PODCAST EPISODE #1 – Monte Burris with Trust Realty Group

“20 Minutes of Successful Niche Secrets – EPISODE 1”,

Where I Interview Monte Burris from “Trust Realty Group”

Hi it’s Glenn McQueenie, and thanks for joining me today on 20 Minutes of Insider Secrets of Successful Niches.  Today’s guest is Monte Burris.  Monte Burris is currently ranked in the top 1% of all realtors on the Toronto Real Estate.  But it wasn’t always that way.  In fact, only just a few years ago he was working as a generalist buyer agent for another team, running anywhere around the city of Toronto to try and get a deal.  He finally woke up one day and said, ‘You know what? I think the future is becoming a super hyper-local neighbourhood specialist.’  And what he’s done since, for the last just two or three years, has learned first of all that he can make a great living right outside his front door and moved from this just general buyers’ specialist to this super hyper-local niche specialist.  And then what he’s done is he’s then built a team of seven additional neighbourhood specialists that surround this first territory.  And he’s going to share with us how he did that today and how you, by going into a hyper-niche market, can start becoming the…the celebrity specialist of your niche, working with higher margin clients, and getting leads to come to you instead of you chasing them because your perceived value in the marketplace is just so much higher.  And at the end he starts talking about how he has built this predictable model and system and running it out of a central database so that every single one of the customers that comes through any of those eight neighbourhood specialists have the same predictable, unique experience.  We’ll also share how he’s just added an income property specialists and a condo specialist to complement his team.  So sit back and enjoy 20 Minutes of Insider Secrets of Successful Niches. 

Glenn:

Hello this is Glenn McQueenie, and thanks again for joining me on my Success Series podcast.  Today is a great day.  We have Monte Burris from the Trust Realty Group.  Hi Monte, how are you doing?

Monte:

I’m doing great!  Thanks for having me, Glenn.

Glenn:

Well, thank you!  I know you’re a busy guy.  And I really just appreciate you taking some time to share your wisdom with our listeners on this podcast.  So let me just give everyone a quick bio of Monte.  Monte, in the words as Monte says of his grandpa, ‘Every day above ground is a good day.’  And I think Monte really epitomizes that because he’s just always waking up every day with a smile on his face ‘cause he’s doing what he does with people who he loves to do it in his niche market.  And Monte got into the business…and what he’s done since then, and I’ll let Monte tell more about him, but he’s actually done some really cool things like not only building a great team of really niche geographic specialists, but even the homes that their team sell, they…they honestly sell almost 10 to 20 percent faster than anybody else.  And he’s averaging about 13 percent over the asking price, so that’s about 113 percent of asking.  And I think the reason why is because he’s just got the experience and the wisdom, and his clients, I think, just count on his insight…like insightful, no nonsense assessments because as you’ll hear Monte, he’s…like, there’s no fluff with Monty…he’s right to the point.  He started as an equity trader, became like a paper millionaire during the dot com boom and landed in the technology sales…you know, after that big bubble burst.  But I think real estate has always been your true calling, and...so…so happy to have you join us today, Monte.

So Monte, can you just maybe expand on what I was saying in you bio and tells us, you know, just in your own words what your journey’s been?

Monte:

Well, full of ups and downs to be honest with you, Glenn.  It…it’s true this real estate is my third career, there’s no question about that.  I don’t deny it.  Every one of those is a learning curve.  There’s no doubt about that, and I’ve taken something from every one of them.  I do believe in taking big bites out of life, you’re absolutely right about that…correct about that, Glenn.  And you’re also correct in that real estate really is my true calling; I just took me a little while to get there.  And now that I’m there, again, I’m…I’m trying to…I’m trying to do new and fun and adventurist things.  Not always…not always following a straight line to get there, but, hey, that’s…that’s the way life…life works.  And I’m trying to build a higher level of quality of service.  And you know what I found along the way, Glenn, is…is that if you do that and you make that your conviction, then you get rewarded for it.

Glenn:

Yeah.  Well, you type…you…I think you start to attract those type of people, too, like the higher your standards are and values and integrity, then that’s who you start attracting in your business.

