Growing up with a father who was a successful salesman, Karen Joseph has always had the gift of the gab, making friends wherever she goes. Unafraid to take risks, she embarked on a series of adventures straight out of high school that took her far and wide, from America to Germany and beyond.
By her mid-twenties, Karen had realised it was time to come home and perhaps get serious about a career, although at the time she had no idea what that would look like. Completing a standard course in computer administration, she began working as a temp, landing a short term contract on reception at an independent real estate agency on Sydney’s lower north shore.
Surprised to discover a passion for the fast paced game of property, Karen began covering for a property manager who was often inexplicably absent from the office, in addition to her reception duties. When that property manager was found sleeping in his car instead of working one day, it was a natural decision for the principal to offer Karen the property manager’s job.
One year later, Karen was still completely enamoured with her role, having built exceptionally strong relationships with both her landlords and tenants. So when the principal announced he’d decided to sell the rent role to a local franchised agency, it was also a natural step for Karen to go along with it.
Before too long, Karen was running the entire department in the new business, finding she also had an effective leadership style developing from her ability to quickly build rapport with people at all levels. By now attracting attention outside the agency world, Karen eventually took an offered role with a consulting business that assisted independent agencies with training and resources and soon after, became a mother.
Some time later and finding herself missing the fast paced environment of hands-on property management, Karen stepped back into a role in another independent agency, but with thoughts of her own business now starting to develop. After various conversations, she decided to open her own First National Real Estate office in Manly with a business partner who would focus on sales while she built a rent roll.
“We decided to go with First National Real Estate and I loved everything about the group immediately. I’m a straight shooter and I found quickly that pretty much everyone else who was a part of the group was the same as me. None of us were driven by ego and it was honestly just a bunch of really great people who wanted to share and were honestly invested in each others’ success,” Karen said.
“The support was and still is next level, both from other members and from the corporate team. We were off and running in absolutely no time, which is what I needed desperately at the time.”
That partnership sadly only lasted five years at which point, Karen at first took her rent roll to a First National Real Estate office in a neighbouring suburb. When that business was eventually sold, she found herself running out of options and so decided to go back into partnership with the franchised business she’d worked in earlier in her career.
But as it turned out, that move proved to be the most disappointing of her career.
“I got no support during the rebrand and actually had no idea where to even turn to get support. No visit, no welcome, no onboarding at all. I actually complained to the CEO and eventually someone came out to visit, but the lack of both flexibility and support under that brand was just day and night compared to First National Real Estate.”
“So I started talking to the other partners in the business about rebranding to First National Real Estate and one year later, they agreed. The rest is history.”
“I was thrilled to be back and immediately joined the New South Wales regional council, which got me even more involved with the group’s decision making. I also started conducting key training sessions across the state, making good use of my certificate four – it’s another great thing that First National draws on our member base to share knowledge and increase our overall skill base.”
“I really embraced what I knew by now was something really, really, special.”
“I now count so many other members and corporate staff as close friends and know I can rely on them when I need it, no matter what.”
“I’ve found our brand has really strong appeal to customers like us too – consumers love the “realness” of First National – our role is to help people and we love to be a part of the community, not just as a way to get leads but to actually be a part of it.”
“Over the years I’ve had various approaches from other brands of course as does everyone but I always get the feeling it’s a numbers game for them. We’re about quality, not quantity, but we also have fun together.”
“Our conferences are always amazing and the fact that they’re subsidised by our annual fees means everyone can afford to go because the extra cost to us is tiny in comparison to what we get during what’s an incredible event, always in different parts of the world.”
“We’re not just talking a fast game when it comes down to it – we’re real people, just doing our thing helping people with their real estate needs. You get exactly what you’re promised at First National Real Estate, and I for one would never go anywhere else, ever again.”
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