Ben Lalez of Compass grew his production from four million in 2017 to 24 million in 2019. That kind of growth in remarkable – even more remarkable as 2019 was Ben’s second year as a full time real estate agent. In this episode Ben discusses how he started in real estate, how he shifted into top producer status, and why having a previous knowledge of contractor work helps separate him from other brokers.
D.J. Paris 0:00
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Hello, and welcome to another episode of Keeping it real the largest podcast made by real estate agents for real estate agents. My name is DJ Paris. I am your host and guide to the show. And if you’re brand new to the show, here’s what we do we talk to top 1% producers all over the country and ask them how they grew their business so that other realtors can learn from their success. You probably already knew that this probably isn’t your first episode. So thank you for letting me do that. But a couple of quick things before we get started with our episode with Ben Lalas. First tell a friend if you know even one other real estate agent that could benefit from listening to interviews from top producers like Ben shoot this over, you can listen to every episode we’ve ever done keeping it real pod.com By the way, new website is coming in about a week and it’ll be a lot easier to navigate and find the episodes you’re looking for. So I’ll let you know once that’s live. Also, we’re adding video. So all of the episodes going forward will be video podcasts. So not only will you be able to listen like you are now but you’ll also be able to watch our guests on YouTube and some other areas we’re going to be sharing that so be on the lookout for that the best place to find out exactly what’s going on with our podcast is on Facebook, visit us facebook.com forward slash keeping it real pod again, keeping it real pod. And every single day, we post an article that we find online written by some expert industry expert about how you can help grow your business. And of course, we also post all of our episodes. So please go there and engage with the other fans of the show. And also send us your feedback. Any guests you think we need to talk to any ideas you have to make the show better. We are thrilled to hear that so you can always send us a message through the keeping it real pod.com website Facebook a million ways to find us. Alright guys, enough of me. Let’s get on to our amazing interview with the great Ben lawless.
Today on the show we have Ben lawless from Compass, you can visit Ben by the way on his team website, which has been lawless.com Ben started his real estate career flipping houses in Humboldt Park and Hermoza not wanting to deal with real estate brokers or general contractors, he went out and became licensed in both throughout the years working for himself grew organically into working for others. And brokering is now his full time job. Because of his background and construction. clients find that having an agent on their side who understands the nuts and bolts, literally of a home is exceptionally valuable. 2019 was Ben’s first year as a full time real estate agent. And he and his team did it an incredible, whopping 23 and a half million dollars in production. I cannot begin to say what a big deal that is, again, before we get started, because I always forget to mention before I bring Ben on, Ben and his team are looking for brokers. So if you’re a broker and you’re interested in joining a winning team at Compass, Ben would love to speak with you also they have an admin position open as well. So reach out to Ben Ben lawless.com. And anyway, welcome to the show. Ben,
Ben Lalez 4:23
thank you so much. I’m super excited to be on here with you.
D.J. Paris 4:27
I am super excited. Ben Ben, when we were getting ready to get started goes I make everyone on my team. Listen, listen to my show. Listen to the show. So I was really honored to hear that. Thank you for being part of short
Ben Lalez 4:37
shout out to Laura and I’m sure she’s listening right now she’s on my team.
D.J. Paris 4:41
So then you’ve had a tremendous amount of success in a very short amount of time in as being a broker. And your team has grown significantly since you guys have started so can you talk a little bit about how you got into real estate?
Ben Lalez 4:56
Sure. I kind of want to say first thank you for having me on, I think this podcast is extremely valuable to brokers in the city and, you know, nationwide, honestly, it’s unbelievable that you’ve put this together to, you know, for and for brokers to kind of share all of this useful stuff for free. It’s tremendously valuable.
D.J. Paris 5:20
Oh, thank you so much. We really appreciate it. Really. It’s all because you guys, so you guys get all the all the things, but I’m glad that it’s helpful. And I appreciate your the kind words there. But yeah, tell us tell us how you got into real estate.
Ben Lalez 5:32
Sure, so I was actually interning with a construction company. It’s LG development group. They do business as LG construction. Now, they’re pretty reputable here in the city, but in Oh, nine, they were a little bit smaller, and I was interning for them. And we all know what happened in oh nine. And, and going into 2010 You know, I, I had had some good experience learning how to build a home, you know, working there. And as the market completely tanked. You know, I recognized an opportunity to pick up some property very, very cheaply. And, you know, the West Humboldt Park and or most neighborhoods. And, you know, thankfully, my dad was able to spot me with a little seed money, and I’ll actually never forget it. I bought my first house for $22,000 cash. Wow. And I walk in there, and there’s needles on the ground. Oh, no. Yes. Other stuff that we don’t need to mention. And then just an incredible and incredible amount of pickle jars. Just something about.
D.J. Paris 6:43
So what what were we Oh, for for waste?
Ben Lalez 6:47
I have no idea to be honest with Oh, okay. I mean, I guess I didn’t think of it like that. It just seemed like, I don’t know, if these people loved eating pickles. I don’t know what the story was.
D.J. Paris 6:57
Were there any squatters in the property? Or
Ben Lalez 6:59
no, it was boarded up. There were a lot of beds. So I think the bank finally got their act together and got everyone out. And there was, you know, it was it was a mess. And literally walking around. In hindsight, I should have been more careful. But I’m crunching around on these needles. Oh, no, yes. But long story short, we put in, like at the time 40 or 50 grand where we were able to sell it. Let’s just say I made a lot more than my salary, interning just on that one flow. So I was like, Okay, I guess this is what I am doing. So paid dad back, use the profits to kind of continue that game. So that kind of spawned into from 2010 through 2014. I was doing three or four projects at a time. So depending on how fast they turned. Yeah, it was it was really good there for a second.
