positive association for you wearing that plane?
Tanja: You’re like, “It’s all good memories.”
Richard: Oh yeah. I like good things and I thought the Concorde was very sexy.
Tanja: Yeah, for sure.
Richard: And I flew on it.
Tanja: Well, you’re sexy too, flying on the Concorde, then. So thank you so much for spending some time with me and having a conversation around leadership. We’re about to have a workshop with your sales team and the property management team today, so I love the chance to come back and be a contribution to your team. So you started the business in 1999, and now, you know, years later, you’ve got a team of 160. And you were a very successful agent before and still are. Why did you decide, Richard, to go from being an agent to then opening your own business?
Richard: Well, six years in real estate, from ’93 to ’99, again, very, very busy and sold a lot of homes. It wasn’t about creating the business. It was actually creating jobs with my three daughters, who then…
Richard: …were sort of under 10.
Tanja: You wanted to start them young.
Richard: I wanted them to have a career when they left school. In the time of John Howard in the late ’90s, jobs were hard to get.
Richard: So I thought, “Let’s work out a way of getting them a job straightaway, making it not hard for them after they leave school, go out.” So we did our real estate license and opened up.
Tanja: All of you?
Richard: Yeah. No, myself, and we just did the real estate license and opened up Luton Properties in 1999, after six years of selling 530 homes. I actually had my own brand, and my name, and just wanted to open up a boutique agency and have something for my daughters when they left school. But it actually grew and grew, and…
Tanja: You opened your own family… Wider than just your daughters. And are all three daughters still in the business? I know…
Richard: No. My middle daughter is. I’m a grandfather of three. But my middle daughter is with me in the business in Canberra. My youngest daughter now is in Sydney with a real estate firm in Sydney. And no, it’s in their blood now. And it’s a great industry, and we’ve got, as you said, a family, a great team of 160 team members across the nine offices.
Tanja: Across nine offices. Well, you’ve got to be the sexiest grandpa I’ve ever met.
Richard: Well, I did an appraisal yesterday with an ex-colleague from Cooma. I did my HSC with him in 1977, 40 years ago.
Tanja: That is crazy talk.
Richard: So, my HSC.
Tanja: That’s nuts.
Richard: So that was… Unbelievable.
Tanja: That’s nuts. Well, you’re aging beautifully. Whatever you’re doing is working for you. So inside of leadership, Richard, what has been… Because it’s one thing to have the idea, and I love that you thought, “Let me open this up so my daughters have a secure job,” and now you have a family of 160. What’s been the highlight for you in doing that?
Richard: Well, I think seeing everybody develop under a brand. Like, the brand’s really, really important, and now we’ve really got a great brand across Canberra after 18 years, and people recognize it. But agents, property-managing team member, can be proud underneath that brand because they can create their own brand underneath that brand, so the idea when people go out, they have got plenty of energy as well as they get the listing in their own right, but we help them get more business by having a solid brand. And that’s why I can feel proud about it. I’m involved with them. As soon as they get a listing, I like to know about it on their whiteboards, and as soon as they get a sale on a settlement, it’s very exciting to see them all develop within. And there’s nothing prouder when I know one of my agents just grabbed that listing and the story about it. Because they’re developing themselves, plus also getting an income for themselves and getting a buyer and a seller together, get great results.
Tanja: So you like to celebrate people’s success.
Richard: Yeah, of course. I want everybody to have success.
Tanja: Yeah. And so your environment at Luton Properties creates a platform for people to be entrepreneurs, yet have the support of a brand. So you’ve got that, you know, shoulder to lean on if you need to.
Richard: Oh, for sure. And that is so important. It is hard out there, so being a small agency, it’s hard for the agent then to get their listing to have that credibility. At least we’ve got credibility of our brand. So when they go in competitively to get a listing amongst other agents, least they’ve got that behind them, that we’ve got record prices, we’ve got success, we’ve got great website, we’ve got innovative ideas, and we get so many great results, many more than anybody else.
