“PODCAST – EPISODE 21,” Where I coach Nickey Calford on her journey from self-made real estate investor to entrepreneur. Listen to the end to hear about how she partnered with Michelle Morgan to get a busload of people to London, ON, to scout out the best investment properties for sale!
Glenn: Hi! It’s Glenn McQueenie, and welcome to my 25-Minute Success Series Podcast. Today, I’m a little jacked up and excited because I get to talk to Nickey Calford from Keller Williams Lifestyles Realty in beautiful London, Ontario. Hi Nickey! How are you doing?
Nickey: Good! Good morning, Glenn.
Glenn: Good morning, and thank you so much for joining me on the call. I’m really excited to talk to you today. So if you can, maybe just give the listeners a little bit of background on you (when you got in, how long you’ve been in real estate), so we can just set the context before we really start digging deep and figuring out what the best kind of niche market and niche market strategy is, so you can just deal with really perfect-fit clients or ideal fit clients all the time. And what I find, when people do that, is it just makes the business a lot more fun. It’s a lot easier to do. It’s a lot more lucrative. So just give us a little bit of background there, Nickey.
Nickey: Okay. So I started flipping houses when I was 21, and have done 18 houses since. So that’s how I started in the real estate industry. I then started staging homes as well, and then decided, “You know what? I love real estate, and this is where I want my career to be,” and got my license approximately 15 months ago, so I’ve been going strong ever since.
Glenn: Wow. So it’s kind of fascinating to me that you were kind of on the other side, right? You were almost on the buyer-seller side of this industry. It’s pretty cool that you started when you were 21, flipping your first home, and then eventually flipped a whole bunch of them. So what was that transition for you? What was it that said, “Hmmm. You know what? I want to go and get my license now.” Was it just because you wanted to go and help more people do it? Or what was the thinking behind that?
Nickey: I think I learned at a really young age that real estate investing is probably one of the best and easiest ways to make money. I think I had a little bit more control in my money. I wasn’t really savvy on the stock market or anything else, but I could see what happened when I renovated a house and was smart with my money. So knowing that, I would love to help other people find that niche and see that, too. And it’s kind of changed from being hands-on renovations to looking at different vehicles of investment through real estate.
Glenn: Wow. And so I think you were actually already working a full-time job while you were doing this, and then I think just recently you said, “Okay. I’m all in,” walking away from the full-time job, going all in because you’re really passionate about this. So where are you now? Who’s your perfect client right now, if we had to paint a picture? What part of the London, Ontario investment property market do you really want to get into and really dominate?
Nickey: I think for me, the perfect client would be one that’s fairly new to investing and has had that “A-ha!” moment that they can make money through real estate. They’ve seen their friends or family go through that, and they really want to start in on it. They’re excited to learn more about how they go about doing that, and want to build on that (so do more than one property, eventually, and build like a mini empire for themselves). I think that would be the absolute perfect client for me. Right now, with new builds, the way they’re going, and the London market being as hot as it is, the best vehicle right now that I see for my clients is the new build market – so buying in and renting it out at a decent price, and then seeing the appreciation grow.
Glenn: And in your market, can someone buy a place, and by renting it out, get close to cash flow positive? Or is it just slightly below? Where is the rent to value right now in London?
Nickey: Well they’re definitely cash flowing positive. One thing I make sure before we go in and buy something, is that it is definitely covering its costs, and it’s not a lost litre just to get the appreciation at the end. So the goal, any time I look at an investment, it wants to definitely cover itself, and then be appreciation-positive.
Glenn: Yeah. I think that’s great advice and I think it’s great insight, because a lot of people are playing the capital appreciation game. And if you really look at wealth long-term, through investment properties, when you’re just betting on the capital appreciation, I think you’re becoming a speculator, compared to if you’re playing the cash flow game (which is, I’m going to get these properties to cover on a cash flow basis, and be able to generate a couple hundred dollars a month that I can build into a reserve, if there’s going to be any future repairs coming up, and I’m still getting them to pay down my mortgage). It really seems to me, a perfect niche in London (well I think it’s in any market), would be just to really go after the buy-and-hold investors, who just want to build wealth over a long period of time, instead of that short-term focus.
