Today on the Listing Agent Lifestyle Podcast we're talking with Chris Knox, born and raised in northern California’s Silicon Valley. He’s worked there for many years, in a market that’s very sophisticated. He's got a really great business, and today we talked through a couple of big opportunities he has.
Right now, 100% of his business is coming from repeat and referral clients. We talked about the opportunities in his after-unit that could easily bump that up by 50% this year. I'm excited to see how that plays out for him.
Then we talked about getting listings, and how to go into an area that doesn't have much to define it. We compared the difference to areas where it’s common to have named communities, and how easy it is to pick an area that’s very specific. But we walked through how he could do that in an area that really doesn’t have such easily defined characteristics and I think we came up with a great solution.
So two things we focused on in this episode. The after-unit, and getting as many orchestrated referrals as we can, and getting listings.
You're going to enjoy, and get a lot out of both of these topics.
Transcript: Listing Agent Lifestyle Ep023
Dean: Chris Knox.
Chris: Dean Jackson. How are you?
Dean: I'm so good. How are you?
Chris: Good. I was just kind of enjoying your hold music there. I thought for a second-
Dean: You liked that.
Chris: ... that I was getting rick rolled.
Dean: Well you did. That's exactly what happened. That's funny. Yeah, I could set up my custom hold music, so you're one of the few that get to hear that. There you go.
Chris: I like it. I like it.
Dean: So welcome. It's early morning for you, huh?
Chris: It is. Ah, not too early. It's only 7:00.
Dean: Okay. Perfect. So I'm excited to talk. We got to meet a little bit in Orlando, and I'm anxious to hear what's going on, and kind of talk about building a plan for you. But why don't you just kind of tell me a little bit about what the Chris Knox story is so far.
Chris: Okay. So let's see. As far as like when, how long I've been in the business, all that good stuff?
Dean: Yeah. Exactly. Yeah. Okay.
Chris: Yeah, so I've been a full-time agent here in Silicon Valley for let's see, since basically 2001, and it's a great place to live, obviously a lot of really interesting things go on. I am a native San Josean. I didn't go far. You know, born and raised, so very, very familiar with the area. I've gotten a chance to see all the changes where we live. It's gone from being an area with a lot of orchards to an area with Google, and Facebook, and Apple, and everything else.
Dean: Right. Yeah.
Chris: Yeah. Yeah. So it's been good. Then my, over the years of being in real estate, I've sort of tried a number of different ways, if you will, to get business, and was introduced to By Referral Only back in 2003, which is obviously where I became exposed to you. And I always really enjoyed your sessions at the main event.
Dean: Yes. Yes.
Chris: I always liked the before unit. The idea of like, "Okay. How can you kind of solve this puzzle-?
Dean: That's right.
Chris: Of getting the tumblers to click into place?" Like, "What can I do to cause people to reach out to me?" So that was always really interesting for me.
Dean: Yeah. That's a really ... Yeah. That's the good way to think about it, because that's really what it is. You've gotta figure out how to get people to raise their hand, and how to then get them to engage in the dialogue, and then you know. Yeah. All the little pieces fall into place. So it's a fun puzzle. I mean I've been working on it for 30 years. It's all fun, you know?
Chris: Yeah, and it's the part that ... The funny thing is, it's like if I go back in time, let's say throughout the markets, you know we were ... You know, you have your Craigslist program, which you know I ran throughout the dark days, and it was ... I mean God when it was working, before Craigslist changed the game on us, it was amazing. I mean it was just to talk literally.
Dean: Yeah. I mean there's ... That really ... So, what you're talking about is the Bank Owned Weekly program, and the tax credit guide, and that came out of adapting to whatever's going on in the market. You know, you talk about it like a puzzle, and you say you know, you gotta try and figure things out. Well, remember in 2009 you guys were very hard hit in Northern California.
Dean: And there was a lot that was going on. People were way over leveraged, and there was a lot of foreclosure activity, and REO stuff going on. It was really the norm. That was the norm for the market there. So we had to adapt, and luckily, we adapt with what the tools that are available right now, at the time, which was people are flocking to want to buy bank owned homes.
Craigslist was a really great vehicle to do it, because of course you could put external links. You could design a flyer, put it up there, and get people to opt in. Fundamentally it hasn't changed in that, we still have people who are doing the Bank Owned Weekly program, because there are still bank owned homes. It's still attractive to people. It's just not the only option now, but yeah. Very cool. That's exciting, because that was-
Chris: Yeah. It was cool.
Dean: ... a fun project to work on right? How are we gonna change things around? We actually had, I think on Listing Agent Lifestyle podcast a few early on episodes we had an episode with Kurt Nielsen, who was doing the Bank Owned Weekly program, and it was a ... You know, his business actually grew through that downturn, which was kind of a fun way to react to what's going on in the market there.
Chris: Yeah. I think my ... If anything, if I look back at it, probably the one area where I fell down on that was really just in the conversion. You know?
Dean: Uh huh.
Chris: I think I could've done, at the time, a much better job of converting people. It was kind of like when you were talking about it when we were in Florida, and you were saying that a lot of people go and spend all this money for instance, to get Zillow leads, and then they go, "Ah, these leads suck. These are bad leads."
Dean: "These are no good."
Chris: Right. "The leads are no good. These guys, they're just tire kickers."
Chris: I forget, what was the, oh, "The plate licker." That was your analogy, right? "They're just a bunch of plate lickers."
Dean: For the financial advisors. That's what they called them. Yeah.
Chris: I know. I loved that. Plate licker was funny. So, but you know, and the reality is that's not necessarily true. Right?
