891: How to Get 500+ 5-Star Reviews on Zillow with Will Penney

March 13, 2020
Reviews can make or break a real estate business, so why is it that most agents drop the ball when it comes to online reviews? On today’s podcast, real estate veteran Will Penney shares the system that helped him get over 500 5-star reviews on Zillow and hundreds more on other sites. Will doesn’t just cover how to ask for reviews, he explains how agents can ensure that the reviews they get are positive. Plus, Will gives his take on why so many new agents fail, where the industry’s headed, and what agents should expect as Zillow rolls out its new Flex program.
Will Penney4 Listen to today’s show and learn:
  • About Will [2:45]
  • Will’s sales stats [5:27]
  • Will’s team structure [7:17]
  • Will’s biggest business sources [11:14]
  • How to get great reviews [13:52]
  • Why agents must keep their egos in check [15:17]
  • The key to getting great reviews [17:38]
  • Why Zillow reviews could soon be worthless [18:32]
  • How agents can keep their reviews safe [22:11]
  • Will’s advice for getting more business [24:14]
  • Recommended real estate software and services [27:22]
  • The biggest business mistake Will made [31:30]
  • Will’s donation to the Agent Success Toolbox [35:09]
  • How to break through your goals.
  • Plus so much more.
Will Penney Will and Mary Penney started Penney Real Estate Company in February of 2001, after both being top Realtors with a large national real estate firm. Will and Mary worked very hard to provide the best possible service to their clients, and experienced success very quickly due to word of mouth referrals. Fast forward and now Penney Real Estate Company has two offices and six excellent Realtors. In 2019, they sold 237 homes and were the highest rated real estate group on Ohio on Zillow! Related Links and Resources: Thanks for Rocking Out Thank you for tuning in to Pat Hiban Interviews Real Estate Rockstars, we appreciate you! To get more Rockstar content sent directly to your device as it becomes available, subscribe on iTunes or StitcherReviews on iTunes are extremely helpful and appreciated! We read each and every one of them, please feel free to leave your email so that we can personally reach out and say thanks! Have any questions? Tweet meFacebook me and ask Pat anything. Don’t forget to head on over to Bare Naked Agent for Pat’s answers, and advice. Thank you Rockstar Nation, and keep rockin!

Aaron: Rockstar nation, this is Aaron Amuchastegui. I am here today interviewing Will Penney. I’m really excited about this interview. Will reached out to me. He’s been an avid listener of the Real Estate Rockstars, but when he reached out he had something super unique that I’m sure we’re going to get into today. He talked about social proof. He gave these numbers of the amount of reviews and clients that he has, of where he gets them and how he gets them, was just amazing. I thought this was super unique niche. Nobody had talked about it yet. I was really excited to get Will on here today. Will, yes, tell us about yourself. How are you?

Will: I’m great, man. I really, really appreciate you having me on here. I’ve been listening to your podcasts for probably eight months, nine months. A buddy of mine told me about it. Now, all my friends listen to your podcasts, all my realtor friends and I’m just very excited that you’re actually taking the time with me.

Aaron: That is super cool, man. Tell us about where you come from, your family and the stuff you do for fun other than real estate.

Will: Okay, I was actually born in England. I came over here when I was 10. I got into real estate while I was going to Kent State University which everybody’s probably heard of. I was working in auto parts store and a guy came up to me when he was getting some spark plugs and said, “Hey, you ever thought about real estate?” and I hadn’t. I was thinking about medicine, but that was way too far out.

Anyway, I got my real estate license and I got licensed when I was 19. I took my classes this semester after I graduated from high school and I got licensed the following April. I’ve been full-time ever since. It took me a long time to sell my first house at closing eight in September. I made 692 bucks, quit my pizza job and it’s been all, I don’t want to say, downhill. [laughs] It’s been all uphill ever since.

Aaron: Then all real estate since then.

Will: Yes.

Aaron: ’19, hadn’t thought about real estate at all. Do you ever feel like trying to find that guy and reach out and saying, “Thanks for mentioning real estate to me.”?

