Widen Profit Margins with Technology-Provided Data, Not by Trial & Error
Data is everything. The information that we have — I mean, to be able to go into my BoomTown database and see that someone has been on my website 360 times in the past 365 days … I’m loving that. I had somebody yesterday that has been in the system for two years just on a basic drip campaign that sent me an email and said, ‘Hey Ann, is this house close to public transportation? Because I’m from a big city and I like to use public transportation. I really appreciate you sending me this stuff.’ Technically, I’m not sending her the email. I’ve let technology drive the conversation, and I just pick up when it gets hot.
Ann Rudd is a third generation real estate professional. She’s had a lot to learn from. Her family. Her coach. Her mistakes. And so on. She’s found running a profitable business becomes a lot easier when you operationalize the process with technology. The data technologies, like BoomTown, provide become key business decision because it takes the guessing game out of the equation. There’s a lot of noise in the real estate world, so software platforms like BoomTown help her stay on point (with an objective point-of-view). This is how Ann maintains a 30-40% profit margin for her business. Productivity is the heart of all decision, whether tech-related or process-related.
In this episode of Driven, get ready to hear:
- Why “running a business” is new (and foreign) to a lot of people (9 min)
- How OpenDoor and Redfin aren’t prepared for a downturn in the market (15 min)
- What profit margins you should be aiming for and how to get there (19 min)
- Taking the guessing game out of what you should be doing every day … to earn profits (32 min)
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Here is the transcript of the video and audio, in case you don’t have time to listen.
Rivers: Hey, everyone. Welcome to another episode of Driven. I’m Rivers Pearce and I am in Charlotte, North Carolina today with Ann Rudd. Ann, I’ll let you introduce yourself a little bit. Tell us about yourself and your business, and we’ll go from there.
Ann Rudd: I’m Ann Rudd in Charlotte, North Carolina,with Re/Max Metro Realty and owner of the Ann Rudd Group. And that’s a little bit about me. We specialize in the entire city of Charlotte, but our office is in South Charlotte so that’s most of where our business is.
Rivers: Are we in South Charlotte right now?
Ann Rudd: We are technically in South Charlotte. We’re very close to uptown Charlotte. And there’s not a downtown Charlotte. It’s all up [laughter]. I have no idea why. But–
Rivers: Okay. That’s how they refer to it here?
Ann Rudd: This is uptown Charlotte.
Rivers: Uptown? There’s no we’re downtown–
Ann Rudd: No, and I think– No. No. No. I don’t know. I have a theory, but I’m not going to put it out there. So anyway, we’re in the Elizabeth neighborhood right now of Charlotte. It’s an older neighborhood. Lots of bungalows and I call them four squares, a colonial with a room in every corner.
Rivers: Oh, okay. Sure.
Ann Rudd: But they are expensive now, very expensive and a lot of them have been mansionized. So as we drive through you’ll see. But you’ll see a lot of construction. But there’s a lot of families here and–
Rivers: They’re expensive because it’s an in-town neighborhood.
Ann Rudd: Location. Location. Location.
Rivers: So you’re like a mile from uptown here?
Ann Rudd: Yeah. Yeah. You can get to uptown Charlotte in seven minutes.
Rivers: Right. Right. Gotcha. Well, you’ve been a client of Boomtown for what? Four–
Ann Rudd: November will be three years.
Rivers: Three years. Okay. About three years. And when you started, what was your business setup like?
Ann Rudd: There was me, myself, and I.
Ann Rudd: That was a great business.
Rivers: I didn’t know it was just–
Ann Rudd: No. I was not a smart girl but I–
Rivers: We usually didn’t sell to single agents.
Ann Rudd: Well, I talked my way in [laughter].
Rivers: I’m not surprised about that. You have a way of talking your way into things.
Ann Rudd: I do.
Rivers: And out, probably.
Ann Rudd: I do. Yep. No. When I’m out, I’m out.
Rivers: So where are you now, three years later?
Ann Rudd: Well, right now I’m kind of in a transition period. So I’ve five buyer’s agents. I was up to eight and I have made a decision that I will have productive agents or no agents. So I have very productive agents right now, which is good. I love that. I have support for everyone. We have Closing Transaction Coordinator. We have a Marketing Director, ISA, all of that. So I am in production a little bit, but I’m trying to back out of it more and more. So my goal for the summer was just kind of tread water a little bit. Let’s get through summer and all the craziness. And then spend some time this fall doing some business planning and kind of look at where we are for the next year. One of the things that we’re going to be doing once school starts because I’ve got a bunch of single parents on my team is we’re going to go back to a daily huddle, an hour of phone calls. One of the things that I’m really on a quest this year, for the next six months, is to get my agents to a position where they are all making a minimum of $100,000 over the next 12 months. That is my goal. And it’s not about me. It’s about them. And so I want– we’ve got plenty of leads to do it. We’ve got all that in place, but now it’s just conversion. How we do things better, get our processes and procedures down, and just rock it out? And back out. Look at what our average sales prices are and figure out how many transactions they need every month to get to that number. Because I want happy agents on my team. I don’t want people complaining and griping. I want them to be working and enjoying their life.
