How Rick Brown Books First and Asks Questions Second
The market is shifting, and many agents are asking how they should adjust to keep growing their business. Rick Brown has a wealth of experience when it comes to building a business, running an extraordinary Real Estate team, and hiring professionals that believe in his, and their own ability to win. Spoiler alert: they win a lot.
Whether you’re a single agent, on a team, or considering building your own team, he is an ultimate asset to anyone he has conversations with. How has he strived through a shifting market, and how has their team continued to experience growth? Read on to find out!
Tell us a little bit about what led you into Real Estate?
Actually, I have a connection to the UK. My mum is English and I grew up there when I was little. We lived there until I was about 5 years old, and then we moved to the U.S. first to California, and then to Orlando when my father retired from the Air Force. I actually got my first start in sales when I was 12 years old. My dad worked for an insurance company, and he would give away items. We used to give away wallets, which I would go into school and sell. They expelled me (my sales were good), only because they didn’t see me as an entrepreneur. I started to learn more about outside sales, and started selling photocopiers. When I was selling one to a client with a recruiting company, they asked if I had ever thought about getting into international transportation. I started working for a logistics company, and moved from just a salesman to a regional vice president, and then traveled 280 days a year doing international logistics – import and export trade from Europe to the U.S. I did that for about 25 years and then the wheels came off. I was watching Millionaire Real Estate Agent, and my girlfriend at the time (who is now my wife and business partner) said, “You should do that.” I met with one of the agents here and thought – maybe she was right. I passed my test on the fourth time (it doesn’t define you if you fail the first few times). I became a single agent, and as a new agent I thought I didn’t have a database.
You gave up a six figure job to become a Real Estate Agent?
It was a huge gamble, but I didn’t jump right away. Being an independent contractor of my own, I was able to determine my hours. Once Real Estate took off so fast that I had to make that jump and realize that, if I was going to do this, I had to jump in on all fours. I had an amazing wife at the time that said look, if we have to live on beans and weenies, we will for whatever it takes until you can get off the ground. I did have a little nest egg though, a nice 401k that I was able to live off of.
From your point of view you started part time, but went all in very quick.
In about three months.
When we do interviews like this, you can ask what’s the this what’s the that what’s the magic behind this, but you have an incredible work ethic. When you started this, you had an incredible work ethic. When you threw yourself into it, you went all in. You were absolutely throwing yourself at Real Estate until it worked.
Yeah, pretty much 70 hours a week. That’s what allowed traction so quickly.
I just knew that if I was going to make this happen, it was going to be all about me putting my feet forward. I always stay positive and always look at the glass as being half full. I have to throw out the fact that my wife was a huge support. Knowing that if I failed, she would support me allowed me to succeed. I knew that I was letting the new clients that I was getting down, and my focus was becoming more on Real Estate, and it was time.
With regards to the effort you put into making sure you gave great service, how is that repaying you now?
Tenfold. When I first got into the Real Estate business, I didn’t think I had a database. It was actually you (Craig) who made me realize that all of my international travels could beneficial. I was able to go back and start there, and reach a whole new platform that I would have never thought of. Obviously in the beginning I didn’t know that, and I didn’t know you Craig, so I had to figure out how I was going to lead generate, and so I also dove into open houses. It made it feel like a retail thing. People would come into the open house, and then all I had to do was convince them to buy the house. No one told me I was there to capture the leads, so I would sell the house, and I did that 11 times in four months.
How did you approach the open houses differently to attract a buyer rather than gain leads?
It was really all about the pre-marketing for the open house. Actually everything is about the pre-plan. It also had to do a lot with social media, and obviously social media has become much better now, back then it was a lot of door knocking. We would knock 25 – 50 doors, but at some point you would have that conversation of, “Obviously you don’t want to buy the house but maybe you know someone who does.” Often it would come from someone in that neighborhood that would invite their friend to the open house and buy the house. Somebody comes into your open house, and the goal is to gain their information. Why not give them an incentive to do that by winning something. We would partner with our Title Company and other allies to make gift baskets, and every time someone came in and filled in their information, they got entered to win. Then, through Facebook Live, we would announce the winners. By having their information, I could then follow up. Having the conversations when people come in is so important. I understood the neighborhood, and was able to communicate it.
If you were starting again today, from scratch, would you use open houses as a major lead generation source?
100% I would! I was doing them seven days a week Craig, you know that. You get one buyer from every open house, you get seven new buyers. Again, I was initially doing seven open houses a week and I was selling the home. It got to the point where you had to reduce that, but still today, eight years later, and I’m still doing open houses. It’s our team’s form of lead generation. If people are out there looking at an open house, they are ready to buy.
