How many years have you been in the industry?
I have been in real estate for 15 years. My husband and father-in-law had a boutique real estate business and I started selling when I was 21 years old. My mother and father-in-law decided they wanted to sell the business. So me myself and I raised a mortgage with the bank, had the company valued and I bought their shares, and I can tell you now there was no favouritism. I purchased their shares for the full market rate. We were a boutique company and were up against a lot of players in the market. To be frank they were wiping the floor with us. I said we need to get the support of a brand behind us to have any chance. So I investigated a number of brands and my husband and I settled on Ray White. We’ve gone from 12% to 35% market share and are now taking market share from the people that were trying to shut us down.
What would you say are the core elements of your brand?
When you talk about Brianne Bignell in all the Bignell name in our area, we are known for our honesty, integrity and we don’t stray. We do what’s right even when no one’s looking. Tell the truth – you can’t get in trouble for telling the truth. Always.
What is the most standout milestone in your career?
A number of milestones. Something I haven’t been recognised for is I was one of the youngest ever female principals of Ray White. It’s something I’m really really proud of especially in a male dominated industry. A lot of women in the industry are given business or it’s parents who have given them business. My husband and I have built our business from blood, sweat, and tears. We didn’t have any portfolio or market share. My team are just out there and they have slayed the latest lockdown, I’m so proud of them. It is not easy. My team have children, families, and so much going on. Their desire to set goals and smash them and continually provide next-level service taking the business to the next level. One of my stand-out moments is sitting back and seeing these guys smashing it. I was top performer #14 in the country. Getting the business to a point where my team is building a team within is amazing.
What is something that sets your brand apart from other branches/agents?
There is a saying: one team one dream. In my office we have one database and it’s an open database. Every buyer, listing, appraisal, settlement, and transaction is openly discussed with every single member of the team. Nobody owns a buyer. I still list houses and allocate. Everyone works together to one team goal. That is our biggest point of difference. Communication in the team and desire for success. The entire business is looking after the property. Our property managers know everything going on on each side. We have early birds and night owls and are communicating from 6am until into the night. Integration between sales and rentals is a big focus. Our community is another thing I should tell you about. I’ve been living in Maraetai since I was a child. I have an eight and a ten year old. Most of our team members have children that live in the community also. We are a community focussed business. We give more than we receive. We are sponsors of the coastguard, local football club, tennis club, & touch teams. We have a big desire to give back. We have a special project we are working on for a young girl in the community Holly. We are helping her parents fundraise for a special needs swing at the local playground. My husband and I have put hundreds of thousands back into the community, we don’t believe in getting rich.
What has been your biggest career lesson?
It’s okay to make mistakes. Ask for help, we aren’t meant to know all of the answers. It’s always about the customer and always about the client. Mistakes are made but you have to own your mistakes. I have let myself make mistakes and let my team make mistakes because that’s how you learn.
What would you say is the most important attribute that helped you progress your career?
I’m incredibly driven. I want to build the best life for my family and children. Feel the fear and do it anyway. I’m very intuitive, & trust my instincts. My husband figures out the plan afterward. You can never tell me I can’t do something. The minute someone says I can’t do something I say watch me and then it’s done.
What has been the most influential marketing tool in helping progress your business?
My desire is I want to be first. Not last or second. When Trade Me first started listing properties on their site and a lot of people were skeptical in their infant stages, I was the first agent in the area to list a property on Trade Me and the property sold very very fast. I immediately saw how important it was to be visible in the digital space. My brand and team are very strong in the digital space. Being an independent boutique brand I believe very strongly in making a play for homes.co.nz because it’s where people go to research the value of properties. I check my own home on homes.co.nz and see what it’s worth. We are currently making a big push for homes.co.nz and seeing how that works. We are big in the community as well. It’s important to be digital as well as on the ground cooking sausages on the football field. Nothing can replace person to person contact.
What’s a piece of professional advice that has stuck with you?
Shut up. In the nicest possible way. A good agent is a quiet agent and knows how to ask questions. For me I hear agents talking buyers out of things because they don’t know when to be quiet. I’ve learned to ask the same question in different ways. Often buyers and vendors don’t know what they want. I’ve had to learn how to stop, & slow down to get results. So the best piece of advice is to stay quiet and learn how to listen.
What do you do to switch off and take a break?
We own a boat and two puppy dogs. We made it possible to work anywhere by ensuring we have WIFI on our boat. I haven’t got where I am today from taking breaks. But you do need to schedule a day off, one or half needs to be done. I learned last year that taking a break is important. So I go on the boat with my family out the back of Waiheke or up north. Getting out on the water is where my soul is happy and I can breathe again and spend time with amazing friends and my family. We live on a rural property and working from home during these lockdowns I even walk my dog three times a day.