Nickey: That’s what we’re seeing a lot of here in London. We’ve had a very stable market for a long time, so this new bump up in the market in the last probably 12 months that’s been building has been something we haven’t seen that often here in London. We’ve had a fairly steady increase, but having that rental income that is holding itself and going forward has always been a positive thing for me, and it helps grow my investments.
Glenn: Right. So who is your target market right now? Just paint a picture of what age would they be? What’s their biggest problem? What’s keeping them up at night? Because I find if you really want to market into a niche, you have to almost reverse engineer it. You have to plan it from the customer’s point of view, not from what we think they need. It’s just, “Oh, they need another ‘Just Listed’ card or another ‘Just Sold’ or they need me to door-knock on them.” What is your perfect client? Where are they now? Where do they want to go? And what are their biggest fears, dreams and aspirations?
Nickey: I think clients that are probably 35-40 that have had a couple kids that are worried about how they’re going to pay for university, weddings, (that sort of thing) that are coming up in 10-15 years. I think when you get them when they’re first married or first have babies, their mind is elsewhere, on how to pay for daycare and that sort of thing. But I think once the kids start to get a little more independent, they don’t have the daycare costs overhanging their monthly bills. They tend to want to look at something else, either going towards a cottage property, or looking at investments. I think if we can steer them into the investment that will pay them back, when that child goes to university or has a wedding coming up, that they can sell it and pay off that wedding or university cost would be an awesome feeling.
Glenn: Well it’s such a winning formula. And I know many people who found the right agent at the right time, who basically said to them, “If you buy these two condos for your kids now when they’re under five, by the time they get to university, these condos are going to be completely paid off, and you’re going to have an education fund ready for them if they want to go to school. If not, you’ve got a great source of wealth for you or if you want to help them buy their first house.” I think it’s such a winning formula what you’re proposing.
Nickey: That was my goal when I had my daughter.
Glenn: Yeah! So what’s keeping them awake at night right now? We know what their goal is, and we know that we can build that financial funnel, but what do you think their fear about taking the first step in this process is?
Nickey: Can they afford it? Will it cover itself? And how do they get a down payment? I think those are the main fears right now. I think they think it’s a great idea if it works out, but how do they get past those hurdles?
Glenn: Right. Okay. So when they say that to you, on the down payment, do you talk about refinancing their house? How do you handle those kinds of fears when you’re talking to them?
Nickey: Well, in this marketplace, refinancing their home is a viable option. A lot of them have seen fairly decent appreciation, so that’s a great option. But there are other ways to budget as well if they just bought that house a year ago, and they don’t have a lot of appreciation yet. There are other ways to work with them to build in budgets, whether it’s taking away one Tim Hortons coffee every day and putting it in a fund. After a year, you have enough to buy a down payment. So it’s breaking down the little things and showing them that it is possible. You don’t have to make tons of money to save enough for a down payment.
Glenn: Right. So I wonder if there’s maybe some type of special report or a blog post or something that you could talk about? Because I love the “No Tim Hortons Daily Wealth-building Fund,” where you can have a pretty compelling headline, and then just tell the story that if you didn’t have a Tim Hortons every day (or you could save twice as much if you didn’t have a Starbucks every day). That’s a really cool way to lead generate, is to go right after their basic knowledge, because most people don’t know that. It’s not that they need to make more money right now. It’s just that they need to really redirect some of that money, and instead of thinking on a short-term basis, think more like a long-term wealth accumulation strategy. What’s the challenge? Is it filling up seminars? You’ve done a seminar before?