Rivers: Yeah. And I think that’s a great point for you, the way you run your team, the way you think about your team as employees, and as their growth. And it’s not just about them giving you a commission. It’s a lot more than that. You treat it more like a family.
Ann Rudd: I do
Rivers: You push them hard.
Ann Rudd: I do. I mean, look. I’ve made it in this business. And those of us that have, know what it takes. I mean, I’ve been licensed nine years. And I think I’ve done about everything. I’ve done REOs. I’ve done short sales. I’ve done new construction. I’ve resale market. But our business is tough. It’s not easy. And I’m sure it is everywhere. We have so many new people getting their real estate license.
Rivers: Because they think it’s easy. And we know it’s the hardest job out there, one of them.
Ann Rudd: Well, we know what it takes. And right now with most of our transactions, we are doing the work on the other side.
Rivers: Yeah. Yeah. You’re not the first realtor to tell me that.
Ann Rudd: And so I am kind of on a quest to make sure that my agents are as well trained as possible. And I mean, I want them to be happy. I want them to love what they’re doing. And–
Rivers: Yeah. Because then it’s not work so much.
Ann Rudd: I mean, I love what I do. I don’t think it’s a job. I got home at 8:45 last night. And I was in the office at 8 AM that morning. So 8, 12 hours, 14-hour days are not uncommon for me, but I love what I do, and it doesn’t feel like a job to me at all. But I don’t expect my agents to work like that. But I do expect them to be productive and do their work.
Rivers: So you have a– clearly – and I know you well – you have a really strong work ethic. And I know last time we talked I’m not sure if we got it on camera so I want to talk about it. You told me a story about how you– I think it was about your dad instilled a work ethic in you. Can you tell that story just a little bit? About was it, John Deere?
Ann Rudd: Yeah. So my dad grew up in western Maryland. He grew up on a farm and he was the oldest of six kids and he has five sisters. So he was really the one that worked hard. He kind of did a lot and actually, he made sure that all of his sisters were educated before he went to college.
Ann Rudd: So he went to the University of Maryland, met my mother, and I really think that his first love is a tractor. He loves tractors. And so he got a loan from an uncle and John Deere had a list of places where they wanted dealerships. So this was 1969. They settled on southeastern North Carolina and he came down– he came to North Carolina not knowing anyone and built a very strong business from Big Tobacco. So Big Tobacco is really big in southeastern North Carolina. I mean, I knew many, many families that that was their only income, and their kids all went to college, wives got Cadillacs every other year. I mean, they lived well. So my father’s timing was great. But he was self-employed and there was nothing to back him up except what he did. And I mean, I remember going– I was planning to go on vacation for a week and we’d get there on Thursday [laughter].
Rivers: Turn around and come home the next day.
Ann Rudd: Saturday. So I mean, that’s just how it was. He always felt like, “I’ve got to provide for my family.” And he built a really, really great business. It was one of the largest dealerships on the southeast. And John Deere would have these incentive trips they’d give their dealers. He did so well– they wouldn’t win two trips, they’d win like twelve. So we’ve been on a Baltic Sea cruise. My sisters went to Monte Carlo. So there was some great things about it but I learned a– I didn’t understand it for a long time. I didn’t understand why he worked the way that he worked. I understand it now, and I appreciate it, and I’m so happy to have grown up in a house where that was it. That was everything. And we learned at the kitchen table how to run a business.
Rivers: Yeah. I mean, it sounds like you’ve passed that kind of mindset– I mean, really it’s mindset, right?
Ann Rudd: It is.
Rivers: It’s a mindset of hard work. You’re passing that on to your agents and it’s self-sufficiency as well. And you obviously provide a great amount of support, but–
Ann Rudd: I mean, I didn’t have the support and I wish that I had. I think I would have been able to succeed a lot sooner with having someone to say, “Okay, look. This is how you run a business.” I learned by trial and error. Now I’m a third generation real estate agent in my family. So I’ve seen it a lot, but I have not always seen successful.
Rivers: Yeah. Well, and I would say that running a real estate business is – this sounds harsh – but is a fairly kind of new concept.
Ann Rudd: It is.
Rivers: It’s like traditionally you’re just a real estate professional and you hang your license and you do your business and you work your sphere. And 2017 it’s a business and it’s digital and it needs to be a well-oiled machine–
Ann Rudd: That’s right.
Rivers: –that you run.
Ann Rudd: That’s right.
Rivers: And I’ve been talking about this, and I think you would agree that if you’re not using the technology and you’re not thinking about teams and you’re not thinking about it as a business that has support and operations, you’re not going to win– you can’t compete anymore.
Ann Rudd: You can’t compete. You’re going to–
Rivers: You may be in your pockets.
Ann Rudd: You’re going to be in your– you’re going to be in your lane, but your lane is going to be narrow. And–
Rivers: Yeah. And you’re not going to scale.
