The duo behind Lambert Willcox talk partnerships in real estate - via www.domain.com.au
Lambert Willcox Estate Agents might only be fresh on the real estate scene, but they have been making an impact in the market.
Established in 2015, they have already made headlines for their innovative marketing and award winning agents.
We pin down Gold Coast real estate industry young guns – Queensland Domain Rising Star 2017 winner, Jesse Willcox and business partner Mitchell Lambert – to discover what makes this 20-something twosome tick.
Take us back to your first impressions – what did you think of each other? Where did you meet?
Jesse Willcox (left) and Mitchell Lambert (right) started their own agency, Lambert Willcox, to fill a gap in the market.
Mitchell Lambert (ML): We met at McGrath Broadbeach on the Gold Coast in 2013. We were just two young guys; I worked in admin and he was a pretty sharply dressed guy. He wore pin-striped suits. It was obvious straight away he took pride in his personal brand. To be honest, we were not a case of “instant rapport” but more a case of wariness. We worked in different sections and used to just check each other out from a distance.
Jesse Willcox (JW): Yeah, I felt a bit of friendly competition/jealousy towards Mitch. He had already been working in the office for some time and seemed to be the “Golden Boy”. This didn’t go down well with me at all but, fortunately, it only took a few days for us to realise how much we had in common and that we equally loved real estate and ever since we have been best mates.
How did you end-up deciding to go out alone?
JW: The brand we were working for at the time was amazing however it came to a stage when we were confident we could do things a little differently. We looked forward to working together and creating our unique brand with its own unique style, culture and personality and I remember we were in my unit lounge room discussing what we thought consumers deserved and how we could execute the ideas we had. That was a momentous time I will never forget.
ML: Yes, I just got back from backpacking overseas and was looking to inject myself back into the market and he was at a crossroads. We were chatting at his apartment and it was really just an off-the-cuff comment from him. He said, “how much do you think it would cost to open a real estate agency?” We didn’t realise at that stage the scale of what comes next but that was the moment it began.
Tell us about the highs and lows of Lambert Willcox. Have you ever considered throwing the towel?
JW: The first year consisted of almost nothing but constant lows, we started off in our first few weeks making some record sales and thought “how easy is this, we have done it!” but learnt very quickly that running a business and staff is all-consuming and always changing. We knew it was going to be hard but really had no idea of just how hard. We were in a number of very difficult situations financially but refused to give up.
ML: On October 12, 2015, the door swung open. The highs have been selling 67 Commodore Drive (Paradise Point) for $5.485 million. It had failed to sell after three years with other, top performing agencies so that was a huge professional milestone as was Jesse’s Domain Rising Star win and employing a couple of young staff members has been satisfying; helping them grow.
The low was when we had to shut the door because we just couldn’t keep it open; we just couldn’t monetise the business. Three major sales fell over and we did not have the cash flow to cover. That was a real low point for us. We put all of ourselves into this but we pulled through, got in touch with a mentor about 18 months ago and having that third party to give encouragement really helped. In the end it was only a few minor tweaks of process that was needed and we haven’t looked back.
How would you describe each other? Are you similar or polar opposites?
JW: Similar and different is why it works so well. We enjoy each other’s company and have a very similar sense of humour but professionally we are very different in our approach. Mitchell has a very in-depth knowledge of all things real estate, which has been an amazing asset to the company. I feel I have a less formal approach, which works with some people but not all.
ML: Jesse has incredible ability to build rapport with people. He is humorous and definitely able to make fun of himself, which I think often results in people changing their initial impression of him. Yes, he wears his sharp suits but, in person, is different to what some people expect. We have a very similar approach to decision-making but bring different skill sets to the table and that is good. We are not doubling up. We are compatible.
What makes a good partnership; what makes yours work?
JW: Respect, understanding and trust. We both trust each other’s judgment in all senses, as 99 out of 100 times we will have the same opinion anyway. Since starting the business we have not had a single disagreement or argument, touch wood! We both share a true passion for what we are creating and that is the basis of our incredibly positive relationship.
ML: Yes, as I already say, you just cannot have two people exactly the same. It just wouldn’t work. You absolutely need to share principles, like we do. That is essential. But compatibility means sharing those deeper values while also bringing new things to the partnership in terms of personality and interests, or else what is the point of having a business partner? You may as well set up alone.
What do you admire about each other?
JW: Mitchell’s dedication to his craft is phenomenal, he is constantly trying to be better and always learning. We have office meetings and appraisals and I can confidently say I am learning something new from him every day.
ML: Definitely admire his “never say die” attitude, his humour, the fact he is growth oriented and a big thinker and his innate ability to back himself. That is a real strength in this biz.
What did Jesse’s Domain Rising Star win mean for your business?
ML: Just the validation when you run your own business; there is no one there to tell you, you are doing the right things so it was very satisfying to get that acknowledgment from our peers and really, it was a win for him but also a win for our business.
JW: I think Mitchell is very jealous … OK, not true, I have a confession, cat out of the bag! I asked Mitch not to enter to give me a fighting chance before I was too old and not eligible to enter. Mitch graciously agreed without a moment of doubt and ever since winning I have felt guilty. Honestly, we both see it as a win for the agency and are humbled by the award.
Do you see yourselves more like Laurel and Hardy, or Batman and Robin?
ML: I would say we are Lebron James and Kobe Bryant of Team USA (basketball). We are two people who just want to win.
JW: I think we are more like “Bert and Ernie” but I won’t say who is who.