Rex Tan charts new frontiers at Huttons

EdgeProp Singapore |
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SINGAPORE (EDGEPROP) - Throughout the 14 years Rex Tan has been in the real estate industry, he has worked doggedly to carve out a career for himself. As a result of his hard work, Tan has been promoted to chairman, Agency Development Committee, and deputy chairman, Agency Executive Committee, and he will be managing property agents at real estate firm Huttons Asia, a 3,000-strong company.
Barely a month into his new appointment this March, Tan has already implemented new initiatives to improve the productivity of the firm’s real estate agents. First, Huttons will be rolling out a new customer relationship management platform that would help its agents “build a lifelong journey with clients”, he shares. For instance, the new system would be able to help agents bolster their after-sales services, prompting them on important dates such as clients’ birthdays to create opportunities to reconnect. This would aid the continuity of business referrals, where existing clients refer their contacts, offering new opportunities to clinch property deals, he explains.
Tan believes that a customer relationship management platform is one of the things that is currently lacking in the real estate industry. To that end, he sees constant innovation as the only way forward. “If you see no problem in a business model, that is typically when a business is problematic,” he says, adding that “there’s never a business that faces no problems and runs smoothly”.
Second, Huttons’ agents will be able to engage with an in-house digital marketer, who will provide agents with digital marketing services and copywriting at no extra cost. This is to “help them focus primarily on connecting with clients”, Tan says, instead of having to outsource such services to another company.
Third, real estate agents will also be able to use Huttons’ calculation app, which helps agents churn out financial reports for their clients. This will “make our agents stand out from the rest, because ultimately, what we want is for our agents to carry a professional image in front of our clients”, he says.
With Tan’s new appointment, Huttons intends to “chart new frontiers” by “utilising cutting-edge IT tools, unique digital marketing systems, and data analytics”, it said in a statement.

Hard times build character

When asked about the impact of Covid-19 on the property market, Tan is optimistic, saying that “tough times help build resilience in us”. The viral outbreak has already spread to over 150 countries, causing some countries to impose lockdowns and businesses to roll out work-from-home directives, and hitting hospitality, MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions) and retail players the hardest. The apparent difficulty of containing the spread globally has anchored the perception that the global economy is headed for a deep recession.
As negative as current market sentiments appear, this is not the first time Tan has had to navigate choppy waters. Such ordeals have offered him the opportunity to learn vital lessons. Tan recounts that in 2013, when sentiment in real estate was weak, resale listings could take from six months up to a year to sell. “Many of my team members actually struggled during that time, and that is when we went through a lot,” Tan says. “We got to realise that in 2013, through sharing selflessly and contributing as part of a team, it helped each of us to grow and understand the whole market better.” The episode led his team to become more strongly knit, and “that’s how the whole sharing culture in the team started”, he says.
In trying times, Tan advises agents to “double up efforts and seize opportunities”. He adds: “In good times and bad, there are people who still make money. Why is it not you? Because you choose to believe in negativity, or choose to be lazy, to be mediocre — that’s when you choose not to make the extra effort.”
Tan compares surviving a tougher economic climate to nurturing a plant to bear fruit. Adapting new approaches and strategies is key, he explains. “It takes a lot of time and care to nurture a plant in order for it to bear fruit, and this is also how I see the closing of real estate deals,” he says. “In times like this — when it is tougher — you just need to throw in the right fruit, throw in a cactus. There’s no need to plant a mango tree in this market.”

Humble beginnings

Life was not all peaches for Tan when he became a real estate agent 14 years ago. He started off in the industry like most agents do — knocking door-to-door and handing out flyers to gather sales leads. Having the right attitude was crucial to him persisting in the trade. “I think the mindset is important — while doing that, I took it as a ‘dual enjoyment’: The first is, of course, I get to make money, and the second is I get to exercise,” he shares.
It was not until after a year of persisting that Tan decided he was going to be in the industry for the long haul. “In the first year I actually wanted to give up,” he recalls. “The turning point was when I managed to clinch a deal for an HDB unit in Bedok North that gave me around $16,000 in commission.”
Along the journey, Tan has changed too. He believes being humble and sincere to everyone has brought him a long way. “I used to be strong-headed, I wanted to win in everything. But I got to realise that by winning a lot of things that is not essential, you lose a lot of friends,” he says. Ultimately, “you can win some, but you also have to lose some”, Tan adds.

Looking ahead

As Tan enters a new phase of his career overseeing all of Huttons’ agents, his core focus will be to nurture a sharing culture within the company. Tan hopes to replicate the sharing culture already present within his 700-member team in the whole of the firm. “I want to make sure that we deliver results and stand as one,” he says. To do that, he believes that it starts from the top, with leaders working closely together first.
His end-goal is to tread the fine line between sharing and being competitive. “These two traits are contradicting, but they can co-exist in different situations,” he says.
What remains certain for the future is that Tan will continue refining his character as a leader. “Being sincere is one of the key strengths that I have, and I will continue doing that,” Tan says.
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