Jeremy Brandt sat down for an interview with Jim Krautkremer to talk about business, entrepreneurship, and how Jeremy’s programs have changed Jim’s life.
Jim K: Today is going to be a really exciting day because the man on the phone today literally changed my life and I say that coming from the heart. We went from being down and out in Real Estate a while back to making a consistent $25,000 a month, and that was just what we were doing. And so, right off the bat, I’d like to send out a big, big thank you to Jeremy Brandt the CEO of Fast Home Offer and We Buy Houses. So how is it going Jeremy?
Jeremy: It’s going great Jim, thank you for that wonderful welcome.
Jim K: All right. Well we know that not all lead companies and leads are created equal – some leads are exclusive, some go to multiple agents/investors, some are purchased, some are on a referral basis. Every single lead company has a pretty specific model on the type of leads that they attract. So maybe you can start off the conversation if you would please with talking about your specific modeling. What makes you guys different?
Jeremy: I’d be happy to Jim. You’re right, there’s a million different leads out there and a lead is just a generic term for somebody that might be interested in your products or service. There are a lot of different types of companies that might sell exclusive or non-exclusive leads. They might generate them through something like email marketing, or pull things off Craigslist, or by doing other types of marketing.
One of the things when I started this company about 12 years ago, is I set out to create the highest quality home seller lead that we could produce for agents/investors, and we were okay with producing a fewer leads if we could produce the highest quality. And to that end we really focused our marketing in a couple of very specific areas that are the most expensive areas to market but that also generate the highest quality lead for our clients.
Some of our primary sources of leads are TV, SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and Pay Per Click (PPC) marketing. PPC has gotten more and more expensive over the last couple of years as more people get in it. We also do many creative things like advertise in every single Yellow Pages in the United States with a large display ad that goes into a call center where we talk to the home seller.
And so what makes us different is that every lead that’s in our system is somebody who’s contacted us directly to sell their house quickly, to sell their house for cash, and that makes them highly motivated and very actionable. Also, all the leads are delivered in real time, so there’s no queuing up of leads, like “here’s the list of people that might want to sell your house”, because in today’s market if you don’t get back with somebody in seconds or minutes, you might as well not even bother calling them.
These days, it’s very easy for people to contact ten companies to sell their house. What makes us different is that within one second of a Home Seller calling our call center or filling out a form, we forward that lead out to our local Real Estate Agent or Real Estate Investor and they are following up immediately. That’s very different than a lot of other companies where that activity doesn’t happen in real time, or where the lead is not exclusive. So our other philosophy was that we will charge more for the lead, but give it to only a single person, and have that person be our partner and really working with that Home Seller in a market.
What most companies do is connect a home seller lead to five or ten different agents. It’s inexpensive, but they’re selling the lead ten times to ten different people and it’s a competitive environment so close rates go way down when you force that competition. We went with a different model for Fast Home Offer.
Jim K: You had a lot of amazing stuff in there. Let’s chat about, if you would please the role based. What do you mean by role based marketing?
Jeremy: If you think about different types of marketing to do, there’s two different ways to markets, there’s two different people that you can go after when you market. One is, you put up a sign, a billboard, something in the yellow pages, pay-per-click marketing that says, “if you’re looking for a solution, I’m here” right? So that would be yellow pages advertising. People look in the yellow pages in the Real Estate section when they need help with Real Estate. People go to Google and type in “sell my house quickly” or “sell my house fast” when they need a solution. So that’s people reaching out of their own volition to find a service provider that’s going to solve their problem. That’s very, very different than contacting “for sale by owners”.
Outbound marketing where you’re contacting someone unsolicited and saying, “hey I know you didn’t ask to talk to me, but I’d love to provide a service to you and fill out this form on our website and a Real Estate Agent will call you”, or contacting people on Craigslist or even worse, which we’ve seen people do this in this industry, is offering freebies to fill out a form to sell a house. So if you send an email blast to 100,000 people and say, “Win a free ipad, fill out this form to sell your house”, you’re going to get a lot of people to fill out a form to sell their house, that’s going be a really, really low quality lead because they were enticed to come in rather than searching out a service provider when they were actionable and needed help.
Jim K: It takes the integrity out of it. It takes a real motivation out of it, right?
Jeremy: It’s tough to gauge motivation before you talk to somebody and before you’re able to talk to somebody the biggest predictor of motivation is how did they find you? What channel did they come through to reach you? And with most lead providers, real estate agents don’t have a real clear view into that. Wo all of our marketing channels are very driven by the consumer, the home owner reached out to us to sell their house. We didn’t reach out to them to try to convince them to sell their house. Very different.
Jim K: And that’s just evidenced by the fact that we’ve literally called back thousands of these leads and hands down out of every “lead company” out there, FHO leads are by far the best leads out there that we’ve ever contacted and we’ve been doing this Real Estate for a long time. They are the best leads and I’m glad you explained why that is or make a different decision today than what they made yesterday, right?
Jeremy: Right, and I’m excited to have been on this journey with you Jim. I remember when you joined and we talked about your market and you got going and we talked about how critical it is to follow up quickly and work with these types of leads to now see where you are years later in your business and how its grown and how you’re helping other Real Estate Agents achieve the same success to me that’s very fulfilling and it’s exciting to be a part of that.
Jim K: Well that’s awesome. And I remember we started out, I think you and I got on the phone we said, “okay well I’m going to test this, I’m not really sure I get this whole thing” because it was so new to me. I think we started out with a couple of hundred bucks maybe like $500 and then all of a sudden, we start converting on these leads and I picked up the phone and I said, “you know, what do I do next?” And we just had this great conversations where you said, “okay Jim, time increase your ad spend and let’s move in to another county” and it was just—it was really awesome going through that journey.
