Tony Clark the Co-Founder of RealtyFlow shares his experience first in the investment area and how he transitioned into real estate during Covid. Tony discusses his journey in real estate and how getting a mentor helped him a lot by focusing on finding a niche. Next, Tony explains the importance of a niche and explains the cases when he thinks a niche doesn’t work. Last, Tony emphasizes the importance of keeping in touch with people in the business of real estate.
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D.J. Paris 0:00
How does somebody generate 40 million in sales in their first 18 months as a realtor? We’re gonna find out today. Stay tuned. This episode of Keeping it real is brought to you by real geeks. How many homes are you going to sell this year? Do you have the right tools? Is your website turning soft leads and interested buyers? Are you spending money on leads that aren’t converting? Well real geeks is your solution. Find out why agents across the country choose real geeks as their technology partner. Real geeks was created by an agent for agents. They pride themselves on delivering a sales and marketing solution so that you can easily generate more business. Their agent websites are fast and built for lead conversion with a smooth search experience for your visitors. Real geeks also includes an easy to use agent CRM. So once a lead signs up on your website, you can track their interest and have great follow up conversations. Real geeks is loaded with a ton of marketing tools to nurture your leads and increase brand awareness visit real geeks.com forward slash keeping it real pod and find out why Realtors come to real geeks to generate more business again, visit real geeks.com forward slash keeping it real pod. And now on to our show.
Hello, and welcome to another episode of Keeping it real the largest podcast made by real estate agents and for real estate agents. My name is DJ Paris, I am your guide and host through the show. And in just a moment, we’re going to be speaking with top producer Tony Clark. Before we get to Tony. Just a couple of quick reminders guys, we are publishing now, every single weekday, a short form video clip from one of our episodes that has some sort of nugget of wisdom that you can take action on immediately. So we want to keep feeding you with these great, you know pieces of content from our guests. So the best way to find these is just to find us on social media. We are literally on all the platforms, not MySpace and not Google Plus, obviously, but on all the others, you know, Facebook, Instagram, tik, Tok, LinkedIn, YouTube, probably a few others. But anyway, just do a search for keeping it real podcast on whatever social app you’re using. And please hit that subscribe button and let us know what you think of the short form videos. And please also tell a friend about the show. Think of one other agent that needs to hear what you’re you’re about to hear from Tony and send them a link to either our website keeping it real pod.com Or just tell them to pull up a podcast app and look for keeping it real hit that subscribe button. We appreciate you. Alright guys, let’s get to the main event my conversation with Tony Clark.
Today on the show, we have Tony cluck from Beverly and company in California and also with House haven in Tennessee. Let me tell you more about Tony. Tony is a real estate agent with a background in both real estate sales and investment real estate strategy. Now this is incredible, everyone, so please please check this out with in his first 18 months as a realtor. He closed over 40 million in volume. He also realized the importance that good systems make in a real estate agents business and has since opened up his own consulting firm dedicated to helping agents improve their systems and to scale their businesses and he even has his own CRM that is dropping probably by the time this episode is released, it’ll be available. So I want you to check out Tony in a couple of different places. First, I want you to follow him on Instagram. So follow him at Tony Clarke dot real estate. We’ll have a link to that in the show notes. And I also really want you to check out his new CRM and we’re gonna find out more about that today as well, which is Realty flow.io. Again, Realty flow.io. link to that will also be in the show notes. Tony, welcome to the show.
Tony Clark 4:13
Hey, thanks for having me. I’m I’m excited to be here.
D.J. Paris 4:17
I’m excited to talk to you. I rarely it’s funny I’ve been doing the show for for five or six years now. And I always feel like I’ve seen and heard it all from from our guests who are all superstars in the industry. But rarely do I get to talk to a lawyer like a rookie superstar. And not only did you close 40 million in your first year and a half, which is insane, obviously, but you also are like practice practicing now in two states in two markets, which is even more incredible. I know you’re mostly in California, but you also practice in Tennessee Nashville as well. So let’s get let’s start at the very, very beginning, which is not much that long ago. But I love to know how you got into real estate and why
Tony Clark 4:59
you I, I jumped into real estate actually, from the investment space, I worked at a private equity firm that did residential real estate just kind of wanted to learn the ropes, I was all the way back when I was a kid, I was that kid trying to sell baseball cards to his friends or try to flip golf clubs in high school, you know, just the stereotypical business minded kid. And I always say houses are just bigger toys than, you know, the stuff that we we sell growing up. But um, but yeah, so started at a private equity fund, kind of learning the investment side, they were based out of California, but bought in different markets in the southeast. And so I was essentially acting as a real estate agent for them, but just sourcing properties for them and running deal analysis and really got a lot of good experience there. But realized pretty quickly that basically what I was doing for them was being a real estate agent who could only have one client. And so I wound up transitioning from the fund to getting my license, and actually wound up moving to Tennessee with my wife after I got licensed so that we could start, you know, investing ourselves and build, build a clientele there, which was where I was really focused on when I was at the private equity fund.
D.J. Paris 6:19
Wow. So and, and were there lessons that you learned working in PE private equity that you were able to bring into the individual sort of realtor practice?
