The property game is fiercely competitive. It takes a thick skin and a lot of motivation to succeed, two things we believe this week’s entrepreneur, Andrew Allen from Rental Guardians definitely has. Andrew has been in the property management, buyer advocacy, and real estate game for almost five years. He decided to branch out from his initial project focusing on buying properties for investors to include property management services and offering a support service to his investors was the logical choice. Since starting Rental Guardians they have seen fantastic growth in the Brisbane area and are well known in investment circles as a reputable property management team. We sat down with Andrew to discuss life as a business owner in the real estate game.

 How long have you owned your business?

I started Allen Real Estate as a ‘Buyer advocacy’ business in January 2010, so almost five years now.

 What was the inspiration for opening your business?

I was looking for the flexibility of working for myself due to life factors such as spending a lot of time in Europe and also having small children, the ability to design my own working hours was a motivating factor. Also and this is the main reason, I was looking for a field where there was significant upside in earning capacity and very generally Real Estate meets this qualification well. A more practical motivation was the fact that I have been self employed for almost all of my working life, the last time I worked for someone else was 1992!

 How has your life changed and what opportunities do you envision for your future as a business owner?

So far my responsibilities have increase in line with income, managing employees is a challenge that has it’s advantages and disadvantages. Opportunities mainly revolve around stepping outside the day to day running of the business and into an overseeing and business development role, this is an ongoing process that is still a few years away from fully happening.

What are 3 things that you did successfully to put your business on the map and what tips for success would you suggest to other small business owners, new and existing?

1) Network with centers of influence for your business, finding your customers and the people who will refer you mutiple customers is powerful.

2) Use professionals to do important work for your business such as design and marketing, don’t try and do everything yourself, focus your time on what helps you bring in revenue.

3) Establish a reputation of authority in your chosen domain, being viewed as an expert helps business come to you rather than having to chase it.

Do you spend more time working in your business than you did when you were employed by someone else?

Absolutely yes. There’s no 9-5 with my current business, you are always on call. To a large extent taming this issue is the great challenge of business and lifestyle, how do you strike the balance on growing your business and revenue while at the same time enjoying the benefits of having more income? This is a work in progress.

 How have you managed to balance fun and pressure in the growth of your business?

Having a family day helps, usually Sunday where you don’t do any work or try not to. Also booking holidays in advance is a key idea, if you don’t schedule this time then it likely won’t happen.

What has been the biggest personal challenge for you since becoming a small business owner?

Definitely employees, I was regularly told that ‘staffing’ was the greatest issue for my colleagues and now I think that’s true also.

How important is it to recognize loyal customers?

Your customers become your repeat customers and referrers, so it’s very important to deliver a quality service and thank your customers for their support of your business.

What percentage of your customers come from your local community?

From Brisbane the percentage would be less that 20%, mostly clients are coming from a distance, usually interstate or overseas as one of the key value adds for these clients is they aren’t able to inspect property themselves so are outsourcing their inspections to somebody local.

How would you describe the culture of your business?