Ann Rudd: That’s right. You can’t scale with one. There’s no scalability. I’m instinctive. I mean, if I feel like something’s right, I’ll go ahead and do it even if I don’t think it’s exactly right. But I do think in this situation expansion, I have to have all of my ducks in a row the right way in order for that to work and be extremely efficient. I mean, I don’t have millions and millions of dollars to pump into things. And things have to be– we have to be very profitable pretty quickly. So I have to get my things in order. But the good thing about my business and this is how I tell people what my business is, I have an Internet-based business. I run Internet leads, yes. We work our sphere. We do open houses. We do all of that. However, at the end of the day my business runs a lot off of online leads, Zillow, all of the lead sources that we take advantage of. And I can pick that up and drop that anywhere else as long as I’ve got my systems in place.
Rivers: And you’re systems include technology. Obviously, BoomTown is a big piece of that.
Ann Rudd: I built my team around BoomTown.
Rivers: Right. And what other tech are you using to run the business? So BoomTown is kind of the center of this ecosystem?
Ann Rudd: Yeah. BoomTown is really the center. And it’s a big center because it allows for us to– it allows me to see what’s going on with all of my team members. But we’re able to have so much better conversations and so many better touches. I mean, I don’t know what– who came up with the 33 touch. But it really does– I mean, that’s your sphere. Whether they come in from Zillow or not, that’s my sphere. It’s just that my sphere has 8,500 people in it right now. Okay. So it’s kind of a big freaking sphere. But I have to work it the same way. So how do we do that? We use utilize our ISAs. We utilize minimal drip campaign. But if we have someone that we know is two to three years out, I’m not going to kill him with emails. Right. But they need to know that I’m here.
Rivers: And so you’re using our technology, Boomtown technology to manage all of that. You’ve got your real tight sphere that you’re calling, you’re taking to lunch and all. Because you work out you need technology to make that happen.
Ann Rudd: Absolutely.
Rivers: And well, that’s great. I mean, so you’re using that. Were you using any dialers? Using any BombBomb or any of those kinds of things?
Ann Rudd: Oh yeah. We use BombBomb.
Rivers: Okay. So you’re doing video email?
Ann Rudd: We used BombBomb and we actually have– so that’s a great one and I get so aggravated with my agents. They’re, “Oh, I don’t like how I look.” Trust me, you look the same. You just don’t– you got something else in your head. You know?
Rivers: You just got to go for it. You’ve just got to go for it. I know.
Ann Rudd: And the way that you sound in your head because of our jaw bones and everything, we sound differently in our heads than we do outside. Just get over yourself. Just–
Rivers: Yeah. Or just don’t do it.
Ann Rudd: No. You need to do it.
Rivers: You need to do it. You know Katie Lance? Katie and I were doing a webinar just yesterday and we were talking about that. She was like, “You know, you just got to get over the video thing. You got to do it.”
Ann Rudd: Just screw it and do it is something I say a lot. Just do it. I mean, my God come one. I don’t like to look at myself any more than anyone else likes to look at themselves. But I do it because I recognize and I did a– I had a Zillow lead that came in yesterday. They’re in the 6 to 8 hundred thousands dollar range and I mean, the average sale price in our MLS region is 260 to 280. So I mean, a 6 to 8 hundred thousand dollar lead coming in I focus on those.
Ann Rudd: I don’t have to sell as much and that’s kind of my average price point. And I started texting with them and they– as soon as they found out I didn’t represent the seller or the house they were like, “Oh, okay. We’ll call you later.” I said, “That’s fine. What information do you want me to get?” And I ended up sending them a BombBomb video through BoomTown and they looked at it like 35 times which is great. So I think I picked up a buyer.
Rivers: You got some engagement and you can see that you’re getting engagement.
Ann Rudd: I can see the engagement, yes.
Rivers: The data is there. In this day and age that’s how you have to operate. And–
Ann Rudd: I mean–
Rivers: –if you saw that they looked at it once and never again then maybe you move on.
Ann Rudd: Data is everything.
Ann Rudd: The information that we have. I mean, to be able to go into my BoomTown database and see that someone has been on my website 360 times in the past 365 days, I’m loving that. I have somebody yesterday that has been in the system for two years just on a basic drip campaign that sent me an email and said, “Hey, Ann. Is this house close to public transportation? Because I’m from a big city and I like to use public transportation.” Which is funny in Charlotte, but anyways–
Rivers: [crosstalk] in this town, huh?
Ann Rudd: But it actually was and I said “Yeah. It is.” And she said, “You know, I really appreciate you sending me all this stuff.” Well, I didn’t send her nothing. Really. I sent her a monthly email I think quarterly market updates and listing alerts.
Rivers: But you sent her listings alerts. Yeah. When those come through, those are the biggest drivers of engagement across the entire platform.
Ann Rudd: Absolutely. So we don’t kill them with over communication but those e-alerts are so–
Ann Rudd: –critical.
Rivers: I moved two years ago and I still open every single one I can. You want to see what’s on the market. It’s just–
Ann Rudd: Yeah. You do. You do.
Rivers: –a natural human tendency.
Ann Rudd: And now that we can send them sold data for all of our past clients that’s even better because they want to see what’s happened in their neighborhood.