D.J. Paris 7:54
Were you guys doing all flips? Or were you doing any buy and hold as well?
Ben Lalez 7:58
Yeah. So I actually still have some stuff that we held that we picked up in 2010, and 2011. But the majority of those nests was to, you know, fix, flip and sell as fast as possible. So as I was kind of getting that experience, I went out and got my general contractor’s license, because I wanted to cut out a middleman, which is kind of sacrilege to hear that coming from a real estate broker, but wanted to cut out the middleman on the general contracting side. Sure, and I did and that had its own growing pains, but eventually figured it out. But as the properties were getting ready to sell, it might I might be showing listeners My Type A personality, but I also wanted to take control of the selling side. So I got my real estate license as well.
D.J. Paris 8:46
Also very smart. And by the way, for everyone who’s listening, this is a very common path for people that are invest real estate investors, they, the general contractor side, seemingly makes sense. But also, just saving on the Commission’s alone is a huge thing to get your broker license, even if you never really want to work with the public and only do your own transactions makes perfect sense.
Ben Lalez 9:08
Yeah, exactly ended. I’m not gonna say I did everything perfectly the first even five times, but I mean, that’s what’s good about getting in early, you can make those mistakes with fewer repercussions. Sure. And yeah, you know, it was a good first step for me there.
D.J. Paris 9:30
And then how did you transition from investments, real estate investments to being a more traditional broker and working more with a public buyers, sellers, that sort of thing?
Ben Lalez 9:41
Sure. So I don’t think it’s too a typical what my process was. I you know, I have a lot of friends and family here in Chicago. I was born and raised in Chicago or in the suburbs. I was born in Glenview. And, you know, friends and family saw what I was doing and, you know, I wasn’t sure I about telling people what I do for a living, which I think is half the battle. But people began asking me to do their kitchens and bathrooms. And they also asked me for help renting and then eventually buying. So it happened very, very organically. So for the first, say, two, three years while I had my real estate license that only accounted for maybe five or 10% of my true income. And then over time, I saw that gradually shifting, and I found myself being drawn to real estate brokering more so than the construction side. And then from there, it just was a very gradual shift to full time real estate brokerage.
D.J. Paris 10:44
Yeah, it’s, I mean, it’s funny you say gradual, because of course, it was a gradual transition. But then once you decided to go full brokerage, you know, just the numbers you did alone, and we really cannot, is it? Okay, if I talk about your numbers? Are you comfortable with me sharing that no problem at all? Yeah, this is, uh, this is great. Ben’s a very humble person. But this is really something that needs to be shared. And I’ll brag for you because it’s so cool. In 2017, he in his team, they did 4 million in production, which is a very modest sum. And then the next year, they did 14 million. So they basically almost quadrupled their production in one year. Can you talk about? Well, actually, before we get to that, and this only is so timely, because 30 minutes before we started our podcast, I had a woman who is actually in the process of getting her real estate license, who’s at our office, one of the schools teachers here. So a lot of times the students come over and chat with me, before they finish up their classes. And they always ask, okay, what do you recommend I do once I pass my test and join a firm? And I always say, well listen to the podcast, because people like Ben, obviously, you know, will tell you exactly what to do. Because I sit here at a desk all day, and I’m not out there producing. So I just real quickly, only because it just came up. What advice do you have for a brand new broker? Who’s looking to get in? Because you’ve done leasing? You’ve done sales, you’ve done investments? What do you recommend for people these days?
Ben Lalez 12:10
Sure. So, you know, I have newer brokers who are on my team that asked me the same question when they come on board, right. And mine is, my advice is actually pretty simple. So everyone is good at something, right. And, for example, I have someone on my team he came over, he was actually an analyst, he has a very analytical mind very good with math, I actually have someone on my team who comes from a remodeling background, also kind of like me. And I tell people lean on your strengths. And, you know, make that what your, your message is about, you don’t need to know everything. But if you know, one thing, that’s good enough, so So I would say a lien on whatever that strength may be, for example, mine was general contracting. So any question I got from a buyer or seller, I always made it about the physical home, because that’s what I knew how to talk about. And that’s what I was comfortable with. So I would say your, that is one and then two is whatever strategy, you know, it is that they come up with. And if they join a team, you know, listen to your team lead or your mentor and kinda, you know, come up with a strategy. But after you do come up with a strategy, I think it’s pretty simple. From there. It’s do the work every single day. Yeah. And period, that’s, that’s the end of it, you have a system. If it’s sitting at a desk and doing fliers or calling or if it’s Zillow, it’s do the work every single day, follow up nonstop, and then wake up in the morning and do it again and again. And again. It’s simple as that.
D.J. Paris 13:48
Yeah, it’s it’s simple. I always say, it’s simple and hard, right? It’s the it’s like, push ups. I remember when I first started working with a personal trainer years ago, they went through all my goals and what I was looking to accomplish and the training sessions, and then he’s like, okay, we can get started. And he says, like, I need you to do 40 Push Ups. And I was like, push ups. That’s, that’s not very exciting. Like, I can do that on my own. He’s like, are you doing it on your own? I was like, no, because then do the push ups. And I realized, oh, yeah, push ups are really good exercise. And every day, you know, every time I went into see, and we started with push ups, because it’s just a good daily discipline. And so that same idea, obviously applies to building a real estate practice, is put your head down and figure out what your daily disciplines are and, and rinse and repeat every day.