Chris: There are actually a lot of very, very good people in there, and really, now in hindsight I look back, and I go, "Gosh. There was so much more that I could've done with those people." Because I ... You know what's funny is, I look now, I work generally ... The majority of my business is by referral when I try to have deep relationships, and when I look at some of ... Actually if I look at let's say my top five people, two of the top five came from that program, and they're actually some of my best referring sources. So, thank you.
Dean: Yeah. Wow. That's so great.
Dean: So, okay. Let's kind of get a context for what we're dealing with, with your business here. What's the big picture? What kind of volume are you doing? How many transactions? Where does it kind of come from now, and let's see what we can see.
Chris: Yeah. So I'm usually pretty consistent about 20 or so transactions a year.
Chris: In our market, we're very inventory challenged, so you know. I hear other people, like when we were in Florida, and people were like, "Oh yeah, I like to carry 20 or 30 listings at a time," and I'm like, "We have like six hundred listings for ten thousand agents period."
Chris: So it's a little bit of a ... No one in our ... I mean there are a few bigger teams, but even a bigger team of eight or nine agents might still be doing on an average of ten sides per agent. So I usually do about twenty. My volume is about twenty, twenty-one million.
Chris: So I've got a good ... You know, we're blessed with sales price in our area, which is definitely an advantage. The challenge that we have is inventory, because prices are so high, and because the market has moved up so rapidly, there are a lot of people who you know, they would love to move, but no one wants to be without a home. They don't want to give up what they've got, and because of the prices, it's pretty difficult for someone to carry their 1.4 house, and then go buy their two million dollar house. It's just a lot of mortgage to carry.
Dean: Right. Yep.
Chris: So the challenge for us is really inventory, and how do you get your slice of a very small pie?
Dean: Yeah. So what ... When you look at the 20 transactions that you did say in the last 12 months, how many ... What would be the breakdown of those if we said, you know before unit versus after unit, new people versus referrals, or repeat from your existing clients?
Chris: It would be basically like 100% in after unit. I get a lot of repeat. I mean I have clients that I've transacted four or five times with.
Dean: Okay. Yep.
Chris: So that part's great. They definitely come back.
Chris: But I don't ... You know, that's one of the things that led me to wanting to go all the way to Florida, was to really figure out once and for all, figure out the Getting Listings program, because I've always wanted to run it, because I really feel like I need that strong before unit to augment my database, my relationships.
Dean: Yep. I love it. So when we look at these 20 transactions here, I'm just trying to keep diving a little bit deeper just for context.
Dean: So of the 20, if they all came from the after unit, let's kind of dissect this up a little bit, how many of them would've been repeat versus referral? Yeah, because a lot of times, and there's a distinction to be made here that we're looking at that a lot of times people lump that together. Right? They say, "Well, my business is 100% repeat and referral." And we say that as one thing, "Repeat and referral." But there's a difference between repeat and referral. So I just want to get a context for what, when we breakdown this 20, that'll give us some insight into really where the biggest opportunity is.
Chris: Got ya. Yeah, so I'm actually looking here right now. So I'm like, okay. I need like a piece of paper to do chicken scratching.
Dean: Yeah. Right.
Chris: Because I'm already seeing like, one, two, two referrals, three referrals. So I'm at one repeat, three referrals. I'm kind of looking down the list of transactions.
Chris: Yeah. It's probably 60/40. I would say 60% referred, 40% repeat.
Dean: Okay. Perfect. So that's a good place to come from, and how many people would make up your after unit? How many do you communicate with, or would you consider to be your after unit?
Chris: Yeah. I have about 100 people, and of the 100 I communicate pretty consistently with about 90 of them. I say that because I know there are 10 that are technically part of that group, but they don't get the same communication. My big challenge is that I used to have a much larger database, and then at one point along my path I had a coach who was encouraging me to really shrink it to make it tight. You know, to get rid of the overage. When of course in hindsight I'm like, "Okay. That might not have been the greatest idea," but ... So I have a number of relationships that kind of, I sort of left out by the wayside.
Chris: So I would say that that's ... Well, we'll say it's about a tight 100, and my goal is to grow that.
Dean: Okay. So about 100. So when you're looking at this like, it's the classic situation where we talk about managing your relationship portfolio, your after unit for a 20% annual yield, which is exactly what you're doing right now. Right? Twenty transactions out of 100 people is a 20% return on relationship, and you know nice balance of repeat and referral. It's really interesting if you'll indulge me to go a little bit deeper here, because you might have a good memory of them, and it sounds like you have a list of the people in front of you there. If you think about one or two of the people who were referred in the last 12 months, how did that happen? Maybe tell me the story of that referral. Just the top line of it kind of thing.
Chris: Sure. Let's see, as I'm looking at one of them, it was a referral from a lending partner of mine. Someone who was also ... We actually started working together about 14 years ago, and she was also By Referral Only trained. So of course we immediately clicked, because I recognized the systems and the process-
Chris: ... and she's a great loan officer. So she had had somebody reach out in her sphere that needed ... It was very tricky situation with what was going on. The family was in a little bit of distress, and they needed a very specific type of consulting, and she knew that that was sort of up my alley.
Dean: So who made the first contact? The client?
Chris: No, no. She actually was friends with their son, and she knew the parents, and she reached out. She and the son kind of got in a Facebook conversation, and she said, "Hey. I know the person to help your parents."
Dean: I got ya.
Chris: And then she reached out to me, and was like, "Hey. I have these people for you."
Dean: Connected you to those people. Right.
Chris: Yeah. Yeah.
Dean: Okay. That's cool.
Chris: And it was a tough situation. So that's one of them. Let's see. I've got another one that was also a lender referral. You know, someone that I was in relationship with. Let's see here. I'm kind of looking down the list. Another one that was a past client referral.
Dean: Okay. Let's talk about that one.
Chris: And it was just a-
Dean: Yeah. What happened there?
