How do you establish a business that thrives while market conditions keep changing? Stefanie Deskovic, who owns and runs Dundas Oatlands Real Estate, has worked with Realise Business Advisor Sue Walsh to develop an adaptable business. She has maximised brand awareness and increased her market using the right strategies that accommodate change.

A focus on customer service and a positive brand experience

Stefanie took over the reins of quarter-century-old business Dundas Oatlands Real Estate from her father-in-law in 2017. Stefanie has more than a decade of experience in real estate, including admin, sales and marketing roles. She says her “true calling” is as a property manager, “building long-term client relationships and working with people”. The mission for her boutique agency, located within Dundas Village shops, is to “provide the highest level of customer service and a positive brand experience.”

Real estate is a high-stakes and volatile business, especially in the competitive Sydney property market. Although she needed to keep operations lean, Stefanie wanted the traditional real estate business to increase its brand exposure to tenants, landlords and owners and to update its online presence.

Owner-operator business goals

As a single owner-operator, it can be challenging to switch the focus to new business goals. “Being a small business owner, you have to be a jack of all trades,” Stefanie points out. To really dedicate attention to the new marketing drive, she decided to enlist an expert perspective and called on the team at Realise Business for additional digital and marketing support.

Stefanie consulted experienced Realise Business advisor Sue Walsh, who understands the issues faced by business owners. “When a business is run by one person who works both in and on the business, it can get overwhelming to know where to start,” observes Sue.

They worked together to identify business goals with set timelines. They then developed a plan to sidestep foot-traffic issues, promote the brand and increase online marketing, which included lockdown-ready measures to mitigate the ups and downs of the pandemic.

Business building plans

Sue explains their process, “Stefanie and I identified key goals within set timelines so we can keep moving forward to achieve business success. This has been a combination of mentoring and tangible actions, which we are still undertaking as a team.”

An upgrade of online communications was the starting point for Stefanie’s business rebuild. A bonus was that it provided built-in solutions to other issues, such as less foot traffic and the suspension of physical ‘open houses’ at properties during lockdowns.

Sue and Stefanie identified the main business marketing strategies they would focus on:

  • Social media strategy and content plan to increase social selling
  • Developing an avatar of her key target audience to enhance relationship building and social connection
  • Identifying SEO keywords/phrases and meta descriptions to make the website more effective
  • Providing customer newsletters for greater brand awareness and customer retention that will be launched in September
  • Carrying out local area marketing with a strong promotional offer for stronger brand awareness and relationship building in the local community through a 3-month free property management special offer.

Sue and Stefanie began implementing the marketing and digital plan to achieve new business goals and maximise the business’s success in the local area. Since then, the business has already started to see increased requests for property inspections and quotes.

Stefanie comments on the input of Realise Business, “It has been great to get an outside perspective on what we can do better to increase our exposure and reach more clients.”

Lockdown-ready strategies

Dundas Oatlands Real Estate has incorporated several key Covid-safe measures to keep the business moving:

  • Video walk-through tours and zoom inspections on all properties
  • A range of times are offered online so that potential buyers can book a private tour of the property
  • The electronic signing of all contracts and documents has been enabled to avoid face-to-face appointments
  • Cloud-based management software facilitates work-from-home efficiency. This software also has portals for landlords and tenants to log in and obtain information about their properties and rental payments – furnishing tenants and landlords, and owners with current and accurate information.

These measures enable Dundas Oatlands Real Estate to remain open, operating and achieving business goals throughout the pandemic.

Prepared for the future

Stefanie has gained confidence from her work with Sue and is optimistic about the future, even with pandemic restrictions. She says, “From the assistance I have received from Sue, I feel much more confident regarding the future of my business.”

Stefanie adds that her vision for Dundas Oatlands is “to further grow with the community and grow as a business, bringing on more properties and becoming the go-to local real estate specialist.” She recommends the Realise Business advisory to other small businesses in the Dundas, Carlingford or Parramatta areas, saying, “I have felt supported by Sue to reach my goals and succeed.”