Ben Lalez 14:36
Exactly. And that kind of ties into I think, as early as possible, if you’re able to even if there’s 10 people in your CRM in a client relationship management tool, if you can figure if someone is smart enough to get that figured out as early as possible, and to have that be the basis for how they’re doing their follow up or their marketing efforts or whatever the case may be. be having that organizational tool early. I think I wish someone told me like I use Salesforce now. And I’m telling you the the first year after I implemented it, there’s money that you’re just literally, you know, it’s slipping through the cracks without you even knowing it.
D.J. Paris 15:19
Yeah, I agree. It’s a lot of times brokers to they look at their contact list, the, you know, or their CRM, and they say, Okay, what am I like? How should I reach out? What should I do? And I always say, Well, you know, there’s a million reasons to reach out if it’s somebody’s birthday, that’s a reason to reach out. And if mortgage rates drop, call everyone you know, who owns a home and say, Hey, I don’t know your mortgage situation, it’s really none of my business. But in case you didn’t know rates have dropped, it might be a good idea to refinance, call your lender, if you don’t have a good one, I’ll refer you to someone, but anything that adds value and a birthday announcement adds value, but just have a system, have a reason to contact them and consistently add value. And, and you’re right that Ryan April, comes on once a month. And he always says, The 16% of the people, you know, are transacting in real estate in the next 12 months. And the question is, how many of those 16% Are you going to capture. And if you don’t stay in touch, you know, people just forget that, that that’s what you do.
Ben Lalez 16:22
I wouldn’t even take it a step further, you don’t necessarily even need to. And best case scenario, you’re reaching out on a regular basis. And we have a system for that. But I tell the people on my team, like put everyone in your CRM, and we have a system for how they’re supposed to or how I’d like to see them reach out, but it counts that their name is in front of your eyes on a regular basis. So you’re thinking about them. And then you know, when the opportunity is there, that you can reach out via text, email, whatever the case may be, at least you’ve been thinking about them. And you’re able to put something, you know, cohesive together to put in front of them.
D.J. Paris 17:00
Yeah, I couldn’t agree more. So I would love to know, so. So you guys had this huge growth in like a one year period? Is there any one thing that really exploded that growth? Or was it just hey, we just put our head down? We did our push ups every day. All of a sudden? Well, that? I mean, really? I’m sure that’s probably the real answer. But you had such a big growth. I was just curious if there was any one event that really spurred it, or it was just No, we just did our work every day.
Ben Lalez 17:30
Yeah, so I think there’s a few answers to the question. I’ll make it as concise as possible. But, you know, we went from 4 million to 14 million and I, a big part of that was my attention was on my general contracting business. And as my, like, attention became more focused on real estate brokerage, you know, that alone, you know, just having the work ethic and applying it, full force, full force, excuse me into one avenue that helped but along with that, early on, I recognized that my value was on bigger picture stuff. So I put an assistant in place really, really early. And I know I’m not the first person to say that I think that’s one of the main takeaways that many of the top producers in the city have said on the podcast. Sure. So that coupled with having a really robust CRM, so that leads aren’t slipping through the cracks. And then, frankly, I I invested in Zillow. in some capacity, I spent some serious money on there and I had a system in place where we ended up being among the top in the country for lead conversion on Zillow.
D.J. Paris 18:43
Wow, it’s I’m really glad you’re mentioning this because I love I love Zillow as a company. I like I know a lot of brokers have mixed feelings but I think they’re awesome. And I and people who purchase leads from Zillow will and who are successful obviously Ben is and his team obviously one of the most successful teams in the country with Zillow leads and they will tell you that even though that lead might be you know, other people might be seeing that lead there really isn’t that much competition. If you if you have a system to work those leads the average broker who gets a lead like that maybe tries to follow up one or two times and then drops the lead. And I’m sure and Ben knows know it sometimes there’s many phone calls many many phone calls before before that lead actually converts.
Ben Lalez 19:33
Well, I mean, I’m still working Zilla leads from 2017. Some some of which ignore you for a year. And then you know, our CRM, we apply a certain priority to them and leave a little note in my calendar to reach out to them in you know, June 2020. Or you know, and you just follow up then you can ignore it until then.
D.J. Paris 19:56
I was at an event Yeah, that is that is so true. I was at event with Matt Larissa where he was speaking. I need to, by the way, get him on the show, of course. But yes, you do. Yeah. Yeah, he’s he’s it for those of you not in the Chicagoland area he’s he’s a top broker here as well. And he was like pounding the table going, you never give up on a lead, you never ever give up on a lead. And it was a good reminder, just as Ben just said, You just always follow up, because the Slow and steady wins the race. And, you know, oftentimes people’s decision making process. I mean, same thing for me, I recruit more than I mean, I don’t produce at all but I recruit, there’s people that go, I met with you a year ago, and I’m finally ready to switch over. And I go, Oh, great, you know, because I’ve stayed in touch with them over the time. And everyone’s timeline is different, you’d never give up on a lead and have. And if you have a CRM, like Ben has Salesforce, which is like the preeminent CRM, in, in, across all industries, you can you can automate a lot of this. And you know, it’s really, really hard, but you never ever give up. Right?