Chris: Yeah. This was a coworker of theirs, and they again, they've referred a number of people to me over the years, and they were ... Their coworker was looking for their first home, and I have done a few transactions with this person, and they've referred a few people to me, and so they introduced me to this couple. We did the initial consultation, and realized it was a good fit, and that I would be able to help them, and started to work together.
Dean: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah. That's great. So they reached out to you, and introduced you to the client?
Dean: Or did the client call you, just any-
Chris: Well actually, no, no. Actually no. Yeah. In that case, the client called me. So this was interesting.
Dean: And said, "I'm a friend of your client." Yeah.
Chris: Correct. Yeah. So that particular referring source doesn't usually call me to say like, "Hey Chris. I have a friend of mine at work. I'm gonna connect you guys." It's usually I would get a call from the referral, and they would say, "Hey. So and so referred me to you."
Dean: And that's the majority. I mean that's 80% of how the referrals that people get, is it just comes out of the blue, and it's a surprise and delight. You feel great about it, but it just comes when you least expect it. There it is, and it happens to you. It's not that you don't expect it now, because you did 20 transactions and you've been doing that for a period of time. So you're used to the fact that people refer you, so you're not like, it's not as out of the blue kind of thing, but there's also a sense of that you don't know when it's gonna happen, but you know it is gonna happen, and that's kind of a cool place to come from.
There's some opportunity within that now that we could really go that little bit extra here, and bump things up. You know? Like, one of the things that I see right now, is that you've lived there for a long time, and the two things that I'm wondering about right now are the number of people that you have a relationship with that might not be on your top 100 list. Right? Like, what we look for is ultimately, we want to have 150 people that know you, like you, trust you. That if you had a... If you so them at the grocery store, you would recognize them by name, and you would stop and have a conversation with them. Right? Most people have 150 of those type of relationships.
Can you think of anybody that would fit in that category that's not on your top 100 list right now?
Chris: Yeah, no question. And that's actually kind of the big opportunity as far as growing that list, because it is kind of funny-
Dean: That's the lowest hanging-
Dean: That's the lowest hanging fruit for you right now. You know? When you look at that. We just ... Were you on our Go Go Agent call last week with Justina from Canada, was sharing how she got the first phone call from her ... from The World's Most Interesting Postcard from someone that she would never have thought to. She didn't even think that she would have a chance with them, because she thought because they have cousins that are in real estate, that she wouldn't have been the first choice for them, but she did it anyway and ends up, now she's gonna sell their townhouse and help them get another house.
So the people who you do have that kind of relationship with, really create a big opportunity for you.
Chris: Yeah. I completely agree, and that's where I mentioned like I said, my database used to be much larger. It encompassed those people, and then of course now in hindsight I'm like, why exactly did I shrink that down again? But anyways, for whatever reason, I shrunk it considerably down to ... Really, I think what I was thinking at the time, or being coached to think, was like, Okay. Rather than having ... You know, if you segmented people into A's, B's, and C's, and so C might be somebody that might still pass the grocery store test, but we're not necessarily really in relationship per se.
Dean: Right. Yep.
Chris: I think that the thinking was like, well we'll just dump all the C's, and we'll just go straight for the meat. Right? We'll skip the cake and just eat all the frosting. Right?
Dean: I got ya.
Chris: I think that was the thinking, and it was probably not the best thing to do. So yeah, I need to go back in and add back a lot of those people that would still pass the grocery store test.
Chris: And there are obviously plenty of them. I mean, I'm born and raised here-
Dean: That's what I mean.
Chris: ... and I went to college here.
Dean: Yeah. Absolutely. That's exactly it. So I see that as the immediate opportunity to raise your business by 50% just with that. Just by going from 100 to 150 and then doing a couple of the things that we'll talk about now, but what... Yeah. There would be nothing stopping you from getting to that top 150. So I'm excited about that, and you already have an established relationship with people. Right? So it's not gonna be awkward or anything like that.
What happens if I'm in your after unit right now, if I'm one of your top 100, what's my experience through the year? What am I seeing from you?
Chris: It's primarily, we do kind of an email newsletter. I have to admit, I've gotten away ... I used to be pretty good on a cadence of, one electronic touch, one paper touch. It's actually one of my intentions, is to start doing The Most Interesting Postcard in the World, and have that be kind of the paper touch, because you know, not everyone checks their email, and not everyone checks their snail mail. I feel like you kind of need a little bit of both.
So for right now though, we've been primarily just electronic based. So pretty much, if you're in my sphere, you would get ... If we're ... You might see some of my stuff on Facebook. I would say I'm probably Facebook friends with the majority of the people on that list, and then you would get the email newsletter, and that's really about it. I mean I'm-
Dean: So what's ... Like describe this email newsletter to me?
Chris: Yeah. So it's, we use BombBomb to send it out just because it's kind of what we started doing a while ago and I aggregate contents. You know we basically try and make it a useful, interesting newsletter. So I would have, like I'll have a video introduction of me in there. Like I need to shoot that for our upcoming newsletter that's gonna go out next week. So I would shoot a video, just kind of an introduction. "Hey everybody. Here's what's going on in the market," et cetera.
Then we would have some market stats in there. We'd have some sort of interesting/fluffy articles. We try and have a calendar of events. I mean, my goal is to try and make it less fluffy, and more useful, because I mean I don't know about you, but I honestly get 150-200 emails a day-
Dean: I'm sure you do. Yeah.
Chris: ... and for me it's like ... So everyone I figure, I'm assuming that most people get spams like I do, and I don't want to be a spammer, so I figure-
Dean: No. Exactly.
Chris: if I'm gonna send you something, I want you to get benefit. And we have a pretty good ... I mean you would know better being a marketer, but our open rate for all of our email communications is almost 50%.
