John McGrath, without a doubt, revolutionised the way real estate was done in Australia and throughout the world. Before John McGrath came along, the voice, the look, the feel of a real estate agent was: grey hair, gold watch, thick chain.

If you go back to where McGrath Estate Agents started, there was a distinct ‘McGrath’s look and feel’ that was all about bringing a truly professional look to his business. I would estimate that 80% of Australian and a good percentage of overseas property professionals have tried to emulate this McGrath signature look into their businesses.

And surprisingly to many, John is completely fine with it, he completely endorses it – in fact, he will get up in front of 3,000 competitors at the Australian Real Estate Agents Conference, that have come to listen to him talk, and he will tell them exactly from A-Z, how to do exactly what he’s done.

He does this because he knows that not many people have the discipline, the acument, the commitment – to do what he does with the same consistency and quality.

Something I believe you should think about in your business is, “What are your top 5 distinctions that set you apart from your competitors?”

For example, if you’re in the fitness industry doing personal training, the fact of the matter is that everyone’s presentation counts – from the receptionist to the lead trainer – needs to look like they’re fit and healthy. It’s no good if an employee is wearing an ABC Fitness t-shirt, standing out the front of the gym and they’re smoking a cigarette – it’s not in line with the look and feel of what you’re trying to get across.

As an example with McGraths, they were one of the first to remove the ties from their agents – because they felt it demonstrated that they were professionals rather than salespeople, which at the time was revolutionary for the industry.

Another example is the SOLD sticker. This is a lesson on detail. There are two arrows either side of a McGraths real estate board, and the SOLD sticker has to line up between these two arrows – John is fanatical about this. When it comes from the top, this message filters down from John to the CEO, to the head office staff, to the branch principals and the franchisees, then down to the senior sales staff and the property managers, then it filters through to the Director of First Impressions which is the receptionist.

The next thing I talk about is terminology – what terminology are you using with your clients? 

With one of the businesses I own, Bellagio & Co – which is an online jewellery store and party plan business, we’ve changed the terminology from running ‘Party Plans’ to running ‘Jewellery Shows’ just to give it that sense of professionalism. We’ve changed the term for the ladies that sell the jewellery from ‘Sales Reps’ to ‘Stylists’ – because we’re giving our clients education constantly on how best to wear our products, so we position our people as professionals and as stylists within the industry.

Virgin Australia is a business that has grown exponentially, and every person that works at Virgin Australia is given a guide which outlines how they want their hair to look, how they want their uniforms to look, and that is consistent from the people you meet when you check in, to when you step off the plane at the other end.

The last tip is I have for you is, Travel for Ideas.

Whenever Jack Delosa or myself travel, whilst we’re meeting people and enjoying ourselves, we’re always taking pictures and taking notes, and sending ourselves reminders of things we see in other countries that set certain businesses or people apart from the rest. When you go to a bigger market like the U.S. where you’ve got masses of people, you realize that you have to have a distinct look and feel, otherwise you’re not going to get cut through, and you’re not going to get market share.