#207 Mail-Right Show With Special Guest Chris D. Bentley
We Interview One of Dallas Leading Luxury Property Agents
As of one of Dallas’ most aggressive real estate magnates in the making, Chris D. Bentley has built his reputation upon surpassing client expectations. Having sold millions of dollars’ worth of homes during his 16+ year career, 50% of Chris’s business has consisted of repeat and referral clients and the other 50% from social media exposure.
Specializing in the most elite properties in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, Chris epitomizes integrity, energy, hard, work, and excellent customer service in every detail of the real estate transaction. He has been featured and recognized by D Magazine as one of the magazine’s Best Realtors in Dallas (2017, 2018) and as one of the most followed Realtors on social media (currently 13th). Chris continues to provide savvy marketing strategies and unparalleled client service to his real estate clients to this day.
When Chris isn’t working, he can be spotted at many of the networking and charity events in the area. He’s the creator and organizer of, Plano Socialites, a local business networking Facebook group of over 3,700 members.
Trained and inspired by his trusted colleagues, Chris has made a high level commitment to his real estate education. He continually challenges himself to bringing the best knowledge and service to his clients. Focusing on his customers, Chris has built a successful real estate career by providing clients with five star-worthy service that goes far beyond the selling or purchasing of a home.
Jonathon: Welcome back folks to the Mail Right Show. This is episode 207. Unfortunately, my cohost Robert is not here. He’s gone on another little vacation. He’s somewhere down south. But I’m holding the fort. And I have got a great guest here. We’ve got Chris Bentley joining us. So Chris, would you like to introduce yourself to listeners and viewers?
Chris: Sure. Hello everybody. Thanks for having me on the show. I’m super pumped ready to talk some technology. And a little bit about my background and I’m sure I know you guys can look me up. But over 16 years of real estate experience, multiple different states that I sold in. And now have a financial advisor license or securities license. So I have a capital management company that I have. I have an Amazon store that I started. I’m just not an entrepreneur and more of like a business owner I think. More when you look at the different definitions. But I just like to dabble in different things, but real estate is really my go to.
Jonathon: Oh, that’s great. So you are based in Dallas. Is that correct?
Jonathon: And you’re more in the kind of upper luxury area.
Chris: Yeah, I do but luxury chooses to find me.
Jonathon: Well that’s great though. So let`s delve in my first question. How do you utilize lead generations to generate leads? And if you do, what have been some of your successes in five years on online marketing in the past couple of years? Can you give us a brief over head? Do you use online lead generation in general?
Chris: Well, Facebook is changing as of I believe the last couple of days. But in general I used a lot of Facebook on personal and a business page more on the personal side. And then LinkedIn was really, really hot for me for a while. No it`s kind of cooled off a little bit for me. I have a Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram. Instagram is really good for me. Facebook stories are really good for me, but Facebook has changed up a little bit. And never really come out with this whole announcement yet.
But I think Zuckerberg was talking about it but it’s changed. Like the way you post on your personal page is you’re going to be more based off of just personal like, you know, friends, family, talking about stuff. And then if you want to do like a business post, you have to actually have a business page. Right now I’m kind of skirting it a little bit and like kind of cheating the system cause I emailed support. And just because I’ve been there and my fan base, but that’s going to change at some point and it’s just going to be only personal posts.
Jonathon: So you seem to be suggesting that you actually use your personal profile more than your actual business page and paid advertising. Is that correct?
Chris: Yeah, I do a lot more branding than I think a lot of other people do. So what I mean by that is I show houses for sale. I show more of like the business aspect versus more of like, Hey, like, you know I don’t get into politics. I don’t get into any of that stuff. So it’s more like my day to day or like if I have a great business thing that I came up with. I’ll be like, hey guys, you know, and next time you do this, do it this way. So it’s just kind of a way for more personal interaction versus. I think business pages are great. It`s just that it feels kind of corporate ish and very like kind of tight depending on how you run your business page. But that’s how I feel about my page at least. It’s just very like dry.
Jonathon: So when it comes to lead generation what are your methodogies? What is working for you? And do you have a kind of set system for lead generation online?
Chris: I try to post every day across all spectrums except Snapchat. I’m not really big on Snapchat, but some people are I’m not that young. And if you have a younger demographic it usually a little better. But yeah, a lot of it is just more branding’s. So they will see that I’m posting a lot of stuff or got some houses to sell or I have some great content. And I do some video stuff on YouTube as well. So then they’ll see it and they’ll be like, oh, well, you know, you have some great marketing, I want you to list my home. Or vice versa being like, hey, you know I’m looking for a home. Do you know any? Can you show me some properties? So it’s just kind of nice. And Dallas is a lot of relocation, so a lot of people will do some research on me.