Dean: Perfect. Good for you. Yeah. And that's how many people-
Chris: So I think that's, at least I guess we're sending half way decent content.
Dean: How many people are on that, are getting that?
Chris: That's actually more than, I guess probably even more than 100. I'd have to go in and actually take a look. I admit I don't know the exact number on that one.
Dean: Okay. That's fine. Then how often do you send it out?
Chris: That's just a once a month kind of thing, so-
Dean: Okay. One time a month.
Chris: ... and I have to also admit that there were times where I might get transactionally very busy, and there has been skipped months, and we might go from you know, January to March.
Dean: I got it. Okay.
Chris: It happens. It happens.
Dean: Have you heard me talk about being a market maker? Have you heard about the Market Maker Mondays?
Chris: Yes. Yes absolutely.
Dean: Okay. So I'll just explain this really-
Chris: Yeah. Please do.
Dean: ... for anybody, so people listening. Yeah, because here's the thing that I think that the two things that are gonna immediately make the biggest difference for you in the after unit. Then we will talk about your before unit, but I want to really harvest what's available right now in your after unit, because you're so close with it. Right?
The bottom line is, the thing that we can do is immediately go to your 150 people. Immediately start sending The World's Most Interesting Postcard, and the reason that we do it that way is that that's one thing that you can set and forget, and not worry about. Right? You're not ... It's gonna happen without you having to think about it. Right? There's no requirement, no logistics required.
We can do the whole thing for you. Right? Where you can ... You know every month I would do a new postcard, and you know the reason, I really explained what the kind of operating mindset behind The World's Most Interesting Postcard is, is that I know that being in somebody's mailbox, being physically in their world, instead of in their inbox in their email, is a different experience. Right? People ... It makes a bigger impression than being on an automated kind of email list. You know?
Dean: That a lot of times people send newsletters, and I was looking at that and thinking, I always look to go like, "What's the minimum viable, or the minimum effective dose of doing something like this?" Like the reason, if we had a checklist of why people send newsletters. First of all, it's to make an impression that you're a touch point. It's one of the things. Check that box. We're sending something and we're making an impression.
It's interesting and entertaining, like you're adding value. That's where you put interesting articles, in a newsletter, but it's also, if you're gonna be the most effective thing, it has to be ... have a purpose. It has to make some sort of offer that's going to enhance the business that you do. Right? Like it has to have a purpose. It can't just be about being nice to people. Right?
Dean: We've gotta kind of orchestrate our purpose, which is to be top of mind when they have a conversation about real estate, and so we use ... The thing about sending the postcard is that it's super easy to consume. So first of all, you get the impression. You check the box. Same as a newsletter. Somebody can immediately consume the postcard, because it's right there. It's all right on two sides. Right? They don't have to open it, or go through the different pages of it, so the odds of them seeing what we really want them to see, which is the referral programming language, where every month we're sending them something that would kind of plant a seed that references a high probability conversation that they might hear.
Meaning, all referrals happen as a result of conversation. You mentioned it earlier. Your lender friend saw a conversation going on in Facebook. They noticed that it was about this sort of complex issue that you happened to know how to work through. They thought about you, and they introduced you to the person as somebody who could solve that person. Right?
Dean: Those are the fundamental things that have to happen in order for a referral to take place. So what we want to further the reason that the postcard follows the same pattern every month is, that we say, "Just a quick note in case you hear someone talking about," and then we insert a high probability conversation right there, and then we expand on why they might hear that and instruct them on what to do. "So if you hear someone talking about putting their house on the market this spring, give me a call, or text me, and I'll get you a copy of our book How to Sell Your House for Top Dollar Fast. It's got all kinds of tips that'll help them get the most money when they sell."
So that type of programming every month, whether it's to notice conversations about people selling their house, buying a house, buying a bigger house, buying an investment property, moving out of town, those kind, downsizing. Whatever the conversations are, we want to kind of presence them, and the more that we have that kind of pattern to it their subconscious is picking up on the pattern of it so that they know that now, after they see you suggesting that if they hear somebody talking about this, that anytime they hear somebody talking about anything to do with real estate, they're going to think of you. Because right now, every time there are way more conversations about real estate going on in the world of your top 100 than you're getting introduced to. Right?
Chris: Yeah. No question. For sure.
Dean: Yeah. So that's what we really want to have happen there, but then Market Maker Monday, that alone, I think that's gonna have a big impact, and listen, your average price range is a million dollars. You're talking about twenty five or thirty thousand dollars for each commission. Right? And we're talking about spending fifteen hundred dollars over the course of a year to send The World's Most Interesting Postcard to everybody. Right? The ROI on it is gonna be tremendous for you, but what the-
Chris: Yeah. Yeah. I'm lucky when it comes to ROI.
Chris: I mean, I can monetize most things pretty well.
Dean: Yeah. So then the next thing is that, what we do is take your top 150, we can export them right from your Go Go Agent account and create a map layer on Google Maps. Like a private map that will drop a pin where all of your top 150 are. Have you seen that, or seen me talk about that?
Chris: I have. I have.
Chris: Yeah, and I've got, my assistant is pretty much already ready to do it. I just haven't done it yet.
Chris: We recently did it for pass/fails. You know, kind of showing sort of that heat map of where-
Chris: ... we work.
Chris: So it would not be that hard for me to just say, "Hey by the way, map all these other people." I mean I can just have her do it.
Dean: Yeah. So if she maps your top 150, that would be perfect. Okay now, that we're gonna use as a tool. That every Monday, this is the habit that I try and get people to engrain, is every Monday when you start your day, you think about, "Who am I showing houses to this week," or "Who am I going to see about selling their house this week?" Like literally, "Who am I going to be meeting with?" Not "Who are my prospects," or anything like that. I'm talking about the ones that you actually have appointments with that you're out working with right now.