I remember a long time ago we were starting to get quite a few leads and it was in the summer time we were getting all sorts of stuff and you and I have this conversation and you said, “Well, instead of being at this dollar amount, why don’t you bump it up to this dollar amount and kind of create a mote between you and the competition” and as well it will give us more dollars to spend on ads. And my leads went through the roof. I don’t know if you remember that call but that was a great conversation, great advice.
Jeremy: I do, and it’s how we view our relationship with the people in our network – that our success is your success. So if you’re not converting leads and you’re not turning those into listings or into purchases, it’s not good for us and it’s not good for you. And so we want to be partners in your success and I think you did it the right way, right? You came in and tested it out, you were a little bit suspicious of a company that it’s talking about what they can do, and what the conversion rates looks like, because the unfortunate thing is that there are a lot of companies out there that are selling leads and anybody can say anything. The proof is in the pudding. You don’t know who to trust sometimes, and so it’s good to stick your toe in, talk to people that have used those services and see what their experiences are before you go spend – we have clients that spend ten, fifteen thousand dollars a month in advertising but out the other end of that, they’re doing really, really well in listings and in cash purchases for our real estate investor clients.
Jim K: Well, I love the fact that you guys deliver leads that have validity. In other words you’ve got a pretty generous return policy.
Jeremy B: One of the questions that we get when talking to people is, well, do you scrub the leads? What kind of scrubbing are you doing? Are they scrubbed? And what we tell people is, “absolutely, we have lots of technology in place to make sure that the lead information is valid,” but mostly the issue of scrubbing is people that are doing the types of marketing that generate junk leads, right? If you don’t do junk marketing, you don’t get junk leads, and so we have very little problem with fraud in our system. But to our credit policy, when we’re talking about, do you scrub leads? Our philosophy is that the most important thing is getting a Home Seller in front of a Real Estate Agent as quickly as possible, within seconds.
And so if a lead comes in and I’ve got a guy calling a lead or somebody in a foreign country that’s doing phone follow up or we’re kind of doing all these things to try to score it and interview them, every second that we’re doing that, that Home Seller is thinking about contacting somebody else, right? We’re giving them the opportunity and the time to go contact somebody else. So our philosophy has been, let’s get every single Home Seller that contacts us in front of a Real Estate Agent or Real Estate Investor within one or two seconds of them contacting us and if there’s a problem, we’ll credit the lead back.
So after the fact, we can always credit the lead back, but on the front end you don’t lose those ten minutes or thirty minutes it takes to interview a Home Seller. And so we always provide credits – if the property’s already listed on the MLS, that’s not really useful for anybody and so we credit those back with no questions. Certainly if there’s any kind of fraudulent information. We catch about 99% of that, but once in a while an Agent or an Investor wants to see how the system works. They put in fake information, we’ll always credit that kind of stuff back and then of course mobile homes on rented land, that’s not real property, and so we credit those types of things back.
Again we want to partner with our clients so that they’ve got a reasonable chance of success with every Home Seller that we send over to them and the more successful they are, the more successful we are and everybody wins.
Jim K: So you mentioned this “real time” and this really quick turn-around. For the people that haven’t engaged with you yet. Can you walk them through what that looks like?
Jeremy: One of my favorite demos to do that we usually do through a webinar or something that’s more visual is we’ll go to a page of our website that’s a testing page so that it doesn’t turn into a real lead and we’ll fill out a lead form as if we were a Home Seller and we’ll hit submit – and literally within two seconds, and I’m not even joking, within two seconds a text message comes in to their phone with all of the lead information. So the second that lead is submitted, a text message fires off to your phone and you’ve got their contact information and you can call them immediately. On top of that, we always send out an email with the complete details, that email again is sent out in real time, so within one or two seconds you’ve got an email on your phone or on your office computer with all the complete details of the lead. And then a thing that we added a while ago that people just seem to love is – we talked about how important the speed of follow up is, that that makes all the difference in the world.
If you wait five, ten minutes, thirty minutes, an hour, to follow up with the lead, your close ratio drops astronomically. And this has been studied by universities, proven over and over; speed of follow up is a make or break especially in the online world. And so we set up a service that’s free that whenever a Home Seller contacts us to sell their house, and that turns into a lead, we will call your phone and when you answer the phone, you’ll hear a recorded message that says, “you got a new lead from Fast Home Offer, their name is John Smith at 123 main street, press one to call John” and if you press one on your cell phone, our computer system will then call the Home Owner, their phone will ring and if they answer you’ll be live connected.
So it’s as if you just picked up your own phone and called them, but if you think about this from a Home Owner perspective, they’re blown away from a customer service stand point because most people never expect to get a quick response to anything they do online. I mean how many times have I filled out a form to get some service for my company and knowing it was going to be a week before I hear from anybody. And so you know the Home Seller goes to the website, they fill out the form to sell their house, they hit enter and 15 seconds later their phone rings, “hey it’s Jim, you just filled out a form to sell your house and I want to talk to you about it.” Man you’ve just set the stage for being the kind of person that’s going to deliver for that Home Seller and have great customer service and that sets you apart from anybody else that they’re going to contact about their house.
Jim K: Here, exactly, and it’s so fun because they’ll always say, “Well that was fast” and “well that’s what you ask for…. You asked for help!”