If you’re sitting in an office, is anybody knocking on your door saying, “Can I work with you?” No. But if you’re sitting in an open house, and you’re the one doing it on a Tuesday when no one else is doing it, is there a chance someone comes in and says, “Can I work with you?” You can bring your laptop, you can bring your tools, you can sit in the house, make your calls, and do your lead generation. Someone comes to your open house in those two hours, that’s a buyer you wouldn’t have gotten otherwise.
It is a numbers game. If you only do one a week, you’re going to have a lesser chance of success.
In your rookie year, were you close to 60 – 70 houses?
63 houses, and a little over 18 million.
The other thing that you were super good at, you were amazing from converting leads from a phone call.
I think the first thing is speed to lead. Making sure that you are the first one to reach out. We have a 27 second rule that if you haven’t reached out within 27 seconds you’ve lost it, but I don’t think you give yourself enough credit Craig, because you were the one that taught me the man method, and it’s something that I still teach today on my team. The MAN method is Motivation, Ability, and Need. It’s something I’ve employed for eight years, and it really gives you a timeline when you’re having that conversation. For me, the first thing that we have to do is convert the lead by scheduling the appointment. Right out of my mouth when I get a lead and I go to convert it is, “Hi this is Rick Brown with the Brown Home Group, when do you want to see the property?” If you have scheduled an appointment, you’ve got them ready to go. I always say, “When would you like to see it?” If you say, “Can I help you?” These are close ended questions and they will probably shut you down with a no.
My conversion rate is 12%, and it came from building commonality. I think that’s the real key with internet leads and phone call leads – you have to find something that can connect you. So I ask other questions that aren’t Real Estate related. When you talk about motivation, you’re looking to see why they are moving to Orlando, and what that looks like. I would find out what you do for a living, where you’re from. These are things that I can build commonality with. If someone says I have kids and we want better schools, well that’s common ground that I have because I have kids that went to school. I don’t always ask, so why a 3/2. Why this zip code, as much as I want to know about them. Find out what their kids’ names are. Really good notes help. We do a lot of video texting, and it’s always nice when you finish that call to immediately video text your client and put a face to the voice. Remember, when you’re talking to somebody that’s just an internet lead or a phone call, they have no idea who you are and you are no different than any other agent that’s going to call them. If you can personalize that with a video saying, “Hey Pauline, just want to thank you so much for taking time to talk to me, I’m really excited to meet you at 123 Mainstreet, Tuesday, and 1:00.” Again, we are confirming the appointment, and again I’ll reiterate, “You may get phone calls from agents, but just tell them you’re working with Rick Brown and The Brown Home Group.
Here, you usually can’t write an offer without a pre-approval, but you don’t need one to look at a house. We have a higher conversion rate also because we don’t ask if they have a pre-approval letter. I’m at least going to show you one. I’ll take you out, and I’ll meet you, because we do our best work when we are in front of somebody. The goal is to get in front of them, and by doing that, give them what they want. They come through saying that they want to work with you to buy a house. Give them what they want, meet them, and here’s another thing – if that house is pending – I’ll still go and show it. That property could come back on the market in 24 hours. It may never come back on the market, but I also may show the property and they may not like it. I build relationships, and I show that I am committed. In Real Estate, it’s all about how I can differentiate myself from the competition. How can I be better and what can I do that differentiates me from the next Realtor? Be who you are, show your commitment and loyalty to them and they will show theirs back to you. The whole thing is to build that bridge of trust that they aren’t going to want to look for another Realtor. Why? Because you’re going to give them what they need.
I know there are a lot of looky-loo’s, but when you’re in front of the house, ask them what their credit score is. If they don’t know it, then they aren’t ready to look. I still feel like if they can’t buy today they can buy tomorrow. We still need Real Estate tomorrow the same way we need it today. I still want to build and carry that relationship.
How have you been able to keep in touch with your database while you were doing 63 deals a year?
Kim has been such a help with that, and the 36 to Convert plan really does help us keep top of mind with our clients and potential clients. If you’re looking for something, you usually go to the last person that you have interacted with. If you don’t continue to stay connected, you will have the chance of losing that past client that should have been yours. I’ll be honest with you, 85% of my business is coming from my database via referrals, so I feel like that’s a big number and most of my internet team leads – I don’t even take those now. I give those to my agents.
Talk me through the script where you talk about not needing another agent.