Dean: And you take that person, and you think, "Okay. Where am I going?" Let's say that you're showing townhouses in River Run, a townhouse complex. You look at your map and you realize that two of the people who are in your top 150 live in River Run, and you can send a quick email to those people and say something like, "Hey Kim, I'm showing houses this week to a couple from Sacramento and they're looking for a townhouse in River Run, but there's only a couple on the market right now. Have you heard anybody talking about selling their townhouse? We may be able to match them up with this couple from Sacramento."
Chris: Interesting. Okay.
Dean: If you think about that every Monday and you train that habit, right? Because we look at it that who is more likely to have conversations with other people who live in River Run than somebody who lives in River Run, and knows you? Right? It's right in their go zone. We're looking for these opportunities to be a market maker. You know that really-
Chris: Right. Well, and it's a great idea, and it's good because it's great evidence. I mean, it's also evidence of your success. Even if you were just calling people, they're like, "Wow. Chris has called me twice in the last six months because he's showing properties in my area. I guess he must be doing something."
Dean: That's exactly right. Now that's with your top 150, but then when we start getting into doing the Getting Listings program that now we can do that same thing with your prospects. Right? With all the people who ... You know, I recommend to people that you have different map layers, right? That you have your top 150 layer. You have a layer of the map for all of your getting listing leads.
You know, whatever you're sending, whatever areas you're focusing on that we start to build out that map of, that's your secret inventory. Imagine if you were doing the Getting Listings in River Run, and you've been sending the postcards and people have responded and you're sending them the Top Dollar newsletter. They get the updates every month, and then three months later they get an email from you saying, "Hey Chris, I'm showing townhouses in River Run this week and I remember looking up your house when we sent you the River Run report a few months ago. I'm not sure what your plans are, but I thought I'd check in and see if maybe I could tell them about your house."
That is so much better of a communication to have with a seller prospect than just checking in. "Hey, just checking in. Did you get the report?"
Chris: Yeah. No question.
Dean: "Are you getting the newsletter? Are you enjoying it? Is there anything I can help you with?" It's so passive. If you make the only time you communicate with them that you have an actual buyer that you can bring out this week, that's all you have to really revere the integrity of what you're doing on that Marker Maker Monday. But you're limiting it at that level to people that you are actually showing the houses to this week. You know?
Chris: Absolutely. Yeah. I think it's a great idea. I just have to get ... I can definitely do it with the top 150, now it's the-
Dean: Yeah. And those two things-
Chris: The interesting part will be the getting there.
Dean: Yeah. Those two things will be really the most valuable. I mean, those things will make an immediate difference for you. I mean, you're already getting 20, and you've had ... Sounds like you've got a pretty consistent business. Is that about right? Like in that 18-21, you know back and forth pretty stable?
Chris: Yeah. It's pretty stable.
Dean: And this is gonna be the thing that will bump that up. Just taking that little bit extra. You know? That I think, the consistency of every month, that baseline thing happening, we're gonna see a significant increase for you.
Chris: That's great. I love the thought.
Dean: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Chris: Like I said, it's been stuff that we've been planning. I'm somewhat easily distracted by bright shiny objects.
Chris: It's that sometimes I have projects like this where I'm like, "Okay, well we're gonna do that, but this other shiny object over here is so much prettier, let's work on that for now," and then I fail to do the things that are more of the-
Dean: Right. That's why my whole focus has really been setting up the infrastructure to make it so that we can facilitate people doing the things they know they want to do. Right?
Dean: Without having to depend on themselves to do it. That's the whole reason that I set up the easy button program. You know, to set to do the things that you know you want to do without having to think about them.
Chris: Right. And that's where I really want to get to, because it is not my aspiration to be running like a postcard sending shop, or anything.
Dean: Right. Exactly.
Chris: I mean, that's not what I want to do. I really just want the people at some point to raise their hand, and then I can go do what I do best.
Dean: Yeah. I get it. Yep.
Chris: That's the ultimate goal.
Dean: Cool. All right now, let's talk about your before unit. What have you got going on there? Are you doing anything? What does that look like for you?
Chris: Yeah, so we really ... I've you know, over the years, and even fairly recently, we've experimented with a number of different things. So I'm currently ... We currently are implementing the Getting Listings program. We've picked an area that was kind of our initial area. You know, San Jose and Silicon Valley are a little bit different than some other areas of the country. Like when we were in Florida, I thought it was really interesting seeing, you know you guys have a lot of those named, almost you know, if they're not gated, but they're sort of.
Dean: Gated communities. Yeah. Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Chris: Yeah. Like a ... Yeah. So it's like it's a thing like, "Oh, I live in Smith Creek." And then it's much easier to target. For us, it's kind of just suburban sprawl. So we have larger areas. The area that I showed you, I think you have the postcard. The first area that we targeted is an area called Cambrian Park. There's not a lot of, sort of named areas that are small, but that's an area of San Jose that if you live in that area, you're aware that you live in Cambrian. Right?
Dean: Okay. Perfect.
Chris: So we targeted Cambrian, which is not a small area. It's about ... Total household is about seventeen thousand.
Chris: You know, like single family residences is probably closer to sixteen thousand. So it's pretty big, but again it's the closest thing that we have to an area that would be geographically identifiable. So we started there, and it's an area that I'm very familiar with. You know, done plenty of business in there. Got plenty of past clients. Yeah. I'm very familiar with it. So we chose that area. I brought this up to you when we were in Florida. I did one sort of tweak, if you will, which is there's another company that has a service where they have an algorithm where they'll essentially try and predict the next most likely seller. So I used that on that area, because the way I looked at it, since I was already gonna be picking a subset of sixteen thousand homes, it didn't really matter what the subset was.