Will: Yes, John White-Bell. He actually passed away years ago, but he hooked me up with a Century 21 broker in Akron, Ohio. I’ve never been to Akron before and I just started working really hard. Sold 17 houses in my first year driving my mom’s car and I’m not exaggerating. That’s how it panned out. Met my wife at RE/MAX office. She moved here and was working at the front desk. Got married when I was 23. Got two kids. We’ve been married 27-and-a-half years. Pretty boring life, but it’s good for me.

Aaron: Pretty boring life, but you also mentioned that you’ve done an ultra marathon recently and had a run?

Will: Yes, I run quite a bit. That probably helps me with my discipline. Last year, I did 250 Ks and a 50 miler. I hadn’t done a 50 miler before. Probably going to do it again this year. I really enjoy running and it’s a great networking for me. I had a couple of running groups. I’ve sold them all houses. Throughout long-distance runners, you think they’d be flakes but they’re usually engineers, doctors, surgeons, attorneys. They’re usually pretty type A people.

Aaron: You are the first person I’ve talked to on here that turned running– I’ve had several guests lately, we’ve been talking about ultra marathons or Ironmans, and things like that. You’re the first one that said, no, you turn that into customers and networking. I think that is great.

Will: I made two groups of 10 to 20 people on purpose. Run for two hours Saturday morning, two hours Sunday morning. Every one of them, both of those groups, I’ve gotten a ton of business out of over the years. It’s been good.

Aaron: All right. That is great. Let’s jump in in the nitty-gritty Real Estate Rockstars. How many houses have you sold in the last 12 months, volume, gross commissions?

Will: All right, last year, we sold 237 houses. There’s a few FSBOs that aren’t in there. We might have had closer to 250, but 237 documented in the MLS. We had 40 just within 100 grand, either side of 46 million. That was with six heartbeats. Six humans in our team.

Aaron: Six team members, that many houses. You also said that there’s also some FSBOs. How do you guys help people with for sale by owner?

Will: Well, for a long time, actually before podcasts were even a thing years ago, I did an interview about FSBOs. When I first started, I know a lot of younger agents listen to this podcast, and the one thing they can get some maybe a smile out of is, I started at 19. I was able to stick with it and I’m still going strong so they can have a long career too. When I first got in, the first thing I did was FSBOs. I don’t know how I did it. Looking back, my son’s 23, I have no idea how I did it, honestly, looking at 19-year-olds now. Do you know what I mean? I did it. I called FSBOs. In fact, I sent you my fizz-bow checklist. That’s one of the free gifts.

Aaron: Yes, you will be able to share that with everybody, which is great.

Will: The last thing, I’m not calling FSBOs as much now. I’ve got someone that does that. Mainly, if we have a buyer who sees one on Zillow, we’ll represent them. We had a handful of those last year where we represented the buyer. We had some land that didn’t show up in the MLS, so probably closer to 250 but documented, 237.

Aaron: Documented 237, closure 250, only six team members. How does that team split up? How do you guys do so much volume with only six people?

Will: All right, there’s actually seven but that includes my wife. She doesn’t sell houses, but she’s definitely the centerpiece of this brokerage. She’s the broker. We joke around and say that, she’s the broker or she’s the pimp and we’re all hookers. [chuckles] Anyway, the way it works, like I said, I worked as a solo agent for a long time, but about 10 years ago and this is something to think about for younger people looking to make their first move, I hired a showing agent.

One thing I knew I didn’t want to do was get team agents that would then handoff the deals and then at the end of it, I was very, very focused for a long time about generating a referral-based business and having a very organic business. We’re in this era of lead gen now and what I have seen just for me, you get 10 to 20 people on your team which is great for them, they make a lot more money than me probably, but it’s very hard to grow organically because you have an agent who sells 10 or 15 homes a year.

They don’t have the skills to create an advocate out of that client afterwards. After the transaction, it’s much harder to get that buyer or seller to remember the team when they had no contact with the team leader. You could have arguments all day about that, but that’s the way I felt. I decided to hire a showing agent and I made her an employee. She was part-time and paid her hourly. She’s still with me. She’s been with me 10 years and hired her full-time three years ago. Her name is Rebecca and she’s fantastic. She has a huge role here.

When I would meet with a buyer and have them sign a representation agreement, we do use exclusive representation agreements. She would then show them homes. Once they find the house, I would jump back in. When the market was slower, I would go look at the house and then write the offer, but a lot of times now, we have to act quickly. I’ll write the offer, negotiate the offer, and then I’m the point of contact with that client through closing, so they never forget about me. Rebecca is more part of our group, but they always remember me. That was my first move. She was my showing agent and that’s been very helpful.