Rivers: Absolutely. So well, speaking of datas– kind of shifting gears but I’m curious to your thoughts on this. Knowing that we’ve got so much data at our fingertips as a consumer in 2017 and beyond that– and all the data that was aggregating– and that were [being done?] aggregating– everybody’s got all of this data in real estate now. And they can do better evaluations. So where am I going with this is this now new trend of this i-buyer kind of trend of what Opendoor is doing of what Redfin, right there. Redfin is starting to do I believe.
Ann Rudd: Actually, they are not doing really well here, so.
Rivers: Oh. They’re not. Well, we can get into that in a second. But curious the people that will say, “Hey, we’ll make an offer on your house.” Yeah. You’re going to pay maybe 8, 12 percent versus 6. But you’re going to sell in three days and– so I’m curious to what your thoughts are on that movement and the consumers that would be willing to give up that much that are already complaining about 6% but here you’ve got people that are willing to pay 8 to 12 percent for maybe condensing that window down in three or four days?
Ann Rudd: So I think what– all right. So the short answer is most of our markets are really strong right now. So you’re going to see because of any half-wit we see with agents in this part of town– you get all these new agents and they come in and they can stick a sign in the yard in the equivalent of a basket on the front porch and collect offers. And then there are real estate agents, right? They’re a realtor. So that’s great. Good for you. The problem is when the market changes and shifts. So we have all these people now that are, “Yeah. I’ll sell your house for 1% or 2%.” I did a deal a few months ago, sold a house to– and the buyer used an agent that gave them 2% back. So this agent’s working for 1%. He’s a hot mess. I had to do most of his work and basically, I adopted his client afterwards which is great because now I have a buyer in a few years– a new seller a few years down the road.
Ann Rudd: So yeah. We have all of that but the market will change at some point. And it will push those that don’t know how to shift around back. So if I’m a 1%, I sell your house for 1%. You’re lucky if I stick a sign in the yard and use a photographer. You can’t expect to have someone spending significant marketing dollars on your home for 1%. That is an unrealistic expectation for a seller. And for us right now, I mean, my houses that go on the market, I want between 50 and 75 thousand views the first 30 days are on the market. If they are on the market 30 days. Most of them aren’t. So if you build your business on, “Hey, I’ll sold your house on 1%.” Great. I wish you the best of luck. But when the market shifts and prices go down, you’re not going to be able to eat on 1%.
Rivers: Yeah. Or even like an open door model where they’re flipping it for another what? Maybe 5% margin or something–
Ann Rudd: That’s right. And it is about margins. I keep an eye on what my profit margin is. And a good team can– a good team is running on 30 or 40 percent profit margin. I mean, that’s a good team. And if you’re living paycheck to paycheck and you’re still selling 50 or 60 houses a year, you need to reevaluate what the hell you’re doing [laughter].
Rivers: You need to get some operational coaching.
Ann Rudd: Or you need to just get rid of everything except yourself, so.
Rivers: I see a lot of trend of people saying, “No way. I don’t want to be a broker when I can just run a team because teams seem to be more profitable.” I’m curious your thoughts on that.
Ann Rudd: Teams can be more profitable. I actually have a different mindset. And I have a coach and my coach even is– he and I have a different mindset about it. So my take on it is look there are– we’re going to have agents in our culture, in our world that aren’t full-time. But there are a lot of good full-time agents out there that are paying through the nose for everything, and I mean office space. And they’re still on a 70/30 or 80/20 split. So for me, and my owner of my company will see this at some point. At some point, will go out on my own. I make no apologies for it. I’m an independent thinking girl, and I have no issues with it. So, but if you’re profitable, you’re profitable. You run your business as a business. For me, I don’t see any difference between a brokerage and a team. I probably will always run my team within a brokerage whether I own it or someone else owns it. But having other agents and recruiting good agents to come into your business, strong agents that help share some of the cost. I mean, even if it’s minimal. If you have 25, or 50, or 75 agents that allows you a lot more marketing dollars and allows you to expand your world a bit, and also help more clients. So I think that if you– there are certain models that, yeah, you will need a team, your team within your brokerage to make sure you’re always at a profit level. But no. I think that if– I think what happens though is you have so much money coming into a brokerage, you forget about profit margin. I don’t know about you. I mean, even me– about once a year, I will call my credit card company, all of them, and have new credit cards issued. And then that way, I’ll start getting emails like, “Oh, you haven’t paid this bill.” So I can actually reevaluate everything that I’m spending on my credit card and thinking, “All right. Do I need this this year?”
Rivers: Right. Right. And then–
Ann Rudd: And I do that every year.
Rivers: –it comes down that’s data as well, understanding your business, right?
Ann Rudd: Yeah. So yeah. That’s what I do, and it works for me. But I think about it a lot. I look at different models. I know a lot of agents that own brokerages that have different models. You don’t have to be a mega brokerage owner to have a good business. And make a–
Rivers: Right. Make a good living and a good margin. But I think, regardless, teams are here to stay.
Ann Rudd: Teams are not going anywhere. I love teams. A great team is a team where the owner is involved that stays. Someone in production. I mean, a lot of team owners end up in operations which is great but someone that stays inside the ecosystem of our world.