They’ll hear about me and, Google search something and then they’ll come across my Facebook page. And then that’s really like kind of from what I’ve done and how I like interview other people for vendors and stuff. It`s kind of like the nail on the in the coffin for me in terms of if I’m going to hire this person or not. So if you have a really nice like Facebook page. And it’s really like outstanding and you kind of steer clear from the politics and the cuss words and stuff like that.
Jonathon: You should keep it professional.
Chris: Yeah, I think that pretty much like nails the deal shut.
Jonathon: I am going to ask you what CRM, but my next question is how important do you think is having a good website? Not only for your brokerage, but you, I don’t know if you’ve got your own personal website. How important do you think in 2019 having a reasonably quality website, web presence is?
Chris: Well, for years I had no website. My website was like the broker’s website, which was just a website, just search for homes. And then I changed it up and bought my own website I had an idea that how I wanted to do it. And then on top of that I just create a lot of content so I had some great stuff to actually post on there. And that’s helped me tremendously because people can now like search me, I’ll have to go through Facebook, I’d have to really you know, dig through a bunch of stuff. They actually have my profile staring at them in the face at the computer. And they can see like I have everything there. I have like YouTube videos, I can go to books for sale, I have houses that are for sale. I’m in a lot of different stuff. So people will go on there and I can check it through just Google analytics. And I can see how long they’re staying on there, what pages are they looking at, how long are they looking at those pages? And really they go on there and to click to see like, am I real? And like, am I doing a good job? And that usually like seals the deal for them.
Jonathon: So the website, did you go down the WordPress route? Or did you go like to the Real Geeks route? Is there a package that you bought?
Chris: Mine was more like. I did a lot of research and figure it out. It’s pretty damn expensive to have something really nice and then you have to pay like ongoing services. So I’m not really at that level where I need to have that much you know, 24 hours of, or 40 to 78 hours of maintenance all the time. Like I can just go in there and cut and paste and drag or upload something that I need to. Usually my costs are anywhere from, let’s say about $300 to $400 a year. I try to keep it super frugal.
Jonathon: So what platform were you using?
Chris: I’ll share it. That’s not a big deal. It’s just a Go Daddy.
Jonathon: Okay you are just using Go Daddy. Fair enough, it is getting you results. That’s great. So when it comes to your CRM of choice have you tried a few? And if you have, can you give us some feedback about that?
Chris: Yeah, I mean, the brokerage I use and a lot of other people use it called Konversion. They’re pretty good. I’ve used them for different stuff. Like they have emails that can go out on schedule and you can kind of customize it. You can do like different hashtags and stuff like that and create funnels. It’s really nice. The mls feature is really the thing that I use the most in terms of just emailing people properties. And I don`t have to physically do it like every single day. They just do it automatically. So it is pretty nice in terms of it updates every two hours, something like that. So it is fairly quick versus a lot of other companies that are 6 to 12 hours.
Jonathon: There’s always a little bit conflict in using the tools that your broker provides because obviously you want to keep that database that you’ve built, that you’ve sweated. So you develop is really your property, you know, and you might decide to leave the brokerage. If you choose to use the brokerages tool, normally part the agreement is they have access to your database. And they can market it if you leave the brokerages in your agreement. They can market with in your database. So what were you being your own position and thoughts around? Do you agree with some of the things I’ve just said though?
Chris: Yeah, it is. I agree 100%. You know, I’ve seen some stuff where people go in and there’ll be like a conflict. It’ll be a situation where like, it’s my lead. Somebody called in or not called in, but like, let’s say they clicked into some link and then they download their information. But then Johnny Pants at the office sitting in front of the broker and he’s like, oh, that’s my guy, cause you know, that’s my friend or whatever. So there’s a little bit of politics in that. I always recommend having an excel spreadsheet with whoever contacts that you have in conversion or whatever your CRM is that isn’t tied to your broker. Sort of like, I just have a separate spreadsheet with people that are my clients that if something were to have been like, God forbid. And the rug gets pulled out from underneath me at least I still had their information.
Jonathon: I think that’s good advice. You know, I think having over your own personal CRM, or your own system it’s probably, but if you just want to use an excel spreadsheet. So when it comes to the Dallas area, what have been some of the changes that you observed in Dallas? Especially around the real agent area in the past couple of years.
