Oliver Graf the Co-Founder & President of Big Block Realty goes back to the beginning and describes how he got into real estate. Oliver discusses how he and his partner built Big Block Realty, how they’re different and how they make it work. Next, Oliver talks about what are the best practices of top real estate agents that bring them success. Oliver and D.J discuss what tools their agents use in order to leverage them to greater success. Last, Oliver Graf talks about his own podcast Founders Club and what’s it about.
Please check Oliver’s podcast Founders Club here.
If you’d prefer to watch this interview, click here to view on YouTube!
Oliver Graf can be reached at (800) 550-3209.
D.J. Paris 0:00
What are 100%? Commission brokerages and why are they so popular these days? We’re going to talk about that. 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. There 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 Oliver Graf to talk about 100% Commission brokerages and why they’re so popular these days. But before we get to Oliver, just one reminder, please tell a friend about this episode. Maybe you know an agent who’s looking to switch firms or see what other options are out there or maybe somebody who just passed their licensing exam and is trying to figure out what firm to go to remember those days how difficult it was, this might provide some insight into an option they might not know exists, so send them over to our website keeping it real pod.com Not only can they hear this episode of course but every I think we’ve done 420 Some episodes of the show they can hear all of them just by going to keeping it real pod.com please tell a friend we really really appreciate it But enough about me and that thank you and now on to our interview with Oliver Graf.
Right today on the show we have Oliver craft with big block Realty in California. They are also expanding out to other markets and other states. But let me tell you more about Oliver now Oliver is a four time Inc. 500 entrepreneur, co founder and president of Big Block realty is big buck Realty has been recognized as one of the fastest growing independent brokerages in the country. He’s an active real estate investor. He is also host of his own podcast called founders Club, which is a top podcast dedicated to real estate and entrepreneurship. He is also the co founder of closing table a high level real estate Mastermind along with Sam Cora, man and I may be mispronouncing that, so you’ll have to correct me and Roland Frasier and he’s also the manager and CO creator of real closers, the second largest Facebook group for realtors. He’s also a husband and a father to two awesome sons. He’s a dedicated surfer and OGN artists on top of that he does it all. And to learn more about what big block Realty does, and we’re going to talk about that as well on the show. Please visit big Blake big sorry, big block realty.com We will also have a link in their show in the show notes so you can check them out. Oliver, it is such a pleasure to to have you on the show.
Oliver Graf 4:04
Yeah, thanks for having me. DJ very much appreciated. Sam correllian That’s my business partner. Thank you. It’s a tough last name. But yeah, appreciate the great intro and very excited to be here.
D.J. Paris 4:19
I have to tell you, Oliver is a bit of a like a hero to me in the marketing world because and I never really talked about this but we the the firm that that I’m at here in Chicago is called Cale Realty we big block Realty and Kol Realty have pretty much identical business model or commission and fee model, which is what we call 100%, which we will certainly talk about and I realized in the bath 400 episodes we’ve done I’ve never once talked about commission models. We talk a lot about top producers how they build their business and I’m certainly want to want to get your insight there too. But we’ve never really talked about brokerages and different options. And the reason I’m saying Oliver’s a hero of mine is not just because they’re firm has about 1500 agents, which is amazing. Like we have 800 agents total. He’s he’s got almost double that. But that’s not even the impressive part. But that is impressive. But what’s really impressive is their marketing. They, their videos for recruiting are the very best I’ve ever seen. And in fact, Oliver did know this, because we’re just, we’re just meeting now, but I had told him, before we started that one, this one of his videos was an inspiration for us, because we tried to be a little silly and funny in our marketing efforts. But these guys big block really, really does it just so perfectly well. So you guys are an inspiration to us. And you were trying to get to your level of marketing with your videos, which will have a link to some of those videos in our show notes. So you guys can see what big block does. But before we get to, you know all of that I want to learn more about you. How did you get into real estate? If you don’t mind me asking?
Oliver Graf 5:56
Yeah, so first thank you for the kind words we’re we’re very passionate about marketing and and creating videos and not just our our, our big tagline is we’re not your grandpa’s brokerage. So we do everything in a way that’s designed to stand out designed to be, you know, different and kind of forward thinking. But to answer your question, my partner and I, Sam, we met in college, and we’ve had many businesses over the years, you know, we have a entrepreneurial graveyard, so to speak of things that we’ve tried since the early 2000s. And then eventually, we both kind of made our way into real estate, we were cell phone salesmen in college, that was the way we used to pay the bills. And so we developed a kind of passion and real love for sales and the sales process. And so we thought to ourselves, if you know, if you’re gonna go into the sales profession, the best thing you can do is sell something expensive, because then the Commission’s are higher. And so the three most expensive things we could think of were jets, yachts, and houses. And since we didn’t know anything about jets, or yachts, we’d have we decided that houses would be the best way to go. So kind of transitioned, we ended up selling a few people inside of our cell phone store was T Mobile, inside of our, our, our boss at the time, bought a house, then the assistant manager bought a house and they were nice enough and had faith in us to help them with those transactions. So when we got those paychecks, we thought, hey, you know, this is this is a lot better than what we were getting at the time at the cell phone store. So that kind of started our transition into real estate. This was about 2006 2005 2006. And from there, you know, the market started getting pretty rocky at the time, we ended up doing a lot of short sales, that was the big thing going into those years, and really kind of did that heavy for the first three to four years. And then about 2010 is when that kind of dried up. And then from there, we decided that we wanted to start a brokerage. But we didn’t again, we didn’t want to do it the way that it had always been done. And that was kind of the basis for big block Realty and kind of how we wanted to build it.
