The best presents come poorly wrapped

When the going gets tough the tough get going. There has been no tougher market recently than Western Australia and this week we speak to the owner of one of the businesses there about how that has changed the way they do business.

Topic – The best and worst of tough times

Mentor – Milton Rendell

  • Back your judgement
  • “When you are knee deep in crocodiles……”
  • Hope does not fix anything.

Marketing Monday – This week the iconic LJ Hooker brand turns 90 years old.  Chairman, Janusz Hooker has, since taking the family name back from Suncorp in 2009, steered the company through an evolving industry landscape.


Kevin:   Well, as you’re probably aware, we do actually record these segments for RE Uncut, and the feature mentor this week is my good mate out of Western Australia, Milton Rendell from Real Estate Plus. That’s been a really, really tough market. G’day, Milton. How are you doing, mate?

Milton:   G’day, Kevin. Good to hear from you, mate.

Kevin:   Yeah, I did that introduction because it was only today I saw a post from you on Facebook that said, “We got two offers on a property,” and that is always an indicator that the market has turned, and I think you sort of inferred that in your Facebook post as well.

Milton:   Mate, you’ve got to sell something positive, because we haven’t had a lot positives in the last 18 months to two years, I can assure you.

Kevin:   Yeah. So it is a sign that the market may have turned. I mean, I’m hearing that from a number of people, about the WA market, so I hope everyone’s right. But mate, that’s not the topic I want to talk to you about.

Milton:   That’s cool.

Kevin:   What I do want to talk about is the journey you’ve been on, the tough times that you’ve been through, because it’s been really tough and I’ve spoken to you on a number of occasions. Has something good come out of all of this?

Milton:   Mate, something always comes out of it that should be good. There’s probably a pretty large list, to be honest. Whilst it’s happening it’s pretty ugly, but I think, in fairness, in the better times we get lazy, and I think we lose our focus. I think one of the most important parts that comes out of this is that it does make you start questioning some of the things you do, your systems, your processes, what you actually do yourself. It does fine tune your goal setting, I can assure you of that, and I think that’s really one of the really important ones.

Milton:   Physically, it’s exhausting, and I think you have to work on that again, and I’m at that process right now, to be honest. Mentally, you can go la-la land. You’ve got to back your judgement , and I think we get lazy in better markets, where if you make a few mistakes it’s okay and we just let it roll through. Now, you do think your way through it better. But, look, I’m thankful for it in many ways, but-

Kevin:   Really? Yeah.

Milton:   Well, you have to be, mate.

Kevin:   Are you thankful at the time though? See, this is-

Milton:   Yes.

Kevin:   This is the thing, I think, being very brutally honest about this, is that they say … the saying is, “When times get tough, the tough get going.” But, jeez, I tell you what, it’s bloody hard when you’re in the middle of it, to really think that that’s possible.

Milton:   Look, I think the challenge is, is that, during the day, you can either see positive or negative. Unfortunately, in WA, we have a whole economy that’s absolutely crapped itself, so everyone, I’m talking from a landlord to a tenant to other businesses, they’re all … probably negative’s not a great word, but doubtful of what’s going to happen. But hope doesn’t fix anything, you’ve actually got to start changing stuff. I tell the guys here, you can either be a victim or think about victory, and there are small victories during the day, and you’ve got to celebrate them to keep yourself focused. That’s something we’ve really had to work on.

Kevin:   Yeah, positive thinking is … it’s great to talk about, but it just doesn’t work. I mean, you can think positively, but unless you do something about it, unless you take some action, nothing’s going to happen.

Milton:   100% agree, and that’s why I talk about the victory. The victory may be to make that extra couple of phone calls that you wouldn’t normally make-

Kevin:   That’s right. That’s right.

Milton:   … all that sort of stuff. I think positives, talking positive and saying all that sort of stuff, it’s a bit like romance, really, you can chase it forever. I think you’ve got to be quite realistic in it, and I can be a little bit black and white, but you have to be, to get through this. You’ve got to say to yourself, “Why am I here today, and what am I aiming to achieve each day?” and you’ve got to be quite clear in that. This market makes you clearer. It does remind you of the basics, how important they are.

Milton:   I think there’s too many people complicating real estate and complicating the message. I think all these … some of the way that we’re presenting properties, and there’s … How many different ways can you present a property in terms of price? There’s ranges froms, auctions, expressions of interest, all the rest, and the public don’t understand any of that. You’ve got to keep the message specific to your area. That’s something that we’ve had to work on really hard.

Kevin:   I know I’ve been through it a number of times, really tough times, when I’ve been down on the … just wondering how the hell are you going to pay all the bills and so on-

Milton:   Yeah.

Kevin:   … so sometimes we actually look for very complicated solutions to a very simple problem. Someone said to me once, “There is nothing in your business that a sale is not going to fix.” I remember saying at the time, “It can’t be that easy,” but it is. It really is.

Milton:   That’s it. Mate, if we made two sales this afternoon, we’d be on top of the world.

Kevin:   That’s right. Exactly, yeah.

Milton:   If two deals fall over this afternoon, we’re suicidal. So that’s the extremes of the day, but it’s a bit like a roller coaster, isn’t it? You don’t get on a rollercoaster because it goes flat and is boring, you get on it because of the highs and the lows, and the excitement and the adrenaline. That’s what business is about, and we have to wear both of those. We’re seeing that. This has gone longer than we anticipated. Most of us expected this to have changed, probably 12 months ago, so we’ve had to stop the hope realty and get with real realty now.

Kevin:   Yeah, good on you. Great talking to you, mate. We’ll catch up again tomorrow.

Milton:   Not a problem.

Kevin:   I want to ask you about some of the lessons you’ve learned about yourself, finding out the best of you. We’ll find out what the best of you is tomorrow. Milton Rendell, my guest, back then. Thanks, mate.

Milton:   Good on you. Thanks, Kevin.


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