Ben Lalez 20:57
Going back to what you were saying about not get about not giving up is we have a team policy that a lead isn’t dead, and we have a priority literally called dead. And they’re not dead until they tell you to eff off in some regard. via text via email, like stop calling me stop texting. Yeah. And that’s, and that’s fine. And you know, you have to have a little bit of a thick skin, but you don’t get what you don’t ask for.
D.J. Paris 21:24
Yeah, so that is I mean, that is an incredible growth that you guys had, and you continue to have. And then a year after doing hitting 14 million, which is almost a four 400% increase. Now, then you went almost an almost doubled it again. And last year, you guys did almost 24 million, which is just again, it was there any any thing else that that changed? Or was it like no, this is just what happened as a result of us following our process.
Ben Lalez 21:53
So there’s a few things that I would like to credit it. Like how I would like to credit it. And I think adding social media to our ordinary push really, really helped. So if I don’t know if DJ, you’ve seen the video content that I put out regularly, we do a once a week video post that’s long form, and then we chop it up and put it across all other platforms. Yes, I have. Yep. So I think that coupled with, you know, our ordinary efforts, it social media is an interesting game. And a lot of people I think are thinking about it the wrong way. People expect strangers, for example, to reach out and say, Hey, I saw your video because of XYZ and I want to work with you. But I think of it a little bit differently. And that’s raising the floor kind of on retention of existing clients, and you know, friends, family referrals. And also staying in front of those people regularly. So and that also helps with our, you know, our Zillow investment, because I really believe that the second I get off the phone with someone, they’re Googling my name, of course, and they’re going to see 2030 videos of me talking about real estate, and you know, we have a very targeted demographic that we’re going after. And, you know, I’m speaking directly to them. So, you know, I get connected via a live Zillow connection, and they have no idea who I am, they Google me, and they’re like, oh, like, this guy actually knows what he’s doing. And that legitimizes you. So whereas I was losing, and I don’t know if these numbers are accurate, but I feel like I’m picking up an additional 10 or 20% of clients that would have just fallen by the wayside. Just by the social media efforts that we’re doing.
D.J. Paris 23:47
Yeah, the videos are such a such a strong and powerful idea. And we oftentimes forget, YouTube is the second biggest search engine on the planet. And, you know, of course, people are going to search, they’re going to look to see if you have reviews, they’re going to look to see if you have video content, Google prioritizes video in their search results, if someone searches your name, and you have some videos that that are, you know, Google has deemed important enough to show in the search results. And you show up and of course, especially on a lead, a click to call lead from Zillow, live transfer, you know, while they’re talking to me and be like, Oh, who’s this bad guy, and they’re gonna look you up, and they’re gonna want to make sure that you know, and by the way, the other thing about having videos is it shows who you are physically. It’s like, oh, that’s a real person I’m talking to here’s a video where I can see and hear him providing, you know, content or valuable content to me, and it humanizes you too as well, which is really smart.
Ben Lalez 24:44
So kind of piggybacking off of that. There was that car 2020 outlook thing that will happen last week or two ago, and they were talking about how millennials are, you know, they accounted for 50% of new mortgage edge origination and 2019. Wow. And kind of thinking about that I have a story about. So there’s this one guy, he’s 28. And he actually found me on Instagram. And I, you know, I just touted that that’s not what it’s about finding strangers. But this is the story about, you know, one stranger who did reach out via Instagram. And I’m like, Hey, like, how did you find me? And he’s like, Oh, I know, I knew I needed a real estate broker. And I started my search on Instagram. And that’s, that blew my mind. So you’re talking about how YouTube is the second largest search? And yeah, millennials are using Instagram using LinkedIn. Right? As the search engine. Yeah. And I was floored. So I mean, you can see the tide turning, for millennials, for sure.
D.J. Paris 25:49
And so for those of you who are listening, who are brokers thinking, Okay, well, what do I do? The first thing you want to do what, whatever social media platform you want to really focus in on whether it’s Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, I mean, there’s there’s a lot of options. But what you want to do is create content that people who need your services want to know about. And I think oftentimes, and I’d be curious to get your opinion. I think brokers oftentimes only post about their successes, like here’s a new listing, and I understand that, and I support that, I think that’s great. But if that’s all that you’re doing, I think you’re missing an opportunity to really tell people, you know, content that they might be interested in. So if you want a special like I saw, I know you did a thing on restaurant row recently, which is really smart. And that was yesterday. Oh, that was yesterday. Okay. Yeah, it’s hot today. So really, really smart. So Restaurant Week here in Chicago is coming up. It was a really good time. I’m sure that was not coincidental that it coincided with that time. But you know, if you tag your posts appropriately, whether it’s Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, we tag our stuff to for the podcast, and sometimes people find us just through a tag. So that’s, you know, we think, Oh, if somebody hasn’t following me on Instagram, they’re not going to, they’re not going to find me. Oh, no, people find you, Carrie McCormick, who comes on our show from our properties is like the queen of Instagram. And you should she puts it fifth 5000 tags and every post and like, why do you do that? I mean, I know why she doesn’t like it, does that really work? And she’s like, Oh, my God, she doesn’t get so many clients that way. People just find her because of the content she puts out. And obviously, you’re having similar success.