Chris: So hypothetically if I was picking a more likely to move subset, sure that would be great, but it wasn't ... There was basically gonna be kind of a no harm, no foul. Like if it worked, great. If it didn't, it was still basically a subset of sixteen thousand homes. So we started with fourteen hundred homes, and I've mailed those fourteen hundred homes ... We sort of broke it up into not quite equal thirds, and that was quite honestly not really intentional, but it was more just when I could logistically get the postcards out. So we sent out three different mailings, and we haven't really had much response.
Chris: You know, we've got ... Of the fourteen thousand that went out, I've had one landing page submission, and that was pretty much like Mickey Mouse-
Dean: Of fourteen hundred?
Chris: Of fourteen hundred, I had one landing page submission, and that was like MickeyMouse@MickeyMouse.com kind of thing.
Dean: Yeah. Uh huh. Yeah. Yeah.
Chris: So it was a fake submission, and I've had pretty minimal just even landing page hits, but we have gotten landing page hits. So when I look at it, it's still not a lot of landing page hits, but I'm noticing that they're abandoning at the landing page, and they're not actually submitting, and one of the challenges for our market ... Oh, go ahead. Oh, well I was gonna say, one of the challenges that I've been told by other marketers in this area is that one of the unique things about this area, and I don't know if it's because we have too many tech types or what, but they've ... I was working with a different company with a service where it's kind of like an IDX website, and they you know, you run SEO traffic on Google, and get them driving to the landing page, et cetera. What I was told by him is that basically we're in one of the most challenging media markets, because people don't eat the bait the way that they do in some other markets.
Dean: Right. Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Chris: And as a result, your cost per lead is five X what it should be, and the conversions are just always lower.
Chris: So that's kind of the market that I'm dealing with.
Dean: Mm-hmm (affirmative). So part of ... A couple of things. Like in terms of trying to... I look at this as being, picking the market that you're going to grow into. You know? That you're going to... That you want to be the dominant listing agent in Cambrian, or whatever the area is. Right? And so of the choices that you have, why Cambrian as opposed to what other areas do you work with?
Chris: Yeah. Well the reason I chose Cambrian is, they're ... So my old office was in an area that's adjacent to Cambrian that has a little bit stronger sort of area affiliation, if you will, but it also has ... There's a lot more agents that really focus on it, and there are some very dominant players that have a lot to share. The difference about Cambrian is it has ... The price point is maybe just a notch below, but it's still like, right now I would say the average price point in Cambrian is probably one three, one four.
Chris: So it's got a solid price point.
Chris: It has better schools than the other areas that are actually you know, quote "more desirable." So right now what we're seeing is demographically there are a lot of buyers who would traditionally buy in some other areas that you know, specifically for the schools, and as the prices have gone up so rapidly, they're kind of priced out of those areas.
So for a long time, I've sort of taken those buyers to Cambrian as like, "Hey, this is the most bang for your buck. You get a great a house in a great neighborhood that comes with top schools," and so that's kind of why I chose the area. It's not a sexy area, but it offers really good value and there are no heavy hitters. It's kind of like virgin territory. There are no agents that someone would go, "Oh, well that guy owns Cambrian." There is not that person.
Dean: Yeah. I got ya. Okay. But I'm ... And by the way, I'm never scared of anybody who owns a neighborhood. That's not really ... You can easily come in and take that out kind of thing. You know? That's not a worry. But within Cambrian, is there some ... The reason that the ... What we try and do with the postcards is two things. We try and get that affinity in that, the horoscope effect takes place. Right? That's me.
Dean: So if, where you said, that's why the named communities are of course a great choice, but are there any other attributes of subsets within Cambrian aside from what you were talking about there, algorithmic likelihood to move? That's an invisible subset that they wouldn't relate to, but are there town homes? Are there condos? Are there golf course homes? Are there waterfront homes? What would be ... Is there any sort of subset of the fourteen thousand that would be ... that might trigger that horoscope effect for somebody getting it?
Chris: Yeah. There's really, there's only one area that you could kind of call a sort of a more slightly named area of Cambrian, which would be an area of Cambrian Park, which is ... There's an area that's adjacent to ... You saw the postcard that I sent to you.
Dean: Yep. Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Chris: And if you see that logo, so that logo is actually for a very prominent shopping center that's been there forever, and it's very well known. It's a landmark.
Chris: And there are kind of two neighborhoods that are adjacent to that, that sort of fall within that Cambrian Park, so that might be marginally more identifiable, but I'm not sure to what degree. I mean, I feel like you know again, having lived there for a long time, I feel like most people are like, "You live in Cambrian, or you live in Blossom Valley," like they're kind of just, because San Jose is so big and sprawling, they're just sort of smaller subsets of the larger sprawl. There not really ... There is no water. There are no golf courses. Nothing like that.
Dean: Right. Right. Okay. So, yeah part of the thing, and the only reason I'm saying that is because there's some element of recognition when we get the ... You know, when you narrow it down from like human, to man, or woman, and then you get right down to their exact name, that's like that's me. Right?
Dean: But it's, you kind of narrow things down, where we're kind of at the human level in a way. Right? But if it is what it is, in terms of what's available, but the thing that we want to do is trigger this sense of voyeuristically seeing what's going on in the market without it feeling like I am committing to anything.
Like I imagine that Silicon Valley, is the prevalent things are sort of the instant, "Find out how much your house is worth." Like put in your actual address here, and it's going to instantly give you a value kind of thing, which is where most of the things go. And what we're trying to trigger here is ... And I didn't get a real good chance to look at the landing page, but part of what we want to trigger is that this is ... We want people to feel like this is all the market data about what's happening in Cambrian, and I'm getting this because I don't want to have a real estate agent come over to my hose right now. You know?
