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Learning from the best – John Herbst

Learning from the best - John Herbst

MAIN IMAGE: John Herbst, CEO of Fine & Country

Staff writer

Our revamped website not only has a different look and feel, but we are also adding new content sections. Moving forward the Property Professional will do monthly interviews with industry leaders, learning from their experience and gaining their insights, starting with John Herbst, CEO of Fine & Country.

Fine & Country South Africa was introduced as a premium real estate brand in 2006 after a decision was taken to deliver the UK-based high-quality real estate service to the South African market. Today the brand operates in 300 locations worldwide, providing its agents and clients access to a network of buyers and international real estate professionals. This global referral system allows us to extend a property’s exposure well beyond the South African borders and target a truly international audience. Nationally Fine & Country has over 30 branches.

What attracted you to the industry?

I was fortunate enough to grow up in a home where both my parents were entrepreneurs and although real wealth creation speaks to property ownership, not necessarily property brokerage, my mother and mentor, an award-winning agent proved to me that brokerage could provide you with the passport through commitment and hard work to own properties.

I was attracted to the entrepreneurial disciplines associated with property brokerage not to mention the huge thrill of being the catalyst to connect people to home ownership. I have always considered home ownership the most basic human right and the foundation for wealth creation. And, when I started as an assistant to my mother in the early 1980’s the real estate industry was creative, and exciting with larger-than-life personalities paving the way for young aspirants. I strongly desired to be part of this ecosystem, where multiple skill sets were required to succeed.

The influencers that cemented my journey into the world of real estate were all women, all pioneers in their fields, and all individuals of purpose and courage. I had the privilege of being employed by Verna Herbst-my mother and mentor, the late Aida Geffen, and the late Pam Golding.

What do you believe is necessary to succeed in Real Estate?

Essentially, it boils down to a lot of planning, from drafting a business plan to establishing your revenue goal.  Consider all activities to achieve the income goal-using science and data. Plan your marketing and lead generation strategy and consider the funding requirements to execute your strategies.

It is important to choose a company that resonates with your values and that encourages entrepreneurship and discourages micro-management.

Partnerships are important so surround yourself with like-minded business partners-conveyances and mortgage originators.

Ensure that your target market matches your profile, invest in a future-ready CRM, and finally, contract with a content creator and create an engaging online presence.

Which skills do you think agents need to cultivate?

I’ve found that an entrepreneurial mindset is key, coupled with fortitude and a can-do attitude, self-discipline, and resourcefulness. When working with buyers and sellers, it is useful to know how to negotiate, show empathy, and be a problem solver. More recently, being tech savvy is a big bonus.

What has been your proudest moment?

In terms of business, it must be when I was appointed to a national real estate group to design a solution and deploy a premium aspirational offering into historically underserviced and under-resourced locations, and in turn, formalising real estate transacting through a national network of franchised businesses in the “township” markets.

Personally, it was the birth of my daughter.

What is your advice for new entrants?

  • I think it’s important to seriously consider whether you have the right temperament for real estate. You can build an incredible career, but it is a tough industry, and you’ll need to see real estate as a career-long game.
  • Consider cash burn and what your cashflow requirements will be and for how long do you have sufficient cashflow to fund your expenses?
  • Know your purpose.
  • Generate as many leads as possible from familiar sources.
  • Shadow a top producer
  • Be honest and accountable to yourself daily.
  • Do what others are not prepared to do.
  • Work until the job is complete.

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