Monte:

Yeah, and you know when I first started into real estate I didn’t know anything, and I didn’t know what I didn’t know.  And…I started off as a generalist, and I spent seven years on a…on a very well-managed and insightful team.  And…but I was a generalist.  I was the proverbial hunter, Glenn.  I was a….I would chase a deer down one way, and I would eat well for a little while, but then I’d have to go miles and miles to find a…I don’t know…a rabbit.  And…I was the proverbial hunter.  And after seven years of that I thought, there’s got to be a better way.  And…and that’s when I became a specialist and worked in…into a niche model.  And…and then that’s when…my big ‘ah ha!’ moment, if you will, and…and I saw the light.  And…and I realized that, now, if you want to go big, you got to…you got to think small to go big, believe it or not.

Glenn:

Yeah, it’s…it’s true, and I love…so you were on this team, and you learned a lot, got a lot of wisdom from it.  And then you said, ‘You know what? I think I’m going to go build my own team’ because there was a better or a different model that you thought that you could exploit.  So tell us…you know…just how you….like what does your niche market look like, and how did you discover it?

Monte:

Sure.  Ah, well…it’s…it’s…it’s a…it’s a defined area: 4,980 houses.  And it’s the neighbourhood that I live in.  And it’s pretty straightforward.  I…I realized that…one thing that I felt passionate about, that I wanted to share with others, that came from kind of a true convicted…true conviction was the neighbourhood that I lived in.  I felt very, very strongly about that.  I didn’t want to work all over this big city.  We’re in Toronto here, and…and, you know, there’s four million people here.  But I didn’t need four million people to make my mark.  I only needed a neighbourhood of…of five thousand.  And…what…what I wanted to be was the best…best real estate agent in that neighbourhood and provide the best quality of service and produce the best results for my neighbours.  And so I set out with that goal in mind.  And one by one I went and met my neighbours.  And that’s when it all started.  And word started to…to get out.  And…I…I…as I door-knocked, as I met people, as I just do what we…we do in life, I’m living my life in my neighbourhood, I started to build a brand and build a reputation around that.  And not only did I realize that it would work for me, but I realized that I could build a team of neighbourhood specialists around this, and where everybody lived where they worked and worked where they lived because that really is the…the…the neighbourhood, the houses, the community that you know best.  So when you’re advising somebody in that, whether you’re buying or you’re selling, you really are giving them the best possible advice. 

Glenn:

It’s like that hyper-local organic wisdom that only you’ll have though, too, right?  Because you know what’s going on at the schools, you know what…there’s any developments coming on, and this is something that people can’t like really Google, right?  And I find that…what I love about you is you’ve gone so deep, you know that neighbourhood like the back of your hands and everything that is going on that, you know, your value increases exponentially in front of the client because their like, ‘Oh, I didn’t know that, I didn’t know that.’  And…and he knows it.  And just because you know that hyper-local organic wisdom, you’re just perceived as the expert. 

Monte:

Yeah, absolutely.  Well, you’re perceived and you are, really.  And that’s the truth.  And there’s no…and there’s no BS-ing your way around it.  You don’t have to because you know better than anybody.  And you can look people in the eyes and say, ‘I’m going to do a better job of finding you that house or selling you…selling your house because quite honestly, I know more than anybody else of this neighbour…about this neighbourhood.  And that’s the truth.

Glenn:

Right.  It is the truth.  And then…I think what I love is that you did something really interesting.  And when you were putting your team together, instead of having like a traditional real estate team – like, you’re my buyer agent, you’re my listing agent, you’re the rental specialist - you said this is my neighbourhood.  I know High Park better than anybody.  And Bloor West I know pretty good, but if I could get someone just like me in Bloor West Village and in other neighbourhoods of Toronto, then I can duplicate the success of this team.  Can you say…can you tell me just a little bit about that journey?