Ben Lalez 27:37
Yeah, and I think you kind of brushed on it. It’s about putting out relevant content. But I think the part that people are missing is, again, I’ve kind of touted it, just putting your head down and doing the work. But you have to have a consistent approach to social media, anything that you’re doing, but particularly social media. Because consistency counts, the more you put it out there, and the more relevant it is. I don’t claim to know the algorithms behind all of these sites, but they prioritize you eventually, that they see that you’re putting out consistent stuff, high quality stuff that’s getting engagement. So yeah, I think putting out consistent relevant content with a key on consistency is, I think the key
D.J. Paris 28:25
it is and also understanding to the listeners that having them understand that social media, whether it’s you know, whether it’s YouTube videos, or cool Instagram posts, or Instagram stories, or videos, or all of it, it’s it’s a marathon and you are likely not to see results right away. And that’s same thing with even doing this podcast, which is a form of it’s really a social media thing to you know, we barely anybody knew about the show for the first a year or so. And then, you know, eventually people said, Oh, this contents helpful, and they told other people and now here we are, but, but I just had to put my head down. And I still have to put my head down and do it. And I will tell you back to your point about hiring an assistant I forgot to mention this. I have an assistant as well for for the podcast. And she’s amazing. She’s our she’s our casting director. And she keeps me on target because this year we our goal is to double the number of episodes that we’ve done, because left to my own devices, even though I’ve had helpers in the past I don’t I just don’t stay on target. And so for those of you who are listening who think well gosh, I can’t afford to have an assistant or I’m just not at the level there are other options versus hiring somebody you know, down down the street from you or or here locally, there are virtual assistants that you can you can hire. And they’ll of course vary in quality just like any anyone, but if you find a good assistant, it doesn’t necessarily you know, today you need to break the bank. It’s a very achievable thing. I’ve seen lots and lots of Realtors hire virtual assistants and it’s for a very affordable price, and then it really helps them, you know, do what they do best, which is typically working with clients. And Ben was saying, Hey, we’ve got an analyst on our team, right. And so that analyst is probably best spent, you know, analyzing deals and analyzing the market. And, you know, there’s, you can even hire somebody to help you with prospecting and, and there’s lots of assistance you can get. And a lot of times people just think, well, I have to be a top producer first. It’s like, Well, it certainly helps that, you know, you have the income to do it. But you can do it for pretty much on the cheap, because now we’re in such a global gig economy, that you have people from all over the world that that will help you for a very affordable pricing.
Ben Lalez 30:41
My, my first assistant was actually in the Philippines. I actually found her on upwork.com. That was, again, I love it so much. That was back in 2015. So I had, I think I mentioned we did buy and hold some property and I needed to rent it. And you know, at some point, I had three, four or five rentals up on the market. And again, I property managed it myself doing. Yes, so I have all these places up on Craigslist, and Zillow, etc. And my phone just won’t stop ringing. And I’m like, I cannot function like this. So I actually hired someone she was in the Philippines, she worked to Chicago hours. And I feel bad saying how much I paid her. But I’m pretty sure it was a living wage in the Philippines, but it was $3 an hour. Yeah, just to give people an example. And that’s not I mean, I think you can still find people to work for that dollar amount. Now even
D.J. Paris 31:41
I will share a similar story. So I have talked about daily disciplines. And I have a series of disciplines and things I struggle with will say that I should be doing on a daily basis. And, for example, this is a really embarrassing one because I’ve had pets now for 11 years, I have a cat and a dog. And embarrassingly, this is partisan, embarrassing, but my cat, not that the listeners care, but she needs to have her litter box cleaned twice a day, that’s just her she’s particular that way, there’s no way around it. If I don’t do that, over time, she’ll start peeing outside her box. And that creates a lot of problems. So I would love to say that it was just natural for me to clean the litter box twice a day. Sadly, I am not that on top of things. And also I’ll let myself off the hook. So I have this is just an example of one of the one of the reasons why I hired somebody to help with that. Now she lives in the Philippines as well. And I pay her a slightly slightly more than then. Ben’s but she she but that this is many years later, but it’s not much more. And I think I give her seven or $8 an hour, but she only works a couple hours a week. But what she does is she calls me every morning. And she has about 10 things that she goes, Did you remember to clean your cat box twice yesterday? And it sounds silly. Wow. But it’s worth the money. Because by doing that I avoid other problems. Also my cats happier and it’s not she’s not just calling for that. She says hey, did you work out yesterday? Did you check on your finances? Did you you know call your parents and things like that. So
Ben Lalez 33:17
D.J. Paris 33:18
Well, I would love to say that I came up with this idea I did not I learned it and I should give credit to a basically the foremost leadership expert in the world. Certainly in this country. His name is Marshall Goldsmith, he like Council’s presidency councils top Fortune 500 companies. He’s the guy’s a PhDs, a statistician. And he I watched him I got the chance to see him speak somewhere. And he said, he has an assistant and this is a local assistant, he probably pays them a fortune to do exactly what I just mentioned. And I was like, Oh, that’s really smart. Because I struggle with a lot of stuff too. And so every morning for the last two years, my my person names all the she calls me every morning at 730 It’s about a 92nd phone call. And she just relaxed rattles off a list of things. And it really helps me stay on target. So the point is, that Ben and I have mentioned is there are people globally, you know, worldwide that you can find and that are you will pay them a living wage, they will tell you how much they need. And then you can determine if that’s acceptable or not. And boy, it’s amazing the kind of help you can get these days. So think just think about for everyone listening where you struggle, and can that be you know, are there I have a friend this is embarrassing, so I won’t mention their name. But I have a friend who pays somebody from the Philippines to call them every morning and wake them up. This person has a a full time job where she struggles to get to work on time. So I mentioned this to her I said you know there’s there’s probably a lot of solutions. We know you can pay somebody to call you and bug you until you get out of bed. And she was like well that’s really embarrassing. I was like there’s nothing embarrassing about that, like everybody struggles so and she pays somebody now and she gets bogged down until she gets out of bed and she’s never late. So
Ben Lalez 34:59
good work. If I might steal this idea from you.
