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From Restaurants to Real Estate: How One Entrepreneur Closed 79 Transactions in 1 Year

July 23 2019

rdc novak teamWhen changing economic conditions pushed Mike Novak and his wife out of the restaurant industry, he responded by getting his real estate license and closing 79 transactions in his first year.

In this interview, Novak—now Team Leader at The Novak Team by eXp—shares how he and his wife started over in a new industry and and built a new brand, and the role that online leads and branding played in making a fast comeback.

You had a 400 employee restaurant chain—now you are starting all over in real estate. What happened?

My wife my owned a chain restaurant company and Washington state changed the minimum wage in November of 2016 from $9 an hour to $15 an hour and we ended up losing over $50,000 per month.

I got my real estate license and we had a great comeback, doing 79 transactions our first year with just my wife and I. After losing that other company, we didn't want to have employees and the responsibility of providing for other people, so we just tried to do it ourselves for as long as possible. But we quickly found our ceiling and that ceiling was about 12-13 transactions a month. We then added an admin and then we started adding buyer's agents. Eventually, we stated to expand further using pay-per-click ads, Facebook, and then finally realtor.com.

How long have you been using realtor.com® as a lead source?

We're going on about 10 months—so not that long. We've been really big into pay-per-click and Facebook leads, and we wanted to get some more leads that are closer to actually being ready to make a move. That's when we explored realtor.com®.

How did the leads perform?

Since we've brought them in, we've closed a lot of deals with, so we keep expanding it as we keep seeing more and more success. Also, I might add, a lot of the buyers we get are sellers as well.

Do you use realtor.com's branding tool, Local Expert™ to support this?

We went and signed up for the entire county. I think it is going to be impactful for listings. Sellers use realtor.com to scope out their neighborhood and so that's going to present opportunity for listings.

You mentioned that you wanted to shift to leads that were closer to a transaction. Did you notice these were further along?

Oh, absolutely, yes. Most of the realtor.com leads are zero to 30 days away from being ready to meet with an agent, whereas pay-per-click leads are usually between 8-12 months, and Facebook's like 15-18 months.

What do you do to warm up these inquiries so you can close them?

We shift the conversation to the person and not the property. We coach them on this. Our communications are, "We want to talk to you about the reason you're thinking about making a move and the impact that would have on your life."

That's going to allow us to build a connection and get away from just answering that the house is about three bedrooms or two baths and, yes, 15 million square feet. We try to take the normal agent that is taking a phone call in and they're giving answers and responses on the property and flip it around to talking about the person.

How about if they are not quite ready to move?

With all of our leads, regardless of being realtor.com® or Facebook, we throw them into our CRM and then we will retarget them on social media. If there's a match between the email address that we received from realtor.com and their Facebook email address, we'll get back in front of them that way with some video content. Then we'll also try to figure out what their timing is and follow up with them.

We organized leads by A-B-C-D. As are ready to go right away. Bs are a little bit further out, like 30-90 days. Cs are 90-150, and Ds are 150+.

Have you measured your success?

$400,000 of GCI last year came from this. We're definitely recruiting with this success. Instead of waiting 6-9 months to get a closing, when you have a newer agent that needs to put food on the table in three months, that's going to make them feel real good.

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