“20 Minutes of Successful Niche Secrets – EPISODE 16”,
Where I coach David Johanns
“PODCAST – EPISODE 16,” Where I coach David Johanns and help him to break into a local luxury market!
Glenn: Good afternoon! Today my special guest is David Johanns from Keller Williams Referred Urban Realty in downtown Toronto. How are you doing today, David?
David: Well, Glenn, I’m doing pretty good. I’m sitting at my piano. I thought that would be a great intro to this podcast. There you go.
Glenn: That’s the best. I’ve got to tell you, David, that is the best start of any call I’ve ever had.
David: I wanted to, because I’ve been listening to your podcasts, and I thought, “Well I can do something no one else can do on the intro.”
Glenn: That’s right. I love it. Okay, so David, why don’t you tell some of our listeners just a little bit about yourself and then we’ll move on to what the biggest challenge you have in real estate is. And then in 25 minutes, we will give you an awesome, unique process to follow to get a steady stream of leads, and then basically a blueprint to follow for the next 12 months so that you can double your income. So let’s go to it!
David: Well what I’m looking forward to is at the end of this call, what you basically told me is that all of my problems in real estate are going to be solved. I’m very excited about that. There’s the challenge. I’m fairly new to the real estate game. I think I joined Keller Williams a little over a year ago. And I previously (as you know, I play piano), wrote music for television for many years, so I’ve worked as an entertainer my whole life pretty much. I’ve done a lot of television shows. My passion is sailing. I live on a boat in the summer. I love working with people, and I love houses. I own a lot of tools. I can renovate – all of that stuff. And I guess that’s what drew me into real estate, is the joy of being around people and entertaining. Because to me, when I’m showing a house or when I’m gauging people, it’s not much different than working as an entertainer. And I think my background, connecting to people as an entertainer (because it’s an exchange of energy), benefits me in the world of real estate (or hopefully so I’m finding). So that’s the quick Dog And Pony Show synopsis.
Glenn: Alright. Perfect. I guess there are two questions for you: If I had a magic wand right now and could create an ideal, perfect-fit client for you, who would that be? Followed by: What is that challenge that you’re facing right now in the marketplace?
David: Well of course I love working with clients that are more my generation, so they’re, dare I say that word – “older” and established. I love (I spoke to you about this before), contemporary architecture – clean lines, glass, steel, lots of windows, open spaces, falling lines – so somebody that is into that, that has that design aesthetic and that appeal to them, and that’s what they’re in the market for. So I suppose someone in that is going to be a higher-end client. More expensive properties – dare I say “luxury” homes. I suppose, in a crystal ball situation, that’s who I’d like to work with. But I’m always apprehensive to say that, because I’ve worked with younger people, helping them get their first home, and I got a lot of joy out of that help. I found that very rewarding as well. I’m nervous, I suppose, because that market that I like is very small and almost exclusive, and it’s hard to sometimes get into that demographic. It’s an exclusive world sometimes.
Glenn: Well I think, when we’re working on a niche market, I always say to people, “Over the next 90 days, this is really 20% of your time. You should still keep running with all the other clients you like to work with, whether it be first-time buyers or move-up or move-down.” I mean, we’ve got to live. We’ve got to eat. And it’s not just one client that always gives us joy. A lot of times, there’s nothing better than helping a first-time buyer buy their first home, right? I always call it the “sell real estate for hugs” – it’s the hug you get after you help them find their first property.
David: I like that. That removes some of my anxiety about deciding who I would really like to work with, because like you said, you’ve got to eat. And in pursuing putting food on the table, I’ve been using the model that I really like that Jason Weinberger has promoted with me (there’s a name dropped for him), which is doing Open Houses. I’ve found that has been very effective for me, so I’m making that a bigger objective: every weekend, find a place I can host, because the last few times I’ve done that, I have generated really good leads.
Glenn: Yeah. Well I always think that there are agents built for Open Houses, in a way. There are some agents who just aren’t good at all, and there are other agents who – and I know you, are just very personable, open, and approachable – and they tend to do really, really well.
David: Well the other reason I like doing it is that I get to learn before I do the Open House. I find out about what’s selling in the area because I don’t want to come across as an idiot if somebody starts asking me some direct questions about the local market. So it forces me to become more educated, sometimes in places that I’ve never been. So to me, that’s a bonus.