D.J. Paris 35:03
Well, I stole it from Marshall Goldsmith. So feel free. Yeah, and you know, we talked about your social media, we should plug your social media. So Instagram obviously is a big a big one for you. By the way, you can get to all of Ben’s social media on his website, Ben lawless B and L A lez.com. But Ben, can you promote your Instagram handle as well?
Ben Lalez 35:24
Sure. We are Ben Lala as real estate. So L A L E z on Lola’s, Ben Lala is real estate, on Instagram, and you should be able to find, I mean, you say this all the time, DJ, if someone can’t find you, just by typing in your name on Google, you’re doing something wrong.
D.J. Paris 35:45
And by the way, if you don’t have a social media presence, or you don’t have time to post or you don’t have time to set up, you know, here’s what I always tell people to like, what if you just hired somebody to help get you reviews. So in other words, you hire somebody who every time you have a closing, or every time you’re working with a client, or whatever you think an appropriate time is to remind your clients that it would be helpful if they left a review on either Facebook, Google, Yelp, Zillow, wherever you want reviews, you could pay somebody a very small amount to, you know, reach out to your clients very politely and nice. And ask them, you know, whether it’s email, phone call, whatever, you know, and that’s a good point that people are going to Google you even the referrals that you get are going to Google you and you want to make sure that you have a robust number of reviews, or that you have some content on there, that’s helpful so that people can see what you’re all about. So you can hire people for that too.
Ben Lalez 36:41
And not to mention that there’s services for social media, for example, we use Buffer. I don’t know if you’re familiar, I use Buffer everyday love buffer. So there you go. So you can put all your content for the week or month up there. It’s tough for video, but any static content, you write the copy for each piece and set it and forget it.
D.J. Paris 37:01
Yeah, so we use Buffer for our Facebook page for our podcast, which is facebook.com forward slash keeping it real pod. And it’s funny because Ben needed mentioned buffer so so I so somebody from the Philippines, who is not her name is Rhea. So Rhea works on the show as well and RIA posts every day, through buffer schedules, all of our posts, our intention is to post one valuable, or we rather what we do is we find a valuable piece of content online, and we post it through through buffer and we schedule it and takes her like an hour and she gets all the posts done for the week. So Buffer is great, because you can schedule all your postings and cross post among different social media networks. And it’s awesome. Hootsuite is another great one for that purpose as well. But yeah, so I wanted to ask you this, just because I thought this was kind of an interesting, funny story. You had mentioned that when we were talking to you. But before we started about that you had a final walkthrough and basically somebody had come to move in. When you notice that during the final walkthrough. Yeah.
Ben Lalez 38:08
Sure. So for all intents and purposes, it was a very normal transaction. I was on the buy side, it was a single family home and Irving Park. And couldn’t couldn’t honestly, I couldn’t be more normal. So you know, day of closing, we show up for the final walkthrough. And, you know, I’m with the listing agent, and, you know, the keys not working. And he’s he’s very confused. He’s like, I was just here for the appraisal, you know, two weeks ago, the key works fine. Like it wasn’t cold, so it wasn’t frozen. And we had no idea what was going on. So like, I don’t know why he thought to knock, but he knocks on the door. And this like 15 year old boy walks to the door and goes, Can I help you? And we’re like, what do you what do you mean? Can you help us like, what are you doing here? He’s like, Oh, I live here are like, no, no, you don’t. He’s like, Oh, thank you very much. Goodbye. And he closes the corner.
D.J. Paris 39:11
And we’re looking at each other. Like we say what? Yeah, the best. The best defense is a good offense. Go I’m sorry. Go ahead.
Ben Lalez 39:18
No, so we we have no idea what just happened. We’re looking at each other like, well, what world is this? And we realized quickly what happened? Or we thought someone just broke in or Lord knows what happens. So we call the police. And for once, they actually showed up, like, right away because I don’t know what I said, but it smelled fishy to them. So three cars pull up. They knock on the door, the guy opens the door again. And five minutes later, they’re taking the guy out in handcuffs. And it was a young guy it didn’t seem like like there was no violence or anything like that going on but so they take him into the squad car. He rolls away. And so we go in because we’re still there for final walkthrough. Right. Okay. So we walk in, and we realized that this guy had changed the locks. He had mounted a TV, he had his ex box setup, the fridge is filled with food, there’s furniture, that was not the sellers. This guy had actually broken in, moved in, there was a mail sent to the house in this kid’s name, and had fully just taken ownership. And you know, having been in the business long enough, there’s like, I think we all know that there’s issues, especially once mail is getting sent there. Luckily, we didn’t have to deal with any of that. But yeah, some guy just moved into my client’s future home.
D.J. Paris 40:45
And we see really a 15 year old or was he older pretending to be younger or
Ben Lalez 40:49
no. So at the end of the final walk through, the kids father showed up, I think he wanted to kind of smooth things over and make sure we weren’t going to press charges. But for sure, a minor I don’t know exactly how old he was. But he’s definitely a minor.
D.J. Paris 41:09
That’s incredible that that somebody who’s a minor would even have the wherewithal to do that big of a sort of transition first to know how to get into a property second to then move in. And boy, that’s, that’s incredible.