Rivers: Whether they’re in production or not.
Ann Rudd: Right. But they still need to be there. I know some teams in Charlotte where the owner is never there. And I don’t think that’s a– I think that’s a team destined for failure because you have to stay plugged into your business.
Rivers: Yeah. Absolutely.
Ann Rudd: So, yeah. But teams are not going anywhere. They can pull their resources. It’s a smarter way to be. I mean, most individual agents cannot spend 10, or 15, or 20 thousand dollars a month on Zillow, or retro.com, or all of their combined marketing systems. I’d say we’re in this model. Most teams are going to spend between 30 and 20 and 40 thousand dollars a month in payroll, and marketing, and all of their systems. So not many agents can do that.
Rivers: Right. No. You have to have a team.
Ann Rudd: You really do. You really do.
Rivers: And that level of production and that’s what it takes to– I mean, you run your business digitally, obviously. So you’re running a lot of Zillow. You’re doing paid search. You’re doing a lot of Facebook.
Ann Rudd: Really loving Facebook.
Rivers: Yeah. You do a lot of Facebook tell me about–
Ann Rudd: I’m loving Facebook.
Rivers: –some of the stuff you do on Facebook. You don’t have to give away any secrets, but I know you’re good at it.
Ann Rudd: No. I mean, I just think that Facebook– so Google AdWords have gotten expensive. And yeah, Google is here to stay and the data coming out of Google is crazy. I love the data. And I think that we’re– the data coming out of Facebook and Google are making our marketing more and more predictive. So I love that. I mean, I’ve–
Rivers: And search is so– search isn’t going anywhere for a long, long time in a sense. I mean, when somebody is looking for something and you can put an ad in front of them, it’s the most straight ahead kind of marketing you can do.
Ann Rudd: Right. I mean, if I could– and at some point, I’ll be able to market to people that are going to sell their house in the next 60 days. I know that because of all the predictive data that is being collected. So dude, go ahead. You can go. Traffic here is crazy. So but yeah–
Rivers: But on Facebook–
Ann Rudd: I love Facebook
Rivers: –you do a lot of– you treat it like– do you have farming?
Ann Rudd: Yeah.
Rivers: I mean, so kind of how do you leverage Facebook? Because I think you know there’s a standard just running advertising and driving people to your website, but you’re doing a little more sophisticated stuff than that.
Ann Rudd: So I hate the mail. I mean, I think that the mail is one of the most inefficient– it’s not even a company. I don’t even know what it is [laughter]. I don’t know what the US mail is except a ridiculous thing that puts a crazy looking box in my front yard. I hate it. And I don’t love spending money where I can’t track my results. So I don’t know how many people look at a postcard. I don’t know. I can’t predict a lot of that. So I don’t do what I can’t track. But I can pull a list of owners in a neighborhood, or in a zip code, or whatever, or like this beautiful part of town and market to them on Facebook such as this home has just come on the market in your neighborhood. Or what’s your home worth in Meyers Park or whatever neighborhood you’re in?
Rivers: Very targeted message.
Ann Rudd: Very targeted.
Rivers: Very targeted audience.
Ann Rudd: I can put in my budget. I can look at who’s clicked on it, how many leads we’ve gotten off it, what is our cost per lead. I mean, all of that stuff is–
Rivers: What’s your ROI?
Ann Rudd: What my ROI is. And we’ve been doing this enough now that I’m kind of getting better with being able to predict what my– if I spend 100 bucks on an ad, which I’ve kind of figured out anything– I spend more than 100 bucks on an ad, I’m going to get significant leads coming in. And how many true registrations from our website are we going to get? And then how many buyers are we going to actually get? And how many are we going to reach out to?
Rivers: You know the numbers. You can back your way into that.
Ann Rudd: I can back into it, so. And I love that I can target someone within a range of a household income. Okay. And someone that’s been on Zolo or Realtor in the last X amount of time. I can really dial into likely buyers.
Rivers: Yes. And you can weed out the people that you know are not going to be able to afford–
Ann Rudd: Well, and I can–
Ann Rudd: –I can weed out real estate agents [laughter]. And I can weed out–
Ann Rudd: Yeah. So there’s a lot. And on the recruiting end of that as well, I can recruit real estate agents through Facebook as well. So there’s a ton that I can do with it. I mean, I don’t care what business you have right now. If you’re not on Facebook. If you aren’t figuring this out–
Rivers: You’re already lost.
Ann Rudd: You need to figure it out fast. I mean, if I– I kind of geek out about it because I love the fact that I can really dial into it. But the fact that I know how to do it, anybody should be able to do it if I can do it because I have a very short attentions span. But this is my business. This is what I do. And if I don’t spend time learning this, nobody else is going to do it. And yeah, I can pay someone to do this, but I don’t want to pay someone to do this. Because I need to run my business my way.
Rivers: No. And there are certain things you do pay people to do.
Ann Rudd: Sure.
Rivers: You pay us to do certain things. But when it gets down into very, very specific audience marketing of Facebook, listing marketing, and things I think that’s something you should be doing on your own. But when you want to spend $10,000 or something, you need an agency or you need somebody like BoomTown to be managing that budget for you, which is different than doing very strategic ads and blasts.