Aaron: My wife and I are in Escrow to buy a house in Austin right now. I think we close next week.

Will: Awesome.

Aaron: It’s a similar scenario there. There’s a showing agent. There’s an employee that shows us the houses that does that and the agent was the listing agent for it. It’s not unheard of to do it that way. It’s really cool that you’ve been able to grow that way. Also, the biggest thing I know you said is, with you being the face with you touching every single buyer or seller, that’s the way that you get that kind of repeat business from it. The idea was that was by having everybody on the team, you stayed the face of that brand, the customer service that the buck stops with you.

Will: That’s correct. I did that, maybe it was the micromanager in me, but I just knew that at the end of the day, I wanted to have a business where I wasn’t left behind. If everybody left today, then I could still sell houses. It would be more of a struggle because I have so much support now, but I still sell houses every day. I’ve just created this setup so that I can work a lot fewer hours. I handle fewer parts of the transaction, but all the high-touch stuff I handle.

Aaron: That’s awesome. You talked about, of those 250 houses, what percent listings versus buyers are you guys?

Will: We’re about 60/40. 60% listings versus 40% buyers.

Aaron: I’m guessing maybe I know the answer to this, but one of our questions we ask, what’s the number one source to get those of listings buyers. Is it the same? Do you have a different source to get listings versus buyers’ agents? What do you do?

Will: Our team is six people. It’s me, Rebecca and Tina, and then I have one of my good friends, I’ve been harassing him for years. He sells about 100 homes a year. He’s got two people on his team, set up the same way. He knew me when he first– Well, not first got it. He’s known me for about six, seven years. He was with a larger independent company previously and he made the jump last 2018.

They do about 100 transactions themselves between their team. They’ll do more this year. They’re already after a great start. I have nothing to do with his team other than support him, process listings, help process sales, give them support so that they can work hard. I don’t have anything to do with him. He’s got a good referral-based business as well.

My business, I get a lot of organic business from Zillow reviews. Not to get off track, I’m trying to get away from Zillow. I don’t mind them hearing that. Now, I’ve got a lot of Google reviews. We’ve got 60. Started getting Google reviews last April. I got 60 already. My short-term goal is to get 100 reviews there and we’re already getting traction. I’m getting about, I can’t turn my phone back on but you ever heard of Homesnap?

Aaron: Yes.

Will: One thing I did, Homesnap has a Google program. It’s about 500 bucks a year. Don’t quote me on that. They’ll basically beef up your Google profile. They give you a way to request a review quickly. They’ll post your listings on Google. I now post stuff on Google. Whenever I think about it, stuff’s posted there every week. We’re getting probably 200 people a month from our Google profile to click through to our website.

Aaron: Wow.

Will: It’s legit and that’s free.

Aaron: What made you focus on reviews? As we were talking before, you said there was some specific moments that you said, “Reviews was going to be the thing that made you stand apart.” Really tell some of those stats again. You’ve got more reviews than anyone.

Will: We’ve got 515 on Zillow, which is what made me reach out because I heard some fabulous agents on your podcast. I heard them talk about having 2 or 300. I’m like, “Man, we got 515.”

Aaron: You’re legit.

Will: All those reviews are byproducts of excellent relationships. It’s all a review is. The trick is to create an excellent relationship and then you can easily get a review. We’ve got two bad ones. They’re old. I remember when I got my bad review in 2013, it was like when 9/11 happened. I had to pull over to the side of the road, take a deep breath. It was a terrible thing getting a bad review but then after a few days, I realized I was starting to get some pushback from people thinking that my reviews were garbage because they were all five-star. When I got that, one-star review calling me an arrogant bully and I couldn’t remove it then it actually just legitimize the others.

Aaron: In the podcast industry we love reviews. We need reviews. We need more people to tell us what’s going on out there. We had one of our reviews say, “Hey, you’re doing way too many ads.” We looked at that. It was like a one-star. I said, “All right. Let’s get rid of all of our ads. Let’s make sure that we’re just providing value first before we do anything else, let’s get rid of all the ads. Let’s listen.” By getting those reviews, even the bad ones out there, it helps us tailor the business differently. Even the one star, I’m sure you had also think about yourself a little bit of going, like,” I can do that. What can I improve?”

