24 May The Mentor steps in – Stephanie Wimpenny
I wonder if you’ve been following The Mentor with Mark Bouris. It’s only just started on Channel 7. The very first episode, when it aired, talked about a real estate agency on the northside of Brisbane, and in the promos, Mark Bouris suggested that it may just be the worst real estate agency in Australia. We talk to one of the owners of what was then known as Ubiquitous Realty. It now has a brand new name and a brand new image. Stephanie Wimpenny joins me to talk about her Mentor experience.
Kevin: I wonder if you’ve been following The Mentor with Mark Bouris. It’s only just started on Channel 7. The very first episode when it aired talked about a real estate agency on the north side of Brisbane, and in the promos, Mark Bouris suggested that it may just be the worst real estate agency in Australia.
My guest now is one of the owners of what was then known as Ubiquitous Realty on Deception Bay. It now has a brand new name and a brand new image. Stephanie Wimpenny joins me.
Good day, Stephanie. How are you doing?
Stephanie: Hi. I’m really well, thank you. How are you?
Kevin: Great, thank you. There must have been a bit of hurt involved in all of this, because it’s the family business. Let’s describe it. The business is yourself, your brother, and your mother and your father. There would have been a lot of pride in that name Ubiquitous Realty as well. How did the original name come about?
Stephanie: It actually took us months to come up with our name and our logo. I think most young businesses actually go through a very similar thing, because you’re trying to be clever, you’re trying to be different and say something about who you are. For us, it took a really long time. But I ended up watching – I think it was – Sunrise one morning, and one of the news presenters used the word “ubiquitous,” and I thought, “Oh, that’s an interesting name. That sounds pretty unique.”
I had no idea what the word “ubiquitous” meant, so I just Googled it and found out it meant “found everywhere and to be omnipresent,” and I thought, “You know what? That’s actually not a bad name for real estate.”
So, I asked mom who’s the principal licensee what she thought of the name. She said she liked it, and away we went.
Kevin: Just the mere fact that you had to look it up, that you didn’t know what it meant, surely there should have been alarm bells going off then.
Stephanie: Yes, you’d think so. But what we liked was that it became a really good conversation starter in our business because people didn’t really know what it meant. You’d occasionally get the odd person who did know, but because people didn’t know what it meant, they asked us “Did you make that name up? Or what does it mean?” And so, it was a really nice way to break the ice with people.
Kevin: Tell me, how did you feel when you first saw the promo where he called you potentially the worst real estate agents in Australia?
Stephanie: I just knew that that was a bit rubbish, because we’re definitely not the worst real estate agents in Australia.
Kevin: No, of course not.
Stephanie: But I thought, “You know what? If that’s what they need to do to promote the show, then okay.” There’s nothing you can do about it. Once it’s already out there, you can’t really change it. So, there’s no point in whinging about it; you just continue on.
Kevin: It’s a great way to look at it, Stephanie. Congratulations on that. And tell me, when it first happened, did you get a lot of local support? Did they rally around you?
Stephanie: We had so many of our clients, our friends, and our family, even agents from the local community telling us that that was all rubbish and that they were very hurt for us and they can’t believe that someone can get out there and label us the worst real estate agents in Australia so unfairly like that when we’re not like that.
We have clients who love us and who become lifelong friends with us. If you were the worst real estate agents in Australia, I guarantee you, you would not have clients like that.
Kevin: It doesn’t really matter what your name is; at the end of the day it’s the service you give and how you operate as a business, of course.
Stephanie: That’s right.
Kevin: But the name does help. There’s a positive turn to all this. It was obviously a very worthwhile experience because you went through a name change, and you’re now known as Morton Bay Realty. Was Mark Bouris behind that change? And did you resist it?
Stephanie: I did resist it a little bit, because obviously, for us, being a family business, our name is our identity. It’s who we’ve chosen to be. So, when someone challenges your entire identity, it can hurt a bit.
So, I did challenge him a little bit on it, and I said to him… Because his biggest argument was no one knows what it is and they can’t search it, so it’s a rubbish name. I think his word actually was “crap.”
I just said to him, “Well, what was Apple before Apple was something? What was Google?” And I even said to him “What was Wizard and Yellow Brick Road?” I said “You made your name something. It’s what your brand stands for.”
So, that was the kind of theory that we had with the name, that we would create our own meaning to it.
Kevin: Just remembering, I think you had some fairly grandiose targets for the business when you first opened, and in that first year of operation, if my memory serves me correctly, you made 10 sales. Is that right?
Stephanie: Good question. I think it was 12.
Kevin: 10 to 12 sales –obviously below what you wanted. How has it been since The Mentor program? How has your business progressed?
Stephanie: It’s progressing really well. We’re working a lot better as a team, and I think that for me was the most important thing about it. I really did struggle in the beginning without having a leader in the business, a strong leader.
