“20 Minutes of Successful Niche Secrets – EPISODE 47”,
Where I help Didi Roberts Figure out Where to Begin as a New Agent
“20 Minutes of Successful Niche Secrets – EPISODE 47,”
Where I help Didi Roberts Figure out Where to Begin as a New Agent
Glenn: Hi! It’s Glenn McQueenie, and welcome to my 25-Minute Success Series Podcast. Today, we have Didi Roberts on the line from beautiful London, Ontario. How are you doing, Didi?
Didi: Good! How are you?
Glenn: I’m good!
Didi: Thanks for having me on.
Glenn: Oh, my pleasure! I’m looking forward to this, because this is going to be interesting as we just explore where you are right now, and also where you want to go. And then we’ll try to figure out a really cool approach and niche market for you to get in so you can just build a really big business and have a lot of fun. So just give us a little bit of your background right now. How long have you been in the business or what did you do before that, and where would you like to take your business?
Didi: Okay, well I’m currently in school right now. I’m at the last leg of it, so I’m hoping to be done by the end of May. Previously I have been involved heavily in the direct sales aspect of things. I do have a degree from the University of Windsor, but I started very young in the direct sales business and have a lot of experience in sales and things like that. I just recently moved to London, Ontario from Windsor about a year and a half ago, so it’s been good. It’s been nice building relationships with people and doing my schooling and prepping for my business, so I’m excited!
Glenn: Great! Do you have a big sphere in London right now or are you just getting to know people?
Didi: I don’t have a big sphere, but I do have a circle of people that I deal with and hang around with.
Glenn: Okay. You were saying that you were doing a lot of direct marketing or direct sales before, so what were you doing before specifically? What was your job?
Didi: Basically we were doing a water filtration company. My husband and I owned the water purification system, so my job, basically, was to be the person on the phone doing the phone closes. I ran the booking room department, so I would train the girls on the phone to do the cold calling. That was basically my role. I was like the manager.
Glenn: Okay. If you think about, as you come into London, how you want to build your business, do you want to do it by phone, by person (Open Houses)? Where do you feel most comfortable lead generating?
Didi: I would like to think that I’m multi-faceted, but maybe that’s just my ego talking. I enjoyed working on the phone and training the girls, and I enjoyed doing the phone closes on the phone. I would like to think that I was pretty good at it. But I also loved being the face as well, dealing with customers face to face. In starting my business right now, I’m not sure how to narrow it down. I just don’t know where to really narrow it down, I guess.
Glenn: Okay. If you had a magic wand right now, what’s the perfect customer avatar? Who would be your dream-come-true client that you would just feel comfortable working with and serving? How old are they? What kind of home would they be looking for? What’s their biggest challenge right now?
Didi: I would definitely love to work with someone who’s just starting out, wanting to buy a house – just making them feel empowered and helping them, and I’m getting them going. I’m really big on helping people, so that’s something that I feel I would love to do. Just being that person to help them find their first dream home, because it’s a big change, and I want to be a part of that big change in their lives.
Glenn: Right. Okay. And where are those people now? Before they buy their first home, where do you think they’re living right now?
Didi: In an apartment, possibly? In their parents’ basement? I don’t know.
Glenn: I think you’ve probably covered most of the bases.
Didi: I mean, that’s what I’m thinking in my mind, I guess.
Glenn: Okay, so they’re renters right now, so we have to find a way to target renters. Or if they’re staying at their parents’ place, thinking about buying, what do you think is keeping them up at night? What do you think their biggest fears are right now?
Didi: You mean with somebody who wants to buy a house?
Glenn: Yeah. They’re buying their first home. What do you think the conversation is?
Didi: I think the biggest thing is whether they can actually attain a mortgage. Are they qualified? Are they making enough money? I think that would be the first thing that they would think of. Where do they start?