Ann Rudd: Or boosting and–
Rivers: Or boosting
Ann Rudd: –all the things that we can do. And when I look at my database, I’ve had it for almost three years. And I look at the money that I’ve spent over the last three years at Google AdWords, Facebook, Zillow. I’ve got several hundred thousand dollars wrapped up in that database. That is an investment that– I mean, I don’t take that lightly. That is–
Rivers: A decent return.
Ann Rudd: –I mean, I can freaking buy a beach house. Come on, Rivers. So you know?
Rivers: Yeah. Yeah. I get it. I get it. And I think that’s what people forget about is they spend all this money. And they’re not thinking that they’re building this huge database. Because they’re just chasing lead, lead, lead, lead, lead when that database is actually where the money is.
Ann Rudd: The database is where the money is. So that’s something that I task my staff with every day. How can we reach people in this database today?
Rivers: Yeah. Or their need for it.
Ann Rudd: Yeah. Yeah. They’re here. They’re here. And when was it? So last year, I sold a house to a couple. They were the third person that registered on my website in November of 2014.
Rivers: Okay. The third person ever?
Ann Rudd: Third person ever.
Rivers: And you were watching everyone come in?
Ann Rudd: Yeah. You’re like, “Ah.”
Rivers: We got another one.
Ann Rudd: Drinking off a fire hydrant, right? So yeah. And that’s what I love. I love to be able to look and see when do they come in? Oh, crap. They came in two years ago.
Rivers: Wow. And they–
Ann Rudd: And it just buying.
Rivers: Yeah. I mean, everybody out there listen to this. This is what we’ve been preaching for years is the system, the technology takes care of a lot of the stuff, the marketing for you as long as you’re not spamming people obviously. But two or three years later–
Ann Rudd: Oh, I got a different story with that one [laughter].
Rivers: –if you’re sending e-alerts. But well–
Ann Rudd: But no. We have so much technology now. It’s really the sky’s the limit. The only limitation I have I feel like is kind of what’s in between my ears, which is a huge limitation. Okay. You don’t have to tell me. But as creative as I can get. And the beauty of your system is, “Hey, we’re classified as this. We go through these steps. Now they’re classified here.
Rivers: You can put it in this clear operation.
Ann Rudd: They get moved gets here.” Whatever. Yeah.
Rivers: And I’ve been talking about this a lot too is whether it’s BoomTown or whatnot, there’s a lot of technology out there that is very affordable that has the behavioral analytics, has predictive AI those things underneath the hood. That what it’s doing is it’s taking the guessing game out of who you’re calling that day or what you’re doing that day, not just sit down and ugh. You know here are the 10 leads that have been on the site X amount of days. Whatever that criteria is for you or your operations, you can tell your team, “This is how you do it. This is what you do when you sit down.” And I was talking to Tom Ferry about this a couple months and he was saying it just gets to the point where that’s just part of– it’s just like breathing.You just sit down. You open BoomTown and you go to work. And work doesn’t exist without whatever that technology process is.
Ann Rudd: No. And you have to really get into a routine. So my Fridays are– my Fridays are call my past clients. That’s what my Fridays are every Friday.
Rivers: How do you prioritize that?
Ann Rudd: Well, I just set them up in BoomTown as to-do’s. I just pull up my to-do’s.
Rivers: But I mean, just past clients within an X amount of time or–?
Ann Rudd: No. No. I mean, just whoever I– except for a select few that I never want to talk to again, and we all have those. But for the most part, no. Just whoever I feel like. But usually, I get on a system like all right, I’m going to talk to 10 every week. So and by the end of the year, I generally don’t hit everybody, but at least you’re leaving a voicemail and saying, “Hey, just checking in with you. Let me know how things are going.”
Rivers: And that conversation is just that? You just want to say, “Hey.”
Ann Rudd: Well, sometimes it is. I mean, you get to know your clients so you end up talking about kids, or family, or whatever. But the great thing about the system is keeping the notes. So I don’t have to remember everything about everybody. I can go back and say, “Hey, I knew that they moved here from California and they had two young kids and all that.” So I can read back through and remember who’s what. But no. That’s important.
Rivers: But it’s a routine and that’s what it is. It’s just like going to the gym or whatever it is. If you want it to work, you’ve got to stick with it.
Ann Rudd: Yeah, you do. You do. One of my – you can tag him on this because I’ve never met him – but one of the people that I really am starting to watch is this guy named Jon Cheplak. And he’s up in Pacific Northwest and he’s a coach. And he, at one point, was a pretty successful alcoholic and he’s walked away from that now. But one of the things he talks about a lot is you kind of have to follow your heart, but you really sometimes have to go through the motions. You’re not going to– you’re not going to have a day every day where it’s like, “Yes. I won [laughter].” It’s not going to always be like that. But you get up in the morning. You go make your phone calls. So you don’t talk to anybody but you make 30 phone calls. Who cares? You just have to continue. Because you’re going to have those days where everybody’s slamming the phone down, everybody’s not– not everybody’s going to– it’s not going to be sunshine and rainbows every day. But you’re going to have days as well that are on the opposite where every time you pick up the phone you’re going to have a great conversation or you’re going to get–
Rivers: Your dollars for dollars.
