“All-rounder” is one way to describe Merryl Hilton, who starts her days in gumboots at the dairy farm run by her husband and ends it in heels as a popular Colac real estate agent.
After being involved with property all her life, Merryl relocated to the regional Victoria area around 15 years ago. She took on a One Agency licence in 2017.
“My mum collected houses,” explains Merryl, “And there haven’t been many times when I haven’t had an investment property as well as my own home.”
For Merryl, the experiences of being a real estate agent and One Agency licensee have been nothing but positive.
Unlike many regional areas, Colac is a thriving locality. It serves as a hub for surrounding dairy farmers and is home to several thriving manufacturing businesses as well as Bulla Ice Cream and the Australian Lamb Company. Although house prices have climbed steadily since 2010, rising in value by over $100k, the area is still affordable, with an average price of just over $300k, according to realestate.com.au.
“We have great employment plus good schools and healthcare,” says Merryl, “House prices are good, there are investment opportunities and rentals are amazing.”
Merryl offers property management as well as home sales. She has one and soon-to-be two full-time real estate agents on her team.
“...a flexible work schedule is key to maintaining motivation...”
“We’re real estate all-rounders and that works for us,” Merryl shares, explaining that she prefers to have qualified agents who can do a bit of everything instead of an admin team.
Making it work
Merryl enjoys a high level of word-of-mouth referrals thanks to her strong presence in the community and honest, professional and ethical approach.
“People can spot a bullsh*t artist!” she exclaims. “I call a spade a spade. People respect this and respond well to it.” As well as selling real estate, Merryl is an active community member. She is part of Rotary and participates in fundraisers so she can stay connected to her local community.
The nature of the Colac real estate market means the biggest challenge of running a business for Merryl is keeping up with all her requests and finding work/life balance. “It’s easy to find yourself working at 8 pm on a Saturday night,” she says, “But you do need to make time for your family and learn to say no so you don’t burn out.”
Even though things are going well, Merryl understands the importance of maintaining a marketing presence. If you visit Colac you’ll see her on the back of a taxi, plus you’ll hear her advertisements on the radio. “Having fewer local stations and being in a small town makes it easy to reach my target audience.”
Merryl finds a flexible work schedule is key to maintaining motivation and chooses her hours to suit her lifestyle so she can be present at the dairy farm or with family when she is needed. “I encourage my staff to do the same. If they’d rather work weekends and have two weekdays off, that’s fine by me.”
The benefits of One Agency
After switching from being employed to an independent real estate agent, Merryl chose One Agency for a number of reasons.
“I loved the branding. It is crisp, clean and effective,” she begins. “I was also able to get set up very quickly and had things up and running in only six weeks.”
Merryl operates without a shopfront but appreciates the fact that One Agency is all over the country and is a recognised brand. She is also a huge fan of the support offered by the wider One Agency community. “When I was getting started, the process and the support were fabulous. Everybody helps everybody else and it’s like one big family.
“You can ring head office or reach out for help on the Facebook page. I also appreciate how you can get all the branding help and templates you need without head office telling you ‘how to suck eggs’!”
As Merryl explains, “Most people go into business for themselves because they’re a bit of a control freak and One Agency lets you enjoy support as well as control.” In addition, Merryl appreciates being able to keep more of the money she earns, rather than having to give up huge chunks of commission to a head office.
Another element Merryl enjoys is the flexibility to run her business, her way. While One Agency outlets in nearby areas are growing at a rapid pace and taking on large teams, she is happy to remain a boutique agency.
To other agents considering joining One Agency, Merryl’s advice is to “Go for it. The only mistake is not making a decision.” She also recommends ringing an existing One Agency licensee and having a chat with them about their experience.
Being her own boss gives Merryl the lifestyle, income and flexibility she needs. As a bonus, she’s around for her dairy cows when they need her!
"It’s not what you make, it’s what you keep that counts."
‒ Paul Davies, Founder and CEO