"Rudy the Realtor"

[photopress:rudy.jpg,thumb,alignright]He goes through the classes to get his license.  He fails the test and decides to go through the classes again, to see if more might stick in his brain the second time around.  He passes his test this time.

He picks an office to “work in” and notices how no one notices him.  Agents coming and going, all busy as bees, looking right past him like he’s invisible.  He buckles down and studies the market.  He finds a high turnover segment of the market and creates his “farm”.  He knocks on doors, walks the farm, shakes hands, hands out business cards and lollipops and $02. stamps when the postage rate goes up.  People on the street start to smile when they see him, instead of rushing to get back in the house before “the Realtor” starts bugging them.

He begs and pleads with the receptionist at the office to call him, anytime day or night, when one of the agents doesn’t show up for their “floor duty time”.  He’s Johhny on the Spot when he’s lucky enough to get that call from the receptionist.  Pretty soon he’s like a permanent fixture at the “duty desk” for “opportunity time”.  He’s working 60 hour weeks.  He’s listening to everyone in the office trying to pick up the lingo.  When he’s not “on floor duty” he comes in and listens to the pros capturing the leads, studying how they turn a call for “info” into a sale.

He goes to the Office Manager and asks if he can open the phones and take the calls after 5 p.m. when they turn on the voice message saying the office is closed for the day.  Every day at 5 p.m. he’s there, manning the phones while everyone goes home to dinner or is running around completing their paperwork and making their calls.

He’s always listening to every word anyone says, but he’s quiet.  He doesn’t bug them.  He’s careful not to ask too many questions of one person.  He spreads his questions around, so no one avoids him.  In between he’s opening the pending and closed file drawer and studying the contracts as written.  Not the stuff he learned in school, but the reality of real live sales.  He looks at the commissions actually charged by the top producers.  He looks at how the winning offers are structured.  He’s getting ready for the day when he gets to write one of his own, and he’s not listening to any of the garbage people are feeding him about how “competitive” the business is.  He’s looking at the real live closed sales, and how agents really get there.

He doesn’t need to be a Superstar, he just wants to be in the game.  He just wants to beat the statistics and be one of the 20% that stays, and not one of the 80% that leaves.

After several weeks of these 60 hour days, the agents in the office aren’t looking through him like he’s a ghost anymore.  They say, “Hi kid!  How’s it going?”  and they actually stick around for the answer!  They say, “Hey kid, how’d you like to do my Open House this Sunday?”  They give him a few pointers, they put a nice ad in the paper for the Open House with HIS name on it.  They say, “Hey kid, how’d you like to make a few bucks helping me with my CMA’s and Flyers?” He jumps up at the chance…hell, he’d do it for free just to touch the “real” stuff.

And then one day he comes in beaming.  He’s grinning from ear to ear.  He walks up to “the Board” and writes in his first sale.  He writes, “123 Someplace SOLD BY Rudy”.  He turns around and everyone is watching.  They start clapping and giving him high fives.  He knows he has a long way to go…but he’s IN THE GAME!!

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ARDELL is a Managing Broker with Better Properties METRO King County. ARDELL was named one of the Most Influential Real Estate Bloggers in the U.S. by Inman News and has 33+ years experience in Real Estate up and down both Coasts, representing both buyers and sellers of homes in Seattle and on The Eastside. email: ardelld@gmail.com cell: 206-910-1000

34 thoughts on “"Rudy the Realtor"

  1. Ardell,

    I have clients in almost every state in the USA who actively seek out new recruits for various sales related industries (finance, insurance and selling debt collection services).

    In ever case and virtually every part of the country, I am hearing their stories about the multitudes of real estate agents coming to them looking for work. They say these aren’t just 3 year newbies, but agents with 20+ years experience. Nothing is selling.

    Seattle may not be feeling it yet, but the rest of the country certainly is. I’m hearing the same stories from clients in California, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Florida, Arizona, Georgia, Oregon, Boise, Texas, New Hampshire — and even places like Maine! One client in S. Florida says that for every 10 prospective salespeople that come through his door, 4 of them are/were realtors. And they are desperate!