Will: Well, the fact that we’ve got so many good reviews, I’ve failed a few times but I try not to let my ego get in the middle. It’s really hard to do. When you start doing well, you start thinking, “I’m a 500 grand a year guy, 600 grand a year guy, a million dollar a year guy.” No, you’re not. You stop selling houses today, you’re nothing. I’ve tried to stay relevant and that’s with the reviews because I know that we could quickly fall off the wave. I want to do everything I possibly can to stay relevant. It’s more out of fear than anything else. Not commission breath, but fear of not being relevant.

Aaron: You told me you intentionally focused on reviews early. It was like some other non-real estate-related businesses out there that really made you think, “This is what’s the difference.”

Will: 1988, I got my license. I started keeping in touch with my clients almost right away. No one told me to, I just did. Don’t know why. I can’t remember why but I did. 1994, I got top producer and then I started creating a database. 1997, I went to see Joe Stumpf by referral-only University in Cincinnati, Ohio. I left that thing going. I can have a referral-based business. I just started thinking that way. I started connecting with my database a lot more.

Well, then in 2009, I started buying my toner for my expensive ass printer, Xerox printer on eBay. Then I would notice all of these reviews. I thought, “Okay.” Then Amazon came around and I saw reviews, and people started making decisions based on reviews. Well, then what kicked it off for me, was when Zillow came into our area in 2009, that’s when I saw they could review agents. I thought to myself, “I’m going to start getting reviews.”

I just started asking all my past clients to review me. To get up to 50 reviews. I think I even offered him a free car wash or something. I had like little contests on how quick, but then once we got over there, I wanted to get the most reviews. There was a guy with 60 back then, called him up and asked him how he got them. He wouldn’t tell me. Then I just started asking all my past clients and then we just made it part of our process.

You can’t just ask for a review for fear that you might get one you don’t want, unless you make sure you’ve given them an excellent experience. That’s where it dials back to. The reviews are great, but the excellent experience is what we really started focusing on. We started getting checklists for everything. We would talk to our clients at the beginning and say that our business is very important to us and that our past clients very important to us and the outcome is important.

I would start getting listings based on the few reviews I had. Then I would say, “At the end of this, I’m going to ask you for a view review too.” We just started explaining things, better, setting expectations, better communicating more often, and then the reviews just started coming in. We’d always asked for them as part of the process. I’d ask for them at the end. Now, it’s easy. I text them a link from Google. I’m not even bothering asking for Zillow reviews anymore.

Aaron: You’ve got plenty.

Will: Well, no, it’s not that. As soon as they go to flex across the country, man, all those agent profiles are going to go blind. There’s no way that they’re going to be able to have the agent finder on Zillow and have a successful flex program. They’ve already got the algorithm in place. I’ve actually done some consulting for a couple of hedge funds on Zillow. I have a little bit different perspective on Zillow. I’m not afraid of them. They’ve done nothing to shorten the process. You can have a showing button on their site all day long. All that’s going to do is create problems. I already know agents that refuse to do that but once they get to Flex, you know what I’m talking about?

Aaron: No, you can tell me about what Flex is going to be?

Will: Right now, basically, it’s happening across the country, Arizona, other parts where they’re charging a referral fee. They’ve got a thing called Best of Zillow now, which we are, but that’s all based on how quickly you answer your phone, if you get a good survey from the customer afterwards.

The whole reason for them doing that is so that they can create a network of excellent realtors, so that when they do flip to a referral base, Richard Barton is going, “They want the commission.” They’re just going to a referral-based fee and not charging you upfront money that they charge the heavy spender agents like me, that they consider us to be. They want the referral fee. I’m already onto it. I know in order for them to do that, the referral fee, which is Flex, meaning you don’t have to pay them upfront, we’ll just take it on the backend. Then what’ll happen is, they’ll have to get rid of their agent finder. I don’t think we’ll see the agents on there. Because if you give the consumer an opportunity to reach out to an agent on Zillow, then you can’t guarantee that you’re going to be able to lock them into an agent, get a referral fee. Does that make sense?