Glenn: Okay. There are a lot of online mortgage calculators now where people can go on and put in their income and it’ll tell them (in a roundabout way) how much of a home they can afford. A lot of that stuff that we used to do as agents before, like qualify them or send them to our mortgage broker (which is still important – it’s still a great value-add), a lot of people can find those. If you were to Google “How much can I afford to buy a home for in London?” the first thing that will probably come up would be a mortgage calculator. It’s like, “Put in your income. List your debts.” And then they’ll say, “Based on this, you’re approved for $275,000 - $300,000.” Does that make sense?
Glenn: Yeah, so I think it would be great. And these are widgets, right? If you ever wanted to create a website or something like that, it’s a widget you could just add on, “How much I can afford.” But I think there’s a bigger picture going on. The bigger fear is, “Okay, now I’m pre-qualified for this.” Now, if someone knows, “Okay, I’m qualified for $350,000,” what do you think their next fear is? What’s the next conversation they’re having with themselves or with their partner?
Didi: What kind of house can we get for that price?
Glenn: Right. What kind of house? They’ll probably also want to know what’s the best area to be in, right? And they’ll also probably be talking about, “Okay, where do we work? And how far is it to work?” The beautiful thing about London, Ontario is the max, you’re 20 minutes away from everything.
Didi: Yeah, exactly.
Glenn: The perfect 20-minute city.
Glenn: So then what do you think their next conversation is? “Okay, so now we’re going to look into this area.” What do you think they’re going to do next?
Didi: I would think that it could become very overwhelming, so “Where do we start to look? How do we even start looking? Where do we get the resources to figure out – yeah, we want this area – but how do we start looking?”
Glenn: Right. Well what we’ve found with a lot of the research is that about 97% of first-time buyers begin their home search online. So they actually will go to REALTOR.ca, because it usually has all the properties, instead of going to individual brokerage websites, because it’s just too much work. So they’ll go to REALTOR.ca, and then they’ll start seeing just what kind of homes are available, right? And then what we’ve found is that people will start jumping into their cars and they’ll start driving by some of these homes, kind of like a detective, almost. “I’m a CIA Special Agent. Nobody can know, but I’m driving around the neighbourhoods, checking out these homes.” And then they’ll usually start going into Open Houses, right?
Glenn: Yeah, so we can understand that that’s the buying process. People are like, “How much can I afford? Okay, now what’s the best area?” Now, we’re just going to go and start looking at product, and then they’ll start coming up with other things, like “When’s the best time to buy?”
Glenn: “Is it now?” “Is spring the best time to buy?” Or they’ll talk to their friends, and their friends are like, “Oh, we were in multiple offers the other day,” and they’ll be like, “Oh, we don’t want to get into multiple offers.” These are the conversations that you’ll start to hear. So once we figure out the persona – almost like the avatar of what the buyer is – then we can start designing the marketing platform in order to get in their way during the transaction.
Glenn: So how much is a typical first-time buyer home in London?
Didi: I’m not sure. I don’t know - $100,000? Under $100,000? I don’t know to be honest.
Glenn: Yeah. I think it’s way more than that, so I would probably say the first step for you is you should get on REALTOR.
Didi: I’m from Windsor, so I’m thinking Windsor.
Glenn: I know. Windsor, you’re doing well! So I would think the first step for you is to answer that question, and that will involve you getting on REALTOR.ca and finding out. I would argue it’s probably going to be between $200,000 and $300,000 in London.
Glenn: So, specifically now, teaching you, I think you’ve got to get up to speed on your knowledge before you finish your license at the end of May and start meeting clients. I’d probably tell you to get in your car now and start driving around the different neighbourhoods of London. Start from wherever you live in London. If it’s the intersection, start going to the Northwest quadrant, then the Southwest, then the Southeast, and then the Northeast quadrant, and just get a quadrant view of what house prices are in the immediate four quadrants to your home.
Didi: Okay, that’s great. I’ve actually been sort of doing that, but this is wonderful to start doing that more. Yeah, great!