Nickey: Yeah. We’ve done a couple seminars, and it’s a bit of a challenge to get people there. We are getting the right people, I believe, but numbers is kind of the game in real estate, and it’s learning that. So a blog, or something that funnelled them into that, would help as well I think.
Glenn: If you think about it, there’s a conveyor belt, right? Everyone has to go on the conveyor belt. The last stop of the conveyor belt is them buying a house and closing on it. And for an agent, that’s when we get paid, at the very end. So a lot of agents will want the end already, like, “Well, I just want to buy an income property.” But there are a bunch of really predictable steps. I wonder if we just broke down your lead generation into individual, almost stations, like if you imagine an assembly line of a car. “Okay, here comes the chasse. Oh, here come the wheels. There goes the engine. There goes the glass in.” And then it gets driven off. You don’t just have a car – everything has to be broken down very sequentially. You almost have to get to first base, before you get to second base, before you get to third base. So, I wonder if we just broke down the transaction a little bit more, and then targeted all of our efforts to filling each base at a time? The way you get a full seminar is usually by marketing. And the way you market is by getting the right message. And a full seminar is just the end result of having the right message and the right marketing hitting the right target market, in order to fill up the seminar. Does that make sense?
Glenn: Yeah. So I wonder, if you were to create something like “The London Wealth Club” or something that was just so clear to a consumer that they knew exactly that this club is about building wealth, right? And if you created a Facebook page called “The London Wealth Club” and started posting on there, it would make a business page. Post, “Here’s a story about how, if you just didn’t go to Tim Hortons, you could easily, with the money that you save within two years, buy your first income property.” “Here’s a story of some other client that you’ve just helped that didn’t think they were able to buy an income property, but you sat down with them, and you showed them that with the appreciation in real estate prices, they could almost increase their mortgage by $50,000.” And instead of that $50,000 being a cost (and some people would do that on their line of credit to go buy a car, which is really stupid), that $50,000, if they put it as a down payment on an income property, the rental income they were getting from that investment would be paying down the $50,000 line of credit or increase in their mortgage. Does that make sense?
Nickey: Yeah. I think it’s just getting that funnel started, right?
Glenn: Yeah. So first of all, we have to get our target. And it has to be so clear that someone would sit there, and the moment they see what you’re doing, they go, “Oh, I know what it is.” There’s a girl out in B.C. who I’m coaching, and her group is called “The Man is Not Your Financial Plan.” There couldn’t be anything clearer about that title, right? You know exactly what she’s talking about. You know exactly what her target is, and I wonder if there’s something we could do. Maybe “London Wealth Club” is too general. I think this is what people have to listen to on this call and also understand, is it’s not increasing the wealth of everyone in London. There’s going to be, inside there, a micro market of people that are totally underserved right now. So who would your dream-come-true client be? Would it be the one that you mentioned earlier on the call, which is helping young families with young kids save up and have enough money to send their kids to school and be financially free?
Nickey: I think that would be almost the perfect client. Maybe it’s someone that I helped buy a first-time home, and now they’re moving into these investment properties, and be that expert in that investment property switch on how to get there.
Glenn: Right. So could you do “Moms Building Wealth – London Club” or something where we can incorporate the mom, the London, the wealth, and the club, so that people know? It’s almost like a monthly meet-up, go and have some wine and talk about building wealth club.
Nickey: Yes, we could.
Glenn: So are you in that world? Do you know a lot of moms with young kids who are thinking about building wealth?
Nickey: I think I could know a lot. There are different areas I haven’t been a part of. I could get in there. I’ve just been focused on other things.