I finish the call and say I’m going to ask two things of you. To go back to the whole thing – it really starts with the energy. When you take that call, you really have to be excited because they’re about to buy a house or sell a house and they’re going to use you to do it. At the end of the day, I’m always excited, and I say that. “I’m so excited to work with you.” I get more energy going so that they feed off of it. With our leads, it goes to three other agents besides us, so when the lead comes in, I’ll be talking to them and I’ll hear the beeping in the phone while I’m having my conversation so I have to stop and say, “Just so you know, that call you’re getting, don’t take it. They’re going to reach out, but just text them back saying you work with The Brown Home Group, and they’ll leave you alone.” Yes, I’m assuming they’ll work with me, but why shouldn’t I? I never ask, “Are you working with a Realtor?” That will put the dagger in the conversation because they’re going to say yes. I never even bring that up. If they want to bring it up, let them, but I won’t ever say it. I’m just going to go with the full idea that I’m your Realtor of choice and I’m going to ask 2 things at the end of the conversation 1. that you’re going to give me a 5 sar review because I’m going to earn it, and 2. that you’re going to tell your friends and family when they need a Realtor, to call Rick Brown at Brown Home Group. I say I’m going to ask for two things from you, and then I pause. Then they wait anxiously, and then when I tell them the two they become relaxed. Then I say before we’re done with this transaction I want one of those referrals, so start thinking of who it is you might know that would like to buy or sell because I’m going to ask you every time we see each other. That’s how we build our business.
I want the other Realtors to know that they lost the lead to me because in our case we share that same lead with a similar agent. It is a game in a way. Do I win every one? No, but if you talk to someone and they say they’re working with a Realtor and they can’t say the name off the tip of their tongue, then they’re not working with a Realtor. They need to know who you are, and what brokerage you’re working for. I’m going to be respectful and treat loyalty the way it is. If they are working with someone, I appreciate loyalty, but I will always share my information so if anything ever changes I would love to be their next call. Some of these Realtors are always looking for the low hanging fruit, and I’m not going to give up on someone because they can’t buy a house today. I do it in the open houses too.
For new agents, what do they need to do now?
It really does depend on your database. If you have that, I’d start there. I would rant and rave about how great it is to be a Realtor, and how much I want to work with you. I may be new, but I’ll find the answers. If I didn’t have a database, I wouldn’t sit in an office. I would get myself out there and get to know people. Making phone calls is great, circle prospecting is great, and I would do that too. I would get myself out and about in the community, being in front of people where they could ask me questions.
I use Facebook messenger, and talk to anyone with a green light on there. I’ve been focused today on my database. The 36 touch emails that Kim and the team does, I follow up those with a call. Also, today, we’re doing events. I would do that if I was a single agent, and if I was on a team. It really is all about growing, connecting, and maintaining your database. It’s my number one thing.
Rick’s technique of giving people what they wanted first and asking questions second gave Rick a higher conversion rate. His conversion rate is 12 percent when 1 – 2 percent is the average from these type of lead calls; he makes a connection with this person that goes beyond real estate. Every other Real Estate agent is talking to these people as if, “Is it worth my time to show you this house first.” Rick goes for the appointment first and has the conversation second. A higher percentage of the properties that these people are calling on are already sold or historic listings. They aren’t actually available. Most other Real Estate agents would say, “Let me educate you on what you need because that house isn’t available.” They run the risk of losing that potential client. Whether it’s available or not, Rick’s committing them to the appointment. He’s giving them what they really want, which is to have someone open a door for them. It’s to have someone sit down with them and map out a plan, and take care of them, and that’s exactly what it takes to make it in this business.
See Rick’s full interview on video here.
Our Next MasterChat is…
On the 25th of October our guest is Ugo Arinzeh of Onyx Property Team KW Prime!
Based in London, Ugo is one of Keller Williams UK’s origin agents. She joined in 2015 and has been passionately building her real estate business alongside KW ever since. She is without doubt one of it’s most successful, loyal and dedicated agents and has recently achieved the esteemed position of being a “capped” agent at the KW Prime market centre.
Her business has been built on the buyer side of the property market, by offering exceptional service to UK and overseas clients, not only looking for a suitable property but buying a London lifestyle too. Ugo has made it her mission to know and promote many areas of this wonderful city and has been extremely successful featuring them on YouTube, and in her email and direct mail marketing. She has mastered the art of developing her brand – Onyx Property Team “Selling London Beautifully”.
Expect to be WOWED! Make sure to register HERE in advance to secure your space on the MasterChat!