D.J. Paris 8:42
And let’s talk about big block Realty and how you’re different because again, the 100% model, while it’s probably technically been around for, I don’t know, probably 20 years by now, it hasn’t been as popular as I mean, it’s probably more popular than ever today. And I think there’s a lot of our listeners who are maybe not familiar with it at all. So do you mind sharing sort of how from a commission and fee perspective how you guys are different? We can talk more about other things, too, but curious just to set the table so that people know what we’re talking? Yeah,
Oliver Graf 9:14
yeah, definitely. So you know, there’s a lot of ways that brokers add value to their agents, right, you know, that you give them leads you, you know, you have great culture, great support, great training these things. And then there’s obviously the commission split. So when we were kind of deciding which direction we wanted to go, we were big on the Robert Allen books at the time and creating multiple streams of income and recurring revenue and things like that. And so we built the brokerage on what is now the 100% Commission model, which essentially means that we pay our agents 100% commission when they close a deal and in exchange For that they pay us a monthly fee to be a part of the brokerage. So essentially, it’s more of a membership model than a traditional real estate model.
D.J. Paris 10:09
Yeah, so we have the same same exact model here. And I always refer to it as you have as either membership or subscription. And this idea of, you know, being able to offer a higher commission confuses a lot of agents. I know, it maybe not as much today as it did when when not as many people knew about this as an option in a lot of major markets. But so people pay a subscription fee, and I’m guessing a transaction fee, but essentially get to keep almost 100% of the Commission on every sale.
Oliver Graf 10:45
Yeah, yeah, that’s exactly right. So for the most part, if they’re doing, you know, a decent amount of business, they’re almost guaranteed to make more money with us, which is great. And what we found at the time is there were other brokerages that were offering kind of the same type of thing. But when we were doing all of our research, what we found is that they were very low on support, and very low on service and had a very like, don’t call us, we’ll call you type of mentality. And so we wanted to flip that on its head, and really deliver not only, you know, a high commission split and a high profit, so that they can take that money and put it back into their business, but also really over deliver on service on training and support.
D.J. Paris 11:35
We we learned that we have that same philosophy here, we, when we started kale Realty here in Chicago, other firms had attempted to do this 100% model. Prior to us, we started doing it in about 2011 2012. And they’re just again, they weren’t a lot of firms, that there weren’t any really successful firms in the city here that Ed had done it. And I think the mistake that was made by some of these other firms was this idea of Sure, we’re going to pay you you know, almost 100% of your commission and charge you a very low fee. But we’re also going to get to kind of not be there for you when when you need us. You know, that’s the trade off. We felt Well, nobody’s going to stay at our firm, people are going to be more than happy to to give 30% of their commission away at a traditional brokerage commission structure if they’re getting the support and the training that they need. By is, which is evidenced by the fact that there are 1000s and 1000s and hundreds of 1000s of agents who are at those kind of firms. So we knew that just by offering the highest commissions and lowest fees that wasn’t necessarily going to create a line of people to come in. It certainly brings in some people, but I always say the 100% thing is maybe not it’s maybe the reason why people join, but it isn’t necessarily the reason why they stay curious to get your thoughts because we learned we have to provide, we think just as much support and training as everybody else.
Oliver Graf 13:01
Yeah, yeah, no, that’s That’s exactly right. I would echo that same sentiment. I think that, again, you know, when people build their brokerages, they have to figure out what their value proposition is. And then once you figure out what your value proposition is, it’s how do you deliver that in the best way possible? Well, we didn’t want to be as a rental broker where you know, there’s no support, there’s no training, there’s no nothing, it’s just a place to hang your license and maybe close the deal every once in a while. What we wanted to do is really build a culture of people that love to be around each other share the same vision. We were we’ve always been really entrepreneurial. So we’ve always wanted to go after the more entrepreneurial agents. And again, that’s why we felt the 100% commission structure was best for us. Because we’re all about, you know, we don’t have mandatory meetings, there’s no floor time, there’s none of that it’s really about helping the agents build their own business, their own brand, their own identity, you know, and that’s the way we believe we can help them succeed in the, you know, in the landscape of all the different broker models that are out there.
D.J. Paris 14:15
Yeah, makes perfect sense. I’m going to ask you the question that I’ve been asked a million times, and I’m sure you and your team have as well. So what’s the catch? Right? That’s right. That’s a question that sometimes like, or a different question with the same probably answers. How can you afford to do that? So those are the two questions that I’m sure you’re familiar with, as well as I am. Yeah, but let’s answer well, Mattis will answer them. So what’s the catch? Right, so I feel this a lot. I’m sure you do. How do you answer that?