Glenn: Yeah! And then number two is, I would start going to all the weekend Open Houses to go and start seeing all these properties. Now you can actually get out and see them, and now you can track them, because you’ll be able to watch them once they get sold. You’ll be like, “Oh, they were asking $265,000 and they got $255,000.”
Didi: Oh, that’s a great idea!
Glenn: Yeah. “These people were $265,000, but they got $295,000. Well why did they get $295,000?” Now you can actually be physically in the houses and start tracking all of the recent sales.
Glenn: Right. And then if you can get access to the MLS or you know another agent, the best thing you can do is ask them to print off all the recent solds in the last three months.
Glenn: And then jump back in your car and drive by, and look at what everything is selling for over the last three or four months, because you’re going to gain a whole lot of confidence right now by just understanding what the product is first.
Didi: Yes, that’s true.
Glenn: And most people getting their license try to skip this, because they just want to get to clients and start making money, but they misunderstand – what’s the value you’re going to be adding to somebody if you don’t know what the recent solds were and you don’t know what the average prices are, and you don’t know why prices are this price in this area compared to that area? This is where you start adding value, because people can’t really Google that stuff.
Glenn: They can Google everything else in real estate, but they can’t Google the inner wisdom of a marketplace. That’s where you come in, and that’s where you start adding value. I want you to be so confident in the next 90 days that you’ve looked at so many properties, that when you’re doing, say, an Open House in June once you get your license, and someone walks in and says, “Oh, I don’t really like this house.” You can say, “Oh, well where are you looking?” And they say, “Oh, we’re first-time buyers. We’re thinking about here.” You’re like, “Well, would you like a free list of the Top 10 Best Homes for sale in this neighbourhood?” (because you know the neighbourhood). “How much money do you want to spend? Oh, you know what? This neighbourhood’s going to be better because of the schools, and because of this, and better resale value.” “Oh, you want to spend that much? You probably won’t get into that neighbourhood, but we’ll get you into this neighbourhood.” Once you can figure out that stuff (and you can do all of this before you get licensed), this is where your confidence and value-add will start to show up when you meet your first client that you’re working with.
Didi: Wow. Yeah, I totally see what you’re saying. That’s why I’ve just been so lucky to be able to do some training (some courses and stuff), because look at all this stuff that you actually get to learn even before you start, right?
Didi: This is so amazing to have that little info there.
Glenn: Yeah. I want you to think about it as if you were hiring me right now to come and join you in the water filtration business. I’m joining you, and the first thing you would probably want to train me on is the product.
Glenn: Right. You would focus all my time there. I’m like, “No, no, no. I just want to go and sell it.” You’re like, “Whoa, whoa, whoa. You don’t even know what you’re selling yet.”
Didi: No, absolutely. That’s the first thing we do.
Glenn: So think about it. The same business you’re in, you’re just moving these skills into real estate. If you would teach someone coming into your business the first thing is product knowledge, then the first thing you have to learn in real estate is the product knowledge. See, the gift that you have right now is you already have the sales experience and the emotional intelligence of dealing with lots of people, and you can change personality. That is really what lead conversion is all about. There’ll be lots of people who know everything about the product, but they couldn’t close a book. Do you know what I mean?
Didi: Yeah. Right!
Glenn: Because they don’t know how to deal with people and don’t understand how people actually function, right?
Didi: Yeah. No, you’re right.
Glenn: In our industry, you can buy leads generated, because that’s the easy part of our industry. The hard thing is converting a lead. It’s the same thing in the water filtration business.
Didi: Yeah. It’s the psychology of it – understanding the customers and what they need. But the product knowledge is the base, first.
Glenn: The base, and the confidence. If you’re teaching me the product knowledge of the water filtration systems, once I got it, do you think I’m going to be more confident talking about those systems?
Didi: Oh, for sure.
Glenn: That’s right. You know in sales that a lot of it is about confidence and trust. You can tell when someone knows what they’re talking about, and you can tell when someone’s absolutely bluffing you with BS.
Didi: Yes, 100%.
