215 Mail-Right Show With Special Guest John Giffen
Are Open Houses Worth It? How to Ensure They Are Not Time-Wasters and John’s book “Do You Have a Minute?”
John Giffen is an award-winning real estate broker, manager, agent, author, and real estate, educator. He is Director of Broker Operations for Benchmark Realty, LLC, one of the fastest-growing independent real estate companies in North America. He holds numerous industry designations and certifications, including the Certified Real Estate Brokerage Manager (CRB) and Certified Residential Specialist (CRS) designations from the National Association of REALTORS® and the GRI (Graduate, REALTOR® Institute) designation from Tennessee REALTORS®. He also has earned the Certified Distance Education Instructor (CDEI) designation from the International Distance Education Certification Center affiliated with the Association of Real Estate License Law Officials (ARELLO).
John is a Tennessee Real Estate Commission-approved course provider and instructor, as well as the author of several continuing education courses on real estate contracts, agency, licensing issues, buyer representation, property marketing, real estate ethics, transaction behavior, and real estate business development. He works closely with Tennessee REALTORS® and other state-approved real estate providers in developing new courses for license renewal.
John consults with two of the largest distance education providers in the country assisting them with curriculum design and development. He has authored the Tennessee REALTORS® Residential, Commercial, and Principal Broker Core courses required for license renewal in Tennessee. In 2014, John was named “REALTOR® of the Year” by the Williamson County Association of REALTORS®. He is a multimillion-dollar REALTOR® and has earned numerous awards and accolades for his sales production over the years, including “Rookie of the Year” by his first real estate brokerage.
His book “Do You Have a Minute? An Award-Winning Real Estate Managing Broker Reveals Keys for Industry Success” was recently released in paperback and audio formats and is available on Amazon.com and at select book stores. He also writes a bi-monthly column for Inman News, the leading source for real estate news and information, where he explores various industry topics impacting REALTORS® and managing brokers. You can read his column at www.Inman.com.
Jonathon: Welcome back folks to the Mail Right show. This is episode 215. I’ve been really looking forward to this interview. We have got John Giffin, the director broad corporations for benchmark reality NSC. And also he has written a great book. Do you have a minute? We are going to be talking in this show in the first half of open houses. And why you got to really present them so they don’t become a title time-waster. And I mean the second half we’re going to be talking about John’s great book. So I’ve also got my great co-host, Robert Newman. Robert, would you like to quickly introduce yourself to the new listeners and viewers?
Robert: Yes. So for those of you that don’t know, I am the founder of Inbound Real Estate Marketing. I am a pebble in the wind and telling real estate agents they should be going with a hyper-local inbound marketing strategy instead of direct marketing. And if you want to hear them about my philosophies or what I think, go to my website, inboundrem.com it has all the information there.
Jonathon: Great. John, would you like to give a quick 32nd introduction about yourself and a bit about your history in the industry?
John: Yeah. I became licensed in 2003. As we were talking offline I actually have owned and sold home since 1986, 87. I’ve actually lived in 15 homes and I know yeah, y’all say expression of my wife. But I got licensed. And that’s the problem when you love real estate, you want to try out these houses. Then you end up saying I want to dress up again. But anyway, long story short I was in the packaging and printing industry for many years, moved in from sales up into management. And then in 2003, after some friends that really encouraged me to get my license cause they thought it’d be great in this industry. I did and got my license and ended up becoming the rookie of the year, my ARA franchise office. And three years later I was asked to become a managing broker, so I had to get my brokers license. And I got my broker’s license and became a principal broker in 2006 for ARA. And work in that position for a couple, three years, moved to another franchise with real living, was the principal broker in their office.
And then 10 years ago I joined the benchmark and was the principal broker for benchmark when our owner, our CEO stepped down. We had about 80 agents and I remained principle broker for our Franklinton office for about two and a half years ago. And we’re now seven offices in my current position is the director of broker operations been in my position, as I say for about two and a half years. I have seven offices and a little bit over 1100 agents, soon to be 1200 agents. And we have the number one market share here in Nashville, Tennessee.