Aaron: Yes, no. I talked a little bit on one of our state of the markets a couple of weeks ago when Zillow called us. We list a bunch of houses with Zillow and for rent. For us, that’s where people find them, and Zillow called me and said–

Will: I just got a tenant from Zillow. They’re wonderful.

Aaron: Everybody looks there first and they called me and said, “Hey, this has been a free service. We’ve been giving for the last 15 years.”

Will: I’ve listened to that podcast.

Aaron: They called me and said, “Now we’re going to charge you a dollar a day or something, and you’re going to pay 900 bucks a month now.” I’m like, “All right, all I can do is say yes because I need them.”

Will: That’s a good run. It’s a good run.

Aaron: I think it’s really smart of you to say, “All right, you–” Well, it’s really to diversify. What you’re really saying, there is, one of your niches is get those referrals. You need to get those referrals from as many avenues as you possibly can because at any time, because all these other companies, they find ways to make more money. They’re supposed to. They’re publicly traded. That’s one of their missions.

Will: Absolutely.

Aaron: You got to be ready to go. When they want me to pay to actually show my pro– They could one day call you and say, “Hey, Will, for the show your 515 reviews want you to pay 1,000 bucks a month now.” They could decide that whenever they want.

Will: I hired a college kid last year to take all my reviews off Zillow, copy them onto an HTML page. Got all my Google reviews, my Angie’s list reviews, my realtor.com reviews and they put them all on an HTML page so that they’re all static. When the time comes that Zillow blinds that and everyone goes, “Oh my God, what happened?” I’ll at least be prepared.

Aaron: That is super smart. That’s probably a piece of advice that any one of our listeners could do now. Every time you get a great review from any of those places online, you can take a screenshot of it and save it somewhere else so you’ve got that image. You could have your own website where you post them but don’t lose those reviews. There’s a chance that any time any of those businesses out there could change, and you don’t want to lose access to that stuff. That’s a really safe, easier. Take a snapshot, take a screenshot. You’ve got it forever.

Will: Or any savvy. My nephew, he did an internship with us last summer. He’s 22. Any savvy, 22-year-old, who’s used to Snapchatting or anything else. He got onto the computer and he was able to copy every one of my seller reviews into its own web page. I don’t know how he did it, so that we could archive it so when the time comes, we still got our reviews. It’s incredibly important. You cannot rely on these publicly traded companies because your reviews are your credit score, your credit report. They’re your reputation online. If you have a way to house them on your website, when the time comes, you’re going to be in a much better position.

Aaron: That is great, man. Again, focusing so much on getting those reviews and now making it so much a part of your system. They were like, “Hey, I want to ask everybody for review, but before I do that, I need to make sure I give them excellent service so then they’re going to be more likely to want to give a review.” Then you have to choose what your review source is because nobody really wants to put a review on four different sites for you. You’ve got like one choice, give him one and you do that. We’re talking about your sources. If you were going to give an agent advice, like what’s the one thing they could do right now to increase production. Is it that? Is there something else that comes to mind?

Will: Well, you got to take your business by the balls. You have to go and you have to reach out to people. I think the new agents and they can– I’m 51. They can make fun of me all they want. We all have our strengths and weaknesses, but I think where some of the younger agents are missing the mark is that they’re forgetting that real estate sales is a belly-to-belly business.

It is built on the back of emotion. That’s why Zillow can’t change the process. They can shorten the gap between wanting a home and finding a home. They can shorten the gap between finding a home and writing an offer. They have done nothing to shorten the gap between offer and closing, nor will they. They’re not going to do it because the lenders haven’t changed their ways.

Buyers are scared. They’re overwhelmed. That’s why the number of trends for sale by owner transactions it hasn’t gone up. It’s gone down or it stayed the same. It’s been about, 7% for years. All the tools available to for-sale-by-owners. It’s not made more of them want to sell their home. People are scared of letting people in their house.

Back to what I was saying, the younger agents have left too much to texting. They’ve left too much to messaging, direct messaging. They’re trying to communicate too much with email. I think where maybe other agents that are of my generation, which isn’t quite old but it’s getting up there. We’re not afraid to answer the phone. I answer my phone all day long. That’s a key thing. Answer your phone and get out and talk to strangers every day.

