Genevieve Toop is the CEO of the family-owned Toop&Toop Real Estate, a nationally recognized industry leader in Australia specializing in the premium market. Under her leadership, the company has grown to become the largest family-owned residential agency in South Australia.
Before taking up the mantle of CEO of Toop&Toop, Genevieve Toop worked for the family business in a variety of capacities for two years. She had earned a Bachelor of Business degree, specializing in marketing, at Monash University in Melbourne prior to working at Toop&Toop. She worked her way to the top, as well, beginning from reception and eventually gaining experience in other positions.
In 2010, Genevieve Toop decided to step away from the family business to earn international experience. She moved to London, where she worked as a buyer’s agent, before moving on to sponsorship and advertising at the Institute of Chartered Accountants England and Wales.
After two years in the United Kingdom, Genevieve Toop returned to the family business, where she became the general manager of sales and marketing. Under her guidance, the company has “enjoyed unprecedented industry success at both local and national levels.”
Under Genevieve Toop’s leadership, the firm was named Australia’s best marketers for three years in a row, from 2015 to 2017. In 2018, Toop&Toop was inducted into the national Hall of Fame. The company also won Australia’s No.1 Agency award for three straight years, from 2017 to 2019, which earned the firm a place in the Hall of Fame in 2020.
Check out more interviews with successful real estate CEOs here.
Jerome Knyszewski: What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Genevieve Toop: Toop&Toop stands out for our innovation, not just in real estate but also in our broader approach to business.
Eight years ago we introduced a Wellness Centre and employed a full-time Wellness Coach to conduct gym classes and help the team with nutrition and mindset. We also introduced a creche in 2015, which has been very well-received and beneficial.
Adopting a holistic approach to our work environment has provided extraordinary benefits to both our team members and the business’s bottom line. It has given us the ability to attract the best candidates who are wanting more out of their workplace than an attractive salary.
Providing a flexible, inclusive workplace has been excellent for staff retention and our customer-service levels have reached an all-time high, with team members willing to assist our clients outside of traditional work hours if required.
Jerome Knyszewski: Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Genevieve Toop: There’s an expectation within our industry that you need to be available 24/7. As a result, real estate has one of the highest burn-out rates of any industry. We can’t expect consumers’ needs to change, though. I regularly stress to our team the importance of staying mentally and physically fit. That’s a big reason why we created a Wellness Centre. I recommend our sales partners to team up with their colleagues to cover each other to help create some free time each week. I also encourage them to book non-refundable holidays with their family each year. When you are a commission-based employee there will always be a reason not to take a break. If you don’t lock in time for a break, you’ll often find an excuse not to have one.
Jerome Knyszewski: None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
Genevieve Toop: For me, joining YPO (Young Presidents Organisation) has been one of my best decisions as a young leader. Connecting with a global network of extremely successful and motivated business leaders has helped me take my leadership and our business to another level. I am extremely grateful for the opportunities and experiences YPO has provided me.
Jerome Knyszewski: Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. The title of this series is “How to take your company from good to great”. Let’s start with defining our terms. How would you define a “good” company, what does that look like? How would you define a “great” company, what does that look like?
Genevieve Toop: I would define a good company as one that makes a consistent profit, has a loyal, long-standing team, offers great customer service, attracts repeat customers and gives back to the community.
I believe to be a great company, your business needs to stand for more than just profit. Great companies are pioneers in their industry. They invest in innovation and ways to drive their industry forward. They are embedded in their community and use their skills to make a difference. They are leaders of change and have clear purpose and vision. Great companies have an unbreakable culture with a fiercely loyal, driven and dedicated team who are proud of where they work and live by the same values as the business. They understand and connect with each other on a personal level. The momentum that creates for the business becomes very powerful.
Jerome Knyszewski: What would you advise to a business leader who initially went through years of successive growth, but has now reached a standstill. From your experience do you have any general advice about how to boost growth and “restart their engines”?
Genevieve Toop: It’s hard to restart the engines of an established business and recreate the energy that comes with a start-up that think it’s ready to take over the world. You’re often working with a team who are set in their ways and averse to change. It’s a completely different mindset to those who have joined a start-up business.
I think it is important to reconnect with your vision and purpose and involve your team in this journey.
At some point, you will need to make an honest assessment of your team and whether they share your vision and have the ability to help you achieve your goals.
