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Sherrie Storor <i>Women In Business Series </i>

Being a strong and successful female negotiator takes skills, poise, sophistication and let’s face it, balls. If you do it like the boys do it, you are too aggressive, but if you do it like Sherrie Storor, you’ll nail it every time.

I first met Sherrie when she was starting out her own boutique real estate firm about a decade ago. She was young, keen, had an edge and very importantly didn’t want to go down the path of those before her, but set the tone for how it ‘could’ be done, taking a modern approach.

Like many small business owners, the GFC hit Sherrie’s business hard and what I admire about her is her strength to not to only bounce back, but come back at the top of her game.  In an industry traditionally dominated by men in high profile positions, I was really thrilled when Sherrie was recently appointed Director of Residential at global brand Colliers International.

What has always impressed me about Sherrie is that so many female find it had to be a strong negotiator, I hope we can all learn a thing of two from the female master of ‘the deal’ and how to bounce back after the toughest of hits.

Introducing the very impressive Miss Sherrie Storor…

Sherrie, 33, Director Residential @ Colliers International

Give us a brief history on how you got to where you are today? Originally I am from Townsville in North Queensland. I moved to Brisbane after studying Public Relations and Media Studies at USQ in Toowoomba. After a period in retail, I started working in real estate. After working for the ‘big players’ in the Brisbane project marketing industry, I started my own company called Address Estate Agents.

In 2008 with the GFC, I was forced to put Address into administration. I took two years off to ground myself over this failure that I took very personally and analyse what I did well and what I needed to learn and improve on.

I have recently been appointed as the Director of Residential at Colliers International. My role is to oversee both the general agency function and project marketing or ‘off the plan’.

So I guess in a sense I am a glorified real estate agent, who lists major off the plan developments with a strong marketing budget and gives advice on what the product mix should be ie. Size, price, fit out, location etc. But I am also a business woman who needs to ensure that the business is operating profitably, manage the sales team and the sales results as well as budgeting and forecasting.

What is the most challenging part of your job? Balance! Trying to find the hours in the day to get everything done and then have time for my social and home life. How high powered business women with children and a partner manage to do it truly baffles me. They are inspirational!

What is the most enjoyable part of your role? I love working with developers on the product mix of inner city developments, the pricing and the sales and marketing strategies. I am also passionately dedicated to  mentoring and training salespeople.

Who do you admire in business? I firmly believe that project marketing (or ‘off the plan’) is retail real estate. Therefore I find retailers and real estate agents most inspiring.

I admire Bill and Lorna Clarkson, CEO and Creative Director of Lorna Jane. It is impressive to see strong retailers who have grown their chain to over 100 stores within a 20 year period. I also love that Lorna is a strong advocate for women’s health and well being.

I also deeply respect Don Gunther (previously General Manager of Retail for Wallace Bishop Jewellers, but has held high profile positions for Kleenmaid, Angus and Robertson and Chandlers). He is now a private consultant and is strong business man, retailer and sales and marketing strategist.

What has been your greatest achievement in your career? My greatest achievement would most probably be picking myself up after a very difficult fall from grace and realising that I was now a much stronger and more accomplished businesswoman because of that fall and my subsequent learning experiences.

What is your number one tip for women starting out in your industry? I have never felt that being a woman put me at a disadvantage within the industry, so my advice to anyone starting out in the industry would be to:

  1. Set a strong foundation. You must work really hard, make lots of phone calls, do lots of appointments and follow up all your buyers. Always be prepared to work harder than anyone else and always follow through on your word and commitments.
  2. Network. Make connections and meet as many people in the industry as you can.
  3. Be memorable. Create an identity for yourself and be true to who you are.
  4. Know your stuff. Make sure you know you know your product knowledge, the areas, the target markets and the statistics – capital growth, rental returns etc.
  5. Be dynamic. Follow and research trends and implement ways to embrace these trends and be at the front of your competition.

Is there any aspect of your career/ decision that you regret and why? Actually no – Every step of my career has been a challenge and a learning curve and I am now at the top of my game and very accomplished within many sectors of the residential real estate industry.

If you could give yourself some advice back when starting out in the work force as a twenty something what would it be? Invest the money from your hard work wisely, have a tight budget in business and never compromise yourself for others. Surround yourself with people who are the best in their field and don’t accept substandard work. Learn to be an all rounder in every aspect of your business including the stuff that makes you cringe and work hard to make your weaknesses your strengths.

What does success mean to you? Being happy – enjoying your job with career highlights, having a great social and family life and creating wealth that supports that lifestyle.

What has been your greatest achievement in your career? I am really proud of the sell out of Gabba Central Apartments in Woollongabba. No sales had occurred in 2 years and on appointment, I lead  Address Estate Agents to sell 74 apartments in 1 year with very little marketing and a negative public perception of the development.

I also am really proud of the launch of Ella Bay, a new master planned town outside of Innisfail in North Queensland. This was done onsite (which is a 100ha rainforest, with no facilities, phone reception or public awareness). 100 guests were flown in and accommodated in a remote area with many events over a 2 day period. There was strong media coverage, sponsorship and sales.

I am also proud of my former employees being nominated and finalists in the REIQ awards.

The building and selling of Address Estate Agents’ property management portfolio was also another large accomplishment. Within a year, the rent roll was built up to 100 properties with an average rental return of $730 per week. Within 24 hours of putting it onto the market, there were six written offers and it was a great learning and profitable experience to sell this part of the business.

If you could do anything differently along the journey so far what would it be? Do more detailed credit checks! Be less trusting while still being true to myself and take tighter control of the management of my company.

What is the next big challenge/ opportunity for 2011? My big challenge is working for a corporation, something I have never done, but I am sure that this will be a big learning curve for me personally and professionally. I have seen all the benefits and pitfalls of small business but wanted to see things from the big business point of view.  I know that this information will be a very powerful tool in the future.

What is your dream job? I am doing it!

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Fleur Madden-Topley

Fleur Madden-Topley

Fleur is managing director of <a href="http://www.redpr.com.au">Red PR</a> in Brisbane and Blue by Red PR in Sydney. She started her career as a journalist and Red PR was born out of the necessity for public relations professionals to deliver quality work and exceed both their clients’ and the media’s expectations. In seven years, Red has become one of the most respected lifestyle PR agencies in Australia. In 2008, it was the first Australian agency asked to partner with PROI, the largest global group of independently owned agencies.

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