Glenn: Right. Well, the great thing about these calls is we’re just exploring, right? We’re just trying to figure out what resonates with you enough where you sit there and go, “Oh yeah, I love this! I know these people” or “I know that group” or “they’re my people” or whatever, because that’s the whole secret to finding your niche, is just: find your own tribe of people. And what you’re really looking for is you. You’re looking for another Nickey Calford. You’re looking for another person who wants to build wealth and build a brighter future for their family. And just be projecting that at every step of the way, every interaction with a client. When you’re meeting some mom with kids and they’re like, “Oh, how’s real estate?” Just start talking automatically about how you just helped someone just like them buy their first investment property, and they never thought they’d ever be able to afford it. And they were able to do it and the cash flow is $300 a month positive, which they’re taking and putting into the kids’ RESPs. So they’re not only building their own wealth, but they’re building their kids’ wealth. This is the winning formula marketing. People will start running to you. And that’s what “The McQueenie Method” book’s about. All these calls are about how we get people running to you instead of you chasing after people who don’t like, trust, or respect realtors?
Glenn: So what do you think the next step would be?
Nickey: I think finding where people like me like to hang out – and it’s not at the real estate office.
Glenn: Right. It could be moms clubs, right? You can actually do this right. You can direct it perfectly through Facebook targeted advertising. You could just do “female, this age group, in this postal code in London,” and only they will get your ads on their feed. And it’s very reasonable. I think that might be a good way to do it. I would also create your Facebook fan page or business page, and then that content, I would be boosting out to your target market while you’re also out there talking to a bunch of people. And I would be directing them all towards your seminar. You said you’ve already done a couple, but this is the whole deal: “How can we get a predictable number of 10 or 15 people coming out every single month to your seminar?” because we know about 30% of them are probably going to do something (30-40%). So if you could book 3-5 appointments every single month just from the seminar series, and you start building them up, that’s almost 60 appointments in a year. And if you look at the math on that, if you had 60 new customers in a year, (because it’s a bell curve of, “Yeah, I’m going to do something now” or “I’m going to do something in nine months or 18 months,”) I think that you would probably be able to do 20-25 transactions quite easily just from those 60 people, but then you’re building your pipeline of 35 transactions the next year.
Nickey: Right. I think the one thing that really resonated with me from your book is that lead generation isn’t just calling. It isn’t door-knocking. It can be. But go out and find people who are in your tribe and get that lead generation – so if it’s Facebook marketing to the people that are just like me, who want to build wealth for their kids’ education, then that’s where you go. And people eventually start coming to you, as opposed to chasing them. So finding those groups, and getting out of my set mindset that I have to come into the office. I have to call. I have to do that. Part of my lead generation is going out and being me and learning from the people around me that like doing things and have the real conversations about real estate. And then they start to come and follow and want to do the stuff that we’re teaching at the seminars.
Glenn: Right. Yeah. It all starts with you going first, right? It’s so interesting. So many agents won’t do anything unless they have this absolutely predictable outcome, (which we know is like a myth in real estate, right?) You’re going to grow into the conversations you have with people, and you’ll attract those – but what if every time you were out socially, you started talking about that you were thinking about forming this group, and ask them what they would like to see within that group? And then just give them exactly what they tell you. It’s called polling your cheque-writers. You don’t go and ask your friends what they think; you ask the people who would actually do this what they really want, and then they give you the market research back. And then you just deliver it right back to them. And on this Facebook page, (or whatever your content marketing strategy’s going to be) I would be featuring properties with the headline, “This one’s perfect for paying for your kids’ education over the next 15 years” and “Look! This beautiful bungalow in this area has this income, and it’s got this, and it’s in great shape.” Those are the kind of things that make people go, “Oh, I didn’t know that” or “Oh, that property would cash flow” or “Oh. So I can actually do this? Hold on. Let me get this straight, Nickey. I can buy this property, and in five years, I can have it. That down payment, I 100% financed, because I increased my mortgage by $25,000 or $50,000, but in five years, I was able to retire that debt and build up more equity in that property.” And I’m sure, Nickey, you’ve probably done this – then you refinance that property and buy your next property, right?
Glenn: You only need to start with one. And then when you get one, and just manage it right, then you can move on. And those are the stories you start to tell.
Nickey: Yeah. I love that idea. I love being able to show people that that’s possible, so I think it’s the right niche for me. It’s just getting the right people and lead generation.
