From Building a Successful Business to Building Communities Around the World
When Jon Amante decided to pursue a career in real estate on the advice of a friend in the early nineties, the market was down, the economy was in recession and he had no experience in sales. Nevertheless, simple hard work, discipline and an honest approach has resulted in a successful business.
Formerly the Vice President for Business Development and Franchising of McDonald’s Hamburger Chain in the Philippines, Jon had some experience with property and real estate. However, being self-employed posed a different challenge.
“It takes a certain amount of discipline to succeed,” he explains. “In terms of finances, in terms of lifestyle, in terms of sacrifices. As my own boss, even though I get to choose my own hours, it also means that I have to choose between spending weekends with my family or accommodating my clients.”
“One of the best pieces of advice I got when I first started was that when you sell real estate, you are not really in the business of selling. Rather is more like being in the service industry. Some agents don’t bother dealing with rentals but I had a client – a big family actually – who had just emigrated from Jakarta and they needed a place to stay and I didn’t stop helping them until they found a permanent place. It was a lot of work, but that’s what my business is about.”
Jon’s commitment to his clients meant that much of his business came from referrals. By 2004, Jon needed to hire an assistant to help him with the paperwork. “I decided to hire a boss instead,” he jokes.
Sylvia, who had over ten years of customer service experience realized that her presence was no longer needed at home as her kids were already grown. Thus, she obtained her real estate license and they formed a team, with Jon being the lead agent. In 2015, the team has expanded to include two members, namely Mehdi Hassanianesfahani & Isabel Amante.
“I consider my job my life,” responds Jon. “I’ve met clients at the gym; I’ve done deals on the golf course. When you love your job, it’s hard to separate what is work and what is leisure.”
One thing that Jon & Sylvia always have time for is giving back to the community. Most recently, they participated in the Ancop (Answering the Cry of the Poor) Walk to Fight Poverty at Nathan Philips Square, which raised enough money to build an entire village in the Philippines.
Says Sylvia, “As real estate agents, we know how important having a house is. Imagine how people who live in mud shanties with no toilets or running water feel.”
“We’re not just giving them money to build a house – we’re restoring hope and giving them their dignity back. In a way, we’re actually building a community.”
For every $2,800, a house the size of a garage with a kitchen and washroom can be built. Unlike other housing projects, those who qualify to live in these new homes must own no property and be the poorest of the poor. Furthermore, they must actively participate in the construction of the dwelling. From having a purpose, to having shelter and hope, people can then begin to rebuild their lives.
“It is in giving that we start the receiving,” says Sylvia. “We feel incredibly blessed for our success and we want to share our blessings with others.”