Ben Lalez 41:23
Yeah, it was, I mean, I haven’t experienced anything like it since and I don’t actually know what like the takeaway is, like, maybe visit the property more often. And but I think it was just a really unique situation. And maybe the kid maybe knew the people who were living there and saw an opportunity to get out of his parents house. And, you know, live it up for a couple of weeks.
D.J. Paris 41:47
Did the did the buyer, was the buyer spooked at all? Did it affect it? Did it affect the closing? Or no,
Ben Lalez 41:53
this client in general was just very laid back. And in the end, I mean, even day up, we just laughed about it. We, you know, I was there with the inspection report. And we made sure that nothing else was crazy. They got a and you know, there’s a relatively new flat screen on the wall. That’s a melee and we’re like, what do we like, what do we do with this? Who does this belong to? And I was like, I guess just like, we’re not gonna ask questions. I guess it’s yours. Let me know if someone comes knocking on the door for it. And that was kind of the last I heard of it.
D.J. Paris 42:30
That’s incredible. You got to do TV out of the out of the deal.
Ben Lalez 42:34
Yeah, exactly. I think you got an x max out of it to
D.J. Paris 42:37
me. Yeah. And, and, and some furniture. Although I don’t know that I’d want furniture a 15 year old and a half. But who knows, maybe a very good point. And then you also had a story, I’d love to hear about where you got into a street race. Running away from people. I don’t know if this is a scary story. So I apologize for laughing, I would love to hear the story.
Ben Lalez 42:59
It is a bit scary. So in 2010 2011, when I just started flipping houses, I entered into a, like a business relationship with an investor on the south side, they would buy up single family homes on the south side. And you know, having mentioned I had my general contractor’s license and real estate license, but flip, I was only flipping one house at a time and I had time on my hands, honestly. So I was looking for ways to kind of fill that time. So they would give me a list of 30 addresses and they had a list of criteria that, you know, they were looking for. And it was very, very specific. Like if the street is not wide enough, don’t like we don’t want to offer if there’s more than x number of board ups on the street we don’t want to offer. So I had this rule where I would drive to the front of the house. And if I didn’t feel comfortable getting on the car, I just wouldn’t and they were cool with that. So I’m in front, I’m in front of this one house. I have like a clipboard and I’m looking you know, I’m looking at the right side of my car at this house just taking some notes. And I turn to the left and there’s a car with four young men in it. Like pressed up, like almost touching my cart to the point where I like cannot like I was scared to even drive away to scratch scratch my car. And I look at I look at the driver and he’s giving me the Roll down your window signal. And I’m like, Shit, I’m like shaking my head. No. And I don’t know for all I know they wanted directions or I don’t know what they wanted. But I go into fight or flight and I’m on like 84th street and Halstead on a side street. And at the time I was driving this little Volkswagen Jetta and I just floor it and it’s a narrow street and I you know, I start driving and they actually start following me so they’re already racing right Behind me,
D.J. Paris 45:00
like your biggest fear is if I drive away, they’re gonna follow me. And then they do.
Ben Lalez 45:04
Yeah, yeah, my biggest fear. We don’t need to go there. But right, so I started driving in a, I cannot find a major street for the life of me. So we’re like zipping down the side streets. And then eventually I find I think it was Hall stat or something. And, you know, my heart is pounding. And I eventually, you know, I eventually drive home and nothing came of it. Maybe it was just for fun, but I doubt it. But that was a Yeah, so the next day I stopped working for them. I told them, is that really? Yeah, this isn’t worth, you know, my, my life here. So thank you very much. It’s been a pleasure working for you. And that was it.
D.J. Paris 45:47
Yeah, I have I have a question too, because we have a lot of female listeners. And, you know, they, obviously, and this affects both men and women, of course. But certainly women are need to be super conscious of where they go, who they meet with. And you know, where they’re going to be, you know, with clients, in particular, since you work with Zillow leads, you know, which, again, are largely, you know, perfectly safe and normal. But of course, you never know. What is your what, what advice do you have for people, you know, men and women who are maybe meeting a client, that isn’t a referral, maybe they got it through a lead source, like Zillow, or just a random phone call or email, you know, as far as where to meet to sort of maximize safety?
Ben Lalez 46:31
Yeah, that’s a really good question. Because, you know, I am handing off certain Zillow leads to people and I have that fear also. So we try to do it, if possible, on a Saturday or Sunday. Hopefully, there’s an open house, but I won’t say unless I’m, like, very confident that the person is legit. I won’t send people unless it’s middle of the day, Saturday or Sunday. But yeah, you know, DJ, I have to be honest with you, it’s, it hasn’t been an issue for me. And I guess it’s not an issue until it is, but I’m happy to hear your thoughts on it.
D.J. Paris 47:07
Yeah, you know, I don’t have a ton of thoughts other than just meet in a public place, you know, and sort of assess the situation from there. So I know a lot of brokers meet people at Starbucks, or coffee shops, or really anywhere, if you need to meet a client, and you haven’t met with them, and you’re getting a goofy feeling. Anytime you get any sort of feeling, that would be a good time to, you know, find a public place to first meet and sort of suss out the situation. And you could always walk away from a client to of course,
Ben Lalez 47:36
yeah, and you’d be surprised a lot of times because I, I take all the calls and I do all the intake and you can tell really quickly if the person is a real buyer or not. And oftentimes, you know, if I do get that feeling, it’s just like, Okay, this guy isn’t real, but the vast majority of people who are especially on Zillow, who are moved to click on a button and be connected to an agent and then let’s listen to our spiel and then schedule a time granted they could be up to no good but we just have I haven’t seen it at all yet.