Dean: It's like I get the ... "I want to know what my house is worth, but I don't want to call over a real estate agent, and I don't trust Zillow in terms of what my Zillow, my zestimate is, or anything like that. I want to see what's actually going on in the market." So by offering that to people, what we typically do is use an image that kind of conveys to people that this is a real estate related thing. So typically, we'll use the front gate of a community, or we'll use a house, or an over a map kind of thing.
I was just looking at the image on your report, and there's some confusion in that the title Cambrian price report with an image of Cambrian Park Plaza.
Dean: If I just look at this, it seems like it might be a catalog or a shopping thing. Like for the grocery store, or a circular kind of thing, because we don't have Cambrian house price report. Right?
Chris: Well it says, I mean it says, "Free April Report on Cambrian home prices," but I've-
Dean: Oh yeah. No. I'm just looking at-
Chris: Yeah. Yeah.
Dean: ... I mean, at all the images. Right?
Dean: Like the image, it all works in concert as people are sorting through their mail, that the image leads ... The image is the first thing that people will look at, and then to the headline. So these are little things, but I think if there were ... You know, if we directly relate it to real estate that that would go a long way, and even with a house that looks similar, or a street view, or map view of Cambrian that would geographically indicate that. You know?
Dean: That would be the right thing. All the rest of it is going to be fine, but it just, it does kind of ... That's one thing that jumps out at me. Right? And it's always ... People think I'm often pretty specific about this. You know? But I mentioned, and you may have heard me talk about the experience of imagining yourself driving down the road at night and then you see the blue lights in the back, in your rear view mirror, and they're getting closer, and they know they're right behind you, and they want you to pull over.
Then you pull over, and you see the door open, and out comes ... And he's got the hat, and he's got the epaulettes, and he's got the gun, and he's got the pleated pants, and as he gets closer you notice that he's wearing clown shoes. And that one little detail changes the whole perception of it. Right?
Chris: It does. Yeah. For sure.
Dean: Yeah. So we look at it that every little thing our subconscious is such a fickle, fleeting thing. Right? That we need to really have everything firing on all cylinders here. So I just look at ... I point that out that, that may be a help. You know? And so I might look at doing this version-
Chris: Do you have a preference as far as like map versus house picture? Do you care?
Dean: Well, is there ... What are the houses like in Cambrian Park? Is there ... Would you look at like a street scape of two or three homes kind of thing and say, "Oh yeah. That's Cambrian Park."
Chris: No. No.
Dean: Okay so there's nothing, no style recognizable?
Chris: Yeah. They're all like early 60s ... Nope. Early 60s ranch houses.
Chris: It's kind of just when the bulk of the development in the valley happened. So that's, and there is no ... The reason why I chose that picture is I was trying to be faithful to the horoscope effect of like, okay-
Dean: I got it. No. I get it.
Chris: I wanted people to know that I wasn't just talking about San Jose, but look, this is, "I'm talking about Cambrian."
Dean: Yes. I get it.
Chris: But I can very easily do a generic ranch house, or I can do a map. Either one is fine.
Dean: Okay. Yeah, and so let's experiment with those. I'll talk to Diane, and we'll work together with you on getting the right image on there.
Dean: And all the words matter, so definitely want to get even house price report in there.
Dean: Then the ... Here's what we want to look at, is that I'm not concerned with algorithmically choosing who the most likely people to move are next, haven't seem to be-
Chris: I knew you weren't gonna like that one.
Dean: ... the most effective. Right? It's like trying to be a stock picker and I'm looking at this as being a buy and hold investor. Right? I'm looking. I want you to be the dominant agent in Cambrian Park over the next 12 months, 24 months, going forward. Right? Like that would be the end game of this. And so how many households would make up just that Cambrian Park area of Cambrian?
Chris: If I were to grab one or both of the pockets, I would venture a guess that they're both probably pretty close to about a thousand.
Chris: Because they're essentially two areas on ... There's sort of like a busy street that bisects it, and one side is more ... It's kind of more of an unincorporated county area, so there are no sidewalks.
Chris: Bigger lots. Bigger homes. And then the other one is more like your typical housing tract.
Dean: Perfect. So I would say we pick ... You know, we take a thousand of those.
Dean: And let's just that we're gonna start with that one thousand, and we're just gonna commit to that area, and we're gonna go. You know, you said the homes are a million three, or a million four. So there's lots of ROI on it, to start with that area. So we'll start with those, and then when we get the first listing and sale in there, then rollover to the second thousand to add that, not switch back and forth. Right? There's a ... The approach that we want to take here is we want to ... It's better to convince 10% of the people 100% of the way, than it is to convince 100% of the people 10% of the way. That make sense?
Chris: Made total sense. Yeah.
Dean: Yeah. So we want to focus 100% of our attention on these first one thousand, and that every month we're sending the April report, the May report, the June. You know, every month we're going into that same one thousand homes.
Dean: Now at the same time then, we are definitely keeping an eye on taking over all of Cambrian. You know? We want to parlay it out to that, but this little carve out what you can focus on first is the right answer. You know?
Chris: So is your belief that, you know obviously ... So in any given month, the response rate doesn't really matter, because it's really more of an additive effect. Right?
Dean: That's exactly right.
Chris: So if I send out the postcard, and everyone yawns then at some point it starts to snowball? Is that what you're saying, like we’re okay.
Dean: Right. Like I think we're gonna fix.
Chris: ... they get the postcard again in May, and then they get it in June?
Dean: Yeah. And I think that that's gonna be ... I think when we get the ... You know when we kind of see the clown shoes a little bit, that we're gonna get the ... You know, so I'm really interested in seeing the difference here, because we'll match this, and we'll do a follow up to see ... You know, rather than pick the algorithm names, let's pick just the thousand homes and go directly to those people regardless. What's the turnover rate like in there?
