Sprawled across an unusually large site and boasting park-like gardens, The Docks on Goodwin is a Brisbane-based accommodation destination that leaves a lasting impression.
Conveniently located in the heart of Kangaroo Point alongside expansive parklands, river walkways and the beautiful Kangaroo Point cliffs and the famous Story Bridge, ‘The Docks’ is also only a short ferry ride to the vibrant CBD, which offers superb shopping, entertainment and dining experiences along with business offices and services.
Comprised of two towers, The Docks features 148 spacious, studio, one and two-bedroom furnished and fully self-contained apartments offering all the creature comforts of a home away from home. All apartments are fully air-conditioned and offer secure building access and undercover parking. Additional features include full laundry facilities and large live-on balconies with skyline or river views on upper floors or a courtyard on the ground level.
Ideal for couples, families or the astute business traveler, The Docks also features a host of resort-like onsite amenities including a full size and floodlit tennis court, a 25-metre heated lap pool, private barbecue areas, a spa, sauna and fully equipped gymnasium and a conference or media room.
There is also a well-appointed reception, tour office and spacious lounge area, a private back office with direct access into the managers unit and an onsite restaurant.
And presiding over this ‘well-run ship’ are experienced resident managers Cathy and Colin Finlayson, originally from New Zealand.
“The Docks is our fourth management rights operation,” says Cathy, “but it’s the first property in a large city environment where the commercial element is so much more prevalent. It’s quite different from the predominantly short-stay properties we have managed before.
So how did this couple get into management rights?
“We attended a seminar about management rights presented by Bob Love and Ross Venn while we were living in New Zealand and were quickly sold on the combination of working for ourselves and the prospect of a warmer climate,” says Cathy.
Cathy’s previous position as operations manager of a large courier company and logistical mindset together with Colin’s experience as sales manager of an international paint company stood them in good stead for the complexities of the industry and they took to it like ducks to water.
In 2002 the genial couple moved to the Gold Coast, successfully purchasing and selling Santana Apartments within 11 months before moving on to Burleigh on the Beach Apartments and Aruba Surf Resort for four years each.
Financially savvy and with a keen interest in accounting and auditing, Cathy also found time to work and consult part-time for Crosbie Warren Sinclair/BAMR wealth management and other accounting companies conducting, and assisting other managers, with trust account auditing.
So why the move to Brisbane and into a property that was originally all permanent lettings?
“We wanted to broaden our experience by taking on something new and a little more challenging,” says Cathy, “and The Docks on Goodwin met all the criteria of what we were looking for.”
At The Docks, Colin and Cathy are supported by Julie, Marie and Ashley who work part-time in the front office, and Mike, a handyman who, together with Colin and a contract gardener keep the property in pristine condition.
The team has already chalked up a number of Trip Advisor Excellence Awards and have achieved a 4.5-star rating from Booking.com.
With everything so perfectly managed one wonders if ‘The Docks’ has any problem areas.
“Just the possums,” says Cathy. “We have a few around and they appear to like building their homes in the basement and car park area – usually in some poor unsuspecting resident’s storage cage.
“There are challenges in every building,” shares Cathy, “but we have a sound and supportive relationship with the committee and body corporate manager and open and honest communication with our owners; in fact, with all of our residents. We treat everyone equally and believe it to be a harmonious building.
“Our focus for the next year is the gradual upgrade and refurbishment of some of the apartments and the introduction of a mattress replacement program. It’s always better to upgrade and update before one gets complaints and our owners appreciate that we are consistently looking to add value and increase their returns.”
It’s obvious this couple has got the formula right so I’m eager to hear what advice they would give to others thinking about getting into the industry, and Cathy responds: “Decide upfront what you want to achieve from your management rights business and then buy an appropriate building that is going to offer growth potential.
Know where and for how long you plan to be in a property. Despite the sales jargon, understand that you are buying and running a business and that the ultimate goal is to sell to achieve a significant return and capital growth. Don’t let the size of the manager’s residence sway you – it’s a head not a heart decision.
“I would also caution new managers against making too many changes too quickly – specifically structural changes. Rather get your head around how all works first and who the key stakeholders are.
“Don’t be afraid to ask for advice or help,” adds Cathy, “but there’s a caveat… be selective in who you ask. Seek out the professionals with experience in the management rights industry or you may end up getting the wrong advice.
And then echoing some advice my own father gave me when I was starting out, Cath says managers also need to remember the three F’s. “Be firm, be fair and never familiar.”
“Be careful about becoming too friendly with the residents; it’s easy when you are feeling isolated and you don’t get out much, but those relationships can easily go wrong. Keep your dealings professional at all times.”