Monte:

Yeah, okay.  So…and…and that’s exactly what happened, Glenn.  What I…what I realized was…is that…is that, you know, what I wanted to be was…was…was…was deep, okay, and not thin.  Okay, I wanted to be like a chowder instead of a fin consommé, all right?  I wanted to know more than anybody else.  And then what I wanted to do was I wanted to not just tell people about it, but I wanted to show people.  Okay?  I wanted to…them to…to realize, to know matter-of-factly that I am the best person in the neighbourhood.  I have the most knowledge.  So what I did was I took our administration and our marketing and all of the systems that go into that, and I centralized it.  And I said to other agents out there who I knew and I respected, who also had kind of come to the realization that….Listen, I can…I can make a very good living, I can be…be wildly successful just…just outside my own door.  And I said, Come work with me, okay?  And all you’ll have to do is meet your neighbours, understand the houses that are for sale and…and why they sold for…for whatever amount they sold for, or why they didn’t sell for whatever amount the case may be.  Meet your neighbours.  Understand what’s happening in the market place in your neighbourhood better than anybody else, okay?  And just sell.  And that’s all you have to do.  Because behind you is an infrastructure that’s centralized, it’s scalable, it’s replicable.  And we all love our neighbourhoods, so it’s just a matter of…of taking the same model and repeating it, and repeating, and repeating it over different neighbourhoods. 

Glenn:

That’s so cool.  So what does your team look like now?  Who have you…who’s on your team?

And where they work?

Monte:

So it’s rapidly growing. 

So as I said, seven years is kind of a generalist where I really felt like I was floundering.  And, you know, I was making a half-decent income.   You know it wasn’t really just that.  It’s just that…there just wasn’t any grip.  You know?  I felt like…you know, I felt like I just never…I didn’t have any traction.  It was always one deal to the next, but there was never any continuity about it.  All right?  And then two years, I decided…two years ago almost to the day.  It was September two years ago, I decided that I was going to go do my own thing.  That I…I think I found a better mouse trap, if you will.  And so I decided that I was going to be a…a neighbourhood specialist.  And…and…then I recruited my then buyer agent.  And I said, Guess what?  You’re never going to be a buyer agent again.  You’re going…you are going to be the neighbourhood specialist.  And if you’re the best person on the team for that neighbourhood, then you’re the best person to buy and sell.  Okay?  Forget this…this just buying, okay?  You’re the best person to sell as well.  You really understand better than anybody else, so why are we limiting…limiting what you’re doing?  Okay?  And…and…so she came onboard, and she was my first agent.  And she’s a dynamo.  She’s…she’s an unstoppable force.  And then what I…what I did was I…I…I started to systematize all of the stuff that I was already doing.  Okay?  So what does that mean?  It means we do things, but we don’t always make it into kind of a knowledge base or a repeatable…a repeatable action.  And I’m still in the process of doing this because I’m doing things all the time, but, you know, we…we inherently, like…like putting your socks on and then tying your shoelaces, etc.  But if you want to do this, and you want to move from being a generalist into a neighbourhood specialist, then you want to document all the things that are successful.  And you want to repeat them over and over and over again.  Okay?  And so what we’ve done is we’ve systematized it all and we’ve centralized it, and we’ve built a great brand around that.  So today what I have is seven neighbourhood specialists and one who’s what I call an acid-class specialist.  He just focuses on income properties.  So he doesn’t really have a territory per say, but he’s got a type, okay?  And I just brought on a condo specialist and that will make eight of us.  But she’s still in training and…and not quite there yet.  So I’ve got seven neighbourhood specialists.  Their…their neighbourhoods range in size from…I’m actually the smallest at 4,980 to as much as about 9,000 houses.  Okay?  So 5,000 to 10,000.  No more because then your spread’s too thin, and you really can’t, can’t really, truly understand it.  And what they do is they…they meet people.  And…they meet their neighbours.  They circulate.  Now some people do it by phone calls, some people do it by door-knocking, and some people have a magnetic personality where people just come to them - lucky those people!  But they meet people.  And we have a centralized database.  And we…we basically do all of our touch points, etcetera, and all of our community events, and it’s all focused around their brand.  So even though we kind of have one banner, and that’s the Trust Realty Group, my name, Monte Burris, only matters in my neighbourhood.  Okay, Glenn?  It doesn’t matter in the neighbourhood of say Kathy Essery, which is Bloor West Village.  Her name is who should matter because she is the actual neighbourhood specialist, not me. 