Oliver Graf 14:46
Yeah. What’s the catch? And how do you guys make money? Yeah. So you know, full transparency at the very beginning. This was a lot harder of a question to answer but now that we’ve proven concept and we have as Any agencies we do, there really there is no catch, right? It’s it’s a volume game for us. And just like Costco offers better deals than the traditional place, but you have to be a member to get that take advantage of that. It’s the same thing with us. And then in addition to that, we’ve also built a series of revenue streams around the agents. So we have closing services, transaction coordinators, different things that are all value adds for our agents that also become profit centers for us. So by them, helping us our, you know, network of service providers, that allows us to pass on more savings to them, and again, ultimately put more money back in their pockets. And that’s kind of how we approach it.
D.J. Paris 15:49
We do it the same way. And when we’re talking about, you know, alternate alternate streams of income, other revenue sources, you know, we’re looking at things like title, possibly mortgage, you know, just different relationships with other providers that and we explain it this way to our agents, too, it’s like, you do not have to use our title services, but by using those title services, that helps, you know, keep us in business, and helps keep our fees low. And the funny part is, pretty much every other firm has ancillary stuff anyway, right? Like, it’s not even unusual. Now, because I’ve been looking that the app, there’s really not much money in traditional brokerage, whether you’re at a typical real estate commission firm, where you’re gonna have a split, maybe an annual fee, you know, versus 100% model, it’s, it’s really, we’re, all of these, these, these big companies are now realizing the money is more in the ancillary because commissions are going up. The firm’s are going to have to be more competitive. We’ve I’m sure you’ve seen this with with firms coming in, and even buying agents and giving them cash bonuses, and giving them great commission splits. And they have to make up that money somehow.
Oliver Graf 16:59
Yeah, yeah, absolutely. You know, I think it’s 80, there’s 87 different service providers that touch a real estate transaction. So what we actually encourage this, I know, there’s a lot of agents listening as well. And so I want to make sure they get a lot of value. And, and what I would encourage them to do is not only focus on their business, but they can also create either revenue streams, affiliate relationships, or even acquire or start businesses that are, you know, involved in that ad set that tree of 87 different services that are involved. So things like moving companies, or, you know, surance, insurance, solar, like out here in California, solar is a big one solar companies, they’ll pay like $1,000, per referral, you know what I mean? Like, if you create those extra relationships, and those extra revenue streams, then all of a sudden, you know, you send three or four referrals their way. And that’s a couple of three $4,000, that you’re making an extra revenue. And there’s a lot of different things out there, if you start getting creative, and we can go through some of those if you want. But there’s there’s a lot of opportunity outside of just closing the transaction.
D.J. Paris 18:19
Yeah, there is. And so I think what I love about firms like like ours, aside from being very attractive from a cost benefit perspective, the hurdle we all we jump, or I shouldn’t speak for all of our of course, but the hurdle I jump is oftentimes just making sure people know that they are going to get more than they probably would expect. And we’re always, you know, pinging our agents and serving them to say, like, anonymously, like, how are we doing, because if we’re not doing well, you’re gonna go back to that traditional firm, you’re gonna be happy to give up the 30 or 40%, whatever it might be, to get better support and training. And we better have our training and support on point. And I would encourage anyone who’s considering, you know, looking into a model like this, see if a firm exists in your in your area. It’s harder to do in smaller markets. I’m from Peoria, Illinois. And we first thought, well, maybe we’ll open an office down there and there just weren’t enough agents to support it. So you know, certain markets may not have that Madison is a great one. We actually looked at Madison, I’m glad we didn’t go there. Since you guys are there. We actually looked at Wisconsin. There’s one in Milwaukee I know, but one or two maybe. But anyway, I applaud you guys for for continuing to evolve and expand. I would like to pivot just just briefly to talk a little bit about you know, with the number of agents you’ve seen funnel through your company and who are still there and really just killing it. We’d love to hear what you see as some best practices around top agents. You know, where do you see agents having a lot of success? What are some of those, you know, those strategies or disciplines?
Oliver Graf 19:59
Yeah, slowly. So in terms of kind of what separates the top agents and the most successful people from the rest is, to me, it comes down to three things. It’s, it’s number one, we’ll call it the nuts and bolts, right? You got to know the contracts, you got to know the business, you got to know conflict resolution, and just kind of the A to Z on how to be an agent and what to do when problems arise, because they will arise. And then the other two is advertising and sales. I think that the better you are at advertising, let’s call that lead generation, whether that’s cold calling, whether that’s buying leads and converting them through a funnel, whether that’s setting up referral sources, I mean, there’s probably like seven or eight methods of advertising, I think it’s really honing in and getting good at one of those. And then also, on the other side, it’s the sales piece, and then that, you know, really just understanding what a good salesperson is kind of understanding how to be a good listener, as opposed to just verbally vomiting on someone and trying to close sales that way, but really understanding their needs, getting on their side of the table with them, and then helping them through it by you know, asking the right questions and things like that. So it’s really down to those three things, and we can expand if you want.