I’ve never been a big door knocker. There was a Haynes directory, which was like a Chris doc cross directory years ago. I used to use that but my big strength was FSBOs and Expireds. Show up in an expired door at 6:00 o’clock at night, leave your door open.

There’s an emotional trick there that they know you’re not going to stay. Leave the engine running, open the door, go up, knock on the door, say, “Hey, I’m Will Penny with Penny Real Estate. Noticed your house came off the market. Are you planning on putting it back on the market?”

They see your car running and so you can do that. I still call for sale by owners from time to time just to keep my sword sharp. There’s several on Zillow. A lot of them don’t sell even with this market because it’s too big of a process for most buyers. You still an opportunity to get those listings?

Aaron: It is like when people see the, for sale by owner, they think of it as a deal, but then to go show it or go see it, it’s a different process. It’s not as easy. It’s different from that professional experience of an agent helping you and the agents adding value. Before we even started recording, you talked about different team systems you guys use. What team system are you most excited about or what software, things like that do you use that help you other than having just a great team?

Will: I was using Top Producer for a long time. With all due respect to Top Producer, they didn’t really stay ahead of the curve in terms of some of the features and some of the other ones use. I used Line Desk. It’s a fantastic and inexpensive CRM. Just now in January, we signed up for Follow Up Boss. One of the best moves I ever made because it’s very easy and we’re able to have our leads put in there, reminds us daily.

It reminds us every quarter to keep in touch with our clients. It’s really good. That’s the CRM we use. The other thing I’m pretty good at is BombBomb. Despite my real sort of black and white personality, I’ve been doing more reviews or more videos on problems in the transaction. If you go to our Instagram or our Facebook page, and you can offer a lot of criticism on my videos. I’m getting better. I’m more of a direct guy, so when you go do a selfie video, no, it’s a little bit harder. I’m doing videos on like problems in the transaction. We just did one on the WalkThrough Addendum and that kind of stuff. I’m using BombBomb, they’ve got a thing called Prompt, where they’ll actually once a month, they prompt you to do a quick video on a topic, and they send it out to your database. We just started doing that as well.

Aaron: That’s cool.

Will: It’s very cool and it’s not terribly expensive either. BombBomb is great. Oh, if I talk to a new person like a Zillow lead or a past client or whatever, I’ll take a quick BombBomb video and I’ll send it to them and I’ll say, “Hey, Aaron, this is Will. It was great chatting with you on the phone. I just wanted to put a face to a name. Look forward to meeting with you Wednesday at three o’clock. If you need anything in the meantime call or text me, but in the meantime, I just wanted to send you this video as an introduction.” I get a ton of great feedback on that very quickly with BombBomb.

Aaron: I’ve tried a bunch of different software for that for some of the subscription services that we sell of sending people personalized videos. I remember the first time I got a personalized video, I thought, “I want to buy whatever they’re selling.” That makes it so special out there. When BombBomb, does it send them a text message and say, “Here’s the link?” Does it send them an email and say, “Here’s the video.” [crosstalk]

Will: You send them a text message. You record the video, the cool thing is it sends them a link, so you’re not actually housing the video there. It’ll save the video to your camera roll, but that video will be sent with like an intro like where you going like this or whatever. It sends them a link it’ll say, “Hey, I just recorded a quick video for you,” but you can change that too and then they can see you. It creates a little box on the text, and they can see you on there. Yes, I think that’s a great little tool and not very much money.

Aaron: Yes. You record the video, “I’m looking forward to working with you.” It shoots them a text, there’s a little picture of you there, they click on it.

Will: Why?

Aaron: Everybody’s always like, “I thought it was fake. I couldn’t believe that it was actually a video you recorded for me. That was awesome.”

Will: Yes, saying your name. I guess my point in all of this and going back to the reviews is, we create relationships. You can get a lead to respond with texting, it’s very hard to create a relationship with texting. I’ve tried to call my clients with updates, I never text offers. I have found that that builds bonds more than anything else, just the phone. People won’t agree with me, but I just know that’s why we do the volume we do with hardly any people.

Aaron: You do a ton of volume in and I love that it’s been based on providing excellent service and encouraging people to share that. I think that’s great. What’s the key? Thinking back in real estate, you’ve been in real estate so long. Can you think of a huge mistake that you made that really changed the course of your real estate career after that, that you were like, “Wow, I’m not going to do that again,” or that you would recommend somebody else prevents?