Glenn: Right. Well, could you do what I’m doing right now? Could you call and interview, and just bring a digital recorder, or record off your phone? (We can all do that). Couldn’t you meet up with them, and in 10 minutes, just say, “Hey, listen. I want you to just share your experience of what it was like and where you were. You were so worried that you wouldn’t be able to buy an investment property, to buying your first one, to now you’ve got two. What would you tell other people listening (this would all be on your Facebook page) about what it would be like for them to do it? Because I think the more third-party testimonials you get of people going, “I was afraid. I didn’t think I could do it. I was able to find my first one. Nickey helped me do it and it was so amazing. And I thought it would be such a nightmare being a landlord, but it turned out to be really great, and now I’ve bought my second and third one. I’ve been able to quit my full-time job and spend more time with the kids.” These are the stories that build your tribe in London, as you’re building the moms’ wealth-builder club in London.
Nickey: Yeah. I think I have some phone calls to make this afternoon. That’s a great idea, Glenn.
Glenn: Well that’s it. I always think it’s just about looking at what your market wants, and then just giving it to them. To me, I think this should be called the natural way to do real estate. There are no tricks. There’s nothing underhanded. It’s just, “What is my market? Where’s the gap in my marketplace? Is there anyone filling that spot? Can I go into that spot and fill it?” And I know you’ve already done some seminars, and what people listening don’t know is, recently, you partnered up with another agent from my office in Toronto, Michelle, and I think she brought a busload of women-building-wealth investors down to London. Can you just tell that story quickly?
Nickey: Yeah. So we’ve done a couple seminars – one here in London and one in Toronto at your office. We brought nine people down, rented a big van, took them around, and showed them very specific properties that we had that were on-the-go right now (different projects that would cash flow for them, as well as appreciate – and they were closing within this year, so that would start fairly quickly). So we took them around and gave them a tour, and at the end of the day, it was an extremely rewarding feeling. They were thrilled about what they learned about London. Having the tour, being able to not just show them on the Internet what’s here, but go see specific builds. And on an individual basis, as we drove through town, we gave the tour and told them where the universities, the hospitals, the parks, the outdoor concerts were, and showed them, so they had an idea of what they were buying in the area, and what kind of tenants they would have. They got to actually see the area. So by the end of the day, four of them had gone back to meet with mortgage brokers and set things up to come purchase properties here.
Glenn: As I’m listening to you, I can hear the passion in your voice. I’m like, “Well, there’s your second niche market.” I’d love for you to give your contact information for people who might want to be bringing busloads of investors down to London, and they can partner up with you, and you can give them all the inside scoop and tell them where to go. “Here’s the best place” and “Don’t buy on that block” and “This block’s better.” I think you could even be coming to Toronto once a month and doing seminars, not only for buyers here, but for agents here in Toronto who’ve got a bunch of investor clients and need that local knowledge, boots on the ground, in London. So I think it’s going to be pretty exciting for you, Nickey.
Nickey: Well I’m pretty excited about it. It’s been fun, and you get to learn a lot about your niche when you go really, really deep into it. And then that just really helps you become that expert even more.
Glenn: Well it increases your value, too, and your perceived value to the consumer. And that’s why they start running to you, which I think is so amazing. So, Nickey, we’re just going to wrap up, but can you give anyone listening your phone number and email address? And then if they want to reach out, it’s great.
Nickey: Yeah. So you can call me at 519-636-5097. And my email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Glenn: Awesome. Well thank you so much, Nickey. It was so great having you and thanks for being a guest. I’m so excited just to watch you become the big wealth-building empire-builder for everyone in London so that their kids can have that great future. At the end of the day, that’s what parents want for their kids – just to provide a better life so they don’t have to struggle as much. And I think you’re really going to be helping a lot of people achieve that, so thanks a million for joining us today.
Nickey: Thanks, Glenn.