D.J. Paris 21:27
Let’s talk I would love to talk about advertising. I don’t often talk too much about advertising with my guests. And I should and let’s let’s talk about it. What are you seeing that’s working for your agents right now with respect to advertising. I want to pause for a moment to talk about our episode sponsor are one of my favorite companies out there follow up boss. Now after interviewing hundreds of top Realtors in the country for this podcast, do you know which CRM is used by more than any other by our guests. Of course, it is a follow up boss. And let’s face it, following up is the key to taking your business to the next level follow up boss will help you drive more leads in less time and with less effort. Do not take my word for it. Robert slack, who runs the number one team in the US uses follow up boss and he has built a one and a half billion dollar business in just six years. Follow up boss integrates with over 250 systems, so you can keep your current tools and lead sources. Also, the best part they have seven day a week support. So you’ll get the help that you need when you need it and get this follow up boss is so sure that you’re going to love their CRM that for a limited time, they’re offering keeping it real listeners a 30 day free trial, which is twice as much time as they give everyone else. And oh yeah, no credit card required. So you can try it risk free. But only if you use this special link visit follow up boss.com forward slash real that’s follow up boss.com forward slash real for your free 30 day trial follow up like a boss with follow up boss. And now back to our episode.
Oliver Graf 23:03
Right so um, let’s I can go a couple different ways. With that, I think I’ll give you my favorite one first, my favorite one is referral sources, not just, you know, staying in touch with your database and getting referrals from them. But creating referral sources that can give you multiple, multiple referrals per year per month. So that’s things like, like attorneys can be a great source of leads. And by simply working let’s say all the top divorce attorneys in town, or bankruptcy attorneys in town or probate attorneys in town, if you simply start advertising to them the same way you to advertise to your database, so send them a monthly mail piece and call them go to their events go to the events that they’re at and meet them. And if you just create one or two really good referral sources, from an attorney, or a CPA or someone like that, or like here in San Diego, we have a lot of bigger companies and those bigger companies, they have relocation specialists. So if you can get in there and create the relationship with those people to where you’re the trusted go to person. I mean, that can literally be the difference between doing five to 10 deals a year and 50 to 100 deals a year, just off a few good referral relationships. So yeah, just
D.J. Paris 24:37
just to add a couple of ideas as you were talking, you know, financial advisors, another great right. They oftentimes may be the first people to know that, you know, the client, their client might be considering a move. Of course, you mentioned divorce attorneys. That’s great insurance agents. We talked about another great, great one. And yeah, there’s the accountants, there’s a lot of ancillary Businesses that aren’t necessarily directly related to real estate, but touch people who are making those kinds of decisions that they now become aware of. And they can pass that to you, and you can pass things over to them. I’ve always, I’ve always been surprised when I talk to agents. And I say you should call some accountants, you should call some financial advisors, say you’d like to develop a really good relationship and send them some leads, and, you know, offer to help their clients as well. It’s done by I would guess less than 1% of all the real deals out there. But it’s a heck of a good idea, isn’t it?
Oliver Graf 25:33
Yeah, it really is. And, and back to the initial point is, once they give you a referral, and you do a good job for them, now you you’re in line to just get referral after referral. And if you set up a few of those relationships the right way, I mean, it could really it can, it can 10x your business over the course of a year. And so some ways that I would go about targeting those people going to the places they hang out, right, like here in San Diego, there’s a place called the University Club. Anytime you go in there, it’s, it’s 50%, attorneys and accountants. So just simply going to those networking events and building the relationships, and then calling them and following up and sending them regular marketing collateral, just like you would your past clients and database, and just working those. And then also, you know, a big part of our marketing mix that we teach is doing events, in person events, whether it’s socials and trainings. So for example, let’s say you have a financial advisor that you want to work with, well, why not offer to host an event where they can be the speaker, so they benefit they have, they don’t you cover the costs, you fill the room, you put the butts in seats, and all of that with your database and your marketing. And you know, there’s lots of different ways to fill a room. But if you fill a room full of interested people that are, let’s say, learning about a 1031 exchange, or how to buy their first home, or whatever it might be right you get those referral sources involved in those events, invite them out to your socials, then all of a sudden, you know, they become your go to source and you become theirs.
