Going from strength to strength: RentCover celebrates two decades in Melbourne
When EBM was building its premises in West Perth back in 1990, they had one very interested onlooker. Little did they – or she – know, but from that initial interest would grow a 20+ year relationship.
That onlooker was Sharon Fox-Slater. Sharon was working at Taxi Insurance just down the road from the new EBM premises under construction and would stop by each lunchtime to watch the progress.
“I used to say to my work colleagues how much I wished I could work for a company like EBM and in a building like that. I could only dream because that was never going to happen to me. Then a few years later I found myself standing outside EBM’s door, ready to walk in for a job interview,” recalled Sharon.
Four years later Sharon was packing her bags and heading to Melbourne to establish EBM’s first East Coast office.
Fast-forward 20 years and the Melbourne office is the beating heart of RentCover with 80 employees and also home to a Corporate & Commercial Broking team, EBM’s Construction and Marine division and a Financial Planning outpost.
For Sharon, it’s been an exhilarating ride – since the fledgling Melbourne operation started out in her Mum’s garage to RentCover’s incredible growth to become Australia’s best landlord insurance product with more than 120,000 properties under cover.
It was back in 1991 that former EBM Managing Director Jeff Adams created arguably Australia’s first landlord insurance policy: “A competitor claims that title too, but as we were operating in different states it’s hard to say exactly who was first, but we maintain it was us!”
“Jeff identified a gap in the market and wrote up the policy. The new policy was a great opportunity for EBM to lead the market, and that’s exactly what we did and continue to do,” said Sharon.
“My role back then was to develop a really good claims process. I started off doing all the admin, customer service and processing et cetera then moved into the full management role including claims settlements, which in turn led to us having our own claims settling authority which has increased steadily over the years.”
In 1997, Sharon needed to move to Melbourne for personal reasons and was “over the moon” when she was asked to take RentCover with her and establish EBM’s first East Coast office.
Setting up in her Mum’s garage, Sharon started out on the road visiting the very small portfolio of clients and growing the business. Within three months it was evident that RentCover was going to need real office space. Despite the challenge of setting up a new office being “hugely overwhelming” for the 26-year-old, EBM soon had a shopfront in Glen Iris.
RentCover was growing at great speed and needing bigger premises became a recurring theme – moving to Kew then Abbotsford and then ten years later into the current offices in Hawthorn East.
Competitors have come and gone over the past two decades, but RentCover’s foundations – providing excellent customer service, putting clients first and developing products to meet needs (e.g. Ultra, Platinum, Short Term and TenantCover) with the backing of the same underwriter since the products’ inception – has ensured not only longevity but continuing success.
“Our consistent growth has been amazing. We strive to be recognised and respected as the industry’s best and our team work towards this vision every single day. Having a strong vision and believing in what you do is paramount and I am very fortunate to have had such good role models and mentors at EBM who have taught me how to empower my team to guide our success."
“It never ceases to amaze me that we have such a dedicated team and it’s to them that we owe our success. It’s about the team and every single member contributes every day. Everyone is really passionate and cares about what they are doing. I’m really pleased that we have built a reputation as a great place to work and have been able to attract some very talented people,” said Sharon.
And it’s having a great team in place that is allowing RentCover to continue forming alliances and partnerships, and develop more products and services.
“We’ve got some really exciting developments in the pipeline with a focus on our real estate agent clients by teaming up with our Commercial Broking colleagues to offer a complete suite of covers including professional indemnity. We have also introduced commercial landlords cover, which is a new market for us,” said Sharon.
“After 20 years it’s still go, go go – and I wouldn’t have it any other way!"