Chris: I haven't run it recently. In the ... I mean, most areas in Silicon Valley, like a standard turn rate would be three and a half to four and a quarter percent. We have very low turnover.
Dean: Right. Okay. So there's 30 or 40-
Chris: So like if there's, like you ... Yeah. That's correct. That'd be about 30 to 40 sales.
Dean: That's all we're really ... Yeah. The only thing that we're really interested in, and the reason that we're doing this is, it would be an advantage to you if I could give you some magic glasses that we could fly over Cambrian Park, and the thirty or forty homes that are gonna sell in the next 12 months would light up. That would be a really easy thing. Right? Because then we could write down their address, and then just communicate with those people, but-
Chris: Yeah. I'm in.
Dean: ... this is the next best thing. Right? We want to get ... We want to kind of go into that Cambrian Park, every home, starting with the first thousand, and just see who raises their hand. You know now again, couple ... You know the reason you're gonna get less response in an area with 3% turnover than an area with 13% turnover like some of the more urban townhouse or condo markets. You know? So it is what it is, but they're three, four, five times more expensive than a lot of those parts of the country. Right?
Dean: So you're looking at it all comes out. You're buying stocks that over the course of the year, the facts that we know are that there are one thousand homes in Cambrian Park east, or whatever, which side of the side of the street you're on there.
Dean: That 30 or 40 of those one thousand homes are going to come on the market in the next 12 months. Those are the facts that we know. Now the next thing that we want to do is, what's the best way for us to know in advance who those people are? So by starting with getting their attention at the earliest phase of them entering the process of selling their house, which is the thought that they have that, "Maybe it's time for us to move," or whatever is going to trigger that, which is then going to be followed by, "I wonder what our house is worth," which this is going to be the opportunity for them to scratch that itch to get that information market data without committing to having a real estate agent come to their house, or respond to something that is very clearly about selling their house. Like we're separating-
Chris: That's makes total sense. Total sense. Yeah.
Dean: Yeah. We're separating. We're doing what I call separating the compelling from the convincing. Right? We're not ... There's nothing about you. There's nothing about, list with Chris, or choose Chris, or why Chris is great. There's nothing about you. We're sacrificing all of that on the front end just to get to the point where somebody who's thinking about selling their house will raise their hand to get the market data that they would want to make that decision. You know?
So I'm excited for you. This is gonna be a cool thing to see unfold, and I think it'll be a really nice kind of before and after case study.
Chris: Yeah. I'm looking forward to it. I will do whatever you guys tell me to do. I will make the appropriate tweaks and get it out there in the wild, and we'll see how it goes.
Dean: I love it. All right so, that was gone a little long. So tell me-
Chris: Yeah. No problem.
Dean: What are your takeaways here? We accomplished a lot here I think.
Chris: Yeah. No. It was awesome. My biggest takeaway is really like you said kind of in the beginning is, I've really gotta grow the database, because I do get a very good return on the, you know my database, and kind of the people that I'm building those deeper relationships with.
Chris: And that is obviously the low hanging fruit, so that's the easiest most actionable piece, but then obviously in parallel we'll get the before unit tweaks made, and we'll start working immediately on paring down to a specific area, and then I'll be able to give you better data. So yeah. No I think that ... I'm excited.
Dean: And we'll watch it. You know? You saw the infographic of what's happened with Tony Talsey over the four year period, to see what happened, and what's really the most fascinating to me about that is, he mailed for five months before he got the first transaction, but over the next three and a half years, he did transactions with 14 people that responded in that first five months. So they're definitely sellers. You know? We just need to get on the field here.
Chris: Yeah. And again, I know that it works. It's just a question of kind of tweaking things, and I think that your suggestions are great tweaks. So we're on it.
Dean: Perfect. Well I enjoyed it.
Chris: Well thank you. I really appreciate it.
Dean: Thanks so much Chris.
Chris: That was awesome. Great talking with you.
Dean: Yeah. Okay. We'll talk to you soon.
Chris: Awesome. Thanks. Take care.
Dean: Thanks. Bye.
And there we have it. Another great episode. I think we got a lot of good work done on that call. You know, just planning things out. I mean, I think with the addition of The World's Most Interesting Post Card, and that approach of taking this Market Maker Monday attitude into every week looking and seeing what's going on. Those two things alone are gonna have a big impact on Chris's business, especially when we bump up his relationship portfolio to include the top 150 people. The people that if he saw them at the grocery store, he'd recognize them by name, and have a conversation with them.
That one strategy alone is a very inexpensive way to have a baseline. No matter what else you're doing, whether you're doing newsletters, or whether you're doing email newsletters, or anything like that to communicate with people. This is going to be a way to really truly have a purpose built tool in The World's Most Interesting Post Card to orchestrate referrals and keep you on the top of their mind so that when they have those conversations about real estate that they're gonna immediately think of you, and then introduce you to the people that they have those conversations with.
Then we turned our conversation to dominating an area starting with a small block of 500 or 1000 homes, consistently committing to that area over the long term, and then focusing on expanding only when we get transactions from that to now parlay and to start letting your profits fund your growth. And it's a really fun place to come from when all of that happens. So the good news, I've got both of these turnkey programs for you. They're both available for you right now at gogoagent.com. You can get a free 30 day trial. You can come in, see exactly what we're up to. We've had people come in, mail their first Getting Listings postcards and get their first listing before the 30 day trial is even up.
So come on over to gogoagent.com and see what we're up to. I think we can really help you. If you want to continue this conversation you can go to listingagentlifestyle.com. You can download a copy of the Listing Agent Lifestyle book, and if you'd like to be a guest on the podcast, just click on the Be A Guest link, and we can build a plan for you.
That's it for this week. Have a great week, and I will talk to you next time. Bye bye.