Glenn: Sure. Yeah. Well there’s a big argument of – it’s not one Open House each day; you could easily do three Open Houses a day. There’s no rule that says you can’t do 11-1p.m. on one house, 1-3 p.m. on another, and 3-5 p.m. on another. I know an agent who is now selling over 500 properties a year who started 12 years ago, and that’s all she did, was just six Open Houses every weekend. And I think the other model we have to break is: Open Houses aren’t just for weekends. People are busy on weekends. Open Houses can easily be right after work from 5-8 p.m. if you’re on a busy street and you get a lot of high traffic, because that’s what clients want, right? But let’s go back to your big niche – the modern architecture, contemporary, clean lines. If people who love food are called “foodies,” I’m going to call those people “homies.” They’re the people who can talk for hours. People who love those homes and design those homes and build those homes are very committed and passionate to that, wouldn’t you agree?
David: Absolutely. One of my best friends is a well-known architect, Adam Thom, and I’ve known him for almost 20 years. I think just hanging out with him – his designs all reflect that, and kind of through osmosis, I’ve really been drawn to that. I love the stuff he does. It’s integrated with nature. It’s leading-edge building technology. Everything about it: the conservation of energy, environmental footprint, self-sustaining, off the grid, use of energy – all of that stuff is really appealing. And also just standing in a space where the light comes pouring in – the manner in which the windows are situated, how it conserves energy and keeps the house cool in the summer and warm in the winter – all those things are amazing.
Glenn: Right. So let’s think about your ideal target market buyer for that type of property, okay? We’re creating almost like a computer avatar right now; the perfect fit. So how old would they be, if you had to guess? Let our audience know, what’s the target age group?
David: I think they’re pretty much going to be, I would say, over 40. So they’ve likely already owned a home. I can’t imagine this being a first buy. And they have a distinct taste and objective. I would say they’re very conscious people in terms of culture, aesthetics, and even the environment. I find these people tend to want to spend more money on building material if it leaves a cleaner footprint and it’s going to benefit the house in the long term in terms of energy conservation and efficiency.
Glenn: Totally. So where are these people living right now? What part of Toronto would you say they’re in right now?
David: I guess that’s the question, because quite frankly, I can’t answer that. I don’t think I can give a very good, educated answer with that. I come across these individuals through some of my social networks, or meeting them, or when I’m doing a gig somewhere, I meet them by chance. I have some people in my social network that fit this profile, but I can’t say for sure that they’re all exclusively living in one area. I wouldn’t call them the Forest Hill types – they’re definitely not the Bridle Path types. That, to me, is more of a cookie cutter demographic. It’s not the same. They’re outside-the-box thinking people.
Glenn: Yeah. (And for those people who aren’t from Toronto, the Bridle Path in Forest Hill is a very exclusive, upscale, luxury market in Toronto). I think the first thing would be to try to do some research on where those people are. I’m going to make a guess right now, that a lot of them are in this area in midtown Toronto called The Annex, living near the University of Toronto. And I’m going to guess that they’re mostly professors, they could be in the liberal arts – they’re that artsy, liberal, eco type of person. Does that ring a bell? Do you see that?
David: As soon as you said that, I thought of the $18,000,000 home that sold recently that’s in the shape of a mathematical integral. It was built by a guy who’s a mathematical professor who wrote textbooks. He made his money in textbooks. I can’t think of his name, but that’s an incredible place. That’s on the high end. Very, very high end.
Glenn: Right. I know. Wouldn’t it be great if they were all $18,000,000? But I would argue that maybe the buyers are sitting there, and I certainly know some of the sellers are sitting there, because if you can drive through some of those areas, you can certainly see the influence in the new construction of those types of homes.
David: Well in my neighbourhood, that’s what I love. I see that kind of construction happening in the middle of very conventional neighbourhoods, and it stands out like a beacon, because to me, when I look at that, it’s like, “That’s what all these houses eventually are going to look like, when what is new becomes adopted by society as being typical.” I look at every house that we live in: peaked roof. It’s a box. To me, it’s just a box, and it can be contemporized very quickly with big windows and totally changed, like do a makeover. And that’s what these guys are doing. A lot of these designers that have that eye and that affinity, they’re doing that to these homes.
Glenn: Right. And it’s really a bigger statement. I’m sure we could talk about this for hours, but we’re going to get into the solution in a second. I think it’s a bigger movement towards mass production and more individualism, and I think that’s what we’re really seeing out there. So someone who’s thinking about either buying one of those homes or building one of their homes, and they’re lying in bed, what are they thinking about? What is their biggest fear? Because if we can plan our marketing from what their biggest concern is, and the way we approach it is based on the four or five fears or concerns they have, that when we approach them with this, they go, “ Oh my God. That’s what I’ve been thinking about. You get me.” So what would that be? What’s keeping them awake at night?