Will: Absolutely. I’m dealing with a buddy of mine, he’s 33, he’s probably listening to this podcast, he made $400,000 last year. 33-years-old as a realtor, and he sold 119 homes as a solo agent. This guy’s crushing it. He met with me for lunch yesterday talking about, I’m not going to say because I don’t want anyone to lead it back to him. He’s got this little side thing and he thinks it’s going to be great to do some commercial deals where he’s going to time self closer to it. Not be a realtor, but be like a fiduciary of some kind.

My biggest mistake it’s called Tumble Bus. 2007, I spent $60,000 grand buying a school bus that was outfitted as a gymnastic center, and then I had to hire three women and go into daycare centers, and I was going to make an extra $300,000 a year. What an absolute disaster? First of all, I didn’t know that the real estate world was coming to an end then. It was 2007, right before- [crosstalk]

Aaron: You that $60,000.

Will: -before the crash. I had no idea. No. I thought we were going to keep blowing up. The point is with big brush strokes is that I focused on this business for a year, and then I ended up parking the bus and it’s still rusting in the back. I finally figured out, “This is the stupidest thing you’ve ever done. You’re not paying attention to your real estate business.” Now, part of that was because 2008 was crushing for all of us, but as we went through it, we didn’t realize. We didn’t realize what was happening until we looked back.

Aaron: Yes. I just wanted you to worry about that.

Will: I had sold like 78 homes in 2007 and 39 in 200. I attributed it to the tumble bus failure, in reality, tumble bus failed because people at daycares weren’t paying $39 to put their kid in a toddler class while the market’s crashing. Then on top of it, my business is going down the toilet because of the market as well, so I just parked that thing. To answer your question, stick with what you’re good at.

We’re in a business where you can make $5,000, $10,000, $20,000 depending on the agent $30,000, $50,000, $100,000 selling a house, and then we go and get distracted by something stupid. It rarely works out. The average human can’t keep their eye on more than one ball.

If you find a ball like real estate, now, I don’t care what it is. I won’t let anyone distract me from this because we got it too good as realtors. The key is in, or the trick is just stringing enough deals together. Stringing enough commission checks together and you can do great. You fix that problem and you never have to do anything else.

Aaron: Now, that’s such great advice for somebody that’s been an agent for so long. It’s like we have so many different times where you focus on it, and you haven’t been in real estate trying to figure out how to get out of it or have somebody else do it. You’re like, “No, this is your business and you’re going to be deep in it. You’re still going to call the Fizzbo’s and you’re still going to do the work.”

You’re going to make sure the buck still stops with you, because when you lost focus on that or when you said, “Hey, I’m going to be an agent, and I’m going to be something else,” the something else wasn’t successful and you are less successful as an agent because now you had more than one thing. Real estate is your one thing and the biggest mistake you made was taking your eye off the ball from that, especially in the timing it would happened was crazy for you.

Will: For me. I’ve got ADD on a good day. If I go bring something else I need to focus on, it’s not going to out at all.

Aaron: Yes. It’s not going to help you grow that super impressive team.

Will: No.

Aaron: As we wrap up, you talked early on about some of the stuff that you’re getting as your free gift. Tell us what is that free gift and what are people going to find and how are they going to use it?

Will: Well, the first free gift I’m giving as I mentioned early we use an exclusive buyer representation agreement. The reason we use an exclusive buyer representation agreement isn’t because we want to handcuff people to us, it’s because I’ve talked a couple of times on this podcast or in this interview. Real estate is an emotional, psychological situation for most people.

When a buyer comes into my office and they sit down with me, and we review our checklist which you now have it goes over the, we talk about the search process, then we talk about the offer process, and on the back page of that it’s the closing process. When we go through all of that and we identify some of the pitfalls that they could fall into, and after that I say, “Based on what we’ve gone over, do you want me to help you?”

Just that question and they say “Well, of course, we do.” I say, “Okay well, just like when you hire an attorney or an accountant or any other professional, we’ve got some paperwork. Do you mind if we take a minute and go all for it?” They’re like, “No, that’s fine.” I go through the exclusive representation agreement, we explain that they’re going to have to pay us a small broker fee of $295 or whatever.