Jonathon: That sounds like a fantastic resume. Thank you for agreeing to come on the show. So let’s start with your Eastman’s article cause I thought insightful about open houses. What are some of the main points that are in the article one? Why did you write it?
John: Well, I think one of the things that I hear a lot of times from agents is that open houses are a waste of time. There’s, has been this underlying current why would I want to do that on a Sunday afternoon when no one’s really going to, a serious buyer is not going to walk in the house and want to buy the house. The looky-loos as I call them, show up, the neighbors come in because they’ve never had an opportunity to get in the house because they never reached out to get to know these folks who own the house. So the hobbyist is out there actually are people who that’s where they do on Saturday or Sunday afternoons. They’re going out and looking at open houses cause they have nothing better else do well. I was one of those people. I really believed before I became a realtor, I really believe that open houses were a waste of time.
Jonathon: Can I just quickly say something before you go? I’m not being rude, but I think that, thank God you saw the light. Because I think that what you just stated is the craziest nonsense that’s in the industry at the present moment. I think it’s totally bonkers.
John: I know it is crazy. So the story, here’s how I became a convert. Actually, when I got my license and I wrote in the story and I went into this saying, I’ll never do an open house like an agent. You know you don’t sell houses at open houses. You waste two hours on a Sunday afternoon, you stick out pointers, signs, put some balloons on the mailbox and hope for the best. Well at my first company, I was asked to fill in for someone who was out of town and she’d said, I’ve got an open house, John, I really need some help. And I think I mentioned this in the article. And I said, okay, I’ll do it. And some other people, my office encouraged me to do it.
And they said, John, this is a great way, one to expose the house. But also to help you maybe get some buyer leads, you know, to help your business. I said, okay, I’ll do it. So I prepped and did exactly. And at that time I had a mentor. So I talked my mentor who encouraged me to you know, do some good planning work with the agent before she gets out of town. See what type of marketing she’s done and and then have fun with it. And so I did and I went to the open house. It was a beautiful home in Brentwood, Tennessee, which is a suburb of the Nashville area. And we have a lot of traffic. And we actually had a couple, young couple who came in and we’re very interested in the home and they actually stayed in the house for like 45 minutes.
And you know, and I was answering a lot of questions and they said, we’re really interested in this. And I said, where are you working with a realtor? And they said, yes, we have a realtor. And I said, well, great. And I said, I’m not the listing agent, but I will make sure that she’ll be back in town. Later in that evening, she was going to come back into town. I said we’ll get you connected. And we did. And as I found out they purchased the home and because they walked in at that open house. So about so that was successful and I actually got a nice little referral fee from that listing agent.
Jonathon: So you should.
John: Yes. And I said, wow, this is pretty neat. Well about, I’d say three or four months later, I had some listings and I decided I would start doing some open houses. And within four months of holding open houses, I sold two houses at the open house. I got the buyers one had an agent, so I was able to, they wrote an offer I had the listing, they wrote the offer. And we ended up closing on that property because they were introduced to that house at that open house. The second one was an unrepresented buyer who didn’t want me to refer them to an agent. They wanted to remain unrepresented in Tennessee. I said, well, I could default to a facilitator, but I really don’t like doing that, which is a neutral transaction broker status.
I said, I really liked to be remained the listing agent. And they said, that’s fine, that’s fine. And we were able to get an offer from them and got it through the inspection. And the contract to close that house was about a $600,000 house. And so that’s when I said open houses work. And so I would hold open houses on a regular basis and I’ve sold, you know, several throughout my career. I’m not selling full time anymore. I have a team that handles a lot of my referrals so but they do work. And they work when they are well planned, well organized and great marketing. Social media has been an incredible asset or a open houses.
Jonathon: I have got a couple more questions but I am going to throw it over to Robert. And see if he’s, he’s got a question around this subject.
Robert: I just love the fact that John, when he wrote that article for Inman, he used a strategy that Zig Ziglar used to call breaking it down to the ridiculous. And so I’m going to share a professional salesperson saying that I do in every single marketing activity that I ever do. Which are John and his article note it noted as a passing comment that he had made for one hour’s worth of work. When you counted the sale that he made at the, from the actual property itself. Then you got another buying client. So he basically tracked the relationships and he said that one hour resulted in $21,000 in commissions.