D.J. Paris 27:16
Yeah, it’s it’s, it’s so it’s almost deceptively simple, right? It’s one of those things that it takes about 30 seconds to explain to somebody, and then they have to put the work in to actually build those relationships. But boy, you know, if you’re only focused on as you said, your sphere, well, that’s a great place to focus. And you should, because those are probably the people most likely to use you. But we have a limited sphere, right? All of us, you know, unless we all know, 1000s of people were limited. We know probably a couple 100 People at most, as we get into this industry, and then we’re like none of them want to buy or sell, it’s like well, okay, they’ll they’ll come around when they come around, but you can proactively go out. And, you know, you don’t have to necessarily just purchase leads from different lead providers, although you certainly can do that, too. And so I think that’s great strategic partnerships around not just referrals, but also, you know, generating additional income, as you mentioned, you know, even with different utility providers in your area, there may be affiliate relationships, you can set up with your local energy company or your local internet and TV provider, cable provider, you might you could get paid, you know, 50 bucks, 100 bucks, you know, or sell every time somebody signs up one of your clients. And, you know, these are they’re going to need internet and TV and or at least the internet, maybe not cable, but internet for sure. And they’re, they’re probably also security services, like, you know, the the different, you know, security providers are also affiliate oftentimes have those relationships that you can build. So even if you Yeah, you know, let me
Oliver Graf 28:51
let me let me give you two more on that note, these are these are really good ones, because they generally find out about someone wanting to, you know, make a move far before everybody else. And that’s general contractor’s number one, because almost anybody that wants to sell their house, they’re going to do a little bit of work first. So it’s a great way to kind of get upstream before everyone else knows about it. And then the other one is property managers, because most people are going to tell their property manager, if they’re thinking about selling, if it’s an investment property, like hey, you know this after this lease, I’m gonna don’t worry about rehabbing. I’m going to sell the place and then you know, they can put you in the front of the line for that type of transaction.
D.J. Paris 29:37
Yeah, it makes all this boy general contractors, I never would have thought of that. That is that is absolutely really a wonderful tip. Because number one, every realtor wants a great GC to refer to their clients. And we know that great GCS are, you know, not always easy to find, and then the GCS want, what more work as well. So of course your how Helping them but yeah, they’re the ones that probably do get the first oftentimes first notice of, hey, we’re about to make a move here. And the GC could say, hey, you know, I worked with so and so you should talk to them. They’re really good realtor and they might be able to give you a, you know, an idea of what your place is worth, etc. So what a great i That boy that so much. That’s amazing. I’m shocked that nobody else has ever mentioned that in the history of the show. So I appreciate you bringing that to us. Awesome. I also want to talk a little just going back a little bit to your marketing specifically, because I am I’m such a fan of your marketing. And I think our our listeners could really benefit. Now a lot of times, firms are advertising directly to brokers to get them to join. So we would call that like a b2b sort of business to business kind of type of advertising. And of course, realtors are typically more business to consumer advertising. But I think what you guys do that our listeners who are more probably B to C can take away from is really injecting humor, sort of silliness. Funny, you guys are doing that in a way that is incredibly authentic. It’s not funny for the sake of being funny. It’s funny, because that’s clearly your personalities. And pretty much nobody else does that right? Maybe individual agents might do that, because they’re kind of silly. And you’ll see some silly individual agents stuff, but you don’t typically see silly brokerage stuff. And I love that you do that. And I imagine it separates you from virtually everybody else.
Oliver Graf 31:31
Yeah, yeah, that’s true. So I think the marketing approach is the same in terms of how we do it as a broker and how I would do it. If I was an agent, I think the the first step is really understanding who your customer avatar is. So what I mean by that is, who if you could pick your ideal customer? Who would that customer be? What are their attributes? What do they like? What do they not like? Where do they like to hang out, you know, and then go from there. Because once you understand who your customer is, it makes marketing to that person, you know, a lot easier. Because what I think a lot of people make the mistake of doing is they try to market to everyone. And by marketing to everyone, you’re kind of just marketing like everybody else, and you don’t stand out to that person. That’s your ideal person. So what we did is we identified that we wanted people that are entrepreneurial, we wanted people that are fun, we wanted people that again, back to our tagline of we’re not your grandpa’s brokerage, like we, we are different, we want to be different, we want to do things different. And we want to attract the people that kind of fit into that model. And so then you can kind of reverse engineer all your marketing from there. So let’s say I’m the opposite, right? Let’s say I’m a suit and tie person. And I’m very serious all the time. And the marketing message would be a lot different. And I’m looking for, or let’s say in another scenario, I’m looking for high end luxury clients, right, the high end luxury client is a completely different avatar. And so you’re probably going to want to wear the suit and tie and you’re going to want to have, you know, the Louis Vuitton belt and all of that stuff that you can kind of show off and, and put into your marketing mix. So I think it’s really just understanding who your customer is, if you could pick your ideal customer, and then working the marketing backwards from there.
D.J. Paris 33:37
Yeah, that makes so much sense. And a lot of times, I think we we focus on the fact that, and I do this too, because I’m on the recruiting side. And so I’m always thinking about our agent pipeline isn’t full enough. Or if you’re an agent might be thinking, Oh, my client, I don’t have enough clients right now nobody’s buying or selling, and maybe taking a step back and saying, Well, if I could design my ideal client, or in my case, or in your case, in ideal realtor to come work for us, what what might that look like if we could wave that magic wand and then saying, Okay, well, now we know who we’re looking for? Where do those people hang out? Where can I reach them? What kind of messaging Do they like? You know, where do they hang out online as well, not just in person, you know, and what, what do they want? Right? What are they all about? And you’re right it? It’s not easy, but it’s simple? I guess in that sense, I guess it’s simple and hard because then you have to create the marketing that will actually hopefully attract those those agents but or consumers. I would love to talk about tools. I know you’re a big systems guy. I would love to you know what tools are you seeing agents having success with whether it’s CRMs or you know, graphic design tools or any any tools that you think really help leverage an agent to greater success?
