A family business dubbed “Australia’s worst real estate agents” has been publicly scrutinised by multimillionaire businessman Mark Bouris as part of a new TV show aimed at turning around struggling SMEs.
In the first episode of The Mentor to air on Channel 7 on Monday 23 April, Mr Bouris attempted to work some magic on a family-owned real estate agency Ubiquitous Realty on Queensland’s Moreton Bay.
The home-based business had delivered the Lisch family – Sharon and Erich and their children Stephanie and Curtis – earnings of just $40,000 in its first 18 months.
“I always like a challenge – this is a big one,” Mr Bouris declared at the start of the show.
The primary challenge Mr Bouris identified was the apparent lack of leadership in the business. While each member of the family had their own role to play, the business lacked a formal leader to make decisions and direct the others. Structured job descriptions were also absent.
“There’s one thing I know about a family business –someone has to step up and be the boss. Leadership is fundamental to every business. Leaders take control,” he said.
“In a family business, it can be hard to distinguish clear roles because everyone wants to have their say. That why leadership is so important.”
Another up-front problem was the calibre of marketing, with DIY advertisements and marketing material and an apparent lack of preparation in knowing the product before engaging with customers.
Mr Bouris also took exception to the business’ name, and openly tested the word “ubiquitous” with local residents.
“Most of the people we polled don’t actually know what the word means,” Mr Bouris declared.
“You‘ve got to have a name that represents the region and one that resonates with the audience.”
“When you’re taking on the big brands, a local name builds trust.”
As a means of helping the family to learn from someone already achieving success within the same industry, Mr Bouris brought in Matt Lancashire, principal of Ray White New Farm and the top sales agent in the Ray White network across Queensland.
Mr Lancashire said that the key to his success is training, and lots of it.
“We do four training sessions a week. We have a huge amount of training across our businesses as we want our people to be the best that they can possibly be,” Mr Lancashire said.
In a statement issued after the show had aired, Mr Lancashire revealed that once filming wrapped up nine weeks ago, he invited the Lisch family to attend his own firm’s training twice a week.
He said that receiving some external expertise and advice has already paid dividends for the family.
“Recently Stephanie was struggling to get a deal together and after I gave her some advice, she sealed the transaction within 24 hours. I am happy to help and so glad they see major value in our training,” Mr Lancashire said.
Despite Mr Bouris’ suggestion of changing the business name to Moreton Bay Real Estate, the Ubiquitous Realty website remains live. Another snag with such a proposal could be the fact there is already an agency trading under the name of Moreton Bay Regional Real Estate.
Ubiquitous Realty declined to comment, citing its contract with Channel 7.
Adam Zuchetti is the editor of My Business, and has steered the publication’s editorial direction since early 2016.