David: I think quality of construction (who they’re going to hire to do this kind of work) is a big fear. That’s what I hear immediately when people talk about build construction. And cost, obviously. Everybody’s worried about the cost of doing this kind of project. “Is it out of reach? Is it irrational to engage in this kind of thing when nobody else is doing it? How’s the market going to react if they want to sell it? Is there going to be a buyer out there for it, assuming they do want to sell it? Is it going to appeal to people to purchase it?” I know of one house a friend of mine, an interior designer, did on Scarborough Road, and it was diabolically different from everything out there. And while everything was selling within a week, she just sat and waited. And it sold in 18 months, and she got her price, which was significantly higher. She set the new standard in the neighbourhood. So I think that’s what they’re worried about: “Will I get my money back out of it after I do all of this?”
Glenn: Right. If I was going to build a cottage, I might go to the Cottage Show. They’re going to be in this information-gathering stage, right? “Who’s a good architect?” And they might go to speakers or go to house.com or Architectural Digest and learn. And I’m wondering what we could do right now that would almost create a bit of a bait, that we could use to get them to come out of their bedrooms right now and put up their hand and go, “You know what? I’m thinking about buying contemporary architecture.” So I think there are two things I would probably recommend. One is: could you be the person who does Toronto’s first tour of modern homes, where you find your Top 5 or 10 favourite homes, knock on the door, drop off a flyer (and it’s kind of like a garden tour), but say, “I’ve always loved your home. I’m working with a bunch of people who are ‘homies.’ I’d love to do Toronto’s first tour of modern homes, and all of the proceeds will go to charity.” And then, what if we got five people out of the 10 or 15 homes you approach, who said, “You know what? I’d love to show off my house.”
David: That’s brilliant.
Glenn: Right. Because when you have a nice garden, you want to show it off, right? It’s all your hard work. You don’t want to keep it in your backyard. Some people are private, but other people are like, “Oh, I’d love my garden tour.” So I just think that if we could target, (and you could use this talking to architects that you know,) “Who would have a great modern home or contemporary architecture that they would be willing to put on tour? It’s on one Saturday. We’re going to only allow 30 people to come on the tour. It’s $100 for the tour,” or $200 (whatever you want to charge). After the tour, you have the architect who designed those homes talking and answering questions. You have a cocktail bar. You’re playing piano (but I would probably hire somebody at that point, because you want to be working that room).
David: Yeah. No, I don’t always like to mix the two together. But I want to qualify one thing. When I say this demographic that I’m talking about (contemporary and modern), it doesn’t always have to be necessarily reserved just for the people with a higher income. I also love homes that are rethought and redone. And laneway houses – or something that’s unconventional and really works.
David: Like a piece of art. Why do you have to live in something that’s boring? Why can’t you live in art?
Glenn: Exactly. Couldn’t agree more. The challenge here, though, is we have to find those people, so we have to narrow it down to one type of home at first. Then we can go deeper with this, right? Think of where this could go. Every month, couldn’t you rotate this tour in different areas of the city? Could you not duplicate this and have Buffalo’s tour of Modern Homes? New York? I mean, you could expand this around the world if you really wanted to.
David: That’s what we’re talking about! A new television show. Now we’ve got a production company. I like where this is going.
Glenn: See? So the whole thing is, you’ve got to find the people, and then what kind of marketing you can do to them to get them to put up their hand and go, “Hey, I’m thinking about doing this.” And I think the best way for you to do that would be to organize Toronto’s first tour. And let’s say you did it in April or May, when it was beautiful weather. You could get media. You could do all different types of things. Or you could just do a very quiet tour the first time. Because what you really want here, David, is you want to build a tribe of people who believe in the same things you believe in, and are just as passionate about art as you are, because they’re your type of people. And that’s exactly what agents are supposed to do. They bring their natural strengths and interests to a target market of people who they love and want to hang around with, and then they build a tribe of raving fans. And that’s how the process works.
David: That very much resonates with the podcast that I heard you talking about with this gentleman, Dan, or somebody? You covered a lot of stuff about mindset.
Glenn: Oh, yeah. My coach, Dan Sullivan.
David: Yeah. So that really hit me hard because I thought, “Okay. That’s who I’ve got to work with. I’ve got to find people of my mindset.” Because I lost a couple of listings, and I was, to say the least, beyond a pale of angry. But then, after listening to that podcast, I thought, “Well, I should be grateful that I lost them, because they are nothing like me.”
David: Zero mindset. We had nothing in common.