Glenn: That’s really what we’re talking about over the next 90 days, is get your product knowledge so nailed, that by the time you actually get licensed, you’re ready to go.
Didi: Yeah. Wow, that’s really great advice.
Glenn: Right. Let’s go back to you training me in the water filtration. If I said, “Okay, I want to sell in Thunder Bay, Montreal, Nova Scotia, and Rochester, NY.” What would you say to me?
Didi: Well, what do you know about those areas?
Glenn: Right! That’s right. You’d probably tell me, “Why don’t you pick one area first?”
Didi: I mean, it’s not rocket science here!
Glenn: I know! That’s exactly what I’m telling you. You already know these answers. I’d tell you to pick one area that you want to focus on first, and know that area. And once you’ve conquered one area, move on to the next.
Glenn: And the big thing/area that you have to conquer is, where are all the first-time buyer homes? Where are all the first-time buyers right now? And then how can we create a marketing campaign that would get the renters to call me before they buy that first-time home?
Didi: Hmm. Wow.
Glenn: I don’t want to sound like a broken record for some of our listeners here right now, because lately I’ve been spending a lot of time on either Instagram or Facebook targeted ads. If you create a Facebook business page called “First-time London Home Buyers,” who’s going to go to that page?
Didi: Well, the first-time London home buyers.
Glenn: Yeah! What are the odds, right?
Didi: Oh my God! Again!
Glenn: That works!
Didi: This is like ABCs!
Glenn: There you go! And then what are those people going to want on that? They’re going to want to come there, and they want to find out about how to maybe get qualified. Start Google content marketing, and you’ll realize that it’s such a huge market right now. By providing free content to people, you position yourself as an expert, and then you start building a tribe around what people are interested in. It’s no different than the X Games, for example, where they just built a product and they gave it away for free on t.v. and it built a massive industry, because the only people who are going to watch the X Games are people who are interested in the X Games.
Didi: X sports, yeah.
Glenn: So Facebook is your television channel, where people can come and watch the content that they really want. You could start doing stories about “How to get qualified,” “Here are the 20 mistakes that most home buyers make and how to avoid them,” “Here are the 10 best areas to buy a home in London,” “Here are the 10 best school districts in London.” “Oh, by the way, on June 15, I’ll be doing London’s first first-time buyer tour of homes, and I invite everyone to come. We’re going to go and see these six homes. We’re going to start at 12:00. We’ll be done at 2:30, and we’re all going to go for beer afterwards.” That’s how you start building up your niche tribe.
Didi: Wow. Yeah, it makes total sense when you put it that way.
Glenn: Yeah, because that’s what they want. As long as you just give your customer what they want, then they’ll come and get it. We don’t have to go out of our way.
Glenn: It’s because you’re providing the most relevant content. And then with Facebook, you can do targeted ads, where you’re like, “Okay, here’s where all the renters are. They’re in those five apartment buildings. I want to hit that postal code and I want to do a targeted ad campaign of my first London first-time home buyer tour.” Or you target “Free list of the Top 10 Best Homes for First-time Buyers in London,” and you just tell people to private message you for the list. And then when they actually call or message you for the list, you go right into a Buyer Consultation. “Oh, well I want to make sure I’m going to send you the right list, so what’s the perfect home? What is the perfect location? What’s the perfect price range? And what’s the perfect time frame?” And based on their answers, you could easily pick the 10 best homes. So you don’t even have to have the list yet. The list is only the reason for them to call you.
Glenn: Mhmm. Yeah. And then I’d probably also want to start doing Open Houses, because I think you’re going to be really good at them. You’ve had so much customer interaction with people that nothing’s really going to throw you off at Open Houses, and you’ll be approachable to everyone who comes in them. Start doing Open Houses in first-time buyer neighbourhoods.
Didi: Areas, yeah.
Glenn: Right. And that’s where you get to do more customer research, because then they’re walking in, and you start talking to them. They’re like, “Oh, we’re looking for our first home.” Or some people are already working with an agent. It doesn’t really matter. You can even say to them, “If I was going to do a seminar for first-time buyers, what would you like me to cover at that seminar?” Now they’ll start telling you what they really want.