Tanja: Did you find… You know, I’m just present to what… It must be a big amount of trust, right? Because you’ve gone from Richard Luton, a very successful brand yourself in six years, and then you open it up to, you know, a wider community. And then you’ve got people wearing your name, you know, representing you as the brand. How has that been for you, and what have those challenges been? Because I’d imagine, you know, that would be great, and there would be some concerns. Anyone watching this that wants to open that business and have someone represent their name… Because that is a risk, right?
Richard: Of course. But, look, I don’t see myself as a boss. I see myself as a colleague with everybody else. I see a Luton sign on the street, another one, I sort of pat my back and go, “Well, well, well…”
Tanja: That’s not, “That’s me…” Like…
Richard: That’s our brand, and I’m proud to see all those signs there, and I was proud to see other people, our team members, to have those signs as well. So you sort of mix with them. You’re just one of them as well. And yeah, look, again, there is concern that something is going to go wrong, but really, over 18 years, we’ve had so many good things, and very few bad things.
Tanja: Well, that’s good. You’re doing something right. What’s been the biggest challenge for you as a leader?
Richard: Look, I think, again, staying on top of technology, staying on top of changes and things like that, bad markets, better markets, and things like that. But always staying positive and keeping our team members positive. And I think when there’s… Agents always talk about shortage of listings. But, hey, when I was an agent in my own right, I always actually got to work an hour earlier. I actually then had my goals, and halfway through the month, if I wasn’t with my goals for that month, I’d be out there hunting it even more. And I think don’t let people get worried about it because there’s business out there, you just have to hunt positively about it and have that energy, and not worry about it, just go into each one and grab it. And it’ll come back. It’s like the farmer, when there is a drought, he might sow his seeds, and then nothing. There’s no rain, next year, he sows them again but three years later, it pours, and he gets a great crop. And real estate’s the same.
Tanja: Yeah. That’s a beautiful metaphor. And it is about the long game, rather than try to get instant results. But in this day and age where technology is having us really kind of being swifter and hurry, as Matt Church says often, “Instant coffee just isn’t instant enough,” you know? We want the results quickly. So that’s a great message there about being patient. Sow the seeds, don’t try to harvest what hasn’t even grown yet. Trust the process. You mentioned a really good point there about, you know, external conditions can change. The market can change, and what’s vital is staying positive. And we were talking before we started shooting regarding the executive summary of the Real Estate of Leadership, which is a project that I’m doing with Core Logic. And one of the key points that you found interesting was which one?
Richard: Which one?
Richard: Well, I like to be positive, but anyway, there’s a few of those.
Tanja: Yeah, but it said 60% claim staying positive in changing times is a challenge, which is what you were talking about before. What do you do, Richard, do to instill a state of positivity in Luton Properties and with every individual within the business?
Richard: Well, look, again, I still sell houses and list houses, but also I do like to walk around the office as well. So twice a week, I’m in our nine offices, mixing with the agents and being part of that as well, and managing by walking around as well, and having that direct interest. I do it every Monday, I do nine sales meetings from 7:30am in the morning until 4:30pm in the afternoon. I’m in every office, meeting with them, compulsory, and seeing how they’ve gone for the week, putting new ideas, seeing what’s happening for the week ahead, seeing how their sales are going as well. So I need to be there. I have a direct interest to be with them. I think it’s important to be part of them as well, and to be with them as well. So that’s important, to get around, getting all that fitness, like, creating an energy as well. And, again, look, things aren’t easy, but you have to stay positive. Because if you stay positive, people will get that energy from you, and that’ll create business for you as well.
Tanja: So how do you, personally, stay positive… Because you have no shortage of energy, and every time I’ve seen you, you’re very consistent. Like, you have a vibrancy and an energy about you. It’s easy to say, “Stay positive,” but how do you, personally, do it? What’s your practice? What are your rituals? What are your resources that you use yourself?
Richard: Yeah. Look, again, you can hide a lot as well, too. And this is not a mask. So you have to smile. I’m at the gym at 5:30am. My personal training starts, for 45 minutes, five days a week, at 6:00am. So I have to have it.
