It’s been 21 years since Mogodi exchanged her classroom for a real estate office. After five years of teaching science and maths to high school pupils, and acquiring two teaching degrees, she decided she could do more with her life and decided to enter the business world.

“I loved teaching, but needed something that would challenge me. At that time, my father was in construction and I used to help him with clients. I learnt a lot from him and that’s what inspired me to go into real estate. In helping my father, I also built up my own clientele base, so I was confident about formalising my own business,” she explains.

In 1997, with only her teacher’s salary as funding, Mogodi approached family members to assist with more capital for the business. “I rented an office in a little mall in Protea North, Soweto. I bought computers, hired a receptionist and two agents, and we started working. I also registered at Wits Business School and did a post-graduate degree in business administration. I learnt a lot about growing the business and handling challenges caused by the state of the country’s economy. That’s why, when the property market crashed in 2007 and many companies closed down, we managed to hold on,” she says.

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“We’ve encountered other difficulties too, but managed to overcome them. The biggest one was growth. At one point, I had five offices in Soweto and the southern suburbs, which impacted on our finances because when you have offices in malls, the expenses are huge. We had to close some and focus on the township office, where most of our business comes from. Another challenge was that I’d been mothering my agents and they became dependent on me. I’ve had to learn the hard way to delegate effectively and let go of people who don’t perform,” says Mogodi.

This year, Snooks Estates is celebrating 21 years of existence, with 42 employees, four big offices and four satellite ones. However, Mogodi says the number of years in business means nothing if you haven’t done anything to uplift others as well. For that reason, over the years, she’s become the co-founder of the Black Estate Agents Forum SA. “We help black estate agents in the township to learn more about running a business and formalising it, like our white counterparts. We’ve made an impact on the industry’s regulatory body, the Estate Agents Affairs Board, and we’ve registered with it,” she says.

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As for the future, Mogodi has a lot planned. She’s currently expanding the business by recruiting smaller estate agencies to join and work under the Snooks brand.

“It’s like franchising, but I don’t want to call it that, because this is going to be mutually beneficial. We get a lot of business because of our name, because Snooks is a trusted brand. Using our name and getting training from us will help grow these agencies. They get to own a Snooks branch, but without paying any franchise fees.

“My vision has always been to establish our brand all over the Gauteng region and then nationally.”

MOGODI’S TIPS FOR ASPIRANT ENTREPRENEURS

  • Choose an industry that speaks to you and makes you look forward to Mondays.
  • Learn everything you can about the industry you’re in. It’s foolish to repeat mistakes that are in the public domain. Clients today know what they want. If you’re not knowledgeable, they’ll take their business elsewhere.
  • Incentivise people to work hard. You don’t want to be stuck with employees who are only working for their month-end salary.
  • Use your profits to grow the business, not to maintain a lavish lifestyle.
  • Believe in yourself so that you can provide an excellent service to others.

– Mpumi Zulu