Glenn: It’s getting that inner wisdom research from your target market, and then you just deliver right back exactly what they wanted.
Didi: Mhmm. I was going to say, when I was thinking of the narrowing your niche market, I was like, “Well I don’t want to necessarily limit myself,” but if you focus on first-time buyers, and you just have these little pockets of different things that include first-time buyers, then you’re really not limiting yourself.
Didi: Does that make sense, what I just said?
Glenn: Yeah. Everyone thinks, when I talk about niche, that that’s the only market they’re allowed to go in, and I never say that.
Didi: Well that’s what I was thinking. Yeah, it’s interesting.
Glenn: Yeah. It’s only 20-25% of your time, initially, because you’re still going to be running around doing other stuff. So your time dedicated to your niche grows with the size and the volume that gets produced out of the niche. If within one year, 80% of your business is coming from your niche, you should probably be committing 80% of your time there. Why wouldn’t you?
Didi: Yeah, because then you’ll know, right? You’ll have the stats. Yeah, for sure.
Glenn: Yeah. And then the last thing or offer I would probably suggest that you give people is, there are a lot of people renting right now, who, if you put them all together, would go and buy a home. There might be a lot of single guys or single women, or two couples that can’t afford a home, but you could find a duplex for them, and with the rent they’re paying, it would be cheaper for them to own that home than to continue to pay rent. So you can start creating these investment clubs, where all you did was get first-time buyers or people who don’t think they can own a home. You get them together, and they buy a duplex, triplex, fourplex, whatever. They all agree they’re going to be there for five years together and either sell it or just refinance the property and then buy their own home. There are so many different niche markets even within just working with first-time buyers, that it doesn’t have to be just, “Oh, I’m renting, I’ve got to buy.” It could be, “I’m going to joint venture and buy a property together with a bunch of friends.” Why don’t we join and create an investment club of only first-time buyers who only want to buy investment properties? And there’s no limit on how big what I call your “complementary niche markets” can grow once you establish the first one, because every niche market will have five or six complementary, smaller niche markets that circle around it.
Didi: Yeah. I totally get it.
Glenn: It’s kind of fun, isn’t it? If you think about it, that’s the beautiful thing about niche markets – you just never know how big they’re going to grow, right?
Didi: Yeah. Just to break it down like this, it’s amazing to see where you can dig in, but still keep that same focus.
Glenn: Yeah. And then it goes even deeper, right? If you have an investment property, which is a sub-niche off of your first-time buyer niche market, you could easily build a property management division, a rental division, and a repair division, which are all complementary markets off of that. And then build a separate business just running income properties for people, because a lot of people have money, but they don’t have time. What if you already had three first-time buyers willing to go and buy an investment property? Could you go market that back to the investment property owners in London and say, “Hey, I have three people who are thinking about buying your house. Let me know if you want to sell it. No muss, no fuss. It doesn’t even have to go on the market. I’d just like to be able to show this property.”
Didi: Oh, absolutely.
Glenn: Yeah. And then you start playing the triangle game, which is you, buyers and sellers. You don’t even have to go near MLS. So much fun!
Glenn: So did you get some ideas?
Didi: Are you kidding me? I was literally trying to write so fast as you’re talking. I’m like, “Golden Nuggets! Golden Nuggets!”
Glenn: Well the great thing is, you’re going to have a recording of this call, so you can listen to it all over again, right?
Didi: Oh yeah! Exactly! Oh, jeeze! This is good, Glenn!
Glenn: Alright, well thank you so much for joining me on the call today. It was such a pleasure to have you on.
Didi: Yes, it was awesome. Thank you so much for the great advice. I’m going to put them to use, and once I start my business, there’s no excuse why I can’t be an awesome agent.
Glenn: There you go! I think you will be! Alright, take care, Didi.
Didi: Okay, thanks Glenn.
Glenn: Okay, bye bye.