Tanja: That’s clear
Richard: I have to have it. I pay for it, because if I don’t do it, I won’t be there. So I have those goals there. And then I’m home, within a 20-minute shower. I’m in my office area, maybe having a coffee from 7:15am, so I can be really ready to go at 8:00am. Already had my first 8:00am meeting with clients this morning already.
Tanja: Yet some people are, like, hitting snooze at quarter past 7am to start their day. So you start your day, certainly five days a week, in peak state, with your endorphins flowing, your blood flowing, oxygenated and that’s a discipline for you?
Richard: I do… Hey, it took me five minutes to get dressed, but I wouldn’t want to go to the gym at 3:00pm this afternoon, and get there for an hour beforehand, get changed, have a shower, and then put it back on again. So I’ve already done that, so I’ve got that energy already, and amazing how it gets through your body. And then you’re there on the spot, you’re not walking in after everybody else gets there and I like to walk around and say hello to everybody as well, but then get into my own business as well. And, again, it’s hard out there, and everybody’s got different challenges in their personal lives as well. But I’ve always liked them to, if they can, leave their personal life when they leave home, and sometimes it’s hard as well. But, again, if you have a positive workplace and energy and great things to do, I think people can leave it at home and enjoy the workplace.
Tanja: So the philosophy there is have a discipline that puts you in peak state, and try to separate the personal from the professional. Leave the personal stuff at home. What happens if, in your team, someone is really navigating something personal? Do you have a, you know, do you have a support process? Do you have an open-door policy? How do you navigate that? Because it’s going to happen, you know? We’re human beings. We have families, we have challenges. How do you and your brand take care of creating that environment for your people?
Richard: You know, well, 160 people, I can’t do the management of finances, marketing, HR, sales, etc., etc. So I still love selling houses, love listing houses, so I’ve got a team in place of managers to do that. And I’ve actually got a HR manager that does that as well. The open-door policy is always there for her. Even for me, I give every one of my team members my mobile phone number. They can call me at 7:00pm on a Saturday night and say, “Hey, there’s this ad.” But I’ve got those other people to take my place, to look after those. And, again, yesterday I sent out an email to my team members. I actually communicate, I believe, quite well with my team.
Tanja: So communication, having a management team, because, obviously, you can’t be available for 160 people, but I’m sure if anything got escalated you’d be the first person there. And what about… Going back to you, personally, because you’re obviously still very active listing and selling, what happens for you inside of the theme of, you know, 60% of us and, you know, people watching this struggle, you know, to stay positive in challenging times. You’ve started the day going to the gym. What do you do during the day when you lose a listing or something doesn’t meet your expectations? How do you… Other than kind of what you said before, smile through it and, you know, put on a brave face, what other strategies do you personally have to shift your state and get back to that place of where you were after the gym?
Richard: Well, I think your diary is so important. And I’m still a manual diary person.
Tanja: Yeah. Old school.
Richard: Exactly right.
Tanja: That’s great
Richard: And I’ve seen trainers saying you have to, of a morning, do two hours of prospecting. Put that in your diary and never go away from that. And then you have your appointments around as well. And I’m currently now going to gym twice a day. I do RPM at 5:45pm and afternoon as well, too. So you work around that, and then you put your next appointment at 7:00pm. Never be too tired during the day to say, “Look, I can’t do it. I have to cancel this as well.” So, and again, the whole story is if you lose a listing, it’s a lesson. You’ll go better the next time to get the next one. And if you got every listing, you probably wouldn’t be the best.
Tanja: Awesome. I want to dig deeper into there. Because many people… And, you know, as a mindset coach, I see when they lose a listing or they have a failure, they don’t just deal with that. They go, “Well, I failed, then I’m a failure.” And they collapse it. So you’re saying when something doesn’t go to plan, when you don’t meet your expectations, look for the lesson. What’s the lesson in the experience?