John: Yeah, that’s right.
Robert: Okay, so that’s a breaking it down. That strategy, which is something that I, in my opinion, all commission-based business owners and salespeople should always apply is when you look at your activities and you say, how much is my time worth? If you look at it now, John May have to look it up like 50 open houses. But I would strongly recommend that those people who are listening to this podcast, that they may be adopted strategy. Don’t look at one or two open houses and then say that that is the determination of your results. Do 10 do 15 because all you need is one good one.Which is what John’s article basically said. And then you take that 21,000 you break it down between all the hours it takes to set up these open houses. Maybe it’s 50 or 80 or a hundred, but still, no matter what the number is, if you look at $21,000 at the end of that pipeline and sold nothing else, 15 other open houses, you’re still paying yourself three or $400 an hour to do the open houses in general. I really didn’t have a question. I’m on board with both of you and it seems stupid to do. No, I agree with you guys. So I just wanted to call out that detail that I thought was interesting in the article and then John, take it away with the rest.
John: Well, Robert’s interesting because in that. And I write for Inman now. I’m a regular columnist every other Sunday my column appears in Inman. But when I was looking at some of the comments to that article one gentleman wrote that he was coming to the site to get innovative information. And what he got was something from the 1990s. And you can look at the at the comments. It’s hilarious. And I usually don’t comment on my comments. I don’t respond to the comment cause I want everyone to have a free. And I’m very open to what they say cause some of the stuff I say is pretty controversial. And I’m very blunt but I’m also very practical. But what I did, I did comment on it. And I said don’t judge too quickly because I just had an agent come into my office telling me that they just got a house close, that they had an unrepresented buyer come in. That house was a $1.7 million house. And the commission on that was around $47,000.
Jonathon: It’s just amazing. But I gotta be truthful. We have a diverse listener base cause it’s quite hard to tell who precisely listens to our podcasts. But we’re really, I end really asked sweet point, I feel and hopefully what Robert were great, like the new BA agent to the agent is free years into their career. And then some more hard than agents that are interested in technology. Cause we tend to have a focus on technology and real estate. But we cover all the subjects like what we’re discussing now. And we had great guests last week that our specialists about building a personal brand. I also feel is totally important. But open house if I was a new agent, I didn’t sell a house in the first six months. I was still do open houses.
You’re building your personal brand, you’re meeting people in the community, you’re engrossing yourself with your more established professionals in your office. And you also, based on the red book, which is, I still think how to become a millionaire real estate agent, which I still think has enormous relevance in 2019. The main thing is you are building your database which is essential. So when anybody says they don’t really interested in out to the houses.
John: I think Jonathan, you’re exactly right. It is, if anything it’s a great way for a new agent to get out there, get their feet wet. When I wrote do you have a minute? And I wrote it not only for the new agent but also experienced agents. Because experienced agents, as we all know, real estate is like an EKG. It’s an up and down, up and down, you know, it’s feast or famine. And a lot of time even experienced agents need to get back to fundamentals. And open houses and not only marketing open houses but working open houses interpersonal relationship benefits of meeting people, talking to them. That is what helps you. One, it gives you lot of confidence but also helps you grow your business. And you know, you just don’t know what can happen at an open house. And some people think that with online technology, we just don’t need to do that anymore. Well where we are in Middleton, Tennessee, it’s still a very effective marketing option. And also a great way as Robert said to earn new business.
Robert: John, do you mind if I jump in?
Jonathon: Just quickly because we are going to go for our break Robert.
Robert: Well guys, I have a tip on how to leverage open houses even if you don’t get the foot traffic. So John, why don’t we save the tip for after the break?
Jonathon: Yeah, for sure. That’s great. We’re going to go for our break folks. When we come back we are going to talk about John’s great book. Do you have a minute and what some of the main things that he wanted to emphasize in the book? We will be back in a few moments.
