Like many an enthusiastic young whippersnapper in real estate, Adrian Wilson got his start in the thankless role of leasing officer.
A move to London opened his eyes and broadened his outlook on just what could be achieved in the world of property and real estate.
In 2008, with less than $50,000 but a whole lot of ideas and energy, Wilson launched his business, Wilson Property, working from a rickety IKEA dining table in his Bondi share flat. This financial year the business is on track to achieve about $2 million in turnover – and they’ve moved into nicer digs.
Your background is in real estate, can you tell me about that?
I started by knocking on a door of a real estate agency that was based in Sydney city and they gave me a job at the bottom of the rung as a leasing officer and from there I quickly moved on to property management and sales at McGrath. Then I was approached by McGrath and joined them for a year. I then decided to move overseas to London and worked in the property market there for two years before coming back and working at a small firm here for a few years before going out by myself.
I had the experience of working for a small family operation, a boutique firm, as well as McGrath, which obviously has an exceptional business set-up with lots of agents. Also, in London, as a sales agent you are basically a buyer’s agent, you just deal with buyers. Those four processes gave me a great idea of how to set up my own business, taking the things I liked and excluding the things I did not like. That whole array of experiences – boutique, family, large and working on the buyer front – was a real lesson for me.
When I combined them I wanted something for my business that had a really strong brand presence and a strategy around the way that we conducted our business and marketed our business. I also tried to create an environment similar to the family and boutique operations, where everyone got along and was happy to help with no barriers between the departments. That is how the business philosophy is placed today.
What made you make the move to set up your own business?
It is something I had been thinking about for a number of years. In fact, when I was working with my first agency I approached the boss, the owner at the time, with a plan to expand the sales department, which was knocked back. That made me think I could use those ideas in my own business. Then, in 2008, I was half forced into doing it, as the agency I was working for at the time was going through structural changes and I decided I did not want to be there anymore, and I did not want to work for anyone else. I took whatever money I had – just under $50,000, which was not a huge amount – and went up to Officeworks and bought a printer.
At the time I was living in Bondi in a share flat with a friend and we had an Ikea dining table, which I pulled into the bedroom and worked from with a laptop. I registered our name then rang a friend in marketing and said I need a logo and a website, can you help me. That money went into paying myself a small wage for the first few months and registration and insurance costs. It was gone pretty quickly but luckily, due to my contacts and experience, I was able to list a couple of properties in my first few months and then that was it.
Since then I have moved into a serviced office for about six months and, in that time, I looked for retail premises, which I found. I also took on an extra staff member in sales and a property manager to grow our property management business. We found a retail spot and fitted it out and moved in, that was a really important move for me as I wanted to find the right space, and I did in Hyde Park. I found a position that was next door to some buildings we were prominent agents in and that has been important in understanding our client base from scratch. From there I continued to drive and grow the team. In November last year, we opened our second office in Circular Quay. We acquired a competitor’s business, Ray White at Circular Quay and now we have 13 staff.