Chris: Well, the real estate agent area well it’s really competitive here. We have over 66,000 real estate agents and just the Dallas Fort Worth area. I think Fort Worth maybe because they had their own mls maybe a little bit more. But it’s just a lot of competitions. So in order to stand out from the competition, you have to over and beyond in terms of communication, in terms of branding, in terms of just everything you do. It’s a real dog fight sometimes. And up until recently, I would say last summer probably about may ish, maybe early June was really the peak for real estate here. So it’s been steadily slowing down in terms of now a lot of people have been coming as much as before. Or house prices are just kind of slow down and gone down. So it’s been changing from a sellers’ market into a buyers’ market. So show you won’t go out, you know, there used to be a house would hit the market and there’d be five people waiting at the door to look at it. It’s really not that way right now. Except for properties under 200,000, still multiple offers.
Jonathon: Oops, he’s gone. Hopefully you’ll come back. He’s come back. He’s coming back. He has come back. So is that 200 market is that first of all obviously first time buyers but also being driven by a lot of the investment buyers?
Chris: Yeah, it’s been both. So if you go into a house and it’s fewer than 200,000, chances are somebody’s going to put a cash bid on it and then it’s going to become like a rental or flip. So it’s just real difficult. The stuff that I’ve seen recently that are under 200,000, depending on which area in Dallas is going to be really tough. And what I mean by tough is like foundation issues or real estate issues. And most first time home buyers, they just want to get into a house, but you can’t get them into that. Like there’s no way an appraisal will satisfies something like that.
Jonathon: I understand. So, on the luxury side of the market. So I think I got the feeling from what we’ve been saying is that you don’t do a lot of adverts. You use social media and you seem to be posting quite a lot of content just to keep and make sure that you’re in front of your target audience. And then you might show there’s some interesting content on your website. So when they check you out over they see you’re legit. But you’re using social media just to keep yourself in front of your target audience. Would that be correct?
Chris: Yeah, exactly.
Jonathon: So what other kind of marketing? Do you still do open houses? And a more traditional do you still do cold calling and phone calling? Do you still utilize those mythologies?
Chris: I think all different stuff works. It just depends on like how you use it and how much you use it. So I was having this discussion and I follow like Gary B and his stuff and what he talks about is like pretty much spot on. Like, you know, you can do mailers, you can do postcards. You can do flyers on people’s windshields. Because I used to do that when I was a kid. You can’t really do that here in Dallas. But you know, you could do knocking on doors, you can cold call, and you can do, you know, that kind of stuff. I don’t do half of that stuff. I stick mostly to social media, creating content. I have different leads coming in from different spots in terms of like Zillow and realtor.com. I don’t do any early homes, but those types of leads that come in, I get listings and then they get transferred over as buyers when they come over.
I don`t do a lot of that stuff. I don’t do as many open houses unless a listing of my on. So if is there a listing of my own and I’ll do the open houses. So I’m just really particular about where I spend my time now versus a newer agent where you just don’t like a ton of time. You got nothing going on. Like you’ve got to make something happen. I’m past that point now. So now I am a team member like now I’m trying to like scale. So in order for me to scale it’s more like I have to do time management to make sure my team members doing a good job. You have to make sure my name’s still integrity wise, so good. So it’s a little bit different in terms of where I am now than where I would say I was a couple of years ago.
Jonathon: Yeah, sure. We’re going to go for our break folks, we will be back. We’d be delving in the world of Chris Bentley. And how he is marketing self in a very competitive market effectively. We’ll be back in a few moments’ folks.
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Jonathon: You’re coming back. We had a bit of a chat with Chris. It’s nice to get somebody that’s actually in the battle was they say. Actually I’m doing someone because a lot of the times we have experts and we have a lot of people in the show folks. But it’s nice to get somebody in the battle. I am missing my cohost Robert who is off on vacation. But he will be back next week. So Chris, so if you were a new agent starting in the Dallas area this week and you could give that some of advice. Give like 2-3 tips or pointers. What would you say to that new agent that was coming and asking advice from you?
Chris: The first thing is you got to find a mentor that is a high producing agent hand as time for you. So that’s kind of how I started my career was I found somebody that was really good producer. And this is 16 years ago. Marketing was a little bit different. But I would just go out and find people that would be step number two find people that were interested in buying a house or selling house, put a list together. And then I just presented it to my mentor and I was willing to take a percentage cut. And I would just listen to my mentor and make calls. You know, obviously that’s a little different time now it’s more like text and email.
