Michael Sleiman started his first job at McDonalds at the tender age of 14, by pure coincidence working a shift with the girl who would one day become his wife. Fast forward 23 years and Michael, by now married to Paula and with a growing family, had diligently worked his way up through the ranks of the corporate team, eventually landing the coveted role of National Training and Development manager for NSW.
It’s no secret just how exceptional McDonald’s training program is and Michael was now officially the expert. Confident he could easily run his own restaurant, he put his name on the waiting list to take on a highly sought-after franchise. Despite his eagerness to create real wealth for his family, it quickly became apparent that realistically, it would be at least another five to ten years before Michael would have the chance under the golden arches.
Meanwhile, Michael had sold his investment property through the local agent at First National Real Estate in Padstow a couple of years prior, negotiating the sale himself almost by accident when a buyer arrived at a viewing before the agent. The agent, who happened to also be the business owner, had planted the seed that Michael would make an excellent real estate agent if he ever wanted a career change.
Growing increasingly impatient for career progression, one night Michael sat down with his wife Paula for a serious chat. He told her his budding idea – sell the family home to free up equity, moving themselves and their three kids back to live with his parents. He’d then embark on a career as a commission-only real estate salesperson, with a view to buying into the business and eventually, owning it. It took all of 30 seconds for Paula to say yes and by the next morning, Michael had tendered his resignation.
Joining First National Real Estate in Padstow two weeks later, Michael spent the next few months eagerly learning the ropes while giving everything he could to the local community, including his personal funds to sponsor sporting teams and groups as well as property information and support to anyone who needed it.
“We always used to say ketchup ran through our veins at McDonalds – the company ethics of honesty, service and giving. I applied that same service mentality to real estate, giving without any expectation,” Michael said.
His strategy paid off. Within eight months, Michael was the top agent in the office. Within a couple of years, he was in the top three salespeople in the local area. In year four, Michael was in the top ten in the entire First National Real Estate group and had bought 30% of the Padstow business. Five years in, Michael purchased the remainder of the business using vendor finance over a three-year term but nine months later, had already paid it out in full.
Ten years after making the move, Michael remains a consistent top ten business across the First National Real Estate group and is an industry leader. Putting his success down to always being honest and helping people, Michael says the long term has always been his play, rather than being motivated by short term wins.
“I’ve never cold called and almost all of my business is repeat or referral, because I’ve become known for being honest and trustworthy, for giving rather than taking. When your clients trust you, the whole process is easier from beginning to end.”
As for brands, Michael says it’s interesting to note there’s been a shift away from the major groups rather than towards them in recent years.
“I think there’s great value in a national brand but many of the other groups have the wrong model.”
“In reality, while I did choose real estate as my long-term career, I started under the First National Real Estate brand by accident rather than design. I think this is true for a lot of agents and it’s understandable if they don’t perceive value they’ll look to change, but there’s an excellent reason why I’ve chosen to stay with the group.”
“While First National has incredible support for anyone who might need it, I come from a very strong corporate background and I don’t need anyone to be checking up on me or dictating how I should run my business, so I love the flexibility this group allows me.”
“And I certainly don’t want anyone taking a commission off the back of my hard work, so the flat fee structure is much fairer, in my opinion.”
“There’s a great sense of community because we’re a member-led group. We’re all there to support each other wherever we can and we can pick up the phone to anyone in the corporate team anytime all the way up to our CEO, knowing they’ll all have our backs too.”
“Real estate is a great industry offering real opportunity for those who are willing to put in the hard yards. First National Real Estate provides a great vehicle for me to achieve my goals, and the freedom to do it the way I want to.”
If you’re interested in finding out more about partnering your real estate agency with First National Real Estate, contact Matthew Harvey on 0429 859 066, or find out more about what we offer here.