So, for me, it’s really lovely to have mom stepping into that leadership position and telling us what to do, because I needed that. I needed someone to rope me in every now and then, because I don’t know everything. I’m still new to a completely different industry to the one that I was in before.
Kevin: One of the things we found out about real estate is that it’s the young, enthusiastic operators like yourself who are pushing us to all new levels. I think your mom was the only experienced real estate agent in the business. Is that correct?
Kevin: You’ve now gathered experience, you now have a lot more knowledge about it. Do you see the business growing from being a family business to being anything bigger? Will you put more people on?
Stephanie: I think down the track, we would look at doing something like that, maybe bringing a property management wing into the business as well. But at this stage, we just want to focus on sales, we want to focus on making sure that we got one thing right at a time. But I think in the future, we would like to be bringing on employees.
Kevin: Now, part of the journey with Mark Bouris was where you obviously came into contact with Matt Lancashire from Ray White New Farm, who is a great agent. We’ve interviewed him on a number of occasions. I believe he’s working with you or you’re working with him now.
Is that the follow-up plan?
Stephanie: Yes. Matt has been absolutely amazing for us, and he just basically said to us, “Come along to any of the trainings that we do at Ray White.” So, now every Monday, we drive for about an hour in the traffic to get down to Ray White at New Farm to do some training routine, which has just been absolutely amazing.
For me, I just love being around a team of highly motivated, high performing agents. And just to be in that sort of environment is to me absolutely amazing. I just love it.
Kevin: When you originally decided to open the business, you wanted to set it up as an independent brand, you remain as an independent brand. Was there ever a thought that you’d probably go with a group like Ray White?
Stephanie: No. And that did come from Sharon, mom, because she has worked for so many of the larger agencies before. She and us as a collective whole, we didn’t want to be bound to any brand and their structure and their systems and their processes.
Not that there’s anything wrong with them; it’s just that we really wanted to challenge the status quo of real estate a little bit and change people’s perceptions of what is actually possible for a real estate agent and an agency.
So, we wanted to up levels of customer service and just do it our own way. I think we’re fiercely independent.
Kevin: You look at businesses like Matt’s for example, Ray White New Farm, that’s a highly successful business, they do have great systems in place.
Kevin: They offer, obviously, really good service, otherwise they wouldn’t be as successful as they are. So surely, it doesn’t come down to just the brand. When you get into a brand like a Ray White or a Raine & Horne or an LJ Hooker, they actually come with the system.
So, what’s so wrong with that? Why wouldn’t you go with that?
Stephanie: I think it’s just that where there are things that mom didn’t necessarily agree with, you can’t really change it because it’s such a big, heavy machine to sort of turn around and get change in. I think that’s what her theory is.
And because mom and dad have owned businesses all their lives and they’ve always been their own businesses, I think it just comes down to that sense of ownership more so than anything else, like you being in complete control and you being completely and totally responsible for your business and how it works.
Kevin: Okay, so where to from here? Just more of the same, the business is growing?
Stephanie: Yes. We’ll continue to train with Matt for as long as he’ll have us. And yes, the business is growing, so we’re bringing on new listings at the moment, which is very exciting. We have properties about to settle as well, so yes, we’re moving onwards and upwards.
I think in real estate, though, the biggest thing is that it is a long game. So, you can’t just come into a business and rebrand it and call it something, and then all of a sudden, have an influx of clients lining up and wanting to work with you. It doesn’t work like that.
As you said before, it’s not about a name; it’s about a reputation, it’s about building trust, and it’s about building a relationship with people. So, for us, the biggest thing that we’re working on is trying to build that trust and relationship with our local community.
Kevin: Before I let you go, Stephanie, would you do it again?
Stephanie: Definitely. In a heartbeat.
Kevin: It was worthwhile?
Kevin: How was Mark as a mentor?
Stephanie: He was a bit strong, I guess, but we needed that. You need tough love. That’s why you have mentors. You need people who are not afraid to turn around and say “Look, this is what’s wrong.” So, I quite enjoy that.
I’ve always liked criticism and feedback, because I think it’s the only way that you can genuinely improve. So, yes, I have a great deal of respect for Mark. I think he’s firm when he needs to be.
Kevin: Great talking to you, Stephanie. I appreciate you giving us your time and being so honest, as you were in that episode with Mark Bouris as well, The Mentor. Thank you. Every success in your journey, and I want to thank Matt Lancashire too, who’s been very instrumental in helping us put this together. Matt Lancashire, of course, from Ray White New Farm.
I’ve been talking to Stephanie Wimpenny, who is from what’s now know as Morton Bay Realty, appeared in the first episode of The Mentor with Mark Bouris when they were then known as Ubiquitous Realty in Deception Bay on Brisbane’s north side.
Stephanie, thank you so much for your time, and all the success. I want to maybe catch up with you in another year’s time and see how you’re progressing.
Stephanie: That would be amazing. Thank you so much, Kevin.