MC du Toit, CEO of Sales, BidX1 South Africa
Tell us a little bit about you.
I'm MC, the CEO of Sales for BidX1 South Africa and a fourth-generation auctioneer. I grew up in the Eastern Free State, an amazing part of the world and in my opinion, the most beautiful part of South Africa.
I am married to an incredible woman, who I somehow tricked into falling in love with me (I'm a salesman, after all!), and we live in Cape Town with our two children.
Tell us a little bit about your career prior to joining BidX1.
I've been in the auctioneering business since I was 23, when a family friend offered me a job at his auction company in Durban. It was typical first job stuff – putting up sale boards, setting up the auction room, anything and everything!
One day we had a problem at an auction and, to cut a long story short, I agreed to take the rostrum. My fate was sealed - I loved it, and I've never looked back!
Two years later, I started my own auction company. That was obviously a risk and meant a lot of blood, sweat and tears but the hard work paid off when Colliers International approached me with an offer to buy the company. They wanted me to head up their South African auction division in Johannesburg, which was an incredible opportunity, and I jumped at the chance.
I also served on the board of the South African Institute of Auctioneers for six years, four of which I spent as vice-chairman, so it was a very busy but rewarding time.
After four years in Joburg, my wife and I wanted to relocate to Cape Town. I flew down there to meet the Director of Claremart Auction Group, who offered me a position as Lead Auctioneer, which I held for seven years.
And after that… BidX1!
Why did you want to work for BidX1?
I love auctioneering, but I’ve always believed that the traditional processes aren't sustainable without significant transformation. I attended a conference in the US and I was totally fired up by the discussions and debates around the digitalisation of auctions; I wanted to be part of that change.
The trick is to keep the human connection and that’s what attracted me to BidX1 – the digital platform is backed by professional real estate experience.
To be honest, BidX1 ticked all the boxes so it was a no-brainer for me. I actually had to underplay my excitement about the role, so I didn’t seem too eager!
What’s a typical day for you?
It inevitably starts with a battle to get my kids out of bed and ready for school! I always try to fit in a run as well, because there’s no guarantee that there’ll be time later in the day.
I aim to get through my emails in the morning before work - obviously with two young kids, that is not the easiest thing to do, but I do manage to get through a fair bit.
Once I hit the office, I will check-in with the team and we'll run through their properties and projects so I can remove any blockers and offer guidance where necessary.
The rest of the day really depends: meeting with clients, reviewing properties, putting the catalogue together.
What are some of the challenges you face in your work?
South Africa is a very old-school property market. The digitalisation of the industry has only recently begun and that means we’re not always at the forefront of a seller’s mind when they’re choosing an agent.
Obviously the current situation, with the restrictions in place to prevent the spread of Covid-19, has forced us all to think differently, and to change our mindset about technology - in some cases whether we like it or not. The BidX1 model has never been more relevant and our technology is really showing what it's capable of.
The advantages of transacting property on the platform are more clear than ever – the convenience of being able to register and bid online; the security of the process which ensures there are no fictitious bids; and the transparency, with all bidding shown in real-time.
What are some of the challenges facing the real estate industry?
We are heading into uncertain times and now, more than ever, regulation and transparency in our industry is very important. Buyers and sellers must be protected against unethical practices through professional regulation. And transparency should be a key consideration for the public when choosing an agent.
Pricing will also be more complex for the foreseeable future; determined not just by demand and supply but also the purchasing power of buyers in the area. This means that our platform will play a big role in assisting sellers to achieve market-related prices - and allowing buyers to compete at pricing points where they feel comfortable.
What do you like most about working at BidX1?
That we are bringing more transparency to the market; I love this industry and it’s important to me that I can be part of that.
The people at BidX1 are also a key factor for me. I really think we’ve got a bunch of exceptional people here, with such a wide range of knowledge and experience. We think differently - and I've always thought of myself as a bit of a disruptor, so I fit in!
What advice would you give to someone starting out in their career?
You need to be able to listen; I learn something new every single day.
And then you need to match that with an ability to think for yourself. Don’t automatically assume that something you hear or read is correct, or that it's the only way to look at a situation.
What have been the highlights of your career so far?
2019 was a really significant year. We held our first digital auction of South African property in April, after months of preparation. It was a milestone for me but also for the auction market here, which is still so traditional.
I can still remember being six years old and helping my father at cattle auctions, stamping the Buyer's Number on the cows as they came out of the ring. From there to watching the first online bids on properties across South Africa...I was really proud to be a part of that evolution.
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