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Jonathon: We are coming back. I think we’ve had a fantastic conversation already. Over to you Robert. Robert: Thanks, John. I appreciate it. So John’s commentary, well John is talking about an article which to my John Jonathan, I hope that you link it because it’s a really good article. But actually even better than the article itself is some of the comments from the agents and the people that read the article, which brought up all sorts of good points, too many to cover in the podcast. But there is one thing that I wanted to say because there’s this constant evaluation of value. And here’s the funny thing, nobody’s mentioning the value of taking your camera and doing either a live watch party in the open home or doing a YouTube upload or leveraging both Facebook and YouTube.
Technically speaking, depending on how you’re doing your marketing and how you positioned yourself as a realtor. Like if you’re already established and you have, let’s call it a couple hundred subscribers to your YouTube channel, then adding content as you step inside the home. And do your own personal tour and sharing your thoughts as they’re occurring to you as you’re prepping to do the open home is this amazing value add guerrilla marketing strategy that leverages social media tools for free. There are no additional costs. You’re already there, you’ve already spent the time, gas, money, energy getting to the property. So what’s left, just your comments and the phone tour.
So, John, that would be another way for you may be to pass along to your 1100 agents that they can be leveraging.
Jonathon: It totally also fits in that content to another great guest had a few weeks ago. Denny, about Google business page and why it’s so important to post updated videos on the houses that you’re represented in or the open houses. And how, because it dominates local search John. It totally dominates local search. Your Google business page and having updated content in there. We’ll give you free results that will out power, even advertising on Zillow John. So everything we discussed in about these open houses. Then you push videos onto your free Google business page. And then you can use it on Facebook, use it on multiple social platforms. It’s just dynamite. And people love anything to do with property, don’t they? People are fascinated by other people’s homes. So you will get viewers, won’t you?
John: You’ll get a lot of views. And it also shows your professionalism. And Robert, I think that’s an awesome idea. And I plan on sharing with your permission I’d love to share this podcast.
Jonathon: Of course you can. Now let’s go on to your book. And what was the main reason why you wrote it? And also we’ve got another 15 minutes and there might be some quick bonus content afterwards. What are some of the main things that you want to get across in the book?
John: Well, I think one this book is sort of it was a two and a half year project. And I really wanted to be able to give back to agents. And I did have the new licensee that someone who’s been in the business, as you said, between one to three years, a resource on helping them grow their business. Getting off the ground and grow their business. I didn’t write the book to make money. It’s selling well but I wanted to make it available in multiple formats. It’s available on Amazon in paperback. It’s an audible version. I actually narrated the book which I thought would take about six, five or six days and ended up taking about three and a half months. So that was a project in itself. And it’s also in a Kindle version and an ebook version.
So I wouldn’t make it available for realtors in any format. I said there are six key elements that agents need to know about. One was establishing their real estate business. How many real estate agents have a written business plan? How many people will sit down and write a written business plan? The second section is on client management, you know, understanding client expectations. One of the struggles that a lot of people have a lot of agents have is they don’t set realistic expectations with our clients at the get-go of the relationship. Whether that be a listing agent or a buyer’s agent. Do you sit down with your client and say, this is the process of selling your home. This is the process that we go through to purchase your home. And I created flowcharts as talking points that help people in that conversation to set those expectations.
The third and fourth sections are selling properties and buying properties. Everything an agent needs to know about selling, buying properties. And then the fifth section is everything they need to know from contract to close. I’ve always said that the contract closed period is the make it or break it, period. And that has become even more complex. It’s funny, as I listen and read some of the stories on Inman, some of the videos on Inman, some of the people who want to make that process a lot quicker and a lot more simple. I think that’d be great. I just don’t know how they’re going to do it. Real estate is a very complex transaction. Selling and purchasing a home is complex. And the last section is on professionalism and expertise. And it’s a comprehensive book and you don’t have to read it from beginning to end.
Each chapter stands on its own. And I created a website where I offer numerous PDFs of all the flow charts, all the business plan templates, everything. And that’s www.doyouhaveaminutebook.com. And they can download for free. And again, I want to make this available to many agents more professional and that’s my goal. And to make them better. Cause what we do is a very noble profession. And I think we were asked to the largest asset a person has. Well, let’s do it the right way.
Jonathon: Yeah noble is not a word that is generally used in Real Estate.