Oliver Graf 34:56
Yeah, so, back to the marketing and making Your stuff look good and kind of coming up with a cohesive brand feel I like invento market. So if you just Google it, you can find it, they basically, you can buy like packages of pre designed, fully branded, fully customizable marketing packages. So what that could mean is it could include a listing presentation 15, social media, templates, letterhead, folders, and that way you can just go and you can buy that whatever, again, is going to resonate to you and to your, your, your ultimate, ideal customer. So that’s one, I really liked that I also really like Canva. That’s kind of I know, a lot of people use that it’s kind of an obvious one, but a lot of people don’t. And I suggest that everybody does, because it’s really cheap. I think the paid plan, they have a free plan. And the paid plan, I want to say is like 10 bucks a month. But you can make really great graphics, YouTube thumbnails, I mean, they have all the templates already in there, and they’re very plug and play. So you just upload your pictures, you can design flyers, you can do all that stuff. It works just as good on any device, so it’s easy to use. So stuff like that.
D.J. Paris 36:21
I have a quick can Canvas story just tell you, because we use Canva as well. A lot of our audience, of course, is familiar. If you’re not, it’s basically Photoshop, when when you don’t need any sort of photoshop skills, or even the Photoshop software. It’s a web web application. It’s super easy, as Oliver was saying, when I was going to tell, you just reminded me of something. So one day, we were we were surveying our agents going, you know, what, if we could wave a magic wand? What would you what would be a tool that we don’t currently have that you might want? And somebody had said, Well, you, you guys do a lot of training our firms, we do a lot of training on social media marketing, and how to brand yourself on social, but you don’t really provide us any content to post the agent. The agent was telling us and it was the kind of that’s Hey, that is kind of a problem, isn’t it? We don’t really have content. So to Oliver’s point, I actually I know that advance of the market, I use it all the time. But actually when an Etsy, which I didn’t think those kinds of things existed on Etsy, and they do, and we bought, like 850, social media templates that looked really fun and cool. And they were all sorts of different whether it’s just listed just sold or, you know, more informational, or more like, hey, this, this is learn more about me as the agent, all sorts of, you know, different trivia questions, all sorts of cool ready made posts, that you can customize, make your own in about five seconds, and then push out. And I think it cost us about $100 to buy these templates and use them with with our agents. So it’s not even a high cost thing. And then you now have, again, assuming that it resonates with with your own person with your own personality, you now have ready made content that you can use on social media and definitely so we did this to separate ourselves from a lot of other firms that also didn’t provide social media content that agents can use. And we’re like, oh, well, just I don’t know if anyone uses it, but it certainly a nice easy thing to implement for our agents. And if you’re an agent whose firm doesn’t have that, well maybe consider looking at other firms or, you know, you can purchase those yourself for very, very little money.
Oliver Graf 38:19
Yeah, yeah, they’re all very cost effective and, and fairly cheap. But all everything we just mentioned. Another one that I’m a big fan of is is lumpy mail. So lumpy mail is mail that comes to your inbox and isn’t like a flat postcard or a flat envelope. It’s something that’s lumpy. So it sticks out in the mailbox, it’s almost guaranteed to get open. There’s a website called red paper plane, or red pepper planes.com. Check them out, they have a ton of different really cool lumpy mail items that you can send out to your clients. They have like, foldable houses that when you open it, it pops up and a house pops out. And you know, they have all kinds of different really cool things again, to stand out. One thing we’re big on is we pattern interrupt, and being different. So for us, you know, back to the marketing, if you’re sending out the same postcards that every realtor sending out, you’re not doing anything to stand out. But if you have a sphere that you’re marketing to regularly, obviously send them the postcards and all that but maybe once a quarter, send them some wild send them some crazy that stands out that, you know, send it to him in a FedEx envelope that they have to sign for an open right. Just doing things like that to be different is a is a great way to stand out.
D.J. Paris 39:45
Yeah, and it’ll cost a little bit more than doing a traditional, you know, postcard mailer. But if you can get your open rate up by at least 50% Or at least your read rate by 50% on a lumpy piece of and Oliver is exactly right, who doesn’t open a lumpy piece of mail because you’re trying to figure it out with your fingers and find the corners and you’re like this, this could be very cool. And especially if it opens up into a three dimensional house, yeah, that maybe that costs $5 per card. But boy, I would certainly expect I would get a few a few transactions out of it over time. I also used to do a presentation when I would sometimes speak at events called nobody wants to read your newsletter. And while I don’t think it’s a bad idea to send one, I’m sort of being silly by saying that, and I don’t mean to disparage we, we tell our agents to send newsletters, but we say don’t just send a newsletter, right, do other things that really make you stand out, and a newsletter is fine, no one’s gonna read it, but I guess they’ll see your name. And that’s a good thing. And if you send a postcard, you know, they’re gonna see your name, and that’s a good thing. But maybe you could do something a little different. And so I love the fact that you guys are, you know, you know, really into some of those alternative ideas that, you know, just get better results.