    I think it’s irresponsible to suggest that now might be a good time for someone to enter such a difficult and competitive industry.

  2. Synthetik,

    You really are getting to be a pain in the butt. Just had to get that off my chest.

    Read my article again. It says at least 80% of those who try don’t make it AND it says it’s a lot of hard work, and hopefully points out a few ways to “make it” for those who are trying.

    Where in there did you get the “rah-rah” speech,you are accusing me of, saying it’s “a good time for someone to enter”? I didn’t say that anywhere. Quote it if you disagree with me.

    I’m not the cheerleader you make me out to be. You just can’t open your brain enough to hear what I’m saying. Your same old, same old BS is playing in your own brain, and distracting you from hearing what I am really saying. Stop accusing me of things that I am NOT doing.

    The entire analogy of using “Rudy” in and of itself, says just how hard it really can be. Maybe you need to watch the movie. Anyone who thinks equating being a Realtor to the Rudy” story, is making it look too EASY…clearly didn’t see the movie.

  3. Synthetik…your Pathetic!

    It’s people like you that love to jump on the band wagon when news is down, but last to reconize when things may have actually bottomed and turning around. Have you noticed some positive things lately like: Interest rates hit there lowest point today since early January 2006, were at the lowest mark for unemplyment in 36 years, Retail sales have hit all time highs in our areas, stock market has been hovering around it’s alltime high lately and oil prices today were down to $55/ barrel. I could go on and on and on….but your Pathetic, dreary world that you dwelve in, is not worth my time! Open up your Synthetic eyes to whats going on around you.

    Ps…Go see the movie, like Ardell said…you might actually get the point!

  4. At the risk of piling on, I must say I couldn’t find anything in Ardell’s post that implied what Synthetik read into it.
    Glad I don’t keep that flavor of Kool Aid in my home!
    The GOOD news about our current slowdown is that it will reveal who the true professionals are because they will survive.
    And, the Rudys of real estate will do well too because they are willing to do what many seasoned veterans are unwilling to do.
    We have a Rudy in our office who is blowing right by the “experienced” agents because he has a good, positive outlook and it comes through when he is working with his clients.
    Remember: If the market is off by 20%, 80% of the people are still buying and selling and need help.
    The key is to learn how to identify the high-quality 80% who MUST buy or sell.
    Then, we can refer the other 20% to Synthetik :o))

  5. Ardell, I enjoyed this post. Thanks!

    Real World, you may turn out to be right, but if you think you can predict the future you’re out to lunch. (and it’s ‘you’re pathetic’ not ‘your pathetic’!)

  6. Ardell,

    Although I find the Rudy analogy a bit corny (again… ducking now), I’m the Rudy of our brokerage here in Chicago over the last year. Except for the part about not saying much or asking too many questions of any certain person. I did that all the time 🙂 And the part about floor time… we don’t have that. We’re independent contractors without obligation to the office.

    But, I did listen, helped everyone, worked evey day in the office to get sign calls or a walk in, stayed glued to the broker and had complete blind faith in what my broker and the successful veterans were teaching me. I had blind faith in my broker’s marketing statistics of working open houses and working internet leads seriously. Just kept working them, adjusting my language, attitude and technique. I studied the MLS to overkill and practiced my routes before I picked up a new clients for showings. I also had a clue about treating the client/consumer with respect while also learning SALES from the real salesman.

    And as Phil Hoover said… being willing to do the things veterans are not… i.e creative and consistent Internet marketing, reverse prospecting of listings, working open houses EVERY weekend etc…

    No gimmicks, just working hard to be (and be preceived as) an expert.

    Here are a couple sports analogies to go along with your Rudy. I was able to “adjust my swing”… no matter how awkward or uncomfortable. That is, listening to the coach and learning the new swing, no matter how against your instincts it is. Many Agents will not do this.

    Playing hard and keeping winning habits every day even though the team has a losing record. That is, the market is slower, but you have to market, research, show up, and have the attitude that you’ll beat your plan no matter the market. Find a way.

    I closed $5M in 18 transactions my first calendar year… this year (and still have a little time!). Came into the business totally green in August of 2005 when things started to look “bad”. I had a friend in the brokerage who felt I would be perfect for the industry and I thank her every week for influencing me to make this a career.