Glenn: That’s right. And the beautiful thing is, once you get into the group of like mindsets just like you, they refer people just like you to you. And then what happens is, your business becomes happy, faster, easier, simpler, and more lucrative, because it’s like you’re just hanging out with all your best friends now.
David: And that’s what it’s starting to go into. I’ve been swimming in this big ocean of real estate, being new to the game, and going off in all directions and drinking from a fire hose like everybody else. So now I’m calming down and saying, “Okay. That’s the direction.” I’ve done things that I don’t like and it’s like, “Okay, now I’m miserable. So we’re not going to do that anymore.” So I’m slowly picking off the pieces and finding the direction that I should be going in.
Glenn: That’s right. Well it’s kind of like a buffet, right? After you eat all the food once, you’re like, “Okay, what do I really like here?”
Glenn: And I think that’s what you’re going to do. And it’s part of the foundation of people learning this business. It’s so crazy. This business looks so easy from the outside, but it’s so difficult for so many on the inside. And so this is why I think this method of just bringing you to your target market is so appealing. So let’s fast forward a little bit, okay? Let’s say you have your first tour in April or in May – whenever you want to do it. You could do it in March. It doesn’t matter. It just requires some organization. Could you talk to some of the key architects? Drive by and find homes (they usually have their architect’s sign out front), and invite them to either come on the tour or just speak after the tour. And now, what you’re doing is, to the architect, you’re positioning them as the specialist in the area that they only deal in. So now, if a client approaches them and says, “Hey, we’d love to build this.” They would say, “Hey David, can you go and find a house so that we can make this creation?” Or they’re like, “Well we want to sell this and we want to move somewhere else.” “Well, David specializes in only this.” Now you start creating this allied referral resource team, where you’re sending business to architects, and they’re sending it back. Not only the architects – you have designers, too, don’t you?
David: That’s brilliant. I love it. And the reason I love it is I’m excited listening to you talk about this. And the fact that I’m getting excited means I’ll be motivated to do it, because you’re not talking about cold calling.
Glenn: That’s right. Well, what you learn when you stay in your Unique Ability, doing what you love to do, is there’s never any need to get motivated. It’s only when you’re doing stuff that you don’t like that you procrastinate, right?
David: Yeah. I put myself through the cold calling misery program.
Glenn: That’s right. You don’t want to do that. It’s kind of crazy. It’s so old school, and I don’t even know why they keep teaching it. So here’s the thing, because we’ve only got a couple minutes left to wrap this up: first of all, I would print off every modern home that’s sold in whatever area you want to focus in right now (could be even in complementary areas), and get your car and drive by them, so you have more confidence in understanding what the market and the market price is of those homes.
Glenn: Then, every time you see a new home that you would love to work with, sell, or know, you have to go and inspect it and see it at the agent’s Open House or get out and see it before the consumer does. I would create a Facebook page called “Toronto’s Tour of Contemporary Architecture” or “Modern Homes.”
David: “Homes for Homies.”
Glenn: Yeah! There you go. Whatever you want to call it. But the thing is, once you go to a business page on Facebook, you can boost that page very inexpensively and target it just to architects in Toronto. You can target it just to people who like this magazine in Toronto, in this postal code only, or in this age group only. So now what you’re really doing is basically taking content, putting it into your page, and broadcasting it out. And all they’re going to be seeing from you is, “Boy, this guy just keeps posting on ‘David’s pick of the week.’ This contemporary home is…” and you walk through it. And you can post that on your Facebook page. You can say, “This weekend, if you want, we’re going to be doing this.” So now we start working the back end – so general contractors, designers, architects, buyers and sellers – building a tribe and a group meeting around that. You’re building an end of, “Here’s the product, and I’m looking for more people who want to buy it.” And in the meantime, you’re actually going directly to people who already have those homes and asking them if you can put them on the tour. Because here’s the other great secret: when it comes time to sell, and they see how passionate you are about their property, you are the one they’re going to pick.
David: Yeah. It’s a win-win. It’s a really beautiful thing you’ve explained.
Glenn: Yeah. Isn’t it fun?
David: It’s awesome. Yeah, it’s brilliant. I’m very excited about the prospect of doing that.
Glenn: Good! Well, we’re at Minute 26, David. That means we’ve got to wrap it up.
David: I’ve got to bookend with a musical goodbye, you know?
Glenn: Okay, let’s hear it!
David: Thanks, Glenn, for giving me direction. I was a lost real estate agent. Don’t forget – you’re in good hands with Johanns.
Glenn: I love it, David! You’re the best. I’ll say goodbye for now for our listeners, but just stay on the line for a second, David, okay?
David: Thank you.
Glenn: Thank you.
David: You’re welcome.