Ann Rudd: –you’re going to get three, or four, or five buyers or sellers or whatever you’re calling about. So the motions sometimes– it’s not really fake it till you make it, but the motions they’re important.
Rivers: They keep you going forward.
Ann Rudd: And you don’t need to take it personally.
Rivers: Yeah. Thick skin. Skin of a rhino. All right.
Ann Rudd: But at the end of the day, a strong real estate agent is not going to take a salary because they know how to make money.
Rivers: Yup. It’s a different drive over there–
Ann Rudd: They know how to put food on their table for their families. And they’re not going to discount themselves. Okay. And if you want an agent to represent you that discounts themselves, I promise you they’re going to discount you. And I don’t want an agent working for me that caves because I say, “I want you to reduce your commission.” I don’t want somebody to say, “Okay.” Well, if you’re going to say okay, you’re not going to say– you’re going to say okay when you’re negotiating, right?
Rivers: When you’re in the trenches. Yeah.
Ann Rudd: Yeah. No, no, no. I don’t want to.
Rivers: Do you think then– so I mean, Redfin is, again, attractive in that sense it’s a stable job. I look at it as maybe the next best thing is the team. Because you’re coming into basically a job. You’re providing them with all the infrastructure, operations, support, marketing, leads, structure, training–
Ann Rudd: The biggest thing they have to do is pick up the phone, show houses, and write offers. That’s it.
Rivers: And yeah, you’re maybe– it’s not like you’re just a single agent scrapping for every single bite of food that you got. On the team, it’s pretty stable.
Ann Rudd: Okay, so. And I’ll give you an example. So after our conference in March which I love. I think you need it twice a year just because it’s fun. We got on this kick about taking a look at everyone’s number of leads they have and getting them below 100. I mean, I–
Rivers: Okay. At any given time?
Ann Rudd: At any given time. Because you and I both know that if I have 100 people I need to talk to every 30 days, holy crap!
Rivers: That’s a lot.
Ann Rudd: That’s a lot! So–
Rivers: Meaning phone conversations.
Ann Rudd: Yeah. So and you’re not going to have them. But if you had 30, or 40, or 50, you would know what’s going on in their lives, who they are, where they’re going to be, what’s holding them back. You’re going to get to know that. So we’ve been on a real big kick about keeping that number below 100. We’d really like it to be below 50. But I have agents with 3, and 4, and 500 leads in there–
Rivers: Packed in.
Ann Rudd: Yeah. So tell me someone that’s been in the business a year [laughter] that has 500 active buyers in their database. Well, first of all, most of them don’t have a database. And second of all– I mean, I’m dropping leads in my agent’s laps every single day. We can look at what they’re looking at online. How often they’re getting online. We can text them. We can email them. We can video message them. It’s not rocket science.
Ann Rudd: Work ethic kind of might be rocket science.
Rivers: Yeah. Sure
Ann Rudd: Nothing else in our business is.
Rivers: That’s good. It’s not rocket science but it is–
Ann Rudd: It’s work. Well, I mean, coaching is very big. You know I think– I coach with–
Rivers: Do you coach with anybody right now?
Ann Rudd: I have been with Tom Ferry for three years. I love Tom. I know Tom personally. I’ve gotten to know him over the years. He really helped me build my business. And without a doubt, I owe him a lot. And anybody that knows me knows my story. I owe Tom my life. So I think that as much as we know, there’s always someone that can help motivate us or help put us in a better direction. And a lot of what we do is kind of, again, between the years and stuff. There’s always a lot of stuff there. So—
Rivers: I guess there is.
Ann Rudd: –some of it not so good. So in filtering out– so again, this comes back to me and how I operate. All the stuff swirling around in my life it gets checked in the door at the office. And if agents can do that, agents can move– those are agents that can sell 8, 10, 12 houses a month no problem because they are filtering out their noise. If you can’t filter out the noise, you’re going to be lucky to sell two or three.
Rivers: And that’s going to be anything probably.
Ann Rudd: With any business.
Rivers: And so with the coaching then it’s not just about, “Here’s how I’m going to help you build your business operationally.” It’s also mindset and–
Ann Rudd: Not always. Sorry. It’s mindset. It’s mindset. It’s what can we do better to make your day start better? Having a powerful morning routine. I have a positive affirmations partner that I talk to every single morning at 8:00 AM. And for many of us, especially women – I don’t know about men – but we have this freaking voice in our heads that talks to us all the time. I don’t like that at all. And the positive affirmations have gotten that voice, it’s gone. I don’t have that. And it sounds goofy to say these silly things back and forth but it really does–
Rivers: Is that person here?
Ann Rudd: She’s actually in Boston and she’s– we joke. It’s like she and I were the least positive people we know [laughter]. But I mean, it’s just fun, so. And I’ve gotten to know someone that’s– she’s very important in my life now, so. I absolutely love it and I wouldn’t change that about myself. And I also have a very strong routine in the mornings. I mean, I’m up early. I’m on a conference call at 5:00 AM, which is five minutes. I roll out of– I don’t actually get out of bed anymore. I just kind of roll over and hit the send button. But it helps me get going in the mornings and–
Rivers: Who’s on that conference call?