    I also have a tough love broker who provides tools and mentoring to win. But I’ve “smoked” many, many who are no longer here and had the same opportunity… and most others are just hanging on. They were not prepared to work hard. They wanted a 9 to 5 life in real estate! What business owner do you know that did not eat, drink and sleep their business when they started out? Real estate isn’t going away and neither did…

    Ru-dy! Ru-dy! Ru-dy!

    p.s. I generated leads and converted them to clients in my first year from all the above mentioned techniques including… sign calls into the office, walk ins, Internet leads, open houses, referrals, blogging, craigslist etc…

  7. Eric,

    You can usually tell what movie I just finished watching, by the blog entry “theme” 🙂 My posts were a little more “edgy” when I was watching the Sopranos. When are they coming back?

    18 your first year is great! Glad to hear some of the “old” stuff still works! I’m going back to some basics myself this year, side by side with a newer agent. I was trying to tell him what to do and figured it was easier to just do it with him. Less talking; more doing.

    If we both do the same marketing side by side, we cover twice the territory. Will be interesting to see what happens. It will be interesting to see if we get the same results in the end, if he does everything that I do.

    Good luck in 2007. Don’t worry about the market slowing. You only need 36 to double last year, and I guarantee you can hook up with 36 people who want to buy or sell if you try. 24 is good after 18…you don’t have to double it.

    How many were buyers vs. sellers? How many were both?

  8. Ardell,

    Two were sell/buy clients… the rest were buyers. Currently have two listings (have to sell before they buy). Also, just bought my own flip with my contractor/partner in the North Mayfair neighborhood of Chicago… takin’ it to the next level.

    Also… Geno Petro of Chicago Home Estates was one of those veterans… if you can’t learn from him you’re just stupid 😉

  9. Ardell, and like all great stories with a moral, “Rudy” (for the lady above, its the name of the movie!) has the greatest contemplative effect on those who are blessed with the most talent but underacheive. You have to really, really want it bad enough to be a ‘scrub’ for four years just to get in the game (the last game) for one play, (the last play) of your career. Many, no most, more talented people (Realtors) would just quit and go on to something else. Whether it was Horatio Alger or Rudy or the first year agent, you better be mentally prepared to ‘pull yourself up by the bootstraps’ as you watch seemingly greater men and woman around you drop out of the game.

  10. Geno,

    I was “turned on to” the movie Rudy by my 19 year old daughter. From time to time I ask my girls what their favorite movie or book is. It gives me some insight into their outlook on life at any given time.

    Unlike the movie, where there is a limited period of time and physical attributes required to really “make it”. Real estate as a career is a little more attainable, than being one of the very few selected for a team like Notre Dame.

    Honestly, I don’t think “as you watch seemingly greater men and women around you drop out of the game” applies. I’ve seen the revolving door up and down both Coasts, and have known a few real Rudys. I worked like a Rudy, but honestly, I’d have to say I was not one of them.

    I was the new agent who intimidated some of the other newbies in “the pit” at my first office. I remember in my first real estate class in NJ, the teacher asking on the last day, “So, What do you want to be now that you are armed with this new knowledge and a license?” One person stood up and said, I just want to sell two houses and buy a car 🙂 Another one stood up and said, “I want to be Ardell”.

    But I remember one guy at RE/MAX Properties in Newtown, PA named Matt. We used to “222” him at first contact. He was truly a Rudy and he surprised us all. Another guy named “Dave” at Coldwell Banker, whom we all thought should just “Go and get a JOB already!” who just wouldn’t give up. Jay over in Seattle who dressed up in a suit and tie every day and plugged away, only to have his first walk in while he was on floor duty turn to the receptionist and say, “I want someone else. I don’t trust a guy with a tie.” LOL The girl who was working as a sales girl at Sears and real estate part time, who went on to be one of the top agents. The school teacher who only worked summers, nights and weekends, but had more contacts (parents of students) than anyone else, and worked day and night,  seven days a week.

    Then there’s the guy who wanted to be a listing agent right off the bat. No buyers for him. I showed him how to do that, and he surprised us all by doing it. He left. He didn’t realize it was going to be “so much work” juggling a dozen listings at a time. Now THAT surprised us.