It explains that, if they find a FSBO they’ll allow us to make the initial call. I explained to them, “It’s all psychology because if you call the FSBO and then I follow up, then they think I’m just some scumbag realtor trying to jump in and get paid.” If I call them first, well, then, we’ve got something they want, which is a pre-approved buyer and they’re like, “Oh yes.” That makes them not want to ever call a FSBO again because they think it puts them at a disadvantage.

Then it talks about how we’ll get paid by the listing broker and then I just have them sign it. I make it four or five months, but I don’t care about the four or five months. What I care about, when they leave my office, too many agents make the process about looking at homes. I make the process about me being the center of the hub being there as their advocate, so they’re looking at us as being a major help.

They leave my office, the minute they sign that representation agreement they’re now a homebuyer. That is the reason to get a rep agreement. When agents meet buyers at homes, we don’t do that by the way, then they’re just a door opener. It changes the role you play in a buyer’s head. If they meet you for the first time at a house and that’s fine we could argue all day.

For I just think it’s risky the main thing, but they look at you as someone who’s just going to drive up and show them a house, and it’s very hard to go over the process there. We have everybody come into the office, review the process, explain to them that we’re going to go over some pitfalls with them to make sure that they’re an informed buyer and we have them signed that representation agreement after I go through that checklist.

A lot of people say, “Oh, it’s too hard to do a representation agreement. It’s just too scary.” You’d never list a house, you just never go into a house and say, “Okay, well I’ll put it on in the market,” without a listing agreement. You also wouldn’t have a listing agreement signed as soon as you get to the house. It’s like going on a date. You don’t show up with the roses, knock on the door and say, “Okay, can we make out now?”

There’s a lot more that has to happen in the middle before that occurs and it’s the same thing in the listing or buyer presentation or buyer consultation. I’ve got everybody on my team so they meet with the buyer, go through the process, explain the pitfalls, explain how their role on the process is important. Then the representation agreement is just like housekeeping and now you get that addendum for the checklist.

Aaron: The checklist on how to get the– I think that’s great advice. I think you’re trying to show the value that you add and why someone should hire you. I hadn’t thought of that before, but if the first time you are meeting your agent is over at the house, then they’re going to thinking, “This guy, all he did was show up here.” Agents have to fight a battle all the time of people thinking they’re getting paid too much for this transaction. Most people believe that from the very beginning and you are saying, “Let’s change the order that they come in.”

Will: Whip it around.

Aaron: Let’s change all that, to where now, by the first time I write an offer, they know I’ve already worked with them for a while. It’s not just like, “I texted this and he wrote an offer on us.” No, you got them ahead of time. I love that man. Will, how can people find you out there? If they’ve got questions about how you do this, if they want to follow up more, what’s the best way somebody can go find you?

Will: They can find us on Facebook, Penney Real Estate. That’s P-E-N-N-E-Y. They can find us there. I’m doing my very best to get some traction on Instagram, because I think that young people are going there. As I said, with my personality, I’m still doing videos, I’m posting quirky stuff because people look at it. I’m boosting my videos on Facebook. Instagram I think it’s @penneyrealestate. I don’t have a personal one. I just have the @penneyrealestate, or is it @penney_realestate. If you put it Penney Real Estate, you’ll find it.

Aaron: Yes, and we’ll put that in the show notes too. We’ll make sure that we get your Instagram handle and your Facebook on there. We’ve been doing a lot of stuff in Facebook and Instagram too. It’s where we take a lot of these show notes, a lot of the best clips that we have. We’ll grab a few from this one. We’ll have some from today’s interview that we’ll convert to videos, and clips, and pictures, and we’ll put push out there to make sure that people hear this.

Rockstar nation, hopefully you guys enjoyed hearing from Will today. I sure did. The really unique thing out there that he’s doing and it’s really clear how to go be successful. I think if you took a lot of notes today, there’s definitely a lot of action that your can take. Will, thank you for being a listener for so long. Thanks for getting all your friends to be listeners and thanks for reaching out to me get on here. I know that I learned so much from you today and glad you joined us on Real Estate Rockstar.

Will: I honestly can’t believe that you had me on the show. I’m so excited about it.

Aaron: All right. Have all your friends listen and we’re out. Thanks again.

Will: Awesome. Thank you so much.

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