Tony Clark 6:28
Absolutely, I think the big thing that I learned from private equity is whether you’re buying one house or 1000, it all comes down to the numbers, at least when you’re looking at investment, real estate, that when you’re looking at a deal or looking at a market, it’s all about understanding one the risks that come with investing in that market, and then also what your numbers look like, or at the end of the day, if it’s a if it works on the spreadsheet and you’ve accounted for the risks, you know that you have a much better chance of that property being a good asset or a goodbye. And that translates to then working with individuals where it again, doesn’t matter if it’s a big fund or someone looking to buy their first property, you can just get down to the numbers and the end of the day, it is a big financial decision that they’re making.
D.J. Paris 7:20
Since I so rarely get to talk to anyone with your background. I just have a quick question. And again, I know you’re still more to this industry. But you have this unique perspective. Was it any surprise to you to see the eye buyer start to the eye buyers start to fade away? You’re talking about numbers, right? It’s all about the numbers and we’re seeing companies that really should have those numbers locked in pretty well. And I’m not here to disparage companies like Zillow. Like I love Zillow. Even they got it wrong, right? So it’s, it’s interesting. What do you think’s going on in the eye buyer side?
Tony Clark 7:53
Yeah, it’s one of those things that so the model that the eye buyers use is so tough to do at scale, it was really the the PE fund that I was at, was trying to do one to four unit residential properties at scale. And they were a small fund with, you know, a few 100 houses and I couldn’t imagine a fund bigger than them doing what they’re doing. You have to manage so many people and so many contractors and keep so many things straight that even if you have multiple levels of management, it’s just tough to get that right. And especially when you’re buying with with such tight margins, which is what we would see them doing I know I brought a couple of properties to those ibuyers didn’t do a lot of work with them. But you know, even the prices that they had to pay for the properties in order to win them and then try to sell them for higher. It’s just
D.J. Paris 8:45
like we’re gonna look at those and say like, they’re overpaying. This is crazy. Oh, yeah.
Tony Clark 8:50
Oh, they were I was like, either they’re much smarter than me because they know something or something. Something isn’t adding up. And I’m not gonna say I’m smart enough to go pay more than they are for this house. So I’m just gonna let it be.
D.J. Paris 9:03
As it turns out, they were wrong. So yeah, but so but let’s so our That’s it. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to get us off track. But I got Tony. He knows the private equity world. I was like what’s going on with all these I buyers. But let’s let’s get to the real meat of this because the really impressive thing you did in the first 18 months is close 40 million in production. And that is that that puts you in the top 1/10 of 1% of new realtors in the whole country. I mean, probably even more than the top 10 1/10 of 1%. So you are at this very elite level. I don’t think success happens by accident. Maybe unless unless you had a friend who had a $40 million property sold it was a one transaction just said I wouldn’t say that. I want to hear that story too. But I don’t think that was what happened to so how did you do it? Every one of our listeners and viewers is like they’re they’re dripping with jealousy just like I am. How did you do it and what what might you suggest to agents who want to duplicate that sort of success?
Tony Clark 10:06
Yeah, I mean, I think it was really a mix of a few things. And the first was, you know, I, I did get very lucky with both the timing and the market that I was in. So you know, there were some things that I did, and I’ll talk about that. But starting with, you know, getting into real estate right during the COVID, boom, and then being in Nashville, Tennessee, which is one of the more talked about investment markets. Definitely. Were some tailwinds that that helped so, but then within that, I know, when I first got my license, I had a mentor who kind of told me, he said, Hey, it’s, the first thing you need to do is find a niche. And for me, I’d kind of thought that, you know, investment, real estate made sense, but also, like, who’s gonna listen to a kid in their mid 20s? Tell them about investment property. So it was this kind of, like a lot of people. And, and so I really, that mentor was really pushing me on that. And I said, Okay, you know, I’m not going to do any marketing. The first time homebuyers, I’m not going to do any marketing for luxury, real estate, I’m just going to focus on this for six months. And we’ll see how it goes. And it was definitely slow getting started this first few months, you just kind of bumble around and try things that don’t work and try some things that work. And I think that, at least when I was first starting out, it was niching down and saying, I’m just going to focus on investors. And even within that, saying, I’m looking for a very specific type of investor. And I think this can go for any real estate agent who even if investors isn’t your niche, but let’s say it’s first time homebuyers, for me, I said, I’m looking for investors who need loans on the property where they’re not the flippers that are paying all cash and going to go flip 50 houses, I don’t want to go write a bunch of offers for them and get rejected, I’m looking for an investor who has, you know, has enough money for a downpayment and is looking for a rental, that’s just gonna give them monthly income. There’s a lot more of those out there. And there’s less, it’s kind of this sweet spot where there, there haven’t been as many realtors, at least, that I saw in Nashville who focused on that. And so once I identified that niche, then it was just asking the question, Well, okay, where are they at? Where can I find them? And then it turned into a lot of just let’s, let’s go to real estate meetups and let’s go bigger pockets was a big source, like, let’s go find those people. Essentially,
D.J. Paris 12:29
I’m going to pause you for a second because I want for anyone who is listening who is a little bit lost on like what Tony’s talking about. So you know, his niche was he wants to work with investors, he wants buy and hold investors who need loads, right? So we’ve now identified his niche. Now, you might be thinking, Well, where does Tony find these people who, and there are places to find it. But my question is actually going to be a different question, Tony, is, is it? It’s been my experience talking to other investors and people in this industry who do what you do, that finding the investors is actually the easy part. My suspicion is finding the deal is step number one, in other words, finding those opportunities to then present to a versus, you know, now traditional, you know, primary residence homebuyers are they can look on Zillow, they can look on Redfin agent isn’t always the one that finds the property. You know, the buyer are usually finding the property and bringing it to the realtor, I want to go see that place. Now for on the investor side, I’m guessing it’s a you finding the deal. And then you saying, Here’s a cash flow opportunity, and then going to your pool of investors. By the way, for anyone who isn’t familiar with bigger pockets, it is the largest online forum for real estate investors in the country. It is by far the top of the mountain. If you ever really want to get a good education and understand how investors think and talk to each other. It’s basically like Reddit for investors. That’s, that’s what it is. It’s, it’s where you can, it’s a social component. I’ve had the BiggerPockets guys on my show before I love those guys. They’re just awesome. And it is a great place to to learn how to talk to investors. But anyway, was I right about that, that finding the opportunity is really the hard part and finding the money and the investors is the easy part?