Oliver Graf 40:58
Yeah, another one, just on the male front is, is a site called mailbox power. What I what I, you know, what we teach to our agents is creating a post closing Follow Up campaign, because I forget the statistic exactly, but it’s over 50% of people forget their Realtors name after the first year. And so if you can create a follow up campaign, and with mailbox power, they’re all greeting card style, they come with a real stamp on the envelope, they they’ll do handwriting fonts, and all that. And then you can also attach gifts. So anything from just like a $2 pack of brownies, all the way on up to you know, all sorts of other gifts that you know, towels and tumblers, and all the all the stuff. But if you create a campaign inside of mailbox power, you only have to create it one time. And then every deal you close, you have one for buyers and one for sellers. And you just put those people into that campaign. And you set it and forget it. And now for the next five years, there’ll be getting mail pieces from you at least once a quarter, sometimes maybe once a year, on their clothes, aversary you send them a you know, you attach a thing a cookies or something. And that’s just you know, that’s that’s what separates you from the rest.
D.J. Paris 42:22
Yeah, it’s really funny. I have a lot of different service providers in my life as you do, I’m sure accountants, attorneys, financial advisors, etc. dry cleaner, you know, it could be a dentist, I’ve never received any sort of ongoing little thank you other than maybe a card that you know, at the end of the year, which you get, you know, dozens and dozens, but I don’t ever get a you know, and I love my accountant and I’m not in any she will she’ll never hear this. So I don’t I’m not disparaging her, but I never got like, hey, you’ve been with me 13 years, here’s some cookies. You know, I would love that. So I guess the point of me saying that isn’t to say, you know, so many people are doing it wrong. But if you want to add that kind of value, and you should, because you’re absolutely right, my parents, they sold a condo in Myrtle Beach, it took them five years to sell it because they sort of bought it at the wrong time. And they held it for too long. And anyway, it was very difficult condo to sell. They eventually sold it and the guy was kind of a hero in our family. And six months later, I said, Hey, Dad, what was that guy’s name? I wanted to send him a referral. And my dad goes, I have no idea. I’d have to look that up. I don’t remember. And isn’t that amazing? Yeah. And they liked him. They really liked him. They didn’t, they thought like, this guy’s our hero, and they couldn’t remember his name. And it’s not because my parents are forgetful they are, they are very loyal to people. And so it’s a great example of staying in touch after the sale. You know, we haven’t talked about this at all, I don’t want to pivot only because I know we’re gonna wait, let me I’m
Oliver Graf 43:49
gonna add, I’m gonna add one more thing just to bring it full circle, because I think that was a really good point you just made, but also back to the vendors, right? Why not create a mail campaign for the referral partners that you’re targeting. So that once a month, they get a gift card or whatever it is from you. And then not only that, but you can include them in your post closing mail campaigns. So you know, if it’s a CPA around tax time, you should say, hey, you know, it’s your favorite realtor, Oliver. I’m just sending out all the best. I know this time of year is tough for a lot of people. It’s tax time. Here’s my referral source. Hope that helps, right? You’re not asking for anything, you’re delivering massive value to that CPA. And then they in turn, you know, might come back to some business with you. So that kind of brings the loop full circle.
D.J. Paris 44:39
And it does and I want to stay on that for just a moment because you just got me excited because I started thinking what so so now we start at the beginning, right? So now we’re like, wow, that’s a great idea. And now how do we implement it? Well, we go back to Oliver’s first point you pick up the phone and call some CPAs or if you have your own CPA Of course you can start there. But you can call them and say hey, I’ve got an idea. I have a big, pretty big sphere of influence. And I’ve also got past clients. Around January, people start thinking about taxes and getting you know all of their documents in order. And, you know, if you’re looking for more clients, I would love to send something out every January, maybe even in December to saying, Hey, this is my preferred CPA, if you guys don’t have an account, and you need one, or you want to see this, this person’s amazing. And, you know, and say, Hey, would you be open to that? I’ll even pay for everything if you want, if you wanted to cover the cost as the agent. I can’t imagine any CPA would turn that down.
Oliver Graf 45:34
Yeah, yeah, exactly. And not only that, you can even take it a step further, you could add a page on your website that says, These are my preferred vendors and just list them out. Now they’re getting more exposure. A lot of times, they’ll even offer to pay half, you know, most of our mailings that go out most of the events that we sponsor, our vendors are helping pay for those and bringing the cost down for us. So that makes it more of a win win for everybody. You know, if as long as you’re delivering value for them, they are going to bring the value right back.
D.J. Paris 46:10
One last question about real estate. And then I want to talk about your podcast, and we’ll wrap up here. I was seeing some of the books behind you, which some suburb lives I’ve read. And I wanted to ask if there was one book that you would recommend, above all others that an agent really should read? Do you have? And I know this is a tough question to have, you’ve read a lot, but any particular book come to mind.