D.J. Paris 48:15
Yeah, yeah, that’s yeah, that’s that’s a that’s a good point. And and just you know, people just obviously need to use their best judgment and not try to avoid situations that could be potentially dangerous and real quickly, so I just wanted to end with with this one suggestion because obviously you are very systems focused. You know, we talked about nurturing leads and staying in touch with with your sphere of influence your contact list. Do you have any just general advice or specific advice around how brokers should be staying in touch? Because I get that question a lot. It’s like well, okay, I have these 100 names in my CRM and I’m not totally sure what to do with it. Do you have any just any any ideas for to help
Ben Lalez 48:59
them it’s funny you said that DJ cuz 2019 was my first year full time and I discovered this podcast probably the beginning of 2019. And I give myself a lot of guilt because I don’t do flyers and I don’t do cold call I don’t do cancelled expired. So what I would say is like whatever that person is comfortable with for me, I I’ve always been comfortable texting the people that I interact with on a daily basis like everyone wants to text with me so I don’t over think it but going to your system idea. I put in a date once a quarter to touch me literally every single person in my CRM granted the people who are active buyers or sellers I’m reaching out to obviously daily, but you know, you have to systemize it or else you’re gonna drive yourself nuts. So I have a day in my calendar where that is you Every quarter where that is the day that I’m reaching out to 50 100 people if it spills over to two days, so be it.
D.J. Paris 50:08
Yeah, just have have a process, I guess. And, and yeah, that texting is great too. I was this is so funny. So we use for when brokers want to meet with me to learn about our company, we use a scheduling system and I realized this scheduling system, well, I won’t mention it, because I’m going to speak about one thing that they don’t have, which is maybe it’s not possible, but we send out these text reminders about the meeting. And there are lots of scheduling services that will do that, which is so helpful. And so we send out like a day before the meeting, hey, quick reminder, your meeting with DJ in a day. And then an hour before the meeting, we send out another Hey, just a quick reminder, you know, DJ looks forward to seeing you. And it’s it’s a simple little text message. We also send an email as well, just an automated system. But what I’ve realized is, recently in the last year, I’ve had a lot more people that just didn’t show up for the appointment, which is strange, because they set the appointment. So I went Hmm, why would somebody not sure if it’s so weird that I would call them and say, hey, just you know, you missed your appointment, we can reschedule you no problem. And they go, Oh, I replied to your text. And then I went, Oh, and then our system, the system we use just doesn’t allow for people, like they can reply, and the person doesn’t know that we didn’t get it. So they think we got the text because of course people reply to texts all the time. So now I’ve realized I need to really find a system that allows for that two way texting, because we automate all that. And but yeah, you’re right. It’s so smart to do it through tax, because that’s, that’s the preferred method of communication for a lot of people. So very, very smart to stay in touch that way. And then I started dialogue on text.
Ben Lalez 51:40
Yeah, and I am sure you know, the stat. But I think like the open rates of texts are what’s like 98% versus I don’t know who it is on email. But
D.J. Paris 51:50
yeah, maybe five? Yeah, well, let it for everyone who’s listening, especially if you’re in the Chicagoland area. Ben has a very successful team at Compass, obviously, great company. And Ben’s, obviously in his team have had tremendous, tremendous success in the last several years. And they’re growing. And they’re looking for new brokers and an admin position as well. So but in addition to that, for all of our listeners, maybe you’re a buyer or a seller and investor or renter, anyone who’s in the need of wanting to work with someone like Ben, or if you’re a broker who wants to join a team like Ben’s, Ben, what’s the best way someone can reach out to you.
Ben Lalez 52:31
Kind of like what we just said, easiest way is text 847-452-9675.
D.J. Paris 52:38
Right. And you can also visit Ben, Ben’s website, which has been lawless.com, Ben la lz.com. And of course, links to his Instagram account, which everyone should check out because the content is really impressive. And you can also find him all of you can contact him through email that way, through his website, as well. So Ben, thank you for being a dedicated listener to the show, which I did not know before, before you came on board. So it was really nice to know that it’s been helpful for you and your team, I really appreciate the kind words there and, and also for being part of the show is really, really special to us. So we appreciate your time. I know how busy you are. So this is a really an honor for us. And on behalf of Ben and myself to all the listeners, you’re the reason why we keep doing this. And Ben, of course is you know, it was when we were talking with him before the show, he said whatever I can do to help other brokers. That is what I want the message to be. So that’s the kind of person Ben is. So we’re super, super grateful, Ben to you. And for everyone listening, one way that you can help our show is number one to support our sponsors. But number two, to make sure that you tell a friend right everyone knows another realtor who would love to increase their production. And that’s what we do on the show. So definitely let other brokers Realtors real estate agents, depending on what they call them in the state and city you’re in. Let them know about the show and you know, have them subscribe. And also one last thing, since I’m asking for things I’m just asked for one more, if everyone who is utilizing like iTunes or Google Play or, or Stitcher or Spotify, whatever you’re using and listen to the show. If you could leave us a review that would really, we would really appreciate it. So the more people we reach, the more interviews we can do and we can continue to keep this train rolling. So Ben again, thank you so much for being part of our show everyone go to Ben lawless.com. And if you want to join Ben’s team reach out he’d he’d love to talk to you.
Ben Lalez 54:31
Thank you so much DJ