John: I am showing my age, Jonathon.
Jonathon: What I was gonna say he was noble, what you just said is the reason why I’m not totally pessimistic about the industry. And why I’ve built a software product and I’m still working on it. Is I agree there’s going to be some fundamental changes, but the fundamental reason why you need a good quality real estate agent or realtor is still as relevant in 2019 as they were 10 years ago. I just think that it might be a bit of a shy cow in the industry. And the true professionals that want a long term career will still be able to have a career. Over to you, Robert, what’re your remarks on what John’s just said.
Robert: Well, unfortunately, it wasn’t able to pull up the website of the book and look at the flowcharts. But as a general commentary in terms of it’s kind of funny because of John, what I do in my day to day life. So I’m an internet marketer and I have a blog. I’ve been in the real estate marketing industry for 12 years. And first I worked for big companies, real estate marketing companies, like agent images and some other ones.
John: I used to have my website.
Robert: I am not surprised. They’ve built literally like 50 to a hundred thousand of it, which means that five to 10% of the real estate industry has had a website and go buy them at one point. And so what, what I’ve done now is I have a website with about a hundred and 200,000 people that are most of real estate professionals come to each year. And the thing is is that when I’m taking on clients, when I’m talking to people and I’m talking to, to agents that have been around for 10 or 15 years and they’ve got a career in there, they’re selling whatever $5 million real estates is probably about the minimum that people sell in order to hire me in general. And then I discover that the peritoneal principle holds true, which is 20% of the people are going to treat this like a business, which is what you’re talking about really.
And then 8% of the people kind of stumble through and really don’t look at it like I should train myself like a doctor or a lawyer. That level of professionalism where I’m, I’m educating myself for eight to 16 years and everything that I do can be improved. I don’t run across that much. I mean I’m oftentimes surprisingly explaining things to real estate agents that are part of their job description and I’m not even an agent and yet they aren’t doing it inside their own, their own business. And so if, if your book is sharing any of that information then guys, users, I don’t know what it costs, but God buy it. Everybody go get it and take a look at it.
john: It’s $16.99. So I mean it’s really inexpensive. I didn’t want to price it to where it be priced out. And again the website is, doyouhaveaminutebook.com. Book has to go behind do you have a minute? And all those resources are there.
Robert: There we go.
Jonathon: I think we can wrap up the podcast about the show. John’s agreed to stay on for some bonus content where we are going to be about some of the main changes that you’ve seen in the industry this year. And how he sees that affecting in the next 18 months. You’d be able to see the whole interview with the bonus content on the Male Right YouTube channel. And we normally publish the interviews on the YouTube channel the quickest. So go there and subscribe. And you’ll be automatically told when we’ve published a new interview on the Male Right YouTube channel. So John, how can people, what’s the best way to find out more about you, your views and what you’re interested in and what you’re saying?
John: They can go to my personal blog site, which is John Giffin, johngiffin.com, and where I write on Inman but I also write on that blog. And then I have a book site. But johngiffen.com is my primary site.
Jonathon: That’s great John, that’s fantastic. Thank you so much for joining us. So you have to come back in the new year and share some of your fantastic knowledge. Robert, how can people find out more about you and what your thoughts and what you’re saying?
Robert: First of all, guys, everybody, if you are watching this video, if you’re enjoying the podcast, please like it. If you’re with a team or a group, please share it with that team or group. If for some reason you just really desperately want to know more about me, you can do so. Find out more about me at my website, which is inbound, like the word inbound I N B O U N D R E m.com and I’ve got tons and tons of stuff up there more than enough to satisfy even the most intellectually curious person.
Jonathon: Yeah. And Male Right 2.0 is marching forward. We’ve got some active agents actually using it at the present moment. I’ll be getting some good results for them. And if you want to come on and find out more about the Male Right system, you can go to the Mail Right website and have a free demo. And if you’re interested, you might become part of my beta team to join Mail Right 2.0 and moving forward with it. And I’m excited for the new year. And I’ll say join us next week where we have another great interview. Making you a better real estate agent, not only for yourself but also getting the results that will make your family’s life better into 2020. We’ll see you, next week folks. Bye.