Glenn:

Right.  Well what I love what you’ve done on your model, and kudos to you for this, is not only did you pick the people who just love their neighbourhoods the same way you love it, but then you gave them the freedom.  And it wasn’t a rigid system, like - you must go and door knock, you must….  It was like whatever your natural strengths are and unique abilities….And if you better on the doors in your neighbourhood, then that’s what you should be doing.  And if you’re better on the phone, then that’s what you should be doing.  And if you’re better at an open house picking up clients one after another, just stay in your sweet spots, stay in your strengths and then direct it right to your target market.  I love that!

Monte:

Yeah, absolutely!  So one of my fairly recent additions to the team, Juliette, for example, she has a walking group.  Okay?  So she goes out there, and it’s kind of a fitness thing.  And she’s gathered all these neighbours out there who all go for walks together, okay?  And they walk through their neighbourhood.  And there Juliette is saying, ‘Oh look at that house; that house sold last year.’  And she gets to show off all of her knowledge base.  And she’s meeting people, but it’s not a social environment.  And everybody loves her, and she’s building up her reputation right there in her own neighbourhood. 

Glenn:

Wow, I love that!  It’s almost like we could create like the walking wealth group.  You know? 

Monte

Absolutely.

Glenn:

That…where…it’s like...we walk, we look at houses, we build wealth.  And…and it’s just our club.  It’s our thing, and it’s what we love to do.  You know?

Monte:

And, you know, everybody knows that if you’re the neighbour and you’re…you’re…then you’re coming at it really from a good place, you know?  You’re coming at it from a place of contribution because…you don’t know how many times I’ve gotten stopped on the…on the street, at the side, and they say, ‘Hey, Monte, thank you very much for those…those little lights that you gave out to all the kids.’  Okay, so at Hallowe’en, I…I give out these little glow stick lights that…that go on to their zippers so all the kids can be seen on Hallowe’en night in the dark, right?  And, you know, I would much rather spend my money locally giving out something like that.  Nobody ever thanked anybody for putting up a billboard, right?

Glenn:

Right.  It’s true.  Well, you know, and…and look at you…look at your positioning on…

Monte:

You become your neighbourhood personality.

Glenn:

Yeah, well, look at your positioning.  It’s like I’m not doing the billboard, and I’m not doing the kind of environmental massive flyer drop.  I’m buying a glow stick to keep your kids safe because I know that’s the most important thing to you. 

Monte:

Yeah!  Absolutely!  And there’s a little Trust Realty Group on there, but you know it’s coming from a good place.  It’s a community focused site situation.  We’re doing an event…we’re doing an event next month.  Okay?  In my local neighbourhood, okay, there’s a community theatre.  And everybody knows… most everybody, unless you’re…you’re a lot younger…knows the movie “A Christmas Story.”  Well “A Christmas Story” was actually filmed in Toronto.  And one of the stars of “A Christmas story,” the movie, is one of my past clients, Teddy Moore, she was Miss Shields in the movie.  So we’ve rented the movie theatre.  Okay? We’re bringing in “A Christmas Story,” and we’re bringing up the cast members, okay, to answer questions.  And you have free admission as long as you bring an unwrapped, unused toy that will go to charity. 

Glenn:

Wow, that is amazing!  It is like not only brilliant marketing, but it’s just another example of, you know, something so unique that says, ‘I care and I’m giving this to you.’  Right?  It’s just…it’s brilliant.

Monte:

Absolutely. 

Glenn:

So what would your advice be to another agent who’s aspiring to get into a niche market, whether it be geographic, whether it be demographic, investment properties….What would be the kind of advice, if you were coaching them and for listeners right now, for someone…like what’s my first step, or two, that I should do to create a niche market?

Monte:

Okay, the first thing is that I would tell anybody, anybody who’s even getting into real estate is decide who you want to be when you grow up as a real estate agent.  All right?  What is it that you want to be? All right?  And like I made the conviction at some point in time that…that I wanted to be the best realtor in my neighbourhood.  Okay?  So start with what your goal is, and then work backwards.  All right?  So make a goal, figure out what it is you want to be.  And then along your path, because we all get pulled in different directions along our path, you have to ask yourself, ‘Is this taking me towards my end goal, or is it taking me on a divergent path?  Am I moving away from what my end goal is?’  Okay?  So my advice to somebody would be to find what it is that you want to be and then work backwards systemizing how to get there.