Tony Clark 14:15
Absolutely. I think that’s the first step being finding the investors as far as you know, if you find a great deal, but nobody can buy it, then you’re kind of out of luck. But that’s definitely the easy part. And I think then going and finding the deal comes down to even first I think understanding who you’re working with on the investor side, and what they’re looking for that was something that I learned from the private equity fund that I took into real estate was let me sit down with this investor and work through exactly what they’re looking for in a property and without getting too technical on the investment side, basically saying, you know, here is either the return that you’re looking for or what kind of neighborhood are you looking for as far as how quickly it’s going rowing versus how stable Are you know what not, let’s sit down and figure out what you’re looking for and then go find properties that fit that, that box, it’s the same thing. When I work with cars, I will take clients on who are looking to buy their first home or friends and family. And it’s the same thing as you know, I could love a house that we go see. But if it’s not the kind of house that they’re looking for, I just wasted both of our time. And so to really get narrowed down on their criteria, that then gives me a better a better feel for going out and finding those properties so that when I present it to them, I will know how to present it and say, Look, this is what fits your goals. And also I can kind of weed out a lot of the properties that don’t so so it kind of winds up being an easier way to search.
D.J. Paris 15:47
So basically, you you meet with an investor, you say, Okay, what are you looking for? In other words, is there an annualized rate of return that you’d like to have is the key one for tax deduction? And the most important thing is that the income is that the appreciation? So Tony walks his or doesn’t walk people through, he finds out exactly what his investors want and need. And then he says, Okay, I get it. I know what you want. Now my job is to go find these properties. So here’s question number two. So now you’ve identified the the needs of the client. And now it’s okay, now you got to find the hard part, the property? Where are you finding the properties? What percentage of the time are the properties on the MLS? And what percentage of the time? Are you doing creative ways to find things that are not available on the MLS?
Tony Clark 16:34
Yeah, I would say it shifted, even within the past couple of years, it’s definitely shifted where early on it was more off market, I would go just try to network with people. So I’d go to not necessarily real estate agent events, but real estate investor events, or business networking groups, and just ask everyone I knew I’d say, Hey, I’ve got somebody who’s looking for XYZ type of property, do you know of anybody? And then I’d put them into my follow up system and just follow up with them saying, I’ve got a buyer looking for this, do you have anything? And same thing with wholesalers, I would go find wholesalers or investors and say, Do you have anything coming up? Keep me on your list. And it was really just finding the people who are out there hunting for deals daily. And then keeping in touch with them. And that I think was key for finding those properties.
D.J. Paris 17:27
So you weren’t sending all these mailers to these these multifamily buildings or whatever saying, hey, I want to buy your property, which some people do and have success with that. You can go knock on doors, you there are ways to find properties that aren’t even aren’t listed at all. But that are you know, Mom and Pop may, you know owns owns a multifamily. And you there’s a million different ways and there are much, much better podcasts than this, specifically for how to creatively find those properties. We’re not real estate investing podcasts, per se, but I was curious. Um, but you do sometimes find them on the MLS as well, I’m guessing.
Tony Clark 18:06
Yeah, absolutely. And it was probably, I’d say close to 5050, where the MLS was a lot more of what you were talking about, if they were looking for just a property to park money in or some you know, a few new builds that were going to be nice corporate rentals, or, you know, you find properties on the MLS, but I’d always just tell my clients, I’d say, hey, I’ll set you up, I said, I have a three step process where I will set you up on the auto search for properties. And this I think works with any client where I’d say I’ll set you up on the auto search. So if I’m away from my office, for whatever reason, you get the properties and you don’t have to rely on me seeing them. I’ll also see see myself on the auto search. And that’s step two, and I go through that once a day. So if there’s something that really jumps out to me, then I’ll reach out to you directly as well. So it can be there’s two way conversation, you know, that I’m I’m actively looking for you. And then three is the off market properties. And that’s, you know, I’ll, I’ll really be personally reaching out to you on those. But I think that, that helped me win a lot of clients initially, where they said, Oh, he’s going to do more than just set me up on an auto search and wait for me to respond and just kind of earn some trust early on.