  11. Ardell, I’ve lived in Jersey and Bucks County as well. Also Phila, Balt, D.C., Richmond, Charlotte, Pittsburgh and Chicago. Most of those places I was transferred to by either Prudential or Conseco over a 15 year period to ‘recruit, train and supervise’ commission sales people before finally hanging up my sales manager ‘cleats’ to become a Realtor in downtown Chicago. I spent most of those years in the top ten nationally. Also coincidentally I played college football at Slippery Rock so I knew a lot of guys like Rudy–from similar working class backgrounds and with relatively low expectations from life and career..

    I can also think of a dozen or so ‘Rudy-like’ sales people success stories. Unfortunately , I can also think of hundreds of others I’ve either worked with or observed, both ‘talented’ and not, who simply quit. My point was, and I was agreeing with you actually, that I’ve seen hundreds of people with a lot of potential, not make it in sales because they will not do what top producers do or at the very least, what less talented people like Rudy will do. Rudy was a success because he achieved his own goal and didnt quit.

    Anyway, to answer your more recent question about blogs, I like Sellsius. I like the look, the Podcast idea and the fact that it has a lot of lifestyle content as well as being real estate-centric. Most real estate blogs are “101” types with a low-end layout and design. Very boring and predictable.

    I also like my blog. You should take a look if you have a few spare moments. We’re a boutique company in Chicago so following the philosophy of our broker, I personally try to stay right-sized but play ‘big’ in this market. (We left the biggest Remax office in the city to go independent 3 years ago) Its slowed a little lately so I’ve been blogging the past few weeks during this very welcomed and newly found ‘spare time.’

  12. Hey Geno,

    Can you imagine this business if no one quit 🙂

    I just read some pretty old, yet reliable statistics. “50% quit within the first 12 months. Another 25% by 18 months. Another 5% gone by the end of the 2nd year. That’s 80% gone and 20% staying.

    Another study (says the entire industry)…always has 1/3 leaving, 1/3 thinking about leaving and 1/3 staying.”

    Your travel stats are almost at par with mine. Tough on a real estate agent though. 43 years in “Philly” inclduding 6 in Cherry Hill, NJ, and 5 in Bucks County. 2 in Orlando, FL, 1 in Granite Bay (Sacramento) CA and 4 in Manhattan Beach, CA, 3 in Seattle Area.

    Makes for a broader perspective and more well rounded person 🙂

  13. Ardell:

    Great post with some ideas on what a new agent should expect when coming into the business. As a Broker/Manager of one office in a 14 office independently owned brokerage firm that hires to business plans, I’m amazed at the number of “newbies” that are just starting out or with other brokerages that I’ve talked to that either have no clue on how to start off in the business or don’t have the will to do the things it will take to get their career started!

    Let’s face it – unless a “newbie” is willing to spend the time, energy and effort to build their client base at the beginning of their career, they’re not going to make it.

  14. Stephen,

    I added you to my Blogroll so I can watch your blog unfold. Looks like you just got started, but I love the concept. Ohio, the home of Tom Early and EBAism… He’s in Columbus, I think. You appear to be in Akron. Have you seen a lot of EBA’s in your area?

  15. What’s an EBA??

    Great post Ardell. I worked like Rudy when I first started. I was affectionately referred to as the “Floor Whore” in our office because I would take any and every shift I could get. I royally blew a lot of sales on that phone in the beginning, but I sure learned a lot….

  16. Jay,

    An EBA is an Exclusive Buyer’s Agent. Purists say to be an EBA you have to work for a company that only works with buyers and never sellers…as in the company will never take a listing. Tom Early is the head of NAEBA. National Association of Exclusive Buyer Agents.

    The only EBA I’ve seen commenting on RCG is Stefan Scholl. I like his blog.

    As to new agents “blowing floor calls”, I do recall agents complaining in various offices over the years, when an Office Manager gave floor time to a newer agent who wasn’t able to capture the leads. Only difference I saw was when an experienced agent “blew it”, they blamed it on the “flakey” caller 🙂

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