We had to make some uncomfortable decisions when we made this transition at Toop&Toop. While a few of our long-standing team members were good performers in terms of revenue, we knew they did not align with our vision for the business. Having the courage to move these people on created new energy and cohesion within our team which in turn resulted in a level of growth that far surpassed what we would have experienced if we hadn’t made that change.
Jerome Knyszewski: Generating new business, increasing your profits, or at least maintaining your financial stability can be challenging during good times, even more so during turbulent times. Can you share some of the strategies you use to keep forging ahead and not lose growth traction during a difficult economy?
Genevieve Toop: We place a strong emphasis on keeping our team motivated and focused on the things they can control, regardless of the state of the economy.
We are lucky that we service one of the core human needs — shelter. People always need a place to live.
In a challenging economy, we break our processes into micro-activities to help us hit our sales targets. Focusing on daily actions that we can control helps maintain a growth mindset and achieve success, regardless of what’s happening around you.
Jerome Knyszewski: In your experience, which aspect of running a company tends to be most underestimated? Can you explain or give an example?
Genevieve Toop: I believe empathy can be grossly undervalued in business. Having the ability to see things from the perspective of others is extremely important. It helps you to connect with your clients and build trust and loyalty. Once you have trusted and loyal clients, they become your advocates. The referral business they provide can be the biggest source of business growth, especially in the age of online reviews where word of mouth has become ‘world of mouth’ and can be accessed by not only that client’s network but also by potential customers from all over the globe.
Jerome Knyszewski: Great customer service and great customer experience are essential to build a beloved brand and essential to be successful in general. In your experience what are a few of the most important things a business leader should know in order to create a Wow! Customer Experience?
Genevieve Toop: I think it’s really important to make sure your entire team are doing the little things well.
Being polite, addressing your customers by name, returning calls promptly, smiling when you meet someone, saying hello to people and asking them how their day has been and showing genuine care in their answer.
It makes a huge difference if your team shows care in every interaction they have — whether that’s with clients, suppliers or colleagues. There’s enormous benefit if your team understands that their actions leave a lasting impression on your clients and their overall experience with our brand.
Jerome Knyszewski: What are your thoughts about how a company should be engaged on Social Media? For example, the advisory firm EisnerAmper conducted 6 yearly surveys of United States corporate boards, and directors reported that one of their most pressing concerns was reputational risk as a result of social media. Do you share this concern? We’d love to hear your thoughts about this.
Genevieve Toop: There will be conversations about your brand across social media, whether your business is on it or not. I think it is critical to be a part of the conversations — the good, the bad or the ugly. Listening to your community is key. This is a fantastic way to connect and interact with the community on a level that previously wasn’t available to businesses.
Social media has become a tool where you can broadcast your messages directly to your customers, allowing them to connect and engage with your brand on a much deeper level than just a transaction.
Your social media channels bring your brand to life in real time to anyone in the world, which is why I believe it is critical to keep the management of this in-house. I believe these channels need to be controlled by those who understand the brand best, not a third-party advertising agency. I have access to all Toop&Toop’s social media platforms and often respond to our community’s comments and feedback.
It is also important for your business to have social media guidelines for your employees. If they can be identified as employees of your business, their personal social media can also become a reflection of your brand, so having everyone on the same page is critical.
Jerome Knyszewski: What are the most common mistakes you have seen CEOs & founders make when they start a business? What can be done to avoid those errors?
Genevieve Toop: Not understanding how difficult and expensive it is to change consumer behaviour.
I have seen businesses with fantastic products that fail because their leaders underestimated their target market’s motivation for change. Changing someone’s behaviour is extremely difficult and introducing change into a team if it is a B2B product is even harder.
It’s crucial that you understand your clients’ true motivation, why your product is worth the inconvenience of change, and how you will make this transition easy for them. This can help all businesses — not just those starting out — to unlock even more customers.
Jerome Knyszewski: Thank you for all of that. We are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Genevieve Toop: Being in real estate, we are passionate about how we can help play our part in reducing homelessness. Everybody should be able to have a safe space they can call home. In most cities there are empty buildings and vacant land just sitting there. With advances in technology, it might soon become possible to create cost-effective mobile homes that could utilise these spaces. If local governments and their business communities worked together and took an innovative approach to this long-standing problem, I believe there is a real chance to make a difference.
Jerome Knyszewski: How can our readers further follow you online?
Genevieve Toop: You can follow me on:
LinkedIn: Genevieve Toop
Business Website: www.toop.com.au
Jerome Knyszewski: This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this!