D.J. Paris 19:15
And how important is it to be active in these online forums like bigger pockets so that you can get access to this huge network of people who want to invest and also learn. I mean, I tell everyone, if you want the best education about how to how to add the service of being able to support clients who want real estate investment, advice and want those kinds of deals, bigger pockets is I can’t think of a better place to go than that. But how important is that for the education and also the networking?
Tony Clark 19:48
Oh, absolutely. I think it’s it’s big if people it’s just reaching out and letting people know that you’re there to add value. I think that’s the big thing is if you’re there to learn and to add value that Networking is big, because everybody can kind of see through, if you show up with the business card to the networking event and say, Hey, call me if you’re gonna buy sell a property, and they’ll they’ll add your card to the list of 20 other people. But if you’re there, and you’re, you’re either, you know, very interested in learning about their experience, and that’s where I see real estate agents and lenders and people who do that really well. They’re there to learn. And then they’re there to add value of, you know, even if it’s just one tip that I learned this from one of my mentors, he’s like, Hey, find one thing about your market that most real estate agents don’t know. And you can just throw that into your first conversation of Nashville, it was within the Nashville Metro, there were two different tax districts and one you paid about half the property taxes you didn’t the other. And I would just throw that into my first conversation where
D.J. Paris 20:46
I would like to know that if I was moving to Nashville, yeah,
Tony Clark 20:49
absolutely. And I’d say hey, here’s, you know, it’s the Briley loop the freeway, essentially, if you’re inside that your property taxes are going to be almost twice what they will if you’re outside, and all of a sudden, you’ve added value and build trust. But you can only do that if you get in front of people, either networking online or in person. And so I think that’s huge. I think that’s a big, big value add.
D.J. Paris 21:11
Yeah, I What a again, you’ve really only been practicing, as a realtor for a short amount of time. What percentage of agents do you think have your particular skill set with respect to you know, real estate investment? Like I, I’m just going to throw a number I’m completely making out of wholecloth, I’m going to say less than 3% of Realtors probably focus in the market that you’re in, or focus in real estate investing? Would that be? Roughly fair?
Tony Clark 21:42
Yeah, it’s that’s a question that honestly, I haven’t been around enough or in enough markets to see in Nashville, I will say. So now being in Nashville, and in California, that percentage was much higher in Nashville, I think just because there’s so much Nashville was exploded there. That’s yeah, but it was it’s still low. I mean, it’s still I think, you know, that three to 5% there, and then probably, you know, 1% or less that really focus on real estate in California on investing, invest where I am in California,
D.J. Paris 22:12
it’s such a nice additional avenue to add. So you know, and again, you can’t be all things to all people. You’re like, Hey, I’m not a luxury guy. I’m not a first time homebuyer guy. I mean, you could be and you could, you could get your way through those deals, obviously. But it’s not your main focus. But it’s, it’s, it’s a nice thing, you know, if it was me, and I guess it’s all about what you’re into, like you came from that world, you came from the PE world. It’s what you’re into. You’re a numbers guy, you’re a systems guy. And let’s actually, let’s switch to systems because that is, you know, anybody can grind out not anyone. But a lot of times people think well, Tony did 40 million in 18 months, in his first 18 months, he must have just grinded it out. You probably did. But I’m curious to know what systems helped make that a little bit easier for you. Because I imagine you were working pretty long hours to get to those numbers.
Tony Clark 23:06
Yeah, it was really, definitely trying to figure out how to take what I was doing my my, my motto as far as growing and scaling is I say, Okay, let’s, let’s work really hard. And then let’s figure out how to simplify what I’m doing. So that I can scale bigger, and then sit, work really hard, simplify scale. Like that’s, that’s kind of how I think about it. And so the first few months that I was in the business, it was let’s just call everyone I can have my cell phone or go through Facebook or you know, keep a Google sheet and then realize that’s not sustainable for anything. And so then started using a CRM and really keeping track of my contacts and trying to set tasks for myself to follow up with people and trying to you know, still make it personal because we’ve all seen the the automated emails where you know that you’re on a mailing list, and it sounds like a mailing list and you burn trust that way. So I said, Well, I don’t want to do that. But let’s figure out how to keep in touch with my clients and really just organize my database because like you were talking about with Oh, go ahead.
D.J. Paris 24:13
No, I didn’t mean to interrupt your flow. I’m super excited to hear about how what systems you built to do this. Yeah.
Tony Clark 24:19
Yeah. So it was really the first one was my database and at first I use the CRM that was provided from my brokerage and then tried a couple others but it was really more the functions of I would anybody who went into my database or anyone I’ve met, went into my database, I’ll start there. And then I tagged them as whether they were you know, buyer, seller, vendor, friend, whoever and then they get added to a couple of things were one I just had a newsletter that I pushed out and it wasn’t anything groundbreaking. I didn’t spend a lot of time on it, but it was just hey, you know I’m I’m in the market. Here’s a little tidbit to add value. And then From there, I always knew, you know, when I would be able to fish kind of with that newsletter, and then anyone who was active, I really kept track of where they were in the process and what they were expecting from me, if I had active clients, I would know that, hey, I’m gonna call them every couple of days or every day or you know, whatnot. And then anybody who was still a new lead, I’d push them through, I did have a few automated campaigns and templates and things I’d use for new leads. And it was really, I would just develop those based off of if I did something once, I’d say let’s figure out a way to simplify this the next time. So let’s put an automation or a task in and then let’s figure out how to do 100 times more work with that same system without it breaking.
