Vic Care has just notched up 50 years in the industry in a career that saw him co-found and nurture one of Victoria’s most successful real estate networks – the Barry Plant Group.
With his partner, Barry Plant, he has been responsible for developing a business that has 73 offices across Victoria.
Vic joined EJ Doherty Real Estate at their Coburg office on the 15th of November 1971. Within a short period of time, with his first partner, Gary Harrington, he bought the Coburg business and began to dream.
“I always had a vision of building the largest real estate group of offices in the northern and western suburbs, and under the EJ Doherty brand, I was able to achieve that,” Vic shares.
Looking to expand into the east and southern suburbs of Melbourne, he saw that the Barry Plant group was the perfect fit with no overlapping offices. Though Vic and Barry didn’t know one another well, on investigation Vic found that the two businesses shared similar values so he approached Barry about a merger. On the 1st of July 1999, the two groups merged and the rest is history.
Still an active director of the business, Vic’s business acumen and experience mean he is highly sought after by agents and business owners within the group seeking his expertise and advice.
Asked what the single biggest change he’d seen in real estate in the last 50 years, Vic replied unhesitatingly, “The internet. It meant that buyers could research their options, they could view multiple properties and shortlist and, as agents, we could market to them in a cost-effective way. Vendors could research the best agents and as a result, the quality of agents in the industry lifted.”
Section 32 is also high on Vic’s list of significant changes that have improved the industry. “It is a wonderful tool that allows buyers to review all aspects of the property and make an informed decision whether to buy or not. It protects the buyers.”
However, on a basic level, Vic believes that real estate hasn’t changed. “It still has a highly transactional focus and at the core of each transaction is an agent, a seller and a buyer being brought together to agree on a deal. We still show buyers properties and still carry out auctions.”
Looking at today’s market, Vic cautions agents to not forget how to look after buyers. “I’ve worked through tight credit markets where there was a glut of properties and not many buyers. Those of us who built strong relationships with buyers, who communicated with them regularly, were the ones who sold those buyers a property. It was almost a sole agency on a purchaser.”
Reflecting on the success of the 22-year partnership he’s had with Barry Plant, Vic believes it’s because they brought complementary skills to the business. “Both of us understood franchising and had been doing it for 10 years at that stage and we both also had a highly developed understanding of the market and the industry. I enjoyed applying my business skills and addressing the legal and financial details to grow the business while Barry, with his involvement with the REIV and his auctioneering awards, had a more public profile. He was passionate about being innovative in marketing the brand and won us a crop of awards. We both had a focus on growing the network but in particular by mentoring agents and then helping them to become business owners. We preferred growth from within as people then already understood our culture and values.”
Barry also celebrated 50 years in the industry in 2019.
Looking back on his 50 years, Vic says that the secret to building a successful career or business is to “shoot for the stars – love what you do. Have a vision, set your goals high and be the best that you can possibly be. Never compromise standards, provide a product or service that is high quality – something people want to be associated with.”
Finally, Vic says it’s critically important to treat the people you work with like your family. “Whether that’s the team at the corporate office or the business owners in the group – build a culture of care and support.”