Richard: Well, the lesson is to stay really, really busy. So instead of having one little project going on that you could get a rejection on, have 10 projects going on at the same time. And this goes back to the two hours of prospecting every day. So you have 10 or 12 or 2 going on, more than 2, that you want to keep working on. So no doubt, out of those 10 in your pipeline that, what they call A listings or prospects, is you’re going to get six or seven thumbs-up and then 3 rejections, or nine and 1 rejection. But, again, you have to just stay busy in your business so that if you do get a rejection, it’s not, “Here’s a kick in the stomach.” It’s that you’re going to get the next one as well, and that gets you the positive effect. So when you get a rejection, go on to the next one, and then you get… You’re smiling from then on.
Tanja: And apply what you’ve learned. So stop and reflect, “What did I learn, what did this teach me?” And then, you know, have enough happening in your pipeline where you’re not just relying on one thing, and then, like, “What do I do now?”
Tanja: Okay, great. So if there is someone out there that, you know, was like you back in the day when you thought, “I’m going to open this up and create, you know, not only an opportunity for my daughters, but an opportunity for, you know, for Canberra, my local community, to be employed, create their own business, and be part of a successful existing brand.” What three tips would you give someone that was watching this, male or female, that went, “I want to build a brand. I want to build a business.” What three pieces of advice would you give them?
Richard: Well, think seriously about where you are at this stage, too. Hey, I took the gamble and somebody said to me, “Hey…” in 1999, that there was already 12 real estate agents where we wanted to open up our first office. And I think, again, I created a brand under a brand. But, again, it’s good sometimes to stay where you are. The pastures are not always greener and I would say in the times now is it’s even harder to do that now, because of set-up charges and things like that, too.
Tanja: It’s an expensive exercise.
Richard: Yeah. And, again, there probably is room for more as well, but I still think if you’re happy, if the brand’s working for you, stay there. Because it’s interesting, I want my team members to stay and create that, and keep going, going ahead, and have a strong… in the marketplace as well, so when you go to that listing, you’re there. But to open up a business, it is…there’s not just your car lease when you’re a real estate agent, or your mobile phone. When you open a business, you’ve got so many more overheads as well. And, hey, I enjoy my business and we’ve got the great brand and great team members.
Tanja: And you also have market share, according to Allhomes last year. So you’re doing well.
Richard: Yeah. We had the most in Canberra, 15% of all homes in, so yeah. Don’t know what this year’s result’s going to be, but hopefully stronger. But, no. Look, it’s easy to stay somewhere, but make sure your brand is strong. And to go ahead and make that big leap, make sure you’re prepared and have the energy and ability to grow it and not…you don’t have to do it fast, as well. Like we’ve got now, I’ve got nine offices as well and maybe a couple more on the drawing board. But it’s part of… But Canberra’s a great city. And to be a strong brand in this city, it’s fantastic.
Tanja: So the lessons are, first of all, reflective. Is this really what you want to do. Because if you’re enjoying where you are and you want to stay in the brand that you’re working in, that’s okay. If you do want to go and open your own brand and your own business, do your homework. Know what you’re getting yourself into because it’s way beyond a car and a phone expense.
Richard: It sure is.
Tanja: And it’s going to take time, so be patient. You know, Rome, as they said, wasn’t built in a day. So just one step in front of the other and, you know, smile through it, learn the lessons. And just keep applying yourself and have great energy.
Richard: We talk about Rome and how long it took Michaelangelo to paint the Sistine Chapel. I think it was 18 years or something. It’s like…
Tanja: Yeah. Like, upside down, right? How…
Richard: So we’re in our 18th year and we’ve got a masterpiece as well.
Tanja: Oh, wow. What a beautiful way to wrap up. Richard, thank you so much. I mean, I love your energy and, really, always love coming and being a contribution to your team. They’re good fun and great people. So I really wish you continued success. So thank you very much, Richard Luton.
Richard: Thank you, Tanja. And your second time with us this year and we had to have you back. We look forward to today.
Tanja: Thank you so much.
I hope you found that useful. If so, please like it and share it. And if you’d like access to the free downloadable tool, just click on the available link. If you also have any questions or challenges, specifically in the area of leadership or mindset, just write it in the comments below and, when possible, I’ll provide solutions to your requests. Remember, let love lead and you can turn your workforce into the life source of your business. I’ll see you next week for more TMJ TV.