When ethics, hard work, determination, and putting people first is the basic foundation of a company, magic is bound to happen. Sunil Kumar of Reliance Real Estate is living example of this.
There is nothing easy about being an entrepreneur. It takes considerable effort, a strong vision, and a persevering attitude. Sunil Kumar speaks to us about what it takes, and how he got Reliance Real Estate to where it is today.
Award-winning business Reliance Real Estate has built up a great reputation in a short time, so has its founder Sunil Kumar. He attributes his accolades such as the Wyndham Business Awards and Australiasian Real Estate Result Awards to a client-based approach and going above and beyond to include a personal touch whilst maximising results. Beyond business, his approach in life prioritises nurturing young real estate minds and giving back to the community around him.
Sunil first moved to Australia from Kurukshetra, Haryana in India, at the tender age of 22, after completing a degree in economics, in pursuit of a better future. This was back in 2004, and he moved to begin studying for a postgraduate degree in professional accounting.
Never the one to sit still, Sunil began working as a door to door salesman for a company then called ‘Salesforce’ selling Orange Mobile Phones, putting in the first few months without any sign of a paycheck. However, his strong-minded attitude meant it took less than a year to rise from a novice to one of the top-performing salespeople in the company. From there he consistently ranked in the top five sales positions, and moved on to other projects, travelling around country Victoria to sell Telstra to the clients. “I went to Echuca, Horsham, you name it and had to stay there for days or weeks at times”, he says recounting his memories of the 2000s.
So how did the jump from door to door sales to real estate occur? Sunil never lost sight of the lifestyle he always wanted and longed, the day where he would wear a suit every day in a successful career. In January of 2008 he began his search for a job in real estate, and by the end of the month was working in the industry, in areas such as Altona and Laverton. Committed to the cause, he hired a coach from Sydney, and attended seminars, which led to honing his skills, which lead him winning many internal awards in the organisation. But this was not enough to feed Sunil’s ambition, as he explains, “I could not see growth there, I couldn’t see a pathway.”
Like many entrepreneurial spirits who feel confined by the limits of the corporate race, Sunil decided it was time to branch out on his own, starting his own Reliance Real Estate business venture in Werribee. “If someone wants to be successful, they really have to find new ground”, he said, in explaining why he ventured into a different area, rather than staying in the same locality and competing against existing market forces he had previously worked for. He prioritised building a values-based business that felt personal to each and every client. This is how Reliance Real Estate was born.
Sunil said: “I always liked the name ‘Reliance’ and was also inspired by the success story of this great company from India.”
The journey to getting Reliance off the ground wasn’t a smooth one. Sunil had a partner who eventually left the business in a years’ time. For around a year Sunil had many challenges, he found himself juggling between work, an almost new marriage, his first child, trying to pay high office rental fees and staying afloat. Although he toyed with the idea of selling the business, he credits inspiration from family, friends and reading inspiring success stories, which kept him on track. Soon, some colleagues he had connected with during his early salesman days believed in his vision and followed him into his new line of work. They had remembered the effort he put into training them while they worked together and believed in his ability to make Reliance the successful company it is today – and that’s where the ‘Magic began to happen!’ They prioritised their approach and focused on the best client experience. “Today we are known for our customer service, staying connected to them”, Mr. Kumar says speaking proudly of his work.
As time went on, Reliance Real Estate made the move to Wyndham and continued to grow. As Sunil states, “We had the goal of being a number one agency, and within 18 months we achieved it.” The vision of the company was to help people fulfil their dreams – sellers getting the perfect price, buyers looking for their ideal home, and professionals making waves in the real estate industry. The overwhelming clear goal to make people’s lives better in any form is evident right down to the structure of the business.
The opportunity has been presented to franchise Reliance, but Sunil has decided against it for now at least. He is concerned about people who want a “quick money-making machine.”
Sunil puts considerable effort into training every employee. ’First learning then earning’ says Sunil. For the first 60-90 days at the company, new staff focus on learning, rather than handling clients of their own. This allows him to educate his employees, so they cultivate the same passion and knowledge of the real estate industry ethically. Through this, Reliance has branded itself a learning and development organisation, with an outstanding mentorship culture.
Mr. Kumar doesn’t consider himself above being mentored either. Despite his considerable achievements, his mantra is that everyone should have a coach. “Life is learning,” he says, “if we learn, then we grow.” He has personally utilised the expertise of Real Estate mogul Michael Sheargold, for his growth, the benefit of the organisation, and his employees.
Being such a busy career-oriented man can have its downsides, and the strain on one’s personal life can take a toll. Especially as Sunil, who is only 37 years of age, doesn’t plan to slow down anytime soon. “We keep expanding our vision, expanding our goals” he says, speaking of his company. Balancing work life and family life is a delicate act. Sunil aims to spend at least one day on the weekend fully focused on his wife, kids, and reserves Sunday completely for family time. This ideally consists of waking up early, going for walks and cycling trips, and trying to stay away from his phone. He admits this can be difficult at times. Around this time last year when he had to close down one of the company’s offices and was fully absorbed in his work. Even on a standard week, he sometimes has twelve-hour days, and is thankful to his family for being understanding.
Looking to the future, Sunil hopes to diversify his clientele. He is immensely grateful for the patronage of Indian clients but hopes to be considered a top real estate agent, across the Melbourne market.
Once the pandemic is over, a goal of his is to move further into investment, helping people to eliminate short term mentality and maximise their financial potential. “There’s a number of people who have the money but don’t know what to do with the wealth”, he explains, noting that this venture could parallel his current business. This is yet another project aimed at bettering people’s lives, this time through their finances.
Coming from an immigrant background, Mr. Kumar wants nothing more than to give back to the society that’s allowed him to flourish. A percentage of the organisations’ earnings go towards “Reliance Foundation”, which supports a number of causes. The money assists schools with ‘The Breakfast Club’, providing morning meals for children who need it in the western suburbs. The charitable outreach also sponsors a leadership program for a special needs school in Werribee, that trains young adults to become part of the workforce.
To top it all off, alongside his other ventures, Sunil has spent three years writing a book aimed at those who want to be better leaders and people. Becoming an author was natural having always been inspired by books himself, and Sunil notes “You Can Win” By Shiv Khera as one of his all-time favourites. He also just finished a book by the CEO of a company whose momentum he admires: Walt Disney. His wish is to pass on the knowledge he has developed throughout his career, to help other young people succeed in their chosen professions.
Does Sunil attribute his success to luck or hard work? Definitely the latter. However, he does consider himself a spiritual person, waking up at five in the morning to collect his thoughts (an impressive feat when you have two young children!) “You need to be internally satisfied”, he says, stressing the importance of doing something that you love, and even referencing a close friend of his who runs a café and loves every minute of it. The choices Sunil makes with regards to his business, and external ventures prove he wants to help others cultivate that same passion for their career and life.
Sunil credits the loved ones in his life for his success as well as his aptitude for combining good people together to make business magic happen. Sunil is passionate about what he gets to do for work every day. He demonstrates that one can be immersed in business, but still continually exhibit their values in the activities they choose to put energy into and in their interactions with those around them.
By Monisha Iswaran