Ann Rudd: Well, it’s a whole– it’s an East Coast thing and we have different people that talk and it’s really just kind of a positive message to start the day, so.
Rivers: Yeah. So how long?
Ann Rudd: Five minutes. Something like that.
Rivers: Gotcha. Through Tom Perry’s network or through–?
Ann Rudd: No, just real estate agents. And actually, I think maybe Scott Kompa had something to do with that up in New Jersey. You know Scott?
Rivers: I know the name.
Ann Rudd: So I think he was involved in that because Scott gets up at the crack of dawn, 3:30 or something, so. But yeah, having that powerful morning, and a routine, and being in the office at a certain time every day. And that’s something that we’re really going to work on implementing it with all of my agents because if they can get that down, I swear that’s half the battle just getting your– and I’ve got one agent in particular that he filters in about 10:00 AM in the morning. Drives me completely batty. And he is not closing as many transactions as he should because he’s– I mean, I don’t know about you but at 10 o’clock in the morning I mean, I’m kind of busy.
Rivers: 10 o’clock in the morning I’ve been up for five hours.
Ann Rudd: Pretty much.
Rivers: You’re in your kind of stride. You should be. Isn’t that what they say? The first three or four hours after you’ve been up you need to be– those are your peak times.
Ann Rudd: You need to be– so that’s your peak work time and unless I know who’s calling me, I’m not picking up the phone for a real estate agent or a telemarketer to call me, right? So you can catch me first thing in the morning. You can catch me later in the afternoon but don’t you call me at 10 or 11 o’clock and think I’m going to be in a great mood to talk. And one of the conversations is, ”Well, I’m having a really hard time getting up with people.” Well, you’re calling them at 11 o’clock in the morning [laughter]. They’re kind of busy.
Rivers: Yeah. Yeah, that’s peak work time.
Ann Rudd: Call them at 8:00. Call them at 7:45.
Rivers: That’s when they calling other people.
Ann Rudd: ”Well, I don’t want to call before 8:00.” Well, try it some time. They’re not going to come through the phone at you, I promise. But that’s the kind of thing that I’m– look, he can sell houses. We’ve established the fact that there’s enough experience here to sell a house. It’s not that. It’s nurturing your database and reaching people. You come in at 10 o’clock. You spend two hours on the phones. You’re going to talk to one or two people maybe and nobody– you’re not going to get much business out of that. But if you vary your days– come in at 7 o’clock in the morning. Get your stuff done early. Get prepared. Make your phone calls for an hour or two. Come in at 4:30. Do a couple of days of evening calls. Trust me. It works.
Rivers: Right. And I mean, that just kind of plays into the whole, “I’m an independent contractor.” Right? But that’s just not– doesn’t work anymore.
Ann Rudd: No. No. You might be an independent contractor, but when you’re on the team–
Rivers: No, you’re not. I mean, that’s–
Ann Rudd: –there are certain expectations.
Rivers: So people with the recession– we’re coming out of that, obviously. But it’s kind of delayed family starts, and marriages, and people are just getting out of their parents’ home, and things. And so we’re wondering if the millennial mindset, now that they are the biggest demographic basically, has the concept of home ownership as kind of a big piece of the American dream and wealth building? Has that changed a little bit? Have people been kind of soured a bit on that concept due to the last 10 years?
Ann Rudd: No. Absolutely. I think that’s been the case. I mean, I think that the– look, people live differently now than they did 20 years ago or 40 years ago. I mean, it’s very rare to find someone that has lived in the same house for 40 years. I mean, it’s very rare.
Rivers: Or worked the same job for 20 years like they used to do.
Ann Rudd: Or have worked the same job for two [laughter], right? So we need to have a society that’s mobile. We need to have mobility in our society. And I mean, I don’t think I’ll ever move away from Charlotte. If I do, I’ll just go down to Isle of Palms and be your neighbor because I like the beach down there. But I don’t really want– I mean, I would not want to be tied down to a house if I had a position where I knew I was going to be transferred or there was an opportunity somewhere else. So in that respect, I do think that we have people with a different mindset. And maybe they’re not thinking about mobility. I think about it a lot maybe because my family moved around some for a while. But I do believe that we’re going to– I mean, we already have five, or six, or seven big companies in this country that are equity firms now but that own hundreds, if not thousands, of homes across the country. And I see where they’re being more people or investors owning multiple properties. So traditionally, it’s been somebody that maybe owns three or four. I think we’re going to see companies owning hundreds of them. And for that reason, yeah, I think you’re going to see a decrease in the home ownership population. I think it’s going to continue to decrease. I don’t know what will make that change. But yeah, there’s been a societal change in how people think of the home ownership.
Rivers: Anne, thank you so much. That has been wonderful. Beautiful day in Charlotte. Thanks for spending the time with us. We love you so much and thanks for letting BoomTown be a part of your story. So we’ll see you guys next time.