When 20-year-old Regan Leatch temporarily moved from Sydney to Townsville in 2017 with the intention of renovating and selling an investment property, he never could have predicted that within two years he would be one of Queensland’s youngest Real Estate Principal Licensees and owner of a property management agency.
“I moved to Townsville because my parents had a house,” Regan explains. “It was only after that I realised how fantastic a community and economy it was up here.”
After discovering the city’s business potential, Regan traded the bustling streets of Sydney for Townsville’s close-knit community and relocated here permanently. Eager to pursue his passion for business and continue honing his project management skills, Regan began working at Coral Sea Property Management in 2018.
“I have always been very business minded, and property management was something that came afterwards that I was able to really connect with my personality,” he says.
“I was offered the role of Operations Manager very early on in my time at Coral Sea, and after events such as the Townsville floods, the owner was looking to sell.”
Regan took ownership of Coral Sea Property Management mid-2019 after completing his Certificate IV in Property Services (Real Estate), and became one of the youngest people in Queensland to receive his Principal’s Licence.
Despite encountering challenges due to his age, Regan has learnt to use it to his advantage and credits it as a motivating factor in his success.
“There have been challenges I’ve had to overcome because of my age in terms of getting people’s trust and respect,” he says.
“I have found the best way to overcome that challenge is by proving that you can do what you say, and are good at what you do”.
Following the change in ownership, Regan decided to keep the news private, wanting to spend valuable time rebranding and proving the business could flourish under his tenure.
“The reason we didn’t tell anyone about the change in ownership is because we knew the business was in a distressed state, as many businesses were in Townsville after the floods,” he says.
“We wanted to spend three or four months making sure current property owners and tenants were happy with the level of service before we made them aware the business had changed ownership.”
Regan has brought fresh ideas to the business, and implementation of new technology including a tenant inspection booking platform. As part of their rebrand and marketing strategy, the team have developed a Property Investor Magazine to provide valuable insights and highlight Townsville’s investment opportunities.
Regan admits that one of the challenges of taking ownership of an existing business, which was well known for its controversial advertisements, is to shift the perception of the brand.
“It absolutely has been challenging,” he says.
“The systems that were already in place when I bought the business were fantastic, but I wanted to work on delivering them in a way that reflects the professional image of the brand.
“This shift has been quite easy with our owners and our tenants because we have built up a relationship with them, however, the general public, or even people who have had a negative experience with Coral Sea, are not as open to change.
“It’s all about providing exceptional customer service and building a positive reputation, which we are trying to achieve by sticking to our brand promises and values.
“By consistently doing this we will change the public perception of the business, and it is really inspirational to already be hearing positive things from members of the public.”
Part of this growth process has included the building of Regan’s team, which has been crucial in ensuring Coral Sea Property Management can grow and develop as a business.
“I realise now how absolutely critical your team is because it takes a lot of time, commitment and training to instil the values of a business, especially a high-performance business, into team members,” he says.
“We follow the principles forming, storming, norming and performing, which have been successful, so now we are looking at cross training and higher end team incentives to take Coral Sea to the next level.”
While acknowledging that COVID-19 has had a significant effect on the industry, Regan explains how important communication is during these uncertain times. He has been proactive in reaching out to clients, especially those who have experienced a great deal of anxiety over potential financial hardships.
“Even though no one can prepare for COVID, we have fallen back to our key values of communication and accountability, and we have been able to mitigate the hardship situation for our clients,” he says.
“Every week we were sending out updates and personally touching base with clients that were in some way financially affected. This is something we will continue until all our tenants and owners are no longer affected.”
Although the pandemic has also affected the distribution of the Property Investor Magazine, Regan is maintaining an optimistic approach.
“Prior to COVID we had gone around and started our initial distribution, but our magazine is designed to be timeless as it contains information that will be relevant for years to come.”
Despite the setbacks, Regan’s hope for the future is that everyone will continue to see Townsville for its strong economy and unique investment opportunities, just as he did upon arriving.
“Townsville is a great place because it has a very strong investable economy and it has key factors that make it investable compared to other places, especially from a residential renter’s perspective,” he continues.
“For instance, 5.3% percent of the Townsville population are employed at some form of Defence which means Townsville has a very strong rental market in November, December and January.
“By structuring your leases around that time frame, you can make sure you get the most for your rental returns.
“That is something you are able to do in Townsville that you wouldn’t necessarily be able to in other cities in Australia, making Townsville a truly unique place to live and to invest.”
By Georgie Desailly for BDmag.