But I would just watch them and see how they carry themselves, how they talk to the persons. Listened to the questions that the buyer`s and seller had. And then I go on appointments with them. I made myself super available so I can learn the business, learn the ropes. And then once I learned how to do that, all the basic stuff, then I can focus more on like the more complex stuff like the scenarios. Like I have a buyer that’s looking for this or I run into this problem. And that’s probably 90% of the businesses dealing with the problems. Not so much, you know, this is a house, this is a door, this is a key, opens the door. It’s more of this buyer is trying to do this or the seller won’t negotiate that. So that would say that’s my top two is just going out and finding a mentor that’s busy, has stuff going on and then to just prospect, you know, list together and just work that list.
Jonathon: Yeah, that is great advice. How important is it still to find that the right brokerage that suits what you’re looking for, the stage of career you’re at? Yeah, it’s top. I’ve looked at a lot of different brokerages here cause I mean that’s what you do as a contractor if you kind of just look around. We have a lot of people here that are not very high brokerages but are full service, meaning that they have different stuff available to you in terms of CRMs and websites. And open houses and different stuff like that. And then I’ve had some that are very straight forward. Just very plain, I will give you 100%. But you got to know what the hell you’re doing. So it really depends on you and how you like to work.
Some people love going into the office every day and like getting their coffee and sitting down and like working versus me. I don’t like doing that. Like I like getting in my car and working, prospecting. If that means going to breakfast, lunch and dinner with different people every single day for the next 12 months. So be it a networking, stuff like that. So mine’s more of like a boots on the ground versus some people like to go to office. It just really depends on your style. And then things change. So you can be going great with your brokerage, whatever percentage that you need, a website and you need to open houses and stuff like that. You may switch and be like, you know what? Like, now that I got, you know, people that want to work with me, now I need to have the team with the bigger commission’s schedule. And now I need to hire employees to help me. So it’s just a matter of where you are really in the business and how you feel comfortable.
Jonathon: So I’m in the Dallas area. I don’t know if there’s been pressure on commission levels and you’ve had Zillow. These schemes were that they offered to buy a property. I don’t know if Red Fin does that. Has that affected the market considerably in the Dallas area? And how have you counted that pressure on your commission?
Chris: Well the way I got out of it and when I first started here in Dallas was that I was a 100% agent working at a discount brokerage. So I would just call people all day and offering them to sell their home for 500 bucks or for 1500 bucks. And then I would do marketing for the extra thousand bucks. And that was really cool, except that I would pick up the cheapest people ever. I mean, it was just like the worst of the worst. And you know, I really hate to say that, but it was, and then before you know, it, I just had a bunch of people that had problems everywhere and I wasn’t getting paid.
And amazing as it was closing all those deals and getting all that, the accolades are closing a certain amount them, you know, of a property. You know, I wasn’t making any money, you know, show every deal. I was like in Oregon, over a hundred bucks in my time. So that’s kind of where that is. And I’ve closed a couple of deals to close one deal with DOR. And there’s another company called knocks here. But their service isn’t very good.
Jonathon: I think you’ve touched a really important area there Chris. I think you signed this, you started in the area of discount brokerage is offering. These models have been around quite a while. They have a new spin on them, a new flavor, but they attract and obviously this is a generality. They attract clientele normally unless you are a beginner. You are starting your career. You generally want to avoid anyway, that’s the impression. What I think you’re saying.
Chris: Yeah. I mean, I’m not trying to put any weight down. I mean, I wouldn’t, you know, it’s just, I get it like you’re a junior, a tight situation or you want to make as much money as possible. Like I totally get it. It just as an agent, you get run over by those people because they expect you to does the same amount of money that you would’ve gotten if you’re a 6% or 3% or you know, 500 bucks for it or 1500 bucks. So what has happened in my experiences like these companies like door knock and stuff like that, their customer experience is terrible.
So at some point in the near future people were just going to be like, yeah, I’ve tried that before and the service was awful. I would rather just pay somebody the full percent to get it done right then it would, they pay, you know, a small amount of money, the do it wrong and then I had to spend another, you know, whatever it is, 60 days for in or out the thing. So I think that’s what’s going to happen at certain point. And you’re a hundred percent correct. I mean they just put a whole new polish on the thing and it’s like, oh this whole new product has come out. And it’s like no it’s been around for a while. Yup. Just it wasn’t publicized like that.
Jonathon: You mentioned, I think before we went for the break that you do use Zillow and Realtor. So do you actually pay for leads through those two platforms?