Oliver Graf 46:35
I’d say probably the most impactful book I ever read was 48 Laws of Power by Robert Robert Greene. Yeah, it’s just an incredible book on the dark arts, you know, how to close deals, how to blend in how to strike when the iron is hot. I mean, he really covers the full gamut on on the Laws of Power and becoming a more powerful person. And that, you know, that helps with sales that helps with ideas for your marketing mix, and just all the way across the board. But that’s yeah, highly, highly recommend that one,
D.J. Paris 47:14
I own that book as well. And Robert Greene is not like a self help guy. He’s actually an academic. This is a this is I think he’s a college professor or he was, and he has thoroughly researched some of the most powerful types of personalities and with with lots of examples throughout history. I have not thought about that book in a long time. I’m going to pick it back up. So thank you 4848 Laws of Power Robert Greene with an E at the end, I believe. So we’ll we’ll post a link to that in the notes. And then we you have a podcast and we haven’t talked about that at all. Let’s talk about let’s talk about founders club. So tell us what founders club is. Yeah,
Oliver Graf 47:51
so founders Club was really designed to be a high level podcast for real estate entrepreneurs. So I’ve had people like Robert Kiyosaki, Grant Cardone, Chris Voss, Elena Cardone, Ryan serhant, a lot of top top people. And we really take a look at not it’s less about, you know, everyday real estate practices and more about building a big real estate business. And so we talk a lot about some of the stuff we’ve talked about today, you know, adding profit centers to your business, scaling up different tools, different things like that. But it was really just, you know, my way of giving back originally just to our agents, I wanted to just interview great people, and so the agents could hear. And then we started putting it out there. And it was really well received. And it’s been growing ever since. So you guys can check that out at founders club.tv. All the links are there. For anybody that’s interested in.
D.J. Paris 48:55
Yeah, I really encourage all of our agents as you are sorry, our agents, well, yes, our agents here at kale and all of our listeners, which are probably all agents, but they’re certainly not my agents. Everyone listening, this is the kind of value that Oliver brings in founders club. So if you’re listening to my show, you probably listen to other shows too. And as much as I would love to have no other shows out there, this is a great one for for our audience to pay attention to because think about, you know, just even the contributions he’s made in this last hour, given us a whole bunch of great marketing and advertising ideas, tool ideas, and you know, just ideas about how to really think about your business more from an entrepreneurial standpoint, versus a agent in the trenches, trying to make deals right trying to really strategize and he’s talking to business leaders who have done this in all sorts of different fields. So yeah, founders club is where you go and founders club.tv Is that does that right? Yeah,
Oliver Graf 49:53
they just yeah, if you just search founders club on your favorite player or YouTube, you’ll you’ll find us
D.J. Paris 50:00
Perfect. Well, I think what a great place to wrap up. And I would also be remiss if I didn’t mention if anyone is out there saying, Boy, I’d love to work at a firm with a guy like Oliver. And by the way, you should want to do that unless you live in Chicago, and you should work for us. But outside of Chicago, I’m just being silly. Of course, I am the biggest fan of big block Realty. And if you are an agent, and you’re not getting maybe the attention or or that you want at your current firm, maybe you’re not getting the support the training, or maybe you just want to see what else is out there and you want to explore other options, big block Realty, they’re in California, and they are expanding to other states, other markets. So they may already be in your area, they’re in Wisconsin right now. They’re looking at other states, Florida, I believe in a bunch of other places. So even even if they’re not there today, they might be there soon. So reach out. And the best place as an agent you can learn about big block is right on their website, big block realty.com. Check out their marketing, by the way, it’s great, their videos are just outstanding. And I think you know, we all have heroes in this in this industry, Oliver is unknowingly one of mine simply because of the way that they have conducted their marketing efforts. And, you know, you know that that’s going to bleed down into what they provide for their agents. So if you are exploring other options, couldn’t more highly recommend big black boy, they seem like a fun group, and Oliver. So thank you for being on our show. We really appreciate your time we know how busy we have about half the agents you do and we know how busy it is to even find time to do these kinds of shows. And you have your own show on top of that and a million other things that you do. So thank you on behalf of our audience for being part of our show and providing a tremendous amount of value. And on behalf of Oliver and myself, we want to thank our audience, the people listening, thanks for making it all the way to the end, we we appreciate you. And we ask that you just do two quick things as you sign off. One is to tell a friend I think of one other agent, maybe you know an agent that would needs to join a firm like big black, let them know about that. But also send them a link to this. This episode. You can find us right at keeping it real pod.com. And then, just like Oliver said, Any podcast app, search for not only founders club and subscribe to them, but also search for keeping it real. So let somebody else know about both podcasts and about big block Realty. And then last thing, leave us a review. We really appreciate it. The way that we get better is by hearing from our audience. So whatever podcast app you might be listening to this on. Let us know what you think of the show and we want to continue to make it better for you, Oliver, thank you so much. And we will see everybody on the next episode.
Oliver Graf 52:27
Alright DJ, thanks again. Appreciate it. We’ll talk soon