Glenn:

Right.  It’s almost like reverse engineering it not only from what your goal is, but who is your dream-come-true client?  Like where…like what is that person sitting or lying awake at night wondering and worried about?  And if you just reverse engineer all your models and systems to solve their selfish goal, then…like…you’ve got someone…you’ve got a bunch of people running to you going, ‘Hey, you get me.  I want to work with you.’ 

Monte:

Yeah, that’s exactly right.  And…but you can extend it even beyond that, Glenn, because…is the marketing on target?  Okay?  Is your energy being spent on target?  Is the…is…is this…this is really tempting, hey, look at this I’ve got a buyer but that buyer is looking, you know, a 45 minute drive away from here or a half hour drive away from here.  Do I…am I better to refer it out?  Okay?  And…and stay focused on what my goal is?  Or am I better to do it myself?  You know?  And, hey listen, I understand everybody has bills to pay, and sometimes you need to do things that you…you don’t want to do to make a buck.  And I get that.  And I’m…and I’m…and I’m not casting judgments on that, but, you know, you should always be asking these questions.  Is it getting me towards where I want to go?  Because that will help guide you to these important decisions you are about to make.  And I would say that…that…do it soon.  Do it now.  And…and have conviction in how you do it.  I wish I had done this a lot earlier.  I really, really have.  Since I decided to…to move my market place from four million people in Toronto to five thousand houses.  Okay, I went from four million to I don’t even…the population is about twelve thousand….Four million to twelve thousand – my income’s gone up about 400%. 

Glenn:

Wow.  So, the riches are in the niches.  Go really narrow first, almost…as…as tight as you can.  And then once you figure out the models and systems there, then expand your team wide with like a central admin hub, and…or...or really run by that chief systems officer who just delivers the same kind of world-class experience to everybody in your…I guess tribe of neighbourhood specialists now.

Monte:

That’s right!  Exactly!  Exactly right!  And…you know that person who’s going to head up your operations should probably start off as a real estate assistant.  So that your real estate assistant for you on a single run basis.  They’re the ones who are going to know the…the daily routine of being a real estate…of being an assistant.  They…behind the scenes…everything that happens…the minutia, okay? And then as you build it out, they’re the ones that are going to take that, okay, and move it into…a system rather than just a…a routine.  Okay?  And…and then how do you scale that?  And then how do you replicate it?  And that’s exactly what we’ve done here.  So I have a support staff of four.  Okay?  And that support staff of four supports, at this point in time, nine agents. 

Glenn:

Wow.  Well, Monte, thank you so much for this.  Is there, just as we wrap up, is there anything else you could add…you’ve add…you’ve added tons…I’ve learned a lot, and I hope everyone else listening has too, or is there any question I didn’t ask that you’d just like to add before we wrap it up?

Monte:

Well, I guess the only one thing I would say is that when I started off down this path, I defined myself by actually two neighbourhoods because I was worried I was going too small.  It took me about one…not even one year, maybe nine months before I realized I actually had to go smaller, not bigger.

Glenn:

Wow.  Monte, you’re amazing!  Thank you so much for your wisdom and time.  And I know…you’re…I just can’t imagine where your team’s going to be over the next couple of years as you’re on just this incredible journey and path.  So thank you, thank you, thank you so much for joining us today. 

Monte:

Anytime, Glenn.  Anytime.

Glenn:

Thanks!

Thank you for listening to my twenty-minute podcast on Insights of Successful Niches.  My goal is to give you more financial freedom by helping you take your natural strengths to a target market with people you love to work with.  You can find out more information by downloading my book for free for a limited time.  It’s called The McQueenie Method: Own Your Niche, Own Your Market.  And you can download it at themcqueeniemethodbook.com.  That’s themcqueeniemethodbook.com.  Imagine what it would be like to spend two days with me, in person, to help you find your niche market.  I will help you take your natural strengths and unique abilities to a target market of people you love to work with.  You’ll build a tribe of happy clients who become raving fans of your business.  So just go to themcqueeniemethod.com for upcoming dates.  Thanks again, and have a great day! 

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