Chris: Well I do, yeah. I mean I used to not do it. I got burned by homes.com they changed their Google analytics and they got dropped by Google. And they changed like their homepage or something. So I paid up to six months and I couldn’t get out of that contract and I wasn’t getting any leads. So I’m hemorrhaging thousands of dollars every month and like nobody is calling me. So I ended up almost living in my car honestly. So that’s a whole another podcasts. I talked about it a lot. Some of the other ones I’ve done, but yeah, like you can really go super crazy with that stuff. And then not get the returns because a lot of people that call, they may be 60 to six months to two years away from either buying or selling a house. So it’s really tough. Like for somebody that’s new in the business, they think that like if I just go out and spend $5,000 a month and I’m going to go out, know double that money and triple that money. And then all of a sudden, you know, riding the gravy train, it doesn’t happen like that. I tried that, I got burned. Like don’t do it
Jonathon: That is another excellent point, and this is why I wanted this discussion with you actually Chris. Is that is so true because what they don’t realize is a lot of those leads is the quality of them. And it’s the time difference between somebody actually looking, thinking why they are buying or selling their property. And when they actually do the deed, it can be quite a period of time before they actually put the house on the market. Where you’re getting that lead from Zillow or from realtor.com. So a lot of people just don’t realize that. Do they Chris?
Chris: Yeah, I mean it’s just a difficult thing because you’re like, okay, well if I spend x dollars and I should get x leads and x leads or turn to, you know, say your ratio of like one out of 10 leads or lead to a sale. And then, you know, and then I’ll be able to rock and roll that month or rock and roll that, you know, quarter or whatever it is. And it really doesn’t really happen like that. It can be, you know, you can bat, it’s just like baseball. You can go zero for 20 and then after the third month you can get three deals. But those two months you are broke. So just being a business owner, entrepreneur, you’re going to end up really squeezing yourself doing stuff like that.
Jonathon: Well, cause a few other real estate podcasts that I listen to myself. And it’s a dirty little secret, is that the amount of properties up for sale and flat rates, but keeps reasonably back lead inflation as I call it. The amount of leads generate is a vague exploded in the past 10 years. So everyone real person selling the house, they might be your 10 leads. It depends on how you quantify what a lead is. And a lot of agents really got understand what they’re getting from various systems, isn’t it Chris? Because what they think they are getting and what they actually get in is totally different. Isn’t it?
Chris: Yeah. I mean I get stuff that people were just interested to know like how big the garages. Or can you send me a picture of the upstairs bedroom? Each one of those costs me, let’s say $45. So I just spent $45 for you pressing a button to say can you send me a picture of the upstairs or how big is the garage? I’m not gonna run out of there to go measure somebodies garage. I got my own things going on. And then of course you get a bunch of you when they just want to kick the tires, they got nothing to do on like a Saturday night. They’re sitting at home with a glass of wine.
And there’s one somebody though like talk to him more about this property and they have no interest in going out and looking at it. They just got nothing to do on a Saturday night. So it’s just buyer beware. I think it looks really great on paper in terms of I’ve got these leads coming in and one out of 10 will close. But like in reality, like you have to early be in the right place in terms of business to really do that.
Jonathon: And the other problem with systems like Zillow is that they are sending out those leads to a group of agents. So the quickness of response. And if you’re not the third or fourth person that’s responding to that, that’s really not that prospect. I’m the kind of response you get isn`t very welcoming. Isn’t it?
Chris: No. I mean some people don’t want to talk to you. Some people they press the button, they expect something different to happen. And I totally get it. I’m a consumer. You’re a consumer. Like if you press a button, you expect different things from different stuff. It’s just the way it works. So but the thing that I was really looking at, I had done some research a little bit is a really, when you look at it, like a lot of these online marketing firms, like the Zillow on the retailers and you know, homes and a lot of these guys like what they’re doing is just gathering data about us. And then selling that data to us. And all they do is they just have an mls lead website and that’s it. So, I mean, they’re just making tons and tons and tons of money on it. And you know, they control where the leads go. So if you got it in with those guys, they may be pushing more leads to you than the other person. It’s just so ridiculous. But that’s a whole other topic.
Jonathon: Chris, we are going to end it now. I think it’s been a fascinating discussion. You have to come back. Hopefully you will agree to come back and we delve in some of these other topics that we just scratched on. What is the best way to find out more about you and what you’re up to in Dallas?
Chris: Social media and my website. So it’s just Chris and then d as in danger, bentley.com or Chris d as danger, Bentley, social media, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram. I’m on Snapchat but I usually don’t really get on there that much. So email, DM, whatever, however you can get to me is fine. I answer everybody.
Jonathon: Alright, thanks a lot Chris, so we can wrap it up now folks. Hopefully you’ve learned some insights. I think we’ve covered a lot of territory actually. Chris and we’ve given some insights to our audience. We’ll be back next week with another great guest and hopefully Robert will be back with me as well. And hopefully we’ll be able to help you get the success for yourself and your family that you’re looking for from your real estate business. We will be back next week.