Breaking bread with the Boss – Arizto CEO Pernell Callaghan

11 Dec 2023

More than just a speech of "well done in 2023", Arizto's chief executive and founder Pernell Callaghan almost felt like he should make an introduction at the company's fifth Christmas gathering last week.

"Every year, I think we get close to doing double the amount of people [with the company]," he said before the November 29th event.

"There's going to be a lot of people this year I haven't met."

Taking time out for a very busy schedule with multiple business ventures, Callaghan spoke about the progress of the company, and how it has grown tremendously since the founding in 2018 - now servicing around 190 agents in all major parts of New Zealand.

"It's been really good – I've always wanted it to be more.

"The quality – the speed we're hiring is outpacing any real estate company in the country.

"The agents, in the main, do 50 per cent more turnover than they did previously [in other companies]."

Raised in Northland's lovely Hikurangi, before moving into Auckland to attend the prestigious Dilworth School (2004-10), the largest full boarding school in Australasia, Callaghan entered the real estate industry at the age of 18 – operating predominately around Manukau in South Auckland.

He talks about living above an office and working the long shifts to increase his turnover – his core business being homes averaging $500,000 per sale, typical 1950-80's weatherboard homes, many of them investment properties.

And he was good – reaching 150 sold in a single year.

"I was pretty lucky in terms of the stock I was selling."

But it wasn't easy; so many dashes across town at all hours to get Sale & Purchase agreements signed, initialled, and then re-initialled when changes were made – not to mention transaction reports and countless other bits of paperwork that he couldn't just delegate to others because only he had knowledge of each deal.

"You do have to start sacrificing other parts of your life."

He recalls learning the clauses and their requirements off by heart, but also how much time it would still often take to explain each in detail to owners who may be selling for the first time, or perhaps for only the second or third time that they ever will.

"You have to check yourself in that. For you, it's a normal transaction, in that you're wording something that is very minor, [but] could be very major to your vendor.

"It's given me a good platform now to help the salespeople where I can."

So, when did it occur to him that there would be a better way? That as technology improved, so could a streamlined real estate service?

"Half way through that [150 sales] year, I'd say.

"[I thought], this isn't going to work, long term.

"I can do a year working at this pace, but it's not sustainable."

But that didn't mean Arizto as we know it now - with its App-based technology, mobile agents and specialised support staff providing them with materials and marketing preparation - just happened overnight.

First there was independence – Callaghan Real Estate in 2016 – and although that was going well, it was still somewhat traditional, and so the concept of Arizto grew, followed by six months specific planning, and then securing funding for the venture.

It finally launched on May 28th 2018, once all the technological kinks had been sorted out from the system.

Or at least, those kinks that could be addressed at the time before being market tested, and fine-tuning what suits the consumer.

"It could have been pure ignorance – but I thought it would be easier than in turned out to be," said Callaghan.

"Even now, Arizto is quite different to what I envisioned."

Early on, it seemed the public was more taken with the concept and better value fee structure than they industry itself – Arizto got the listings, but hadn't yet attracted the noted high performer agents who were so use to the tried-and-true.

"Now I think we've got a balance where we attract high performance people, and they can do more transactions to make money.

"We keep improving if need be. I want to make the product, the service model, so strong.

"People come here, and its like, ‘I can never go back to the traditional model'.

"It's only after you've seen it, and worked under the model, it's apparent that you won't go back to traditional.

"We basically just cut the franchise fee out in the middle.

"Franchises in the middle, for a lot of these brands, are just four walls and a desk, taking 40 per cent off the top."

And so, the next step is improving on the growth and growing capabilities of the team of agents – when Callaghan and National Sales Manager Martin Towers acknowledging there is now too many potential queries from the sales team to get through in single day.

Knowing he did not want to go back to having offices and the overheads required to service them, Arizto again spearheads the hybrid – the introduction of Brendon Pierce as National Compliance Manager helping to assist remotely a big asset.

And now come the Regional Support Managers – each able to assist the growing teams in their areas of operations – the good yeoman's work of Alan Cooper (Auckland/Northland), Alannah Walding (Taranaki), Savita Waitere (Waikato) and Steven Schwamm (Manawatu-Whanganui).

So there was a lot that could have been discussed at the Christmas gathering. But don't worry if Callaghan didn't have time to explain it all.

There will be a lot more to discuss in the future anyway.

He's just warming up.

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