D.J. Paris 25:45
So well, you’d meet with a client, and you’d get a sense of what their expectations are of you. And you would identify those and probably arrive at some sort of agreements, like, whether it’s verbal or just internal, you’re like, Okay, I know what I need to do for this client, which means I’m going to call them either every day, every other day, every three days, you you made that determination. Of course, every client can be different. And you make that termination. And then you set up the repeating tasks so that you don’t forget it. You know, again, this sounds so basic, however, the basics are the fundamentals are usually what win the game. And so it’s silly as it is to go. Remember, every three days in your calendar, you have to call so and so. It’s funny, I’ve told this story before, and I apologize for our audience that has heard it ad nauseam. But I talked to one of the top agents in Chicago here many years ago, and I said, What do you think it literally out of 46,000 agents, she’s number one, and I was like, how did you what what why are you number one, and you know, what did you do different? She goes DJ, I call every one of my clients every week, I go, and she’s like, well, oh, active clients, right? And she goes, active clients. And I said, and like, yeah, so not so but to kind of I was expecting a bigger and she goes, Well, obviously there’s a million other things she does. But she goes, That’s my secret sauce. And I was like, it’s it’s that and she goes, I know it sounds really silly, right? And she goes, That’s it? She goes, you’d be shocked. Most agents don’t they’re afraid to call their clients unless it’s good news. So, so curious to get you to get your thoughts like when you know, you have to call them every couple of days. Do you already know? I mean, unless it’s like new news that you have to provide to them. Do you know sort of what you’re gonna say?
Tony Clark 27:30
Yeah, typically it’ll be and whether it’s a, you know, I say call sometimes it would be a text, word communicate of, you know, get in touch with them to stay top of mind. And yeah, when there was no news, it would really just be a quick, usually just a quick text of saying, Hey, just wanted to check in with you. Nothing new on the market today are nothing new I’ve seen but wanted to let you know, I’m looking. And perfect. That was that was it? They know that I’m looking for them. But there was nothing there not I dropped off the face of the earth because they haven’t heard from me in two days. And they’re checking Zillow for three hours a day and feeling like their agent isn’t? Isn’t there with them?
D.J. Paris 28:08
Yeah, the number one reason people fire their agent is shocking, not shockingly, communication. It’s consistency and communication. So So okay, so you now have the systems in place where with respect to communication? What, tell me about how you began to develop your systems. So that because again, that isn’t necessarily super easy to scale, right? Because you have a certain number of clients, you have certain number of phone calls or texts or emails you can make in a day. So how do you how do you sort of keep it all organized?
Tony Clark 28:41
Yeah, so what I started to do with the systems is as I kept scaling, I said, Okay, I need to push a system until it breaks where like you said, the tasks, I let me just call everyone until I can’t call everyone anymore. And then let’s step it up. And so within my niche, what I wound up doing is I started tracking where I would lose clients. And I started to see, like, Okay, I’m getting X amount of leads in from and you mentioned, bigger pockets, I bought bigger pockets leads for a long time. And they were a great lead source where they would come in, and I had an automated workflow, come into my CRM, I hit them with an intro email that had a video in it, saying, here’s a little bit about the market. I’d love to book a call with you. Here’s my calendar invite. And then I just had an automated email and texts that would go out every day to them. Just if until they booked a meeting. And so that, you know, as one example, I realized, that came out of me realizing that I was losing a lot of leads that came in, because I even though I felt like I was reaching out to them quickly within you know, 1530 minutes. It wasn’t instantaneous and somebody else was and
D.J. Paris 29:52
isn’t that amazing? Yeah, that’s like 15 to 30 minutes. It’s almost like to happen to century ago. Yeah, that’s
Tony Clark 29:58
yeah, because but by that point, they’re done looking at properties, and they’re moving on to their next thing. And if somebody calls them right when they’re looking, it’s, you know, when I, if I need my lawn mowed, and I go call one lawn care company, and they don’t pick up, I’m just gonna move on and call the next one. And it’s, it’s ridiculous when you’re looking at it from the other side of things, we have such short attention spans, but it’s such a big thing. So, but yeah, I would track really, that being one example I, I would track where I was losing leads, and then try to figure out a way to plug that hole on if it was, okay, new leads are coming in, and I’m converting them at, you know, 20%, and I shouldn’t be at 30. Or I think I can get to 30. Let me go analyze that part of my business and make it better. And this is where I, I’m just a data numbers nerd on that side of things. And so I’d look at that, or then I’d look at my pipeline and say, Okay, I, you know, I’m getting a lot of good clients in, but then I’m not, you know, I’m losing them once they become clients, and I should be converting higher here. Okay? That’s because I’m not finding good deals for them. Let me go find more ways to find them properties are under contract, am I not doing a good job of communicating with lenders or inspectors or getting bids from contractors? You know, there’s, there’s different factors at each stage of the client journey? Or after they bought a property? How much repeat business Am I getting? And if it’s low, how can I follow up with them better? So there’s these, I kind of developed five different stages where I could be losing clients, and then I just tried to optimize each one of those and make those better. So it’s, it’s all based on stuff, but it’s just putting a framework in to, to think through it.
D.J. Paris 31:38
Well, push ups are basic to and they’re also super important, right? So I mean, that with the with the highest possible compliment, because it’s it’s always these fundamentals. And just as you were telling me, you know, I’m thinking about I’m a recruiter, I basically recruit realtors. So I could, I was trying to apply this to my own systems of like, where do I lose recruits? Like, why do they end up choosing other firms and where in my process, but because I think I think that comes from from that that private equity, large scale size, even though you were at a smaller firm, or at a smaller fund, you still were managing hundreds of houses. And so this idea of scalability is obviously important. So you have to look for those weak points. And this idea of doing an audit in your communication chain, in your, you know, or just in your sales pipeline, and looking at your five stages, identifying those weak points and plugging those holes as you said, Boy, I I’m loving that. In, you’re a numbers guy. So your, your, your your metrics person, so everything is is benchmarked, and metric. And we know we’re above the line or below the line before below. And what’s really cool about real estate stuff is there’s a lot of data out there that you can use to say what is the you know, on a bigger pockets lead or a Zillow lead, or whatever it might be, you know, the average close rate is this, I want to get to x. So a lot of this data is already there for you to benchmark against. And it just helps you become super efficient, I imagine.
Tony Clark 33:07
Absolutely. It’s and I think it’s something that had not everybody in real estate, but I feel like most of us are pretty competitive, too. And so if you can use data to say, Oh, here’s where the averages are. Here’s where the top tier are. I’m sitting, you know, below that, oh, what’s it going to take for me to get there for me to get to the next level? And I think it’s a good mesh of being able to use those, those data points to push yourself to be better.
D.J. Paris 33:34
Yeah, I mean, even I would even encourage all of our listeners or viewers, if there’s someone in your local market, who’s a realtor that you admire, that has like a very, you know, some really impressive numbers, whether it’s production, whether it’s days on market, whether it’s you know, percentage, or list price, whatever the metric is that you’re like, how do they do that? Literally call them and be like, I am so enamored with the way that you do X, Y, or Z. I’m your biggest fan, I noticed you do all these things. Could I grab 15 minutes of your day? I’ll buy you coffee or lunch or whatever I will, I promise you that will be called five of those people. One of those people, if not all five, we’ll take that 15 minutes. And have you ever done that? Where are you reaching out to other mentor? You said you have mentors? So
Tony Clark 34:20
yeah, absolutely. I think that’s something that either both within my market in Nashville, I did that a few times. And then even outside of the market, I’d find somebody who was out in Ohio or Pennsylvania, where they’re just crushing it in their market, but I’d say hey, you know, one big fan would love to even an investment real estate, it was the, hey, I can add value. I would love to push people your way. If they’re not a fit for Nashville, like the numbers look good in your market or whatever. You know, would love to pick your brain for 15 minutes, or usually instead of pick your brain. I don’t like that saying as much as just hey, I’ve got these three questions. Here’s the one thing I’m struggling with, we don’t mind sharing what you do here because I see you doing it really well. And that’s an easy answer for them. They don’t have to think through. Oh, what’s he going to ask? It’s no, here’s the question. Here’s where they can add value, and they’re happy, happy to get
D.J. Paris 35:16
super flattering to ask someone for their advice. It is what if you, we think maybe, oh, we’ll be annoying, those people will be bothering them, maybe well, but good chance you won’t be because they’re going to be so flattered that, that you’ve recognized something in their process that probably most people don’t recognize. They just see them as successful or, and you’re like, hey, I noticed you do this one thing. I’m, like you said, I’m such a fan of that. I would love to learn how you do that. And maybe I can add value to you and help you and etc. It’s all about those those connections. And those, you almost have to be a fan of other agents, I think, I have learned that after almost 500 episodes, the top agents that I’ve had on the show, they’re always like, so happy to get it, they get excited about other agents. Because they’re like, oh, there’s this other guy that does this really cool thing. And so I think that’s part of it, too. But knowing your numbers, right, that will go back to systems, you got to know your numbers, you got to spend the time, every single day studying your local market, studying your niche, you got to know the numbers. And most agents, the good news is, most agents really don’t know their numbers, if we’re being honest. So for the people that do spend that time and really niche down and figure out where they, they, they, they, they blossom and bloom, and it’s just it’s so impressive, because most agents aren’t going to spend that time doing it.
Tony Clark 36:43
Yeah, yeah, absolutely. And so I think if that’s you, and either if your numbers driven, or even if you’re not, but you’re able to take a little bit of time and run through it, you you have such a leg up on the competition, or you’ll at least, and I’d love to hear your take on this too. I think that’s how you can build a sustainable business, you’re never chasing the next client, then you say, you know, here’s my marketing budget for this month, or here’s how many people I need to cold call or, you know, if I do this, then this will happen within reason, you know, markets can change and shift or you’re never, I would think you’ll be less stressed on, when’s the next deal coming in, because you’re focused on those things that you can control to make that next deal happen.
D.J. Paris 37:25
Totally. And all that we can ever really control is is our thoughts and actions, right? So it’s like, yeah, that’s all we can control in. And the good news is, we can control it mostly. But I want to talk about Realty flow. This is your CRM, because you are a systems guy, and you were looking for a CRM solution for your particular niche. And you were like, I couldn’t really find one that was a perfect fit. You’re like, I’m gonna build one. So and by the way, many people have attempted this. This is not, this is a tough, tough business. But I want I want to, if I was going to get, you know, I would be looking at a CRM from a guy who did 40 million in his first 18 months, that seems like a guy I’d want to follow. So tell us about Realty flow and what you’re looking to do with that.
Tony Clark 38:15
Yeah, it really so Realty flow came out of the essentially came out of the consulting firm that I’ve been running for the last few months on basically, I’ve been going in and exactly what we just talked through with other real estate agents saying, hey, I’ll come in, I help you audit your numbers, I’ll help you look at, you know, what systems you’re using. And let’s figure out ways to streamline your business and kind of come in and do that. And I went through that a few times with agents and realized that there were some similarities between really agents at different productivity levels, you know, the top top tier agents usually had their systems pretty dialed a lot of newer agents, it their systems were like giving a Ferrari to a 15 year old, who hasn’t learned how to drive yet on right, you get these big CRMs that can do a million different things. But really, you just need a way to manage your contacts, track deals, manage tasks, which that was the one weird one that I just most CRMs don’t have just like a Google Tasks kind of thing where you can just put sticky notes in it all has to be assigned to contacts and whatever. And then just do you know, basic automated texting and emailing and then tracking those things. And so from that, I was able to link up with a couple of business partners that I worked with one before and one is a developer, software developer in the Netherlands, and they just finished on their project and they were like, Hey, Tony, you know, what, what are you working on? And it just kind of meshed where we decided we were going to launch a real estate CRM really with the same motto or mantra that I’ve been using for my business on just this is designed to simplify your business so that you can scale and so that you can then go work hard on your business and then Simplify it through the system and then scale. And so it’s really, it’s not meant to be anything groundbreaking other than just here as a clean, simple way to look at everything in your business instead of a convoluted dashboard with 1000 different things going on, that you have to sift through which so
D.J. Paris 40:18
I think what a lot of times CRMs are, you know, they’re built by developers and developers aren’t necessarily real estate agents, sometimes they are, sometimes they’re not mostly not. And so I think sometimes CRM companies, tech companies get some of the tools a little bit wrong only in the sense of understanding that providing, you know, all of these different features, functionality is great. But what it can result in for, especially a newer agent is a lot of anxiety. So they get this, like you said, they get, you know, their CRM, which is fully featured has all these amazing tools. And yet, it becomes overwhelming, because there’s so much it’s basically a blank canvas with all these different, you know, all this different paints a million paint colors, and it’s like, oh, what do I do? So you’re looking to sort of simplify the process, streamline it make it really accessible to agents, so that they can plug in and scale up.
Tony Clark 41:17
Exactly. And I think just designing it, you hit it right on the head, designing something that’s for real estate agents, because a lot of these big companies, it’s a CRM that works really well for an enterprise fortune 500 company with five levels of management, sure, it needs to do a lot more than a real estate agent, or even a brokerage or a team where you’re tracking very specific things. And it’s really just saying, let’s remove all the stuff that would work well for other industries, but that you don’t need in real estate and that do the things that you need in real estate really, really well. And then let’s, let’s bring in some fun stuff like we we pulled in chat GPT. So you can write listing descriptions and some other things we just, you know, pull that in so that you can do all of that from from the CRM, but it’s really like let’s let’s do the essentials really, really well and
D.J. Paris 42:04
get rid of the fluff. Yeah, the fundamentals let’s let’s keep keep the machine oiled and running. I love it. So I would encourage everyone to check out Realty flow.io checkout, you can do demos there, you can see the CRM and inaction and hopefully, maybe, you know become a client. So check out Realty flow.io. Also, I want everybody to follow Tony at on Instagram, Tony Clark dot real estate, we have links to both of those in our show notes. Tony, one last question. Now you’ve had a tremendous amount of success in the last 18 months, which again, it’s it’s like blowing me away your success. And by the way, hugely jealous of you so amazing, amazing. Success, their jealousy and in the most positive way. What what we’re missing, give us one mistake that that you made or something that you’re struggling with right now, just so that we know you’re human, we know that you have your own struggles.
Tony Clark 43:10
Oh, how much time do we have? Yeah, I think the if I were to think back kind of the the number one mistake that I make over and over is I try to do too much instead of leveraging either leveraging basically anything leveraging other people’s time, or abilities, or knowledge or software are all of these different things, I think the big mistake is I fall into the trap of oh, if I want it done right, I need to do it myself. And I think everything from I don’t need to go to every showing, I can have a showing agent do it or I don’t need to, you know, pretend like I know stuff that I don’t let’s go call a mentor or let’s you know, employ other people on my team and train them so that they can go do things better than I could on my own. I think that’s the thing that I struggle with the most. And so it’s not even a mistake that I made one time, it’s something I’m still working through on I try to hold on to things longer than I should instead of delegating them and putting them into the hands of people who can do them better than me.
D.J. Paris 44:22
My boss has always said if you if you delegate something, assume and again, this is not like written in stone, but this is his philosophy. Assume that they’ll that the person you delegate the task to will do it to about 70 to 80% of what you would do, so it’s not going to be perfect. It’s going to be 70 to 80%. Perfect, and then maybe you come in and tweak the blow blast 20 30% of it. But even that would be pretty helpful. Right? So like even if they don’t quite get it to the Tony Clark perfect perfection level. They can get you at 70 You know, three quarters of the way there and then you just you know, run the ball All into the endzone. That’s a pretty good deal, you know, but it’s hard because you do have to accept less than perfect work. Because Tony, you have very specific standards, high standards for, you know, whatever, you know, task, you may you may be delegating to somebody, and you have very specific rules and structure. But you do have to sort of accept a slightly less than for delegation. And that, to me has always been the hardest part. I’m curious if you struggle with that as well.
Tony Clark 45:32
Absolutely. And I’d say it’s even a pendulum where I, I struggle with either letting go too much, or not letting go enough, where if I hire somebody to do something, I’ve got a virtual assistant who he’s awesome. He’s been working for me for about a year, year and a half now. And when I keep going back and forth with him, even still, where all I’ll micromanage too much, and then I’ll let the reins out too much, as far as I don’t give them enough direction, not like I let him slack off or whatever, it’s just, hey, here’s the task, go do this. And he’s like, Well, we’ll tell me what, how do I do this? Or, you know, what, give me more direction. And it’s really finding that balance of saying, okay, here and in a new skill set also of managing people, that’s very different than doing things yourself. And I’m still very much learning that but I think that’s, that’s right on where, you know, 70 80% there’s the expectation, and then you figure out how to encourage and uplift and, and keep accountable. Anybody who is working for you.
D.J. Paris 46:33
Yeah, it’s, it’s, it’s really an impressive thing. And we now we are in a global economy. So for anyone out there who is, you know, thinking, I can’t afford an assistant, you might not be able to afford an assistant in your local market, but you might be able to afford an assistant from another country and other parts of the world who were the economics are different, where the cost of living is different. And we can get virtual assistants, who will, who will only want a certain amount of pay that you might be able to afford. So if you are struggling, you know, Upwork is a great website to find talent globally, to help you with whatever you’re struggling with. And if you’re not a numbers, guy, hire a numbers guy, you can find them all over the world. And if you’re, you know, need help in any other way, obviously, Tony’s leveraging that, and he’s saying the same thing that all of us struggle with this, we want to do everything ourselves, because, you know, we have a vision for exactly how things should look, feel and sound, but I’m having people help you. You can get help from all over the world. Now. We’re so fortunate. So I want everyone who’s listening to please Oh, one more thing. I’m sorry for interrupting myself. But for anyone who out there who is a realtor in the Nashville area in particular, you know, any Tennessee realtors. I want you to check out Tony’s brokerage, which is a house Haven, in Tennessee. They’re an amazing company, Tony was telling me offline about I was say, Tony, you’re amazing, you know, 40 million in your first year and a half. And he’s like, Oh, I wonder just did my managing broker he’s told superstar. So if you are an agent in that market, and you’re like, I’m not getting this, the tools, the training, the support that I need for my existing firm, I want to go work at a firm where a guy just knocked out 40 million in a year and a half like that’s, that’s a pretty cool place to me that they have a few nuggets of wisdom over their house Haven. So definitely reach out to Tony. You can find him on Instagram, Tony Clark dot real estate. Also check out his CRM Realty flow.io.io. And Tony also practices in Ventura County all over the LA area where he is with Beverly and company out there as well. So if you ever wanted to team up with him out in California as well, he would reach out and remember to Tony does deals all over the country. So he needs realtor partners. So he has investors that are looking for properties everywhere. So maybe you might be have a client that is looking for a deal that Tony can put together in another state another market. So if you’re a realtor, and you just want to network with Tony and sort of trade deals back and forth happens all the time, reach out to him, find him on Instagram, or check out his CRM as well. And Tony is on behalf of our audience. This has been such a fun conversation with you. We had a record number of people watching live which is amazing. So that is so I’m so excited for that to on behalf of everyone the collective audience. Thank you. We appreciate you. On behalf of Tony and myself. We also want to thank the audience for making it all the way to the end the episode please we ask that you do just one thing to help us tell a friend think of one other realtor that you know that is struggling I mean it’s 2023 This is a tough year for realtors. Let’s be honest, let’s make it a little bit easier for them. Send them a link to this episode so that they can learn from Tony You and they can have a $40 million next year and a half just like our friend Tony. Tony, thank you so much. You’re amazing. I’m excited to we’ll have you back on the show as you as you continue to scale because 40 million is your bottom now. So I’m excited to see where you’re headed. You’ll probably be a billion dollar producer and then look 10 years or so. So I’m excited to continue to watch your ascension. But keep us keep us in the loop. And we will see everybody on the next episode. Thanks, Tony.
Tony Clark 50:32
Yeah